The lockdown has ended and we are back home quarantined in our apartment.
Winter was arriving in Rangataua, when we departed, with temperatures down to -6C.
During a few months locked down we met the locals and did a lot of ‘scrumping’ to get apples for apple pies and the resident horses including 1 miniature. The locals remained in their shorts even when the frosts started – ‘Oh this is nothing, have to enjoy this warm weather, it gets much colder than this!’
A good time to go home to 30C plus, we will be back.
Movement outdoors in New Zealand is limited to immediate neighbourhood, supermarkets, pharmacies and gas stations.
We are in the village of Rangataua in the Central North Island – famous for carrots, hiking and skiing when the snow obliges.
This is a chance to get to know this small place that normally looks unoccupied but now, as we are all similarly confined within a small area, looks a lot busier – well now we do actually meet other people (at a safe distance) when out for a walk, unlike any other time I have been here.
In addition, this is a chance to explore an area within a radius of about 5km of Rangataua in all weather and during all hours of the day.
During NZ’s Level 3 & 4 lockdowns there is simply no other option.
Interesting to note that the local dogs have now stopped barking at us, we could be almost ‘local’ ourselves now.
Hobart Farmers Market Christmas Eve – a small girl, fascinated by a busker, and then he makes a fart sound.
She looked around, I imagine, to see if any ‘adults’ had noticed – No – so back to enjoying the music.
A great little market – we had assumed on Christmas eve it would be closed but walked down anyway.
Pleased we did – local produce – honey, cheeses, an enormous variety of sausages, berries, buskers of course ………
Being Christmas Eve we were just before the arrival of the Sydney to Hobart yachts and the massive food & wine market that goes with it.
Highly recommended but no time to enjoy on this trip.
Near Maydena(west of Hobart) on Christmas Day a tree had literally just fallen across the road – a near miss for us – thought this could hold us up for a while as there were few homes visible nearby and it was Christmas Day after all.
A few minutes later, locals appeared with a ‘ute’, chainsaw and eventually a small tractor.
With trapped drivers assisting we were on our way within 45 minutes. Brilliant – Merry Christmas indeed.
Interesting side note – as you can see the women decided it was important to sweep the leaves and sawdust off the road using the tree branches. No idea why.
Anyway a few days later I mentioned this to some women at Lake Pedder and the reply was ‘they had to do something out of frustration, because the boys controlled the chainsaw and the women couldn’t get there hands on to do any sawing’ – there you go there is an explanation for everything.
Back to the trip – we started in Smithton(in the North West) where great friends very generously let us use their house and car.
Our journey was essentially clockwise Smithton, Devonport, Launceston, Swansea, Hobart, Maydena, Lake Pedder, Bronte Park, Strahan, Cradle Mountain and back to Smithton.
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Town with a ‘Woollies’ and the important basics but not big on features that would attract many visitors at this stage.
No bus service from Devonport, Burnie, Strahan etc. You need your own bike/car to get there.
However, a great base for us – See Tarkine drives later.
Then heading East …. and clockwise
Stanley & The Nut
Famous spot & nice little tourist town, very pretty cemetery but very light on restaurants mid week.
The Nut is the hill behind the town – has a cable car that runs when the wind is not too strong – the wind is often strong!
You can walk up in any weather.
Rocky Cape National Park
We drove back and forth to Devonport so many times but actually only turned into this park once on a wild day. Need more time to explore.
The tortured bush below emphasises the tough location.
and then seemingly completely out of context, in the open and exposed to the worst of Bass Strait weather was aboriginal art.
For a little more background
Onwards clockwise —
Launceston or ‘Lornie’
Nice town but everyone wanted to see the zoo.
Quite unique – the entrance gate has a large Gorilla perched over the top – looking like King Kong had escaped from a film set, plus an unusual mixture of Lions, a camel(alone in an enclosure with a sheep – ‘mates’ apparently), a concrete stuffed crocodile, a few talkative cockatoos – 1 miaowing(they suspect this Cockatoo spent a lot of time alone in a house with a cat), many Tassie Devils rushing here and there, and a few meerkats (all one sex- cannot remember which) plus a randy wallaby that fell in ‘love’ with a young woman’s leg – ‘ew eeek it won’t let go’ – until it was satisfied of course. Photo coming!
Swansea and Freycinet
To be continued – taking a ‘wee’ break. This means more travels/pictures/website updates/ …..
Cape Freycinet National Park
Not the traditional images you will see, rather a personal take,
I am drawn more to the fallen leaves, branches than to the golden Freycinet beaches & drawn more to the messy darker corners than the sunny highlands.
Click on any image to see more detail.
The Tarkine is is essentially a circular drive covering inland forests and Bass Strait coast in the North West.
Both are equally stunning but different – inland is deep quiet forests and sink holes while coastal route is wild, wind and wave swept
This was a ‘back to my roots’ trip during which I took a few photos – so not a definitive view of New Zealand’s South Island but hopefully enough to pique your curiosity.
Milford Sound below also happens to be a location used for the movie ‘Alien Covenant’ – you’ll see great views of Fiordland even in the Trailer. Trailer – Alien Covenant
Confronted with a choice – a rainy day in Auckland or a rainy day on Waiheke Island. Simple.
Dodged showers while dragging my bags to the bus stop, caught the ferry to Waiheke and checked in at The Courtyard(should have taken photos but suffice to say a fairly typical Kiwi ‘bach’ with 2 nice rooms for guests out the back and very helpful host Jilly).
A short walk to the village for a very nice lunch accompanied by a couple of glasses of Awaroa ‘Requiem’ Cab Merlot Malbec ’12 from Waiheke Island.
Then the sun comes out for the afternoon – making me a local hero for 5 minutes – ‘Ah you must have brought the sun with you’.
Last visit about 40 years ago – it has changed but not that much and the kiwi beach life style is, judging from objects on the beach and chatty locals, alive and well. The locals do seem to spend a lot of time moaning about Auckland and people from Auckland – typical islanders I guess.
Loved the local wines and restaurants but a little pricey even after NZD’s recent drop.
Some of the photos below have just begged me to do them in Black & White – I don’t normally mix B&W and Colour but what are rules for if not …
All photos – Fuji X-T1, 18-55 lens
Auckland -> Wellington.
South down the East Coast and return through the Central North Island
Black & white images from Australia & New Zealand, many taken with Kodak Technical Pan film(now discontinued) and processed as transparencies – a favourite film and process of mine. The tech pan transparencies below can be identified by their black borders.