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On the Coromandel – Morning Stroll

Atop Shakespeare Cliff, Marion and I were very distracted by the small birds flitting around us.  Kerry decided to head off for an invigorating walk along the coast (read Up and Down), while Marion and I tried to capture flying things with our cameras.  We first tried for images of the sweetly singing Grey Warbler, a New Zealand endemic, unsuccessfully.  But,

Fantail

Fantail

this little fellow was far more cooperative.  Fantails are the endemic flycatcher, and the little fellow just followed us around as we kicked up insects for him to eat.

Fantail

Fantail

In fact, he often was too close for a decent photo, plus he never held still for a second.  After 1/2 hour or so, Marion captured this image and we descended the two hundred steps back down the cliff, where we continued our morning walk along the coast.

Looking out on the Bay

Looking out on the Bay

When this very fun beach chair appeared right beside the water, we just had to stop to take more photos.

Baby Goat on Vacation at the Beach

Baby Goat on Vacation at the Beach

Our next mini-adventure was the encounter with a woman and her grandaughter,  walking a baby goat on a leash.  We stopped to chat, only to learn that since the family was going on holiday that they decided to take baby goat along with them!  Then, it turns out that

Inga and Yours Truly

Inga and Yours Truly

Inga was a quilter too, and she had heard that I was in New Zealand.  So we took another photo of the two of us, proof that her story was the ‘real deal’.  It was about then that Kerry called Marion’s cell to inquire as to our whereabouts, so we turned around and headed back to the beach house.

Picking Mandarins

Picking Mandarins

But, we had one last quick stop, to pick the Mandarin oranges that grow in the untended tree right beside the driveway to their home.  There is nothing sweeter than a fresh picked Mandarin.

We said hello to Kerry, who was off with his mates to try their luck, catching our dinner in the sea.  We wished them luck, and soon set off again.

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Last Few Days in Paradise – On the Coromandel

View from the Manson's Beach House

View from the Manson’s Beach House

My final days in New Zealand were spent with Kerry and Marion Manson at their beach house at Cook’s Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula.  They were meant strictly for relaxing, something that I rarely get to do.

Lonely Bay

Lonely Bay

The first morning, the three of us set off for a walk to the Manson’s favorite haunts.  First stop was Lonely Bay where the Pohutukawa trees towered over the small beach.

Marion and the Pohutakawa tree

Marion and the Pohutukawa tree

I asked Marion to pose beside the behemoth tree for perspective.  Pohutukawa trees ring the coastline in warmer parts of New Zealand, clinging to every rock and crevice.  They bloom bright red flowers right at Christmastime and are called the New Zealand Christmas tree.

Lonely Beach

Lonely Beach

The beach at Lonely Bay is covered with shells.  It’s where Marion has collected the extensive shell collection displayed at both her beach home and her Hamilton home.

Shakespeare Cliff

Shakespeare Cliff

After a stroll to marvel at the geology of Lonely Bay, we headed for Shakespeare Cliff, where . .  .

200 Steps

200 Steps

we got to enjoy a Step Workout!  It’s about 200 steps, cut into the rock cliffside, to the top.  But,

View from Shakespeare Cliff

View from Shakespeare Cliff

the view was incomparable.  I could see our footsteps on the beach and I wondered if I could zoom in close enough with my Canon XS 40 to capture them.

Footsteps on the Beach

Footsteps on the Beach

And, this was just the prelude to my final, magical day in Paradise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Maungatautari – Sanctuary Mountain

I first came to the mountain in November 2011 with friends from the United States.  My Kiwi friends, Kerry and Marion, joined us there for an evening of Kiwi spotting – the birds, not the people.  With  47kms of predator proof fence enclosing 3400 hectares in a sea of pastureland, it is the largest ecological island on mainland New Zealand.  It is, without doubt a must-see experience.  I could not wait to return!

Predator Proof Fence

Predator Proof Fence

So,

Birding in the Dark and the Rain

Birding in the Dark and the Rain

Marion and I headed out long before the dawn.  Right about the time we began pulling our binoculars (bins) out, drops began to fall from the sky.  Not to worry though, Marion had six (yes, 6!) umbrellas in the back of her car!

Sunrise at Maunga

Sunrise at Maunga

It was a little eerie to walk in the darkened forest.  We could hear, but not see the birds as they awakened from their nightly slumber.  We climbed to the top of the observation tower in time to greet the rising sun.  There is nothing more magical than to be alone in the forest with only wild birds as your companions as the sun kisses the earth.

View from Maunga

View from Maunga

We didn’t see much in the dark and the rain, but the clouds lifted as we headed back down the hill for breakfast at Out in the Styx.  Upon our return an hour later, things were quite different.  This time, the only drops were those that fell from the wet vegetation that towered above us.

Tall Natives

Tall Natives

We walked toward the feeding area where we were thrilled to see a very large, and very red parrot!

Kaka - Image by Charles Cummings 2011

Kaka – Image by Charles Cummings 2011

Maunga staff feed the birds in this area once daily around 11 a.m.  And the Kaka, one of the native parrots of New Zealand, were waiting.

Stitchbird, or Hihi

Stitchbird, or Hihi.  Image by Charles Cummings 2011

We also had good looks, but not great photos, of the native Hihi, or Stitchbirds, that came to the nectar feeders.  Small and fast, it was only with extreme patience that my friend, Charles, managed to photograph this individual when we were there in November 2011.

In Maunga Forest

In Maunga Forest

In addition to the birds, just being in a primeval forest among the ancient trees can be a life-altering, almost religious experience.  My favorites were the giant silver ferns, the national symbol of New Zealand.

Fiddlehead frond

Fiddlehead frond

It is easy to understand the Koru symbol, so widely used in this beautiful country when one gazes upon the gently rounded, unfurling of the new fern fronds.  However, not all ferns seem to grow this way.

Baby Ferns

Baby Ferns

Some just seem to carry and nourish their newborns until they are large enough to survive in the cold, hard ground.

Marion's Maunga Leaves

Marion’s Maunga Leaves

Along the way, Marion continued to gather leaves for her dye pots.

Looking at Maunga

Looking at Maunga

As we walked out of the forest, our short visit at an end, the skies were brilliant and we could see Sanctuary Mountain in all its glory!  Sanctuary Mountain will be one of the stops on my New Zealand Tour in April 2014.  It is pure magic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Out in the Styx

We pulled into the driveway of Out in the Styx with enough time to unpack for the night and relax with our host, Lance, over a glass of wine.

Maungatautari in the Fog

Maungatautari in the Fog

The clouds were hanging low over the mountain, threatening rain.  It also was getting dark so our visit to the mountain would have to wait until morning.  Lance regaled us with all the goings on over at Maunga, now called Sanctuary Mountain.  There was a new visitor center, new birds, and new trails.

Out in the Styx Cafe

Out in the Styx Cafe

While we remembered old times with Lance, and learned about more recent events, Mary was hard at work in the kitchen, preparing our dinner.  It was . . .

Out in the Styx Menu

Out in the Styx Menu

a delicious repast!

Next time you are anywhere near the Waikato countryside, stop in!  The food is impressive, the company entertaining, and the accommodations, right at the foot of Maungatautari Mountain very comfortable.  Be sure to call for reservations first!

Toes in the water

Toes in the Water

You will be glad you did!

 

 

 

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Ciao Taupo! Hello Out in the Styx!

Of course, my other favorite pastime is exploring back country byways.  Marion and I headed north in the general direction of Cambridge.

Off to the Wilds

Off to the Wilds

Along the way, Marion asked if I had ever walked on a swing bridge.  Upon my negative answer, she quickly turned the car in the direction of the Arapuni Swing Bridge.

Arapuni Swing Bridge

Arapuni Swing Bridge

The Arapuni Suspension Bridge is located just downstream from the Arapuni Power Station on the Waikato River in the South Waikato District of New Zealand. The 152-metre (499 ft) suspension bridge in the bush-lined gorge was built in the mid-1920s to allow workers from the village of Arapuni to access the power station construction site.

Arapuni Suspension Bridge

Arapuni Suspension Bridge

It’s long way down to the bottom of the gorge!  And, with every step, I could feel the bridge swaying. So, we did what any self-respecting tourist would do . . .

Marion poses on the swing bridge

Marion poses on the swing bridge

We took photographs!  First of each other on the bridge, and then . . .

View from Above

View from Above

and then, looking down at the giant silver ferns below!  It was impressive!  So impressive, that we stopped for tea right afterwards at the Rhubarb Cafe, a terrific local hangout! Soon we would be on the road again, heading for our stop for the night, Out in the Styx at the foot of Maungatautari Mountain, that incredible ecological preserve.

 

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Taupo – Around Town

Looking onto Lake Taupo Artw

Looking onto Lake Taupo Art

It doesn’t take long to discover that Taupo boasts a burgeoning art community, well supported in their local community.  Although I was did not capture the specifics of this sculpture that looks out onto Lake Taupo, its majesty sets the tone for art in the downtown area.

Heartland by Brett Taylor, 2011

Heartland by Brett Taylor, 2011

During the course of my meanderings, I found many of the sculptures highlighted in the “Walk the Sculptures of Taupo” brochure.  Much of the art has been funded by the Taupo Sculpture Trust that began in 2008, by a small group of art lovers who decided the time was right to add some dynamic shape and culture to the Lake Taupo Region.  The Trust is now registered as a New Zealand Charitable Trust.

In the above piece, Heartland, the red heart of North Island is set under a matai structure with bronze strap as a tribute to the early New Zealand settlers.

Birds and Stone of Te Arawa by Graham Cooper, 1993

Birds and Stone of Te Arawa by Graham Cooper, 1993

This Sculpture symbolizes the gifts of bird and stones of the Te Arawa voyagers.  The Tuwharetoa people left birds and stones on the shore of Lake Taupo to protect and guide all followers.

This sculpture, created from stainless steel and glass, represents a long wave length surface that travels long distances across a body of water.  It embodies a light hearted sense of fun as well as an environmental message.

 

Taupo-nui-a-Tia, the Great Cloak of Tia, by Lynden Over, 2009

Taupo-nui-a-Tia, the Great Cloak of Tia, by Lynden Over, 2009

My friends, Melissa and Diane, posed in front of this piece which is the first sculpture commissioned by the Taupo Sculpture Trust.  It is set on the plinth of local volcanic rhyolite rock and symbolizes the two sides of the legendary cloak.  The glass feather depict the lake, sky, river, and volcanic Earth.

Sitting in the Donut

Sitting in the Donut

In addition to the art listed in the brochure, we also found other art, scattered throughout the downtown area.  My friend Marion Manson snapped this photo right outside the Replete, the cafe where we ate lunch!  And, a delicious lunch it was too.

Koru in the Shoestore

Koru in the Shoe Store

Even the flooring was artistic, as evidenced by this stone Koru that was the flooring in the local sport shoe shop.  Art is everywhere in Taupo!  Check it out next time you visit.

 

 

 

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Lava Glass Cafe

Lava Glass

Lava Glass

The next stop on our tour was Lava Glass, where we enjoyed a hearty lunch in the cafe, complete with a hand-blown glass chandelier.

Hand-blown Glass Chandelier

Hand-blown Glass Chandelier

After lunch, we were treated to a glass blowing, and equally mind-blowing, demonstration of the art by the resident glass artist,  whose name I did not get.  My sincere apologies for that oversight.  

Glass:  The First Step

Glass: The First Step

The first step was to gather some glass from the oven and then further heat it in a hotter oven.

Glass:  Getting Started

Glass: Getting Started

Then, the rolling began, back and forth to begin the shaping.

Glass:  Making the Round

Glass: Making the Round

The process of heating and rolling continued, along with some puffs of air, blown by the man with the strong lungs to expand the glass bubble.

Glass:  Making the Opening

Glass: Making the Opening

After the outside shape was satisfactory, he began working on the mouth of the vase.

Glass:  Shaping the Mouth of the Vessel

Glass: Shaping the Mouth of the Vessel

Finally, and with a delicate touch, the glassblower shapes the mouth of the vessel.

Glass:  Testing the Stopper

Glass: Testing the Stopper

Nearly done now, he tests the pre-made stopper to see if it will fit into the vessel.  It might be suitable for perfume or just a beautiful accent piece in your home.

Glass:  The Final Step

Glass: The Final Step

Perfection!  The final step is to separate the glass from the glass-blowing rod.  Carefully!  In just seconds, the new glass vessel was free and then placed into a curing oven where its temperature would be gradually decreased over the course of 24-48 hours.  If this step were skipped, the glass would cool too quickly and the vessel would shatter.  Some of the larger pieces rest in the cooling ovens for weeks before they are removed.  Now, I have a better understanding of just how difficult it is to make hand-blown glass as well as the prices for these incredible works of art.

Glass for Sale

The Final Artwork

 

 

 

 

 

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Southward to Huka Falls

Southward to Huka Falls

Welcome to Taupo Symposium 2013

My stay in Auckland was all too short when it was time to move south to the mountain community of Taupo, home to the 2014 New Zealand National Quilt Symposium.  Faculty arrived throughout the day, many of whom had flown through the night to get here.  I was triply glad that I had elected to arrive a few days early.  The Symposium Team let everyone rest that first day and settle into our rooms, but the next day was set aside for touring!  And, our first stop was Huka Falls.

Huka Falls

Huka Falls – can you see the tiny people?

Living in the southwestern United States, it is hard to imagine so much water.  Huka Falls are a set of waterfalls on the Waikato River that drains Lake Taupo , the largest freshwater lake in New Zealand.  At Huka Falls, the Waikato River narrows from approximately 300 feet wide into a narrow canyon only 45 feet wide, making for an impressive display. The canyon is carved into lake floor sediments laid down before Taupo’s Oruanui eruption 26,500 years ago.

Below Huka Falls

Below Huka Falls

The volume of water flowing through often approaches 220,000 litres per second, regulated by the Taupo Control Gates as part of their hydroelectric system.  The uppermost falls are a set of small waterfalls dropping over about 25 feet, while the most impressive, final stage of the falls is a 35 foot drop.

Robbie Joy Eklow, Cara Gulati and yours truly

Robbie Joy Eklow, Cara Gulati and yours truly

In addition to learning about the natural wonders that surround Taupo, it was a great time to bond with our colleagues, with whom we rarely get to see as our schedules seldom allow for time to visit at a busy show.  We so appreciate the Taupo Symposium Committee’s efforts to build in a free day!  Here, Robbie Joy Eklow, Cara Gulati and I pose beside the mighty Waikato River below the falls.

I think I see a future quilt in this image!

I think I see a future quilt in this image!

Stay tuned for lunch adventures!

 

 

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