All in Portraits

Goodbye New Zealand

After 3 months of traveling with the family in New Zealand, we have finally come to the end of our trip. It was everything I was hoping for and much more. 

Thank you for the beaches, the trees, the wind, the waves, the sand, the volcanoes and the people. Good bye New Zealand.

Karekare

Karekare is one of those places that Im always longing to return to. Located on the west coast of Auckland, the beach has been used numerous times for film backdrops.

The wildness is obvious and a little unnerving. The walk toward the water through the dunes, you can hear the thunder of the crashing waves in the distance. 

The spray from the sea water fogs the horizon as we look toward the mound that is perched just off the shoreline. We stand watching the waves and tide come in around the small island. On occasion a large surge comes in a covers the two edges of the island as the water reaches us and the edge of the dunes. These surges can easily catch you off guard as a reminder of the power of the sea.

 

Nganga

The organic garden to the side of Nganga's art shop gave noting away. It was a lovely small patch of land that had a few herbs growing and some colourful vintage signs and an old truck. As we sat there, a man with long wavy hair wondered down the side of the grass. His body was long and slender and his face gave me the impression that he was a man with a few stories onboard. 

Nganga is an artist as I found out and his new art gallery that was filled with colourful paintings and psychedelic artworks, had only recently been purchased in Collingwood. 

I later found out that Nganga's murals proudly adorned many public walls in the town. Apparently his fish and chips that he also makes in the back of the gallery are a firm local favourite.

Mark & The Shady Rest

We met Mark by him handing us a nice cup of freshly brewed coffee. With a  broad English accent he greeted us in his large kitchen as he stirred a pot of stew for the people that worked with him.

Such an eclectic mix of things filled the interior of The Shady Rest. Every corner is a beautiful still life, vintage glasses, peacock cushions and aged wooden cabinets. 

Our room was the large one at the front of the house. 

Porky and the Prison

On the rainy journey toward the mountains we noticed a series of buildings set just off the side of the road. On the fence was stapled a sign explaining that the site was dangerous due to contamination, which I later found out was asbestos. I pulled over and investigated further. A few steps into the compound with my camera and tripod in hand, I heard a yell from a small house to the left. 

Porky had been living on the grounds for the past 6 years, fighting the government for the land which he believes to be his peoples ancestral home.

An ex low grade prison, the buildings had fallen into disrepair, rot and grass growing up the sides. It was reminder of each of the structures past. Porky explaining its history and its importance to him and his cause.

 

Dion

I met Dion in a man made natural spring pool. He was just sitting there. Apparently for hours. His hands had withered like a soft sponge, discoloured by the length of time in the hot water.  I liked his face and started to talk to him. After his wife died, the 45 minute drive from his home to the pool was a relatively frequent event. When he had time off work. 

I left him there in the water. In the corner watching the people pass by. Come and go like us.

Peter and the Mountain

As a dense cloud of rain lowered down on us in Coromandel, I took a drive up into the mountains. No specific direction or destination. The gravel road was very winding and at times seemed to have collapsed. Very tight corners and steep turns, I worked my way up toward the top. Stopping every now and then to take pictures. The thick jungle followed me - so thick it seemed impenetrable. Mosquitos buzzed and attacked. 

Once I had reached the summit and jumped out of the car to take a look. From the silent road I saw a man, who I later learnt was Peter, on a bicycle climbing. It felt quite a surreal encounter. The timing of it. We both were on a different journey, both reaching the top of this mountain at the same time.

I hope for more of these mountain encounters.

 

In Hot Water

What a strange sight. The gathering of burnt flesh. All with spades in their hands or lying in their own pools of sand. People mingling in a group meeting, savouring the hot spring water that trickles down from the surrounding mountains. All in a collected space roughly 50 meters across the width of the long beach. 

The waves were crashing against the outcrop of rocks and warning signs describing the dangerous sea currents. 

Our first pools were disappointedly cold. Once we mastered the hunt for the pre-dug hot holes, we spread out and lay down. 

A surprisedly wonderful day. I am normally a little on the sceptical side when it comes to these types of 'destinations'. Hot Water Beach proved me wrong. 

Surf

When we arrived in Bowentown the weather was close. The clouds were low and our mood for swimming was equal. It felt like we were cheated. To be in a beach town with bad weather. 

After driving to various destinations including Anzac Bay we settled back a the place we had rented. The next morning, to our dismay the rain had not subsided. We decided to venture down to the local beach. To our surprise a few local kids had spread out into the water to catch the incoming waves. They were at times quite large. Boards in hand they rode the surf along with Fabian who was pondered by the force of the hit. The never ceasing waves. 

Beach Alone

Somehow we kind of stumbled on a gem of a day. The sun was scorching. The walk was across the estuary, over the footbridge, down the road and over the small dunes. The result was absolute bliss. A beach 2 km across, white sands and gentle waves greeted us. It was ours for the afternoon. And only ours. 

 

Betty & Jeff

When we travel, like a lot of people, we crave the idea of an original and authentic location. A special spot where we can relax and find inspiration in the landscape and people who fill it. Some of these qualities we discovered at Whananaki. Betty and Jeff had run this charming holiday park for the last 40-50 years. 

After a small amount of convincing, I managed to take both Betty and Jeff away from their guests to have some portraits taken. Truly fantastic people. We touched on various subjects, including Jeff's background in politics. He radiated authentic New Zealand charm as we chatted in his dust ridden truck. 

The following day he was booked for a meeting with the New Zealand prime minister. 

The park boundary is a majestic estuary that when the sun sets shimmers with saturated reflections.  We wandered around in the evening mesmerised by the soft yellow light that hit the sides of the wooden cabins. All very alternative. 

Browns Beach

The rain was sprinkling down causing a beautiful misty fog that covered the horizon. We walked on the sand throwing stones in the water. Who threw furtherest. There was a small bite to the air, but nothing that stopped this for some reason being one of those moments. A moment to remember. 

I noticed a man sitting on the grass bank that led down to the beach. His beard white and long. His cap that sunk over his head was an All Blacks cap. He belonged there. Beer in hand and happy to chat. We talked about Long Bay, the next beach down. Developments of housing and movements and constructions in the area. He told of his travel stories to 90 Mile Beach, being stuck in the sand. His name is John. A nice man. 

Fabian and Jelly Fish

Ive always been a little afraid of jelly fish. I guess it generates from a sting I had in Asia from a blue bottle. Seeing Fabian gaze at these sea creatures with amazement warmed my heart - with a slight mix of dread.