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New Plymouth is the headquarers of the Taranaki, and is a fair size town on the western seabord of New Zealand's North Island. A few special characterisitics makes this town significant. The first obvious one is the close proximity to Mt Taranaki - and old active volcano that sits on the edge of the North Island. Mt Taranaki has significant Maori cultural value, which is evident from the vehement objection to adverse treatment of the mountain. Apart from that, Mt Taranaki forms the perfect backdrop to almost infinite beautiful vistas from almost any area close by.
By now New Zealand is famous as the location for the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films (with locations all over New Zealand), but a little known fact is that the epic movie "The Last Samurai" was also filmed in New Zealand, and more specifically in the Taranaki region.
New Plymouth is the heart of the current gas and oil fields, and consequently the most prosperous per-capita town in New Zealand. New Plymouth has good access roads (three to be precise), a fair sized dometic airport, and a very important harbour. Industry in New Plymouth are focused on the gas and oil industry, with heavy support industries based in and around the harbour area.
In spite of the heavy industry in the region, the Taranaki is breathtakingly beautiful. New Plymouth has a range of antique (well, in New Zealand terms!) buildings, with the heart of the city brandishing samples of an era gone by. The botanical gardens is a definite must-see, as well as the garden festival in November. To date, the garden festival is the biggest and most prolific garden event on the southern hemisphere calender. New Plymouth also sports a healthy and vibrant night life, despite its isolation from the main centres.
A trip around the mountain will deliver you to delights such as the Cape Egmont Lighthouse, numerous good surfing beaches, wonderful forests and unique vistas.
So, if you do decide to give New Plymouth a spot on your travel intineray, make sure it is not a drive-through event, but spend some time! You ill not be dissappointed!
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Why is Instagram so popular? The answer to this question is not always apparent - and it lies deeply hidden in the psyche of us normal people! I have few thoughts on this popular way of expression. As mentioned here, there are more than 300 million active monthly instagram users, with more than 75 million daily active users.
The first is that we are visually stimulated creatures. I have yet to meet a human that is not able to cast eyes on something of beauty and not appreciate it in some way or another. We appreciate, judge, obsess, love and hate objects based on the way they interact visually with our being. You will propably notice the cunning use of the term "something of beauty", since we don't always agree on what is beautiful to us. But we definitely appreciate it in similar visual ways!
The format of Instagram also challenges the age old golden triangle theorem - or it is at least a very pleasing departure from it. The format wa spropablly determined by the imnitial limitations of the mobile phone, but I think it is now an aceptable form of expressing visual art. I have seen many lively discussions and efforts to fit a vista into this format. Off course, a shiort search will also show that the landscape/portrait formats are still valid - many vistas have impact in that way.
The last thing I would like to say about Instagram, is that people like to share their lives - and the ideal way is to show an image that tells a story of a thousand words! I might be short of words if you point out Instagram accounts that specialize in selfies - one account holder stated "Sorry, I take selfies only"! Many people on Instagram tend to build a body of work that characterize them, their daily lives, and values. A great way of sharing!
I personally find that Instagram has forced me to look for the beauty in everyday things - when you are forced to look for beauty you are more inclined to appreciate the small things around you. I ran a campaign where I posted at least two images every day, for a period of six months. I met some really interesting people this way, while my appreciation of my environment went up a few steps. You should try it!
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Ever so often we get the opportunity to wander off into the wild. Sometimes, you find these little spots in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the City, without a trace of humans around. I recently found a spot, almost in the shadow of the Hamilton Gardens (Winner of the 2014 International Gardens Trophy). It is flanked by the might Waikato River on one side, and by an ancient flood bank on the other, with the most beautiful lush forest and scrub in between.
This was the scene of a lovely shoot with Mish - a bohemian of stature! Enjoy the images below.
In the first set Mish is wearing a simple yet very effective and flowing sun dress.
In the secod set, we played a little with the costumes she has designed - and you have to admit, this is a very Alice-In-Wonderland look. She used 120 meters for the skirt!
The wonderful location is at the river pier (Hamilton Gardens)
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I have reserved a special place in my heart for waterfalls. It may originate from the environment where I grew up - water is a scarce commodity in a semi-desert, and having enough to overflow stacks of rock is very rare. One waterfall in New Zealand which holds a very special place in my heart, is the Wairere Falls. It may be because it was the first place in NZ where I found a truly magical place. If you close your eyes for a minute, until the quiet noises of the forest penetrates even your deepest thoughts, you will find fairies and magical creatures when you open your eyes again. It is a place where time loses its meaning,
The Wairere Falls are in the Kaimai's, somewhere between Te Aroha, Matamata, amd the foot of the SH29 leading to Tauranga. For the GPS enthusiasts amongst us, you can find it here :
To reach the Falls, park in the parking lot at the end of Goodwin Rd, lock up, settle in your best tramping diggs, and head up the footpath. The trail is well-kept, and there are toilets at the foot. The first bit is not too demanding, and it winds though the beautiful forest, crosses the river a few times, and culminates in a landing with a view on the main falls. From there the footpath is demanding, and the incline is steep. Not undoable, but not for the faint hearted either. If you follow the footpath to the summit, you are rewarded with breathtaking views across the Waikato. Perfect place for very dangerous selfies on the edge of the waterfall with the Waikato behind you!
For the nature lovers, take a pause, take some beautiful breaths of fresh air, close your eyes and surrender yourself to the quiet of the forest and the soft murmel of water over softly rounded rocks. Take time to explore the surrounds, lean against the cool of the green moss covered rocks, or sit on the edge of the stream with your feet in the water.
When you visit, plan a bit, it is not a short tramp, and parts are [hysically demanding. Make sure your mobile has ample battery (a booster is recommended), and if it is a hot and sunny day, remember that conditions can change really quickly. Most important: tell someone where you are going, and what time you expect to be back.
Do yourself the favor and visit!
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We went for a short daytrip to The Mount, one of the main beaches in Tauranga. Lovely sunny Sunday, eventually filled with ice cream - yes, from the honey shop - the most delicious honey and fig flavor. We almost stopped again on our return trip to Hamilton.
The Mount was buzzing with people on holiday, with a large number of real tourists from a cruise ship making up the bulk. The beach was well populated with sun seekers, adding to the colorful mix. Lifesavers buzzing up and down the beach:
The Mount has the most welcoming walkways, some bordered with Pohutukawa trees, and levels for everybody's enjoyment. There is the arduous walk up Mount Maunganui, the boardwalks on Marine Drive, and the shops in Maunganui Rd and Steeple Lane. Some good Glass Art gallery there as well.
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