Small Country, Big Heart

a sign at Lake Matheson on the west coast of New Zealand.

A quote at Lake Matheson, South Westland.

Matthew and I have just returned from 12 days in the South Island of New Zealand.   Though we have traveled globally over the years, our country of birth never fails to inspire us.  I invite you to partake in some South Island landscapes.

Birdlings Flat is a wildly atmospheric beach near Christchurch. Here people fossick for semi-precious stones. A couple of white-fronted terns fly overhead.

Birdlings Flat is a bleak yet atmospheric beach on Banks Peninsula, near Christchurch. Here people fossick for semi-precious stones. A couple of white-fronted terns dart overhead.

Succulents thrive at Birdlings Flat.

Succulents luxuriate in the arid conditions of Birdlings Flat.

Wherever you are in the world, you may have heard about the fires this week on the Port Hills of Christchurch. Here is an evening view of the Port Hills which I took only 24 hours before the fires began.

A sunset view of the Port Hills of Christchurch taken from Tai Tapu.

Inland Canterbury is known as high country. This is Matthew's soul country. Near Lake Heron Station.

Inland Canterbury, west of Christchurch, is high country.   Near Lake Heron Station.

Up near Erewhon Station on the Rangitata river bed.

Matthew, in the distance, walks on a shingle river bed.   Rangitata river at Erewhon Station.

It was a long way across the shingle until we finally got to the Rangitata river. (On braided rivers, most of the river flows under the stones.)

One has to walk a long way across shingle until one comes to actual flowing river. (On braided rivers, most of the river flows under the stones.)

Finally, the flowing river, which we sat beside with flasks of coffee and home-made cake.

Finally, the flowing river, where we picnic on coffee from flasks and home-baked cake.

Patterns made by a river and patterns made by clouds.

Patterns made by a river and patterns made by clouds.

The hill beyond this stream is called Mt Summer, but you may well have seen it as the location for Edoras in "Lord of the Rings".

The hill beyond this stream is called Mt Sunday, but you may well have seen it on film as Edoras in “Lord of the Rings”.

A return to the coast. This is Blueskin Bay; an estuary 25 kms north of Dunedin.

A return to the coast.  Blueskin Bay; an estuary 25 kms north of Dunedin.

Coastal birds on the other side of the inlet at Blueskin Bay.

Coastal birds on the other side of the inlet at Blueskin Bay, Otago.

Later that day at Lake Hawea, a nearly-sunset rainbow formed.

Later that day at Lake Hawea, a nearly-sunset rainbow forms against a mountain backdrop.

View from the road at Lake Hawea. Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon were being filmed close by for "A Wrinkle in Time". No, I didn't see them - but I knew they were about.

View from the passenger seat of the car as Matt speeds along beside Lake Hawea.  (Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon are being filmed in this area for “A Wrinkle in Time”.  They have been spotted, some say, at Wanaka.)

We stayed at Lake Hawea Station, a farm which has been in the same family since 1912.

We stay at Lake Hawea Station, a farm which has been in the same family since 1912.  I endure the strong wind to check out their sheep-with-view.

Just over a hill from Lake Hawea is Lake Wanaka.

Just over a hill from Lake Hawea is Lake Wanaka.

Over on the west coast of New Zealand is another thoroughly wild beach named Bruce bay. Actually the whole west coast coastline is untamed. Waves are extraordinarily powerful and the winds howl.

On the West Coast is another thoroughly wild beach named Bruce Bay.  Waves are extraordinarily powerful and the winds howl.  Acres of driftwood cover the sands.  Above the shoreline is majestic Rimu rainforest.

In the path of the force 10 westerly gale is a friendly coffee cart which makes terrific coffee and sells - ICE CREAMS.

In the path of the force 10 westerly gale is a friendly coffee cart which makes terrific coffee and sells – ICE CREAM!

North from Bruce Bay is the Franz Josef glacier and Lake Matheson. The lake is famous for its reflections of the Southern Alps. We came along slightly too late in the morning for the lake to be still like a mirror.

North from Bruce Bay is the Franz Josef Glacier and Lake Matheson. The lake is famous for its reflections of the Southern Alps. We arrive slightly too late in the morning for the lake to be still like a mirror.  Even with a slight ripple, the scene is awe-inspiring.

At Lake Matheson there are a few quotes on plaques.  One reads, “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her” – William Wordsworth.  Another reads, “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in tune once more” – John Burroughs.   Albert Einstein is also quoted, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better”.  (Later, I faithfully copy these quotes into my art journal.)

A view of the ever-retreating (due to global warming) Franz Josef glacier.

A view of iconic Franz Josef Glacier.

We returned to the east coast via Arthurs Pass. What an astounding feat in engineering is the Otira viaduct! Can you imagine building a viaduct in such a precarious and actively seismic environment?!

We cross the Southern Alps via Arthurs Pass. What an astounding feat of engineering the Otira viaduct is!  Every time we drive on this seemingly floating road, we stop at the viewing platform to admire the audacity of its existence.

Matt and I stopped at Otira to pay homage to a view which I had once painted. Happily for us, a coal train appeared.

Matt and I stop at Otira to pay homage to a view which I once painted. Happily for us, a coal train appears.

And here is that old painting…

"Track and Field" - an oil painting from 2002.

“Track and Field” – an oil painting from 2002.

On our two week journey we also met and photographed many birds and animals.  They will be the subject of my next post.

 

 

 

 

About juliepodstolski

I am a realist artist who works in coloured pencils.
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24 Responses to Small Country, Big Heart

  1. Mark Westenra says:

    What glorious photos! The NZ Tourism Board would love them!

  2. Amazing set of photos Julie – breathtaking landscapes beautifully captured.

  3. Ellen says:

    Thank you! for sharing the photos of your beautiful homeland.

  4. sherrytelle says:

    Sunday morning coffee and a Julie blog……it doesn’t get any better! I will be showing these to Tristan to see if he has been to any of these places. I know he was at Mt Summer because he photographed it for me. (I have been a Tolkien fan since I first read the books in the 6th grade)

    • The day we visited Mt Summer, Sherry, it was really HOT. I tried to climb up it but I was overcome by the heat so I gave up part-way because I didn’t want to get heat stress. You wouldn’t think the mountain areas could get hot but it was surprisingly oppressive.

  5. John Z says:

    Thank you for the lovely tour, Julie. I was able to see NZ from the confines of my office chair thanks to you. Waiting anxiously for the wildlife photos.

    • Thank you, John. I will give it a few days before I post the birds and animals of NZ. However I look forward to going through my images and composing that particular post. There will be one or two goodies!

  6. I’ve looked at each image 3, 4 times now. Astounding scenery and photography. My goodness, Julie – what a beautiful land and how beautifully you’ve captured it…

    Ann Kullberg We Teach. We Inspire. You Shine. annkullberg.com

    • Ann, you’re right. It is extraordinarily beautiful. To be perfectly honest, one doesn’t have to be a great photographer to capture it. Just have a good camera and point it at something. NZ is so photogenic!
      While Matthew and I love living in Fremantle and consider it home, we must take regular trips to our birth home for the good of our souls.

  7. JOANNE HAYMAN says:

    Julie, Thank you so much for the beautiful pictures of your home land. You have posted so many photos of places I can only go in my dreams. You are so sharing, and your blog is always as interesting as the photos. Thanks again!!! ‘Share the Joy,’ Joanne

    • Hello again, Joanne. It is my enthusiasm with my subjects which makes me want to share the images with the world. It would be too sad to keep them just to myself. I will be equally excited, in a few days, to share with you the delightful NZ birds I met. They sure are characters. I’m so pleased you enjoy my posts. Thanks!

  8. fuzzydragons says:

    such a gorgeous place, I want to go back so badly 🙂

  9. xanderest says:

    Lovely pictures , Julie . NZ would be my choice if ever migrating ! Tasmania is similar. But on a miniature scale.

    Love , Judy .

  10. rhodjoy says:

    What an absolute delight your pictures and commentary are, Julie! Superb place and photographic skills. I keep promising to take another holiday in New Zealand. You have just inspired me!

  11. Tina Walsh says:

    Thank you so much Julie for these BEAUTIFUL photos. They were wonderful to wake up to this morning.

  12. Robyn Varpins says:

    Fantastic photos! Fantastic Land! what a treat, thanks

  13. My first impression from these wonderful photos is the drama of the landscape – nothing small or modest, a great deal of power in a small package (New Zealand). Each one stands alone as a great image. All those quotes are wonderful, definitely suitable for your art diary. I especially like the layers of colour and texture in the image of the succulents. And what a nice coincidence to capture the train again!

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