After nearly 3.5 years away from my native shores, I recently returned for a 3.5 week trip. Everyone in a similar situation who I had spoken to before expressed their dislike of taking a trip back to the UK and the constant travelling round visiting family and friends, they related their blatant dislike of the country, its weather, big population, aspects of its culture and the places.
The media (doom-mongering muppets that they are) is constantly painting the UK in various shades of doom and gloom following Brexit, the various terrorist attrocities and the recent general election…so how did I find it?
Well, the following series of posts will delve in further detail but let me just say this, those of whom I spoke earlier must either visit bad places, have dubious friends and family, really dislike their homeland or just generally be miserable because I had a fantastic holiday! And as for the media…well as usual, if you look beneath the surface, you generally find that the truth is rather different.
Here is just one photograph to illustrate the delight of the UK…the history!
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?
Back in January 2016 I posted the first part about my visits and voluntary involvement on Rotoroa Island in the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland (link here if you’d like to re-read). During the most recent summer, I had the pleasure and indeed privilege of returning to Rotoroa on a regular basis to help out the Trust in the day-to-day running of the island.
Volunteer jobs are never going to be glamorous of course, but helping tourists have a more special visit to this little slice of paradise, as well as doing my bit in assisting in the conservation of native species is an absolute joy. I realised that from when I set foot on the boat in the morning until returning to land in the evening, nothing else matters in the world except being part of this wonderful conservation island with a unique human history.
Apologies for the slightly lesser quality of one or two of these pictures, which were taken on an iPhone.
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!
You read that title right just there!
Just off from the marina in Auckland, I had to do a double-take as I walked past a building where boats were stacked on top of each other for out-of-water storage.
Amazing what you see sometimes. A lot of people in NZ seem to own boats and I guess this is an ingenious way to store those that might be more susceptible to the elements if they had just been left in the water outside.
Everyone learns to drive by different rules and regulations so when you move to a new country you expect differences. In NZ, where they drive on the left just like the UK, I was thinking about the cultural differences of the actual drivers themselves and how I might describe the drivers if I had just a few words…
For New Zealand, I thought of “relaxed but impatient risk-takers” because they generally drive like no-one else is on the road and just move around (they do generally indicate) into any space going but people seem so laid back about it all. They like to duck and dive and do u-turns. Very unpredictable. There is no point gesticulating to anyone because they don’t even know you are there. They do like to use their horn if you delay them for even a second.
For the UK, I thought of “aggressive but aware and polite” because there are so many cars on the roads that people generally have to be really switched on to what is around them but because of these volumes people are easily riled and like to gesticulate out of the window…which makes things worse because others see it. Use of car horn is considered impolite. People will generally flash you to let you in to traffic.
Aren’t people odd?
What summary would anyone suggest for their country or other places they have been?
If you’ve never been to New Zealand, I would like you wish you luck pronouncing the name of this Forest which sits around 20 minutes south of Tauranga on the North Island. If you will permit me, I will try to give you what I see as a phonetic summary – Oh-Tar-Nay-Why-Noo-Koo.
It is a Department of Conservation site which is home to a kiwi conservation programme and there are native birds enjoying the predator-controlled forest too. I wanted to tell you about this because of the magnificent views you are treated to if you are willing to do the Summit Track at around 90 minutes return (moderate difficulty – including a beetle hitchhiker). You are treated to a magnificent (and enormous) view stretching as far as White Island (the marine volcano which is 50km offshore to the North) and Whakatane to the East. It is stunning. My photos don’t quite do it justice but it proves that to be treated to the wonders of nature, you often have to put in a bit of an effort yourself first.
There is also a lovely B&B just down the road in Oropi called Rolling Hills Country Stay, just in case you are tempted.