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A printmaker's progress


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Hiking the Tongariro Crossing


Tongariro Crossing78

Tongariro Crossing

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Start of the Hike

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Reaching the highest point

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Down and back up to the blue lake

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Looking back to Mount Ngauruhoe, aka Mount Doom

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The Emerald lakes

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One of many ridge lines

Tongariro Crossing

Down to the last hut and onwards to the end

“Little by little, one travels far”

J.R.R. Tolkien

An epic travel day, hiking the Tongariro Crossing in new Zealand. More pics here.

May your feet take you a little further on your journey this weekend!

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Photo Fridays – Reflected Rocks


Wharariki Beach

Wharariki Beach

The most beautiful beach in the world is this one I came across on my trip to New Zealand earlier this year. It is Wharariki Beach on the northwestern tip of the south island. A hidden gem reached by a twenty minute walk from the closest car park, it is an unspoiled, vast, breathtaking piece of heaven on earth. It’s remoteness and unsuitability for swimming due to strong currents guarntees it will remain so for a long time, at least I hope. It took several hours just to walk its length (mostly due to photo stops), and if I had had more time I would have happily camped nearby just to be there in the evening to see the setting sun. And I’m not a camper!

Wharariki Beach 2

Wharariki Beach 2

Wharariki Beach 3

Wharariki Beach 3

the short hike to the beach was through lovely rolling hills with grazing sheep. As we got closer to the beach the sand began to fill up the path and then we crested a giant sand hill and got our first view of the expansive beach. Stunning! Long, long expanse of beach with huge rock formations all along the way.

Wharariki 4

Wharariki 4

At several points we can across seals, even a colony of baby seals frolicking in a shallow, protected pool.

Wharariki 5

Wharariki 5

Wading in the shallow water at low tide was a dream as was soaking up the sun on the enormous sand dunes. The day was beautifully warm and sunny the entire time, one of the rare totally sunny days of our trip. We spent the better part of the day there, leaving as the sun was just starting to set for we had a long drive back to where we were staying. We managed to get some close-up sheep shots when we left despite how skittish they were.

Wharariki 6

Wharariki 6

Wharariki 7

Wharariki 7

More photos of Wharariki can be found in my Flickr album here.

 


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Photo Fridays – Hobbiton – There And Back Again


Hobbiton

Hobbiton

One of the highlights of my recent trip to New Zealand was being able to visit the Hobbiton movie site. It was left as just a shell after the filming on LOTR finished but with the Hobbit production it has been restored to its former glory and left intact for visitors to flock to.

The attention to detail on the site is astounding. Every hobbit house is lovingly created with signs of habitation and use, even smoking chimneys and fresh baked bread. The walking tour is nice and leisurely with guides who are friendly and knowledgeable (although with hardly any new info for this die-hard Ringer), pointing out details that probably never even made it into the movies. The stopover at the Green Dragon was wonderful. So authentic and so many little touches, like a framed poem from the book, that made it quite enchanting. Still drooling over the huge cookie and ginger beer and cider on offer there.

The Green Dragon

The Green Dragon

Best of all was standing right in front of where it all begins, Bag End, with the door left invitingly open (despite the “no admittance except on party business” sign). The interior is unfortunately not there, as this was a separate movie set. I did learn that the tree on top of Bag End is not real! Could have fooled me! It is however painstakingly replicated from a real tree.

Bag End

Bag End

Then there is the party tree, which you can see right below Bag End, just like it appears in the movie, and this one is as real as it gets. Quite amazing that this location was found in the heart of a private farm. All that needed doing was remove the sheep and plant some greenery and you have Hobbiton.

The Party Tree

The Party Tree

The last hobbit house on the tour is Sam’s, with the bright yellow door. It’s just down from Bag End, as it is in the book. It is easy to imagine him running up to Bag End frequently as a youngster and later as gardener to the Bagginses. Of course in the book he ends up living in Bag End too but in the movie we see him returning to his own home at the very end of the movie. I must confess I got a little choked up standing in front of that door, thinking of Sam brokenheartedly returning home from the Grey Havens without Frodo, to be consoled by the warm welcome of his family and sighing “Well I’m back” as he enters through the door. And I thought of how, in his later life, after Rosie has passed away, he too would leave Bag End to follow Frodo into the West.

Sam's House

Sam’s House

There are no hobbits left in Hobbiton, but it is easy to imagine them just out of sight or happily inside their homes as you wander through. If you ever get down to New Zealand be sure to visit Hobbiton in Matamata as part of your Middle Earth adventure.

More photos of Hobbiton can be seen here.

Great weekend to all!


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Photo Fridays – Toes R Us


Toes in The Sand

Toes in The Sand

Two years today and I am feeling very blessed.

Photo taken last month while kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park on New Zealand’s South Island.

Wishing everyone a great weekend!


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Photo Fridays – Auckland Blues


Auckland Blue

Auckland Blue

Our first day in New Zealand was  sunny and warm. Though we were in a city the air had a fresh, tropical fragrance and everywhere you looked was loveliness. This was the setting for the ferry terminal that would take us to Waiheke Island the next day. You can see Rangitoto Island and its volcano in the distance. We were hooked!

This is me below, just arrived, still in my flight fleece,  ecstatic to be here!

Hurray!

Hurray!

Great weekend to all!


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Tuesday Tales – Homecoming


Coming Home, 2

Coming Home, 2

Returning home after an extended holiday abroad always leaves me with a somewhat disconnected and discomfitted feeling. Apart from the jetlag and often the climate change, the readjustment to the quotidian can be difficult. While there is comfort in things old and familiar, there is no longer the excitement of new discoveries and experiences. More than that, there is no longer a strong sense of making the most of every day, of capturing memories and living in pursuit of pleasure. There is an invariable feeling of sadness and loss that accompanies that realization.

But there is an even larger shift. Meeting new people is replaced by the return to friends and family. And that is when the strongest readjustment happens. For I am no longer who I was before I went away. My experience has changed me in subtle ways I myself am slow to realize. My horizons have expanded while my sense of place has diminished, for I find myself filled with the discovery of distance realities while trying to reacquaint myself with the familiar. And the people at home have changed too, for they have adjusted to living without me for a time.

Strangest of all is the shift in my routine with my travelling partner. Our adventure together has ended and we are once again returning to the exigencies of our daily lives, together but settling back at our own pace into our own new rhythms.

Yet while I get on with the business of my days, and adjust to the change and unrest my experience abroad has brought into my life, I also appreciate the good fortune of being able to travel. And I acknowledge that change is a good thing, for I realize that it has enriched my life in ways I will be discovering for a long time.

I’ve just returned from Middle Earth (or New Zealand as some call it), so I will end with this quote from a little hobbit you may be familiar with. “It’s a dangerous business…going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R.Tolkien

Coming Home, 2 is a 5″x7″ photo etching on 10″x11″ paper. It is an image of a very lovely place I stayed in while travelling through France two years ago. I like how the sunlight appears to welcome the weary traveller, shining its light on the road that leads to home.

It is offered this week at $70, unframed. Please contact me at chiarina@chiarina.com to purchase or for further info.

What about you, dear reader? Do you have any homecoming experience or insight you would like to share?


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Music Mondays – A Royal Love Affair Down Under


I’ve just returned from an awesome three week trip to New Zealand. While there I had hoped to discover some new music to share with you. What I mostly heard was a lot of 70s, 80s and 90s hits being played on the airwaves, with a particular love for Men At Work’s Down Under, making me wonder if I had landed in Australia instead.  Of course talk of Lorde and her grammy wins was all the rage on the radio station yet never was it played. So I searched for it on Youtube when I returned and, sure enough, I had heard Royals before. Lorde’s voice is wonderful and the song is good and atuned to today’s youth. But  I’m still hearing the thunder! Vegemite sandwich anyone?