When I was on the plane from Brisbane, I wrote the following note on my phone describing my initial thoughts about the country before I arrived: raw, wild, far away from everything / everywhere else. Envisaging a cross between Iceland and Africa. Western but with tribal undertones. After two weeks of waterfalls, geysers, giant ferns and black sandy beaches, I know these ideas to be true. On my first day I visited Raglan, a seaside town, where the black sand and the deep blue sea meet the vivid the green of the land. The next scenic stop was the Bridal Veil falls, an impressive waterfall which looked like a backdrop from Jurassic Park. On the way home we stopped off at a beach and went swimming in the powerful, crashing waves and the hot sand dunes burned my feet as we walked back to the car.
There was one place which I knew that I had to see during my time in NZ which was the Wai-O-Tapu geothermal park, having seen the colourful waters of the Champagne pool on my friend’s Instagram account. The park is full of geological wonders, from bubbling mud pools to the Lady Knox Geyser, so it has an otherworldly feel. The Devil’s Bath was perhaps the most alien scene, a sulphur pool which changes from the yellow to green depending on the sunlight.
Without a doubt New Zealand is very photogenic place, during every drive from place to place the couple I was staying with would always stop off at another natural beauty spot. Hukka Falls was one of these surprises, hidden from the road side. The blue water from Lake Taupo gave way to white rapids, and the sheer power of the water was evident in the crashing sound it made against the rock.
I went on a three night city break to Auckland, but even in the city you were never far away from nature. One of my favourite things to do when travelling alone in a city is to take a book to a quiet bench or grassy area, and just escape to another world. And when I get fed up of that I turn to people watching, which is equally as entertaining.
But my favourite aspect of Auckland was my trip to Waiheke island. I caught the ferry across the bay and made the 20 minute walk from the terminal to Oneroa beach. I felt like I was on my own little adventure, following sign posts and just enjoying my surroundings. Lunch was eaten in a lovely cafe overlooking the sea, and then I descended down to the beach and went for a swim. I realised that it was the first time in my life that I swam in the sea by myself, and it felt liberating floating around in the blue water knowing I was so far away from all my cares and worries.
After my swim I went for a wander around, and walked down a road lined with colourful wooden houses set back from the pavement. Ignoring the fact it’s quite creepy to photograph strangers’ houses I snapped away anyway because Instagram is everything for my generation.
Next stop: New Zealand part 2