Tag Archives: honeymoon

R – Rotorua, New Zealand…A-Z Challenge 2020.

Welcome to Rotorua, on New Zealand’s North Island and our latest stopover as we rapidly make our way through the A-Z of Places I’ve Been for the 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Rotorua is located on New Zealand’s North Island 228 km by road South East of Auckland and is roughly at the centre of the map down below.

map_of_north-island

At what felt like the crack of dawn on the 12th September, 2001 Geoff and I flew from Sydney to Auckland on our honeymoon. We’d got married on the 9th and had spent a few days at Sydney’s Whale Beach, and naturally couldn’t wait to get away.

However, when you have a closer look at the date, indeed if I write it in the American date format, I’m sure it will all come back to you…9/12/2001. That’s right. We flew to New Zealand on the morning of September 12 after watching two planes fly into New York’s World Trade Center. Indeed, it was probably still 9/11 in New York when we flew out thanks to the time difference.

At this point, I’m not sure if we knew about the third plane, but while we were in my parents’ kitchen, we watched the second plane fly into the World Trade Center and the collapse of the twin towers. Yet, although we were on the other side of the world in Sydney, Australia, we felt like we were right there. We could feel it in our pulse. There was no distance. It was absolutely horrific. I don’t remember much about the third plane at the time. However, I do remember US airspace closing down and our little Air New Zealand plane taking off, seemingly above and beyond all the troubles of the world. There have been times when I’ve cursed Australia’s tyranny of distance. However, (then like now as the coronavirus sweeps around the world), it was an incredibly relief, and a case of thank goodness for that!!!

Rowena Geoff Papa Bert 2001

My grandfather Myself and Geoff at Kingsford Smith International Airport, Sydney 2001.

By the way, while all of that was going on over in America, back in Australia, the 9/11 attacks coincided with the demise of Australia’s much loved Ansett Airline, which left my 88 year old grandfather stranded in Sydney. He’d come down from Queensland for our wedding, and getting him home wasn’t a small consideration either. Fortunately, Qantas came to the party, and while having my grandfather stranded was nothing compared to what was happening in America and at a global level, clearly it wasn’t an easy time to get him home.

Meanwhile with American airspace shut down and the demise of Ansett, I now marvel at how we got to New Zealand at all. However, I clearly remember thinking that we were flying into one of the safest places on Earth, and that a bit more distance from the rest of the world could only be a good thing. I certainly wasn’t worried about going to New Zealand at all.

However, although we were geographically isolated from events in America, there was no escape. The world was on tenterhooks. When we went out for dinner on our first night in Auckland, all the restaurants had TVs set up showing continuous coverage. Everyone was glued to it. Indeed, when we went back to our hotel, we were watching Ground Zero on TV much of the night, and at least for the next few nights. As I said, it felt like we were hovering on the brink, and I suspect many would agree, that life has never really quite gone back to how it was before 9/11.

From memory, we stayed in Auckland for three nights and then drove South-East to Rotorua. I’ve always wanted to experience the geothermal activity down there. Indeed,  as I saw all that mud gurgling and splatting away, I was reminded of a song we sang back at primary school: The Hippopotamus Song (Mud! Mud gloroius mud)

Rotorua Mud

Rotorua is part of the Taupo Volcanic Zone, a geothermal field extending from White Island off the Bay of Plenty Coast to Mt Ruapehu far to the south. Rotorua’s array of geothermal features includes volcanic crater lakes, spouting geysers, bubbling mud pools, hissing fumaroles and colourful sinter terraces. You probably need a geological dictionary to make sense of all of that, but it was spectacular. I also found a strange parallel between at desolate scenes of Rotorua and the dust and destruction at ground Zero.

DSC_9475

However, in addition to Rotorua’s incredible geothermal activity, Rotorua also allowed us to experience Maori history and culture at the  Whakarewarewa Village ,  which is the legacy and home of the Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao people. I particularly appreciated this opportunity to immerse myself in Maori history and culture, because for me getting out of your own backyard and walking in someone else’s shoes is what travel’s all about. I don’t go away to experience a duplicate of home, even if that can be personally challenging and confronting. With Australia and New Zealand being neighbours, the Maori people and to some extent their culture, were familiar to me back in Australia. However, it was quite another thing to be on their home turf and to have the full-immersion experience and I’d really like to head back there with the kids. After all, experiencing cultural diversity should make us more open-minded and appreciative of all kinds of difference.

When I was going through my photos, I also spotted a rather architecturally striking building, which turned out to be Bath House which was opened in 1908.

The Fleet at Auckland. The Rotorua Excursion. (Per United Press Association).

ROTORUA, August 13.

The visiting American naval officer spent a pleasant day at Rotorua. The principal thermal wonders in the immediate vicinity were visited. An elaborate Maori welcome, with well executed songs and dances was given in the Sanatorium grounds. The Maoris gave many valuable presents to the guests. The new bath house was then formally opened by the Premier. In the afternoon the visitors proceeded in strength to Whakarewarewa when the native Meeting house was opened by the leading chiefs with ancient formalities. Maggie, Bella, and other guides conducted the visitors around the pools, fumaroles, boiling springs and other thermal wonders. The Wairoa geyser was soaped and responded magnificently. Maori entertainments were given in the evening. WANGANUI HERALD, VOLUME XXXXIII, ISSUE 12541, 14 AUGUST 1908.

Rotorua Bath House

Bath House Roturua,  opened 1908. 

As a whole, Rotorua is one of the most remarkable places I’ve ever been. You can now see so much online, that you get the feeling that you might not need to be there in person. However, Rotorua contradicts all of that and nothing compares to being there in person. We highly recommend you visit and allow at least a couple of days.

Have you ever been to Rotorua or New Zealand? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Sources

https://www.rotoruanz.com/visit/explore/geothermal

https://whakarewarewa.com/

 

Q – Queenstown…A-Z Challenge.

Welcome to Queenstown, the latest stopover on my series, Places I’ve Been, for the 2020 Blogging From A to Z April Challenge.

Before we go any further, I should warn you, that Queenstown isn’t on my top ten places to visit. Indeed, at the time it was a mistake, and my views haven’t changed. So, I caution you to be very careful when you program “Queenstown” into your magic carpet, and ensure you clearly enter  Queenstown, New Zealand into your GPS. Do not mention Tasmania. You’ll certainly notice a striking difference, which goes well beyond the accent and how much Vegemite they spread on their toast.

Unfortunately, I ended up in Queenstown, Tasmania  back in 1995 when I flew down for the 50th Anniversary of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. I hired a car with a fellow backpacker from the Youth Hostel and unfortunately neither of us had done our research. After leaving Hobart and visiting the stunning Russell Falls, we noticed Queenstown on the map and decided to head there for the night.

Big mistake!!!

Well, perhaps, it it wasn’t such a huge mistake, because it was an education. However, we’d have to be one of the few visitors to Tasmania who went to Queenstown instead of the breathtaking East Coast.

queenstown

Back in 1995, Tasmania’s Queenstown was still an environmental catastrophe and nothing short of a heartbreaking, barren moonscape after years of copper mining  had all but destroyed the place. As the Tasmanian Times explains: “Queenstown became famed for the denuded landscapes … and its Red River. The Queen River turns red from the iron oxide that leaches from the mine along with other metal sulphides and most of the creeks around the town are subject to the acid mine drainage and can be consider contaminated 1.” (I highly recommend you click through to this article and particularly check out the photographs).

“The copper smelters wreaked havoc on the surrounding landscape. Not only did the sulphur fumes kill off plants in the area but the eleven furnaces required vast quantities of timber and the mining company simply cut down the forests to fuel the fires. It has been estimated that hundreds of men were employed as timber cutters and that over 3 million tonnes of timber were cut down between 1896 and 1923. At its peak the furnaces were consuming 2,040 tonnes of wood each week. The combination of timber felling, the sulphur fumes and the heavy rainfall in the area (which washed away the top soil) ensured that by 1900 the whole valley looked like a desert.[2]”

queenstown nz

Queenstown, New Zealand.

So, clearly the Tasmanian Queenstown is a striking contrast to its Kiwi namesake.

Unfortunately, this also leaves me with another confession to make.

Geoff and I spent two weeks travelling around New Zealand on our honeymoon, but didn’t make it through to Queenstown. Otherwise, I would’ve been writing about my honeymoon instead, which would’ve been such a wonderful story straight after my tales of heartbreak and existential angst in Paris.

Well, perhaps you’ll be pleased to know that my travels do end up with a happy ending, which actually turned out to be a new beginning.

Do you have any travel stories where you took the wrong fork in the road? I’m sure there must be so many of them out there. I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Rowena

References

  1. https://tasmaniantimes.com/2016/12/the-red-river-a-mining-legacy/

2) https://www.theage.com.au/lifestyle/queenstown-20040208-gdkqp5.html

 

Not Tonight, Josephine…Friday Fictioneers, June 19, 2019.

The timing couldn’t have been worse. Jessica and her husband were leaving on their honeymoon, when she spotted Jack almost camouflaged in a grey hoodie. The years fell away as fast as their clothes all those years ago, and she felt just as naked.

“Honey, your boarding pass.”

Jess smiled back at her husband, but couldn’t keep her eyes off Jack. What were the chances?

Meanwhile, Jack was waiting for the call. It was late and he was sweating blood. How could she turn up and ruin everything?

Too late. He chucked his phone in the bin and went home.

…..

100 words.

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields. This week’s prompt is © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Poem: Beyond the Veil

I watch the tourist bride & groom

snap-frozen for the camera.

Smiling in the shadow of

its towering silhouette.

Guardian of ships,

she’s now fully automated.

The lighthouse keeper

is long gone.

Thrown into the spotlight,

the tourist bride & groom

try on their celebrity smiles:

so awkward,

almost robotic.

Their performance unrehearsed,

bride and groom for one day.

Married for a life time.

Or, maybe not.

An Easterly wind blows

straight in my face.

So close

that I can almost smell its breath.

It slaps me hard on both cheeks,

like a frozen fish.

If I were a kite,

I would fly!

The bride & groom who inspired this poem were posing for photos from this lookout. Providing a stunning ocean backdrop, they also balanced precariously above these steep, jagged plunge into the rough surf.

The bride & groom who inspired this poem were posing for photos from this lookout. Providing a stunning ocean backdrop, they also balanced precariously above these steep, jagged plunge into the rough surf.

Tourist bride & groom

perched so precariously

on the edge of the abyss,

the lookout giving way to the sea.

Waves gnashing their teeth

against the rocks.

Shipwrecks, disaster

are no stranger to these

savage, unforgiving shores…

a watery grave.

Following a change in the guard,

a Northerly blows through

with a vengeance,

seizing her bridal veil

too fast for a grasping hand

to intervene.

Pirouetting in slow motion

through the air with such grace,

almost Swan Lake,

it comes to rest in the surf

where there is no peace.

Just the savagery of the brutal sea.

She stares through tears

at her diamond ring,

which has suddenly lost

so much of its sparkle.

It might just be chance

but deep in her heart

she fears the winds of fate

have spoken.

The rocks at the base of the lookout.

The rocks at the base of the lookout.

How can it be

that even our loftiest dreams

can crash so quickly,

broken by the waves?

Those waves

which never, ever

pause to stop.

The waves pounding the shore....Byron Bay Lighthouse.

The waves pounding the shore….Byron Bay Lighthouse.

Byron Bay Lighthouse September 2015.

I started writing this poem while watching a Japanese bride and groom posing for their wedding photos at the lookout. Geoff and the kids were walking down to signposted Most Easterly Point in Australia and onto the beach down below, which was too much of a walk for me. They also had the camera. They were gone for about an hour, giving me plenty of time to watch and absorb the waves ferociously crashing on the waves down below. You really feel the strength and power of the mighty Pacific Ocean here and the waves are huge, powerful, incredibly beautiful but also unforgiving.

I ended up watching this bride and groom posing for their photos for some time. They clearly weren’t feeling comfortable, like so many bride and grooms. They spend there big day being photo models without any preparation or training. Being an extrovert myself, I’ve always loved having my photo taken and have my photo face. People tell me that I look a lot better in photos. However, that didn’t mean I didn’t feel some compassion for this poor bride and groom being tortured by their photographer.

I was standing quite a distance away and from where I was standing, I saw most of the steep escarpment behind them, which became quite an allegoryt for the ruggedness of real life after the wedding is over. Sure, it’s not all hard work but it’s not a fairytale wrapped up in lace and rose petals either.

The bride’s veil didn’t fly away but I could help imagining how that would look with the veil leaping over the edge and spiralling towards its death in the surf.

How would you feel as a bride if your veil flew away like that? I couldn’t help but feel a little superstitious, despite my Christian beliefs. Brides can be very anxious creatures and any sign of trouble becomes magnified and instantly catastrophised.

However, my husband, who is more pragmatic, said what would it matter if the veil flew away after the wedding? It’s done its job.

Anyway, any insights would be much appreciated.Do you have any wedding disasters to share?

xx Rowena

The Photographer Bride: taking photos at my own wedding. Totally incorrigible.

The Photographer Bride: taking photos at my own wedding. Totally incorrigible.

The Nikon Bride. Day 2: Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge

There is a fine line between being passionate, enthusiastic and obsessed or even (dare I mention the dreaded word) addicted.

Some would say that taking photos at your own wedding definitely crosses that line and would suggest putting the camera down and focusing on my new husband instead of staring down the lens at whoever it was.

Perhaps, they’re right.

“I’ve been called many names like perfectionist, difficult and obsessive. I think it takes obsession, takes searching for the details for any artist to be good.”

Barbra Streisand

Indeed, close friends did jest that they half-expected me to have a camera concealed in my bouquet. These days that could well be de rigeur but rewinding back to 2001, such  digital technology was very rudimentary . All our photography was done on film.

As crazy as it might appear, you are who you are. Once you become a photographer, professional or otherwise, your camera lens becomes a second set of eyes. A way of viewing the world. So, to go through our special day without viewing it through my lens, would have somehow not been me. I wouldn’t have experienced our wedding in quite the same way.

“What moves those of genius, what inspires their work is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough.”

Eugene Delacroix

By the way, I should also add that I made Geoff stop of at the Palm Beach wharf for more photos well after midnight and the next day, we dressed up in our wedding gear again and took photos at Palm Beach late afternoon. I think we must have flagged down a passer-by to take a joint shot. I’ve never considered how that must have come across. I mean…I’ve never been asked to take a photo by a stray bride and groom like that myself in all my years of lurking around photogenic locations with my camera.

Call me passionate, enthusiastic, obsessed, addicted or all of the above. Yet, even if I’m crazy or even a little dangerous at least, I am unashamedly me.

I was nominated by Geoff Le Pard fromTanGental for the Five Photos Five Stories blog Share: http://geofflepard.com/2015/06/10/five-photos-five-stories-day-two/

I would like to nominate Paula from14 Weeks Worth of Socks  at http://14weeksworthofsocks.com/ . Paula lives in New Zealand and writes a great travel blog with stunning photographs.

The rules of the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge are:

1) Post a photo each day for five consecutive days.
2) Attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or a short paragraph. It’s entirely up to the individual.
3) Nominate another blogger to carry on the challenge. Your nominee is free to accept or decline the invitation. This is fun, not a command performance!

I am enjoying thisw challenge and so far it’s taken me on a journey revisiting how my love of photography has unfolded over time, rather than featuring my best or even favourite shots, although the two photos I’ve posted so far are sentimental favourites.

Do you have a passion for photography and how did you get started?

xx Rowena.