Just to the south of the Coromandel Peninsula, on the main road towards Tauranga and Gisborne on New Zealand’s North Island, lies the Karangahake Gorge, a former area of gold mining. In many ways it is a relief that this practice doesn’t occur in such a beautiful place any more, along with all of the destruction and dubious chemical processes it brings but it does make for a fascinating place to walk (including in some of the old tunnels so make sure you take a torch) and witness abandoned engineering which in many ways looks like fortification.
I got an impression of what the world might look like one day after humanity has perished and forest reclaims land for its own. Interesting. I do wonder why it is that we hold gold in such high regard?
I have been writing this blog now for around 3.5 years. When it began, my intention was to use it mainly as a way for friends and family to keep in touch and see what I’d been up to after moving to New Zealand from the UK.
I quickly realised – perhaps unsurprisingly – that not many people you know are actually that interested in what you are doing or saying (quite sad really as you might think that friends and family would be a main audience) but yet they are happy to share and read inane content on things like Facebook. Go figure. The flip side of this, however, is that I have been delighted to discover so many other blogs which are out there on WordPress and it has been fantastic to create new connections with people who have shared interests in many different parts of the world.
I thought I would therefore share just a few of these links with you in case you wish to explore them further yourself…
Nature Has No Boss – Mike Bizeau regularly posts some truly amazing landscape and wildlife photography from around the USA, often in wilderness areas like Yellowstone.
Uthamz – Utham captures some stunning images of big game animals in Africa, amazing to see.
Through Open Lens – Lucas Kondraciuk posts a good amount of excellent bird-based photography but with a twist – there is always a light-hearted joke to go with the facts in the post to brighten your day.
Nature’s Place – Mark posts truly incredible photos of insects. If macro photography and seeing the small residents of our planet is your thing, you will love this.
Travelling the World Solo – Ellen is from Australia and travels a lot, with a particular fondness for Greenland and Scandinavian countries. Some lovely photos and experiences are there to explore.
Stephen Liddell – Stephen has possibly the most fascinatingly researched blog that I follow, he regularly posts really interesting insights into the world and its history. He is an author with a varied portfolio too.
That will do for now – hope you enjoy exploring! I will share some more in future!
A few months back I was able to head over to the east of the North Island and visit Gisborne and its surrounds for the first time. Great to get out and explore a bit again! This area has a very low population density and it is a delight to get away from everyone else and relax. Gisborne was a really pleasant surprise, I expected a remote, run down backwater to be honest but it is a compact city with a beach in the city centre and accessible rivers and is in a stunning area of beauty.
In 1769, this was the place where Captain Cook first set foot on Aotearoa (or New Zealand as it became). Unfortunately, as they came into conflict with local Maori, they left the area without any supplies and labelled the landing site as Poverty Bay as it did not give them anything they wanted. Sad but true…according to my Rough Guide anyway!
It would of course be wrong to say that Cook discovered NZ because that remarkable feat was achieved by Polynesian navigators a long time before, but we Brits still liked to claim everything as our own in that era (these days we enjoy past glories in the main!).
Anyway, here are some photos of the East Cape area, from Wairoa and the Mahia Peninsula to the South, Gisborne in the middle (which has three rivers converging in its centre, including NZ’s shortest), and Tolaga Bay and Tokomaru Bay to the North. Tolaga Bay possesses the longest concrete jetty in the Southern Hemisphere at 660m long – an interesting relic of a bygone era now perhaps but still lovely to walk along.
This photo is one I took some years ago while on holiday in Virginia, USA and shows adverts for a lot of different churches on a main road (amongst other things).
I find it interesting because surely not all Churches can be right…surely not all belief systems can be right…that is not to say that they are all wrong of course but if all of these believe in the same God then you really have to ask fundamental questions about the rationale behind them (and religion in general) and the people who ultimately decided on those systems.
It is a mad world we live in.
I recently visited the Auckland War Memorial Museum which sits atop the Auckland Domain (one of the many volcanic craters in the city). It is a beautiful edifice with a genuinely lovely space where those who served in battle are commemorated. As I was on my own and in no rush to move along, I had time to ponder something…namely the words on the war memorial which stands outside the museum (shown above).
Both of my grandfathers fought in WW2 and thankfully survived (else I wouldn’t be here!), and it is interesting that one of them never talked about his experiences in Africa, while the other wrote about his time in the Merchant Navy in his memoirs (but never really delved into aspects of this in detail) including how he was torpedoed several times! I get the impression that perhaps they were glad to survive and would rather have forgotten the harsh realities of war in the main. To them, and to others like them, we owe a debt of thanks that Hitler was not able to succeed.
It occurred to me, however, that those three words – “The Glorious Dead” – raise a lot of questions…
- Where is the glory in death exactly?
- Is giving up your life heroic?
- Would anyone sign up to be a soldier if it wasn’t a celebrated choice?
- Isn’t war a savage experience which demonstrates the very worst qualities that the blood-thirsty human race has to offer?
- Are there genuine acts of selfless kindness during war which should be celebrated the most?
- Should we remember the reasons we stepped into war time and time again so as to avoid it in future instead of continually making the same mistakes?
- What if those who would commit a nation to war had to serve on the frontline?
- Is a neutral country truly neutral or do they benefit from the suffering around them?
- Does it take many lives lost to make it horrific or is just one enough?
- Will rich countries ever stop trying to take advantage of poor ones?
- In a time when the media bombards you with information, who is to be believed? Is it your own side or the opponent? It seems rather naive to assume that you are being fed the truth and not propaganda at times.
- Will our society ever be able to ostracise those individuals who would abuse power?
- Can religion serve as a medium of good instead of being twisted to evil ends?
- Can we ever justifiably call ourselves civilised by working together as one rather than against each other?
On an associated note, I was recently in Stratford in Taranaki and saw their Hall of Remembrance. Everyone who had died in WW1 or WW2 had their photograph and a note about where and how they died…far more poignant than a list of names which you usually see and really emphasises the horror, especially in a small rural town. Congratulations to the town on this remarkable insight. May these people’s sacrifice be remembered.
I don’t have the answers and I don’t expect it will change in my lifetime. But here is hoping that maybe one day we can achieve enlightenment and perhaps celebrate those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for showing us the way to be the glorious living.
I am not usually in the business of offending people but I have been watching a bit of classic British comedy by the likes of Les Dawson recently on YouTube and reading some of his old jokes on the web…back from when Mother-in-Law jokes were still in fashion…and I thought I would share some of them with you…
- I upset the wife’s mother the other Guy Fawkes Night. I fell off the fire.
When my mother-in-law stands in the nude she looks like a wall of whitewash. She’s so fat she had to lose weight to model maternity frocks.
I saw six men kicking and punching the mother-in-law. My neighbour said ‘Are you going to help?’ I said ‘No, Six should be enough.’
I wouldn’t say the room was small but when I talked to myself, one of us had to step outside to reply.
I can always tell when the mother in law’s coming to stay; the mice throw themselves on the traps.
The wife’s Mother said, “When you’re dead, I’ll dance on your grave.” I said: “Good, I’m being buried at sea.”
I took my mother-in-law to Madame Tussard’s Chamber of Horrors, and one of the attendants said, ‘Keep her moving sir, we’re stock-taking’
- I haven’t spoken to my mother-in-law for two years. We haven’t quarrelled, I just don’t like to interrupt her.
- I wouldn’t say the mother-in-law was loud but the parrot has gone deaf.
I wish at times that society wasn’t quite so politically correct and we could still laugh at anything…just as long as we are equally happy to laugh at ourselves.
For those of you who read my posts regularly, you will perhaps have noted how over time I have gained something of an interest in the conservation efforts which occur in New Zealand on an ongoing basis. It is interesting to note how man has noted the impact he has caused on native wildlife since arriving here and is taking steps to try to avert the devastation…would that man the world over would try to have similar thoughts and take similar actions although perhaps it is often too late.
On the edge of Wellington lies the pest-free “island” of Zealandia. The first mainland attempt to give native plant and animal species a chance to live in peace without the introduced threat of rats, stoats, possums etc. It truly gives a window into what NZ could be (and indeed once was) like…albeit it is only 20 years old and this is a long term project.
Similar to Sanctuary Mountain, near Hamilton (see previous post), you can see Kaka here, Tui, Tuatara, Robin…and also…Saddleback, Stitchbird, Bellbird, Shag, Kakariki (parakeets), Takahe and much more. It is built on a fault line which used to be the site of an old reservoir until someone noted that said water could flood Wellington in the event of an earthquake. When looking at these pictures it is worth bearing in mind some context…these birds are quite fearless…I was stood within touching distance of Kaka (native parrots), I was playing with a Robin in the leaf litter…it even sat on my shoe…and perhaps more sad…I was told that the world population of Takahe is around 250 so the two in the photo below (Puffin and T2 are their names) are just under 1% of the entire species. These birds eat grass and I was struggling to think of another bird that does likewise. Here is hoping that their numbers can recover!
Most of the birds are free to come and go as they please and are starting to spread out beyond the park. If you are ever in Wellington, give them your support! It really is a jewel in the conservation crown…click here to see their website.