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Archive for the ‘Seasons’ Category

Wellington, my city, is filled with native trees, the large majority of which are evergreen. But I grew up in the South Island, where years of colonisation and farming have ensured that rivers are lined with willows, poplars are used as windbreaks, and autumn colours are everywhere. But it has been 35 years since I moved to Wellington, so I had forgotten how gorgeous autumn can be in the south. I’d even forgotten when autumn occurred there, and had expected to miss the autumn colours on our trip south last month. But I didn’t.

Whilst I love the poplars, the willows were my favourite. They now adorn the header of this blog, as you can see. I was just so happy every time I saw them.

Whilst our natural lakes and fjords are mostly lined with native trees (future tree posts), this isn’t always the case in more arid areas, or with artificial lakes, where willows are often planted on the shore’s edge. At least, I think they are willows. Who cares? They’re beautiful.

Another in the Thursday Tree Love series – find all the other bloggers doing it here.

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New Zealand is a beautiful country. It’s a stereotype, but it is true. Of course, most countries are beautiful – nature astounds us, whether in a desert or a rainforest or a back garden – so it is probably an accurate statement to say about anywhere you might go. But – and here I will show my bias – New Zealand is stunning. The South Island, where I grew up, is the jewel in the crown, though the beauty in the north is also varied and breath-taking, and shouldn’t be ignored. The key thing you need to see New Zealand is time. Time to navigate the roads, to include options for bad weather, to enjoy in the scenery (whether on the side of the road, or in amongst it), or to enjoy the food and wine. We just spent three and a half weeks doing that, in the South Island. It was wonderful.

What did we do that was new? Well, we visited a seal colony we hadn’t been to before, stayed in a new town on the West Coast, drove a mountain pass between the two coasts that we haven’t driven for maybe 20 years, stayed in five different places I’d only ever visited on a day trip or passed through, photographed the Milky Way one cold dark night in a Dark Sky reserve, took a cruise in a fiord for the first time, walked amongst the Southern* Alps, and saw some camera shy Little Blue Penguins coming in from shore. Almost everything we did was free too! Well, except for the fabulous food and wine in Queenstown. And last but not least, we caught up with family. They’re a bit camera shy too. Though in retrospect, I wish I’d caught up with a couple more, who are no longer with us.

An adventurous baby seal
No stars today! A daylight view from Mt John Observatory
Walking the Hooker Valley Track
Milford Sound, Fiordland
A childhood memory

It was also the first time we’ve travelled south in May. (Well, except for when we lived there in the 1980s, or brief flights for me to visit my parents when they were alive.) I thought it might be cool, but instead, at first, we had shirtsleeve sitting-outside-eating-an-ice-cream weather. But then I didn’t expect to drive into snow either, although I was thrilled to see it, as we haven’t had snow in Wellington since 2011. I’d thought that the autumn colours might be gone, but they were in full force in many places, delighting me constantly. (Wellington is beautiful, but it is an evergreen city.) So I found a new autumn banner for this blog. (See above!)

Autumn in Central Otago
Snow in May!?!

* An unoriginal name for the mountain range that stretches up the South Island. Not quite as unoriginal as “the South Island” though, I’ll give you that! The official name is Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana. The Maori name means “Mirage of the Ocean” which I think is lovely. FYI, the South Island is also equally and officially known as Te Waipounamu.

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Inviting shade tree

I wrote about this tree last year at the end of autumn. I noted it was beautiful in all seasons, and I have enjoyed seeing it every time we drove out to see my father-in-law. But he died in September, and we have sold the house (final settlement was last week), so there is no need to drive past this lovely tree anymore. Except perhaps just to see the tree.

This is how it looked a month or two ago in summer. I love the leaves – like little ferns. It is so inviting – I just want to spread a blanket under its branches and shade, and lie there with a book and a picnic.

Another in the Thursday Tree Love series – find all the other bloggers doing it here.

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