“Have You Been to New Zealand?”

I have just listened to Marc Maron interview Sir Ian McKellen on Maron’s podcast “WTF”(Episode 621, 20th July 2015).  Here is a snippet of their conversation which I faithfully wrote down in my journal.

Sir Ian McKellen: “Have you been to New Zealand?”

Marc Maron:   “No.”

Sir Ian McKellen: “Oh.  Well if you like living where you do, surrounded by sky and weather, go to New Zealand – because they have more of it.”

Marc Maron:   “It’s beautiful, right?”

Sir Ian McKellen:  “Overwhelmingly beautiful!  As you drive down some of those empty roads and surrounded by rapidly changing scenery; mountains and glaciers and volcanoes, you hear yourself saying I believe in God because this couldn’t just have happened.”

Marc Maron:  “Wow”

Sir Ian McKellen:  “Yes, wonderful!”

This post illustrates Sir Ian McKellen’s point.  I have just returned from New Zealand and here is a selection of photos – all taken on my I-Phone.  Here goes…

View from our apartment in Christchurch.  Fresh snow on the Southern Alps.

View from our apartment in Christchurch.  Beyond the Canterbury plains there is fresh snow on the Southern Alps.

A hill in the suburb of Cashmere, Christchurch, with the Alps in the distance.

A hill in the suburb of Cashmere, Christchurch, with the Alps in the distance.

New Brighton beach, Christchurch just before dusk.

New Brighton beach, Christchurch just before dusk.

A selfie of my shadow in the grasses of New Brighton.  (Don't I look nice!?)

A selfie of my shadow in the grasses of New Brighton. (Don’t I look nice!?)

Matt and I took two separate trips into the mountains.  Here he is at Arthur's Pass.

Matt and I took two separate trips into the mountains. Here he is at Arthur’s Pass.

New Zealand's mountain parrot, the kea, at the viaduct lookout above Otira.

New Zealand’s mountain parrot, the kea, at the viaduct lookout above Otira…not minding at all the gales and horizontal snow.

Otira township.  This is a railway junction between Christchurch and the West Coast town of Greymouth.  It is rather forbidding but I love it.

Otira township. This is a railway junction between Christchurch and the West Coast town of Greymouth. It is rather forbidding but I love it.

These engines are waiting for the Transalpine train to arrive from Greymouth.  They are needed to haul the train up the steep incline to Arthur's Pass.

These engines are waiting for the Transalpine Express train to arrive from Greymouth. They are needed to haul the train up the steep incline to Arthur’s Pass.  (The train goes through a 20 minute tunnel under the mountain – which I always find a bit daunting.)

We stayed at Bealy.  Here it was at sunset.

We stayed at Bealy. Here was the landscape at sunset.

Signpost in the mountains.  The river is the Waimakariri which flows to Christchurch.

Signpost in the mountains. The river is the Waimakariri which flows to Christchurch.

View from the balcony of our cabin at Bealy.

View from the balcony of our cabin at Bealy.

In the morning Matt and I wandered beside Waimakariri river just below our cabin.

In the morning Matt and I wandered beside Waimakariri river just below our cabin.  The air and waters were freezing and pristine.

Gazing into the still waters of the Waimakariri river.

Gazing into a still pool of the Waimakariri river.

Going off road up to Mount White.  I do enjoy the exclamation traffic signs in New Zealand.  They seem to me to exclaim at the views.  "Look at this!" they say.

Going off road up to Mount White. I do enjoy the exclamation traffic signs in New Zealand. They seem to me to exclaim at the views. “Look at this!” they say.  “Awesome”.

Selfie at Mount White.  The Waimakariri is a perfect example of a 'braided river'.  Most of it runs underground.

Selfie at Mount White. The Waimakariri is a perfect example of a ‘braided river’. Most of it runs underground.

Cass station - made famous (at least in New Zealand) by our iconic artist, Rita Angus.

Cass station – made famous (at least in New Zealand) in a painting called “Cass” by our iconic artist, Rita Angus.

I flew from Christchurch to Wellington and back.  This photo illustrates why the Maori called New Zealand Aotearoa - which means land of the long white cloud.  Note the alps poking up through the clouds.

I flew from Christchurch to Wellington and back. This photo illustrates why the Maori called New Zealand Aotearoa – which means land of the long white cloud. Note the alps poking up through the clouds.

A closer view of the Southern Alps as we flew north.

A closer view of the Southern Alps as we flew north.

Beautiful blues of Tasman ocean and sky on the return flight.

Beautiful blues of Tasman ocean and sky on the return flight.

The township of Kaikoura is below.  (The plane was an ATR 72.)

The township of Kaikoura is below. (The plane was an ATR 72.)

Kaikoura mountains and gorgeous colours in the sea.

Kaikoura mountains and gorgeous colours in the sea.

Matthew picked me up from Christchurch airport and we drove straight out to Lake Coleridge where we stayed overnight.  View from Harper Road.  Good old New Zealand SHEEP!  (Their coats are much cleaner than Australian sheep.)

Matthew picked me up from Christchurch airport and we drove straight out to Lake Coleridge where we stayed overnight. View from Harper Road. Good old New Zealand SHEEP! (Their coats are much cleaner than Australian sheep.)

Late afternoon at Lake Coleridge.  The winter sun in New Zealand sits low in the sky as we are so far south.

Late afternoon at Lake Coleridge. The winter sun in New Zealand sits low in the sky as we are so far south.

Matt and I pushed ourselves on a big walk up Peak Hill.  Gosh it was hard work but worth it for the views.  Here is Lake Coleridge.

Matt and I pushed ourselves on a big walk up Peak Hill. Gosh it was hard work but it made us feel that there is life in us yet.  Here is Lake Coleridge.

The Rakaia river from Peak Hill.

The Rakaia river from Peak Hill.

Raikaia River again.

Raikaia River.  (There’s my selfie shadow again.)

Matthew in front of the Wilberforce river.  There is that low winter sun again - and it is only around midday.

After our climb, we drove down another gravel road.  Matthew in front of the Wilberforce river. There is that low winter sun again – and it is only around midday.

We took an off-road detour to get back to Christchurch.  Lyndon road is unsealed and takes one past the totally frozen Lake Lyndon.

We took an off-road detour to get back to Christchurch. Lyndon road is unsealed and takes one past the totally frozen Lake Lyndon.  The dirt road (which was actually mud and ice in places) takes one between Coleridge and Porters Pass.

Lake Lyndon.

Lake Lyndon.  Actually, Lyndon Road was closed – as it is a ‘fine weather’ road so we shouldn’t have been there at all.

We don't EVER see such a thing as a frozen lake in Western Australia, so this was mesmerizing to us.

We don’t EVER see such a thing as a frozen lake in Western Australia, so this was mesmerizing to us.

As we drive back across the Canterbury plains, the mountains recede in my rear view mirror and the sun sets.  Goodbye New Zealand.  See you next time!

As we drive back across the Canterbury plains, the mountains receded in my rear view mirror and the sun set behind them. Goodbye New Zealand. See you next time!

Yes.  I have been to New Zealand.

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About juliepodstolski

I am a realist artist who works in coloured pencils.
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18 Responses to “Have You Been to New Zealand?”

  1. Ann Kullberg says:

    Oh My Heavens. And you left New Zealand why??????? Gorgeous. Dang it. Now I have to go to New Zealand. It was NOT on my bucket list!

  2. Annette says:

    I live in New Zealand ☺️

  3. I want to go back so bad, a month was not enough time there

  4. The thing that strikes me most is how different NZ is from Australia yet so close. These are stunning photos, I could comment on every one of them but won’t, limited bandwidth for one reason! I loved the country when I visited a few years ago and look forward to returning one day to absorb the extremes of natural beauty it offers.

  5. Diane plum says:

    Thanks so much for sharing. We loved NZ when we visited 8 yrs ago and we think and talk about it often!

  6. John Z says:

    Thanks for the tour, Julie. I have never been and likely never will. Enjoyed the picture of the parrot. Will you do him/her in colored pencil? 🙂

    • Hi John, I’m afraid New Zealand is rather far from America. For me here in Perth, it is a shorter trip to go practically anywhere than USA or South America. So I’m not surprised that you are never likely to go to my old home country.
      As for the kea, he was just for fun. I won’t be drawing him.

      • John Z says:

        And I am in the western part of the country as well so . . . maybe, some day. You’re in the right spot to visit such places such as Japan and New Zealand. I am envious. Maybe when I retire?

      • Well, John, I guess we are all in the right place for visiting somewhere and the wrong place for visiting somewhere else. I go to New Zealand quite often as it is where I was born and grew up so my family are there. My husband, Matthew, is also a ‘kiwi’. The reason we go to Japan so much is that he has business there. Looks like another trip may be coming up soon…

      • John Z says:

        And another trip presents another opportunity for you to find someone/something to paint! Good for you.

  7. Tess Lee says:

    Ahhhh….beautiful New Zealand….it’s on my “bucket list”. Thank you for sharing those amazing pictures…. 🙂

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