Hobbiton. It definitely rings a bell for every single Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit fan, right? :) Two trilogies that made New Zealand pretty famous. Filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson had an amazing vision, and not only for the story based on J. R. R. Tolkien's novel - some mind-blowing landscapes he picked! We went to discover the fascinating movie set, The Shire, maintained in its original form, and now probably one of the top tourist attractions in the country. And a little piece of magic.
So, let the real Middle-Earth adventures begin! :)
New Zealand is not about the cities. At least for us. It is about the breathtaking power of nature that can compare to nothing else in the world. But this time, the city was calling. So here are some impressions of the trendy, charming, compact, walkable, little treasure box of "Kiwilandia", the capital of New Zealand. Where the wind never stops blowing your hair - Wellington. Aka Windy Welly, probably the windiest city of the world. :)
Red poppies. Delicate flowers, nevertheless very resilient.
I started noticing their appearance already on that particular Friday just before Anzac Day. Poppy Day, as they call it here. As I learned later, for women, on their right, for men, on their left. Pinned to the clothes.
Poppies... Symbols of remembrance. And hope. They were the first flowers to grow and bloom on the muddy battlefields.
April 25 marks a special date in the Kiwi calendars - it is the commemoration of Anzac Day. Probably one of the most important national occasions, too. Remembering the soldiers of New Zealand and Australia who landed at Gallipoli in 1915 during WWI. Honouring those lost and those returned. From every battle, ever since. In 2016, this occasion even more special. 100 years have passed since the organisation of the very first Anzac Day service in 1916. A centenary for NZ to participate in the war.
A travel back in time… and perhaps a way to look into the present and the future. Despite all controversies. This was Anzac Day through my lens...
Festivals. I haven’t really been a festival person per say. Not that I don’t like to have fun, music, and dance. :) It’s just that the festivals I have known so far - mostly musical - never really attracted me truly, deeply. I enjoyed them, but I never really felt the “HELL YEAH” feeling. Neither during, nor after. They never enriched me with an experience of a lifetime, or unforgettable memories. Except for some dance festivals.
I guess now all this is changing. During the past few months living in New Zealand, my world has grown wide open. (And I thought it was already pretty wide…) In many many walks of life. Including the festival scene. Here are some of my reflections after amazing Earthbeat.
Happiness. Something so many of us want so badly. We could give anything to be happy. We crave for happiness. Just like for a nice hot chocolate...
Happiness. But what is happiness? How do we experience happiness? What do we feel when we are happy? What makes us feel happy? When was the last time we were happy? Truly? Deeply?
These are just some of the questions I have been thinking of recently... and what a mere coincidence, just in the run up to the International Day of Happiness...
Where ideas grow. This is the message that greets you upon your arrival. Literally. Not only a fantastic introduction to the South Pacific region, a wide variety of flora and ever changing landscape, but a truly inspirational place. To wonder around (the world, too). To learn. To play. To relax. To reflect.
I'm an absolute flower person. And a plant person. And a tree person. No wonder I have been so looking forward to our visit to the Auckland Botanic Gardens. A beautifully and well designed huge space that welcomes every visitor right from the start! And where culture meets nature. For free!
Today is a special day. Santa in town! Excitement in the air. Boots polished and carefully placed in the windows, waiting to be filled up with chocolate Santa figures, candies, oranges and apples, small presents wrapped up in red Santa bags. Fingers crossed not to get golden twigs instead, that only goes for the naughty ones. Then it's bedtime. While everyone is sleeping their sweetest dreams, a nice, old man dressed up in red, with long white beard, with a big red bag full of presents, traveling from house to house, in the dark, in secret, distributes his little gifts that will make the day of many kids the following morning. Twinkles in the little eyes...
Have you ever thought of a public toilet as a piece of art? Are you looking for a new experience? Well, New Zealand art scene has something incredible to offer!
We were on our way to discover the Northland Region of New Zealand, the very top of the North Island, looking forward to see where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean when we got really hungry and decided to stop at the next occasion. By chance, the next town was Kawakawa, a tiny little place along the road. It quickly turned out that it was not just a regular town! It was home to the world famous Austrian artist-architect of the 20th century, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who spent his last years living in New Zealand! And he designed this toilet here! :)
This weekend we set off to discover another amazing and one of my top favourite places in the world - I could compare it to "the Mediterranean of the Pacific" - the Tasman Nelson region with its amazing landscapes and beaches, and its cultural and economic hub, Sunny Nelson.
Yesss, it's been a month already. One month ago. We packed up some essential stuff, got on the plane in full swing European summer, flew some 30 hours, crossed the whole world and arrived to our destination: winter wonderland in the Southern Hemisphere. And to my moments of inspiration :)
Here are 13 little stories, impressions & a recap of our 1st month in New Zealand.
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