In Wellington, New Zealand, there’s a wooden church that’s a church by name but not by nature. From the outside, it’s small, cream, nineteenth-century, Gothic Revival. Quaint.
When the ‘open’ sign is displayed, visitors are welcome. And when they step inside, many exclaim ‘Wow!’. They don’t expect to see an interior composed entirely of rich native timbers like kauri, rimu, totara and matai. The eye goes straight to the vault, which resembles the upturned hull of an ancient vessel. And visitors don’t expect an old church to smell so good. The timber has not lost its fragrant essence over the centuries. It reminded me of a small cedar box I own; I’ve had it for thirty years, yet with each opening of the lid it releases a heady fragrance forcing me to inhale deeply. And so it was when I entered this church. I wanted to return, to worship. But it now serves only for concerts and events like weddings.
Ailsa has posted a challenge this week for photos evoking a particular fragrance. For anyone who has been inside Old St Paul’s in Wellington, this photo will have you breathing and remembering.
Our last stop was at a small bay north of the capital, Wellington. To say it was windy would be an understatement. It blew cold constant gusts that drew my hair up and out and often over my face at the moment I wanted to click a photo. Many of my shots were taken blind, like a lucky dip photographer. Take a look at these trees on the beach; there’s no way they can grow vertically!
But before we got to this little place, Titahi Bay, we drove through an interesting town established by Scandinavian immigrants in the 19th century: Norsewood.
In Norsewood, we went through this little museum which must have had the same architect as the Literary Institute in Gundaroo, NSW! The museum is painted a rich burgundy red, a contrast to the snow-white houses we saw everywhere in New Zealand. By the verandah grows a great bunch of deep pink Watsonias, another flower that appeared in all sorts of gardens in NZ, even neglected ones.
While the iconic blue-green-purple Pāua shells are found on most beaches and are available in all the souvenir shops, I found something else, less common but equally iridescent and resembling the Pāua shells in their colours – this turn-of-the-century wedding dress on display in Norsewood museum. Clearly, the Scandinavian migrants had to improvise and make do in this strange new land; both the bodice and skirt are decorated with beetle casings:
At each end of the curving beach of Titahi Bay, there are colourful boat sheds sitting on one of the flattest pieces of ground in this region: the beach. See the hill behind them? In this area near Wellington every house is built on a hill, all with someone else looking down on them (except those at the very top!).
And that’s it for our colourful New Zealand holiday. There were many other places we visited along the way, but I’ve enjoyed leaving some hints of this country’s beauty here on this blog. You have to go there! And I have to go back!
After spending time in Auckland, New Zealand, and driving through the volcanic plateau, we moved on for a great week in Hawke’s Bay on the east coast of the North Island. Again, as last week, I found broad strokes of individual colours wherever we went. There was plenty of:
A matching blue bay and sky: the view from our accommodation. Most days.
As in Auckland, there are lots of white houses in Hawke’s Bay, especially the older wooden houses, the type that survive earthquakes. But there are plenty of creative individuals living here, like the neighbours who built a house with a cylinder attached and painted it with a yellow that says ‘look at me!’.
Red Valerian is a beautiful flower that’s not red but rather a couple of shades of pink, and springs up in any crack where a seed has fallen. In New Zealand I saw it growing in most gardens, jutting out of retaining walls, through rockfall-catching wire on cliff faces, and on the seashore. Some call it a weed, some call it a colourful filler. No doubt it needs to be controlled. I took this photo in drizzle under a grey sky. The blue days had passed…
There are also flowers around Hawke’s Bay which there should be more of, like Bird of Paradise with its orange crests.
When we climbed the moist leaf-littered paths that wound uphill through Tiffen Park, we saw masses of blue and purple flowers growing wild. I don’t know what they’re called but I hope they’re not invaders. Here we were about a third of the way up the hill. When you go to New Zealand, you go up a lot of steps, steep streets and driveways, hills and cliffs. But going down feels really good!
On the walls and in parks in Napier, there are quotations written or sculpted which offer promise and hope. They are signs that this town has not only revived after a horrendous earthquake back in 1931 but is thriving partly because of it. The town was rebuilt in Art Deco, the style of the time, and today it is unique as an example of this architecture constructed in the two-year period 1931/32. The quotation below which I saw painted in an otherwise interest-free alley is a reminder that good things can come from bad. If you can read backwards, that is.
And here’s an example of one of the buildings constructed in the Art Deco style after the earthquake and recently refurbished, attracting masses of tourists each week. It’s open to the public and just as handsome inside.
We went on a two-hour trip with a Maori elder, Robert McDonald, up to a peak, Te Mata, where he recounted the history of Maori in New Zealand. In the photo below he stands next to his tribe’s pou whenua, or land post. Its face is carved like that of Robert’s ancestor, one of the Waimārama chiefs who signed the Treaty of Waitangi in 1841 with the European settlers. At the bottom of the second photo below, (actually the Waimārama Maori Tours information card), is his mark made on the Treaty and the words he spoke, ‘te tohu o te tangata’ which mean ‘the mark of the man’. His facial tattoo indicates his status as an important chief of his tribal group. The portrait was painted by Gottfried Lindauer, an Austrian artist who painted many Maori portraits in the late nineteenth century, some of which I saw in the Auckland Art Gallery and more of which you can see here. They’re stunning!
A couple of days ago I posted about single colours I came across in Auckland, New Zealand, on this, my first trip there. After leaving Auckland, my husband and I made our way down through the middle of the North Island, stopping for morning tea where the roses on tables were twice the size of those in my Australian garden. The land on either side of the road was green green green. And bumpy: the hills rising from the surface are steep and lush and crowded together.
Around lunch time we stopped at Rotorua for a few hours, known by some as Sulphur City. That was a different experience. The pools we saw were in a large park where each one was fenced off. A few odd small eruptions had appeared and were not yet fenced, so we could reach down and feel the water. It was HOT.
New Zealand is a country just three hours’ flight from my home, yet I had never been there till last week. It’s a gap in my travelling experience I was ashamed of when meeting New Zealanders in Europe! Well, now I can say I know something about NZ, and I can agree with all those who have told me it’s beautiful. I enjoyed finding particular scenes where one colour was dominant, and happily snapped a multitude of photos.
I went with my husband, who’s been to NZ a few times before. Without me. Auckland was our first port of call, where I was struck by an inviting turquoise sea, streets lined with white houses, and a knockout red wrought iron fence.
New Zealand, Auckland Art Gallery: I was there this afternoon. When I saw this painting, I thought of the ‘Eerie’ photo theme…
In nineteenth-century literature and paintings I’ve come to expect bereaved women to wear black, so when I worked out that the women and girls in white were not celebrating but grieving, I was a bit shocked. All these white dresses suddenly took on a pallour that moments before had in my mind been the colour of a wedding or communion. It’s particularly sad to see, not men, but women bearing the small white coffin.
Frank Bramley combined social realism with painting en plein air, out of doors. There don’t seem to be any male children in the cortège, but there are some boys in the group of children off to the right, who seem to belong to fishing families. Their ruddiness suggests they are healthier than the girls, who look a bit grey, as though they may all be afflicted by the same curse.
If ‘eerie’ means strange and frightening, the suggestion of something lurking that we might not want to know about, then this photo is it.