Raglan and Hamilton

Why we suddenly decided to go spend a weekend in (or around) Hamilton is part of a mystery that has been going on for more than a year and will be explained at a later date… Hamilton being apparently New Zealand’s most boring city, that may seem to be a strange weekend destination, but anyway…

Beach near Raglan
Beach near Raglan

Our first stop is at Raglan, a well-known surfer spot. The beach is indeed beautiful, and it’s only too bad that the it is already a bit too late in the season for a swim.  We should definitely come back…

On the way back to Hamilton, we stop at the Bridal Veil falls, which is well-worth the detour. A short walk leads us to the top of the waterfall, and from there, an infinite staircase leads to the bottom of the falls. It’s easy to go down, a bit less to climb back up 🙂

Bridal Veil falls

 

Bridal Veil falls

We spend the night in Hamilton after a short stroll in the Hamilton Lake domain. The next day, the city is stuck in a very deep fog that doesn’t seem to want to go away and prevents us form doing what we really came to Hamilton for… Instead, we visit the Hamilton Gardens. It is my first autumnal visit to the gardens (having previously visited in spring and summer), but no matter the season, it is always very nice to walk amongst the different parts of the park.

Hamilton Gardens

Pictures

Map

Around Auckland 2018

The year starts with the visit of Auckland art gallery and the Yayoi Kusama Obliteration Room. Great, we get to stick coloured dots everywhere, including on ourselves 🙂

Let’s take advantage of Waitangi day for a day trip to the West coast. A short hike along the cliff followed by a swim at Bethells Beach.

Obliteration Room, January 2018
Short Hike near Bethells Beach, February 2018
Auckland CBD from Devonport
Dinner picnic at Point Chevalier, February 2018

Seun Araromi takes the opportunity of a conference in Brisbane to make a short trip in Auckland. During the weekend, day trip to the black sand dunes at Bethells beach. Walk in the river and around the lake Kawaupaka, with copious amounts of mud.

Sand dunes near Bethells beach, May 2018
Shakespear Regional park, June 2018

June 2018, we take the opportunity of a sunny day for a short walk in Shakespear (note the absence of e) regional park.

Fast forward a few months (we stayed inside in winter, and travelled to Europe), and spring is finally coming, announced by the blooming of the cherry blossoms  in Cornwall park, and the hundreds of people rushing to see them. We were clever enough to park in one of the side streets…

Cherry blossoms, September 2018

In October, we drive to Manukau heads and its lighthouse. Auckland’s skyline seems so close, but what a trip to reach the tip of the peninsula! In front of us, we see Whatipu beach, where Josh fell in the water a few months ago…

Lighthouse at Manukau Heads

In May 2018, most of the hiking tracks in the Waitakere ranges have closed due to the spread of the Kauri dieback. We need to find other places to go hiking, and we decide to try the Hunua ranges, south of Auckland. Our first attempt is a failure because the park is closed due to the use of poison to kill rats and other pests, but a few weeks later, we come back for a hike in the forest.

Hunua Falls, November 2018

On our way to the French market in Parnell, we walk through the domain. There was a memorial to the New Zealand soldiers who fell during the war, such as the infamous battle of Gallipoli in 1915.
Auckland Museum, November 2018

Still in November, we visit NZ sculpture OnShore in Devonport, an open air sculpture exhibition on the grounds of an old war fortress .

NZ sculpture OnShore, November 2018

With the nice weather coming back, it’s the perfect opportunity for a visit to the west coast. Today we drive to Karekare and its waterfall. Looking for tunnels of an old tramway line, we mistakenly take a path that climbs up the hill, but are rewarded by a very nice view of the beach
Karekare Waterfall, December 2018

To end 2018, we take the boat (with the captain Ben and his deck hand Junior) to Motuihe island for some hiking and swimming. The day seems to have been exhausting…
Mothuihe island, December 2018

Pictures, Auckland 2018

Wellington

So what do you find in Wellington, New Zealand capital city?

There is Kelburn and the botanical garden, at the top of a hill that we reach with the iconicred cable car.

And of course, in a capital city, one expects to find the government… Wellington is famous for the architecture of the Beehive, which appears to be quite divisive, between the “Hey, but that’s quite original” and the “I hope the architect has been shot”. It has appeared once on a list as the world’s third ugliest building, but I think it is mild in comparison with the Boston City Hall….

We visited the parliament, and it was quite interesting to learn a few things about the political system of my adoption country.  However, we didn’t get to meet the Queen Bee as part of our visit of the Beehive…

The  visit of Te Papa museum gives the opportunity to learn more about New Zealand, such as the Gallipoli campaign during WWI,  during which 2779 New Zealander gave their life, and which is remembered yearly during ANZAC day.  On a lighter note, the Department of Conservation is trying to save a flightless parrot named  kākāpō from extinction. Everything is attempted to increase the number of chicks. The museum’s humorous movie, mission kākāpō copulation,  has been posted on Youtube (but sound is bad)…

 

 

Wairere Falls

2 trips to Wairere falls in February 2018 and November 2018. Here are some pictures:

Map

New Plymouth

Road trip to New Plymouth for Labour day. Yes, it’s LABOUR day, and we get a holiday… However, it would be unwise to complain. We drive via the forgotten world highway, which is very green, very hilly, and very forgotten. In the middle, we reach the village of Whagamomona, which declared its independence in 1989 following some discontentment over being assigned to a different region. It now has its duly elected president, and although the current one is human, previous presidents have included a goat who won by eating the ballots of his opponents, and a poodle who resigned after an assassination attempt.

Mt. Taranaki

Nice view of Taranaki from New Plymouth once we arrive. The next day, we want to hike on the sides of the volcano, but it is much more cloudy, so we only do a short hike in the rain forest. Apparently, the forest is called “Goblin Forest”, but I do not believe in Goblins… That is until I just saw one behind a stone.

A goblin in the Goblin Forest

We then drive to Cape Egmont lighthouse that we saw on a post card. Once there, we recognise the lighthouse, but an important component of the postcard is missing, or should I say hidden… We go back to New Plymouth via the garden of Pukeiti with its giant and numerous Rhododendrons.  Like the French humorist Sim, I don’t like Rhododendron: it’s too difficult to spell.

Yep, it’s the right location, but something is missing

Photos

Map

Gordon Walters

Admittedly, before moving to Auckland, I didn’t know many famous New Zealanders. As a scientist, I could name Rutherford, although I thought he was British before visiting Nelson in 2012. And Sir Edmund Hillary of course. Ah, and Kiri Te Kanawa. One year after arriving, I’ve discovered a few more. The last of the them was this Sunday.

Every weekday, I walk to work on Ponsonby road, and my eyes are systematically caught by the window of a shop selling NZ-made objects, exposing some kind of cloth with intriguing geometric patterns. So regular, yet with random variations that play with your brain.

It took a visit to the Auckland Art Gallery, to discover that this was the work of Gordon Walters (1919-1995), a Wellington-born artist. Fascinating temporary exhibition!

Let’s not forget a visit to the gift shop

Retour à Marrakech

Dar Daïf – Marrakech

Après un copieux petit déjeuner, nous quittons Ouarzazate pour retourner sur Marrakech. La route passe par un col de montagne et tourne passablement, mais offre de jolis paysages. Après un arrêt pic-nique en route nous arrivons à l’aéroport de Marrakech. Nous sommes heureusement assez tôt, car Easy Jet a “oublié” que le Maroc retourne à l’heure d’hiver pendant le Ramadan, et notre vol part en fait une heure plus tôt que prévu. Et bien ça fait ça de moins à attendre!

Dar Daïf

Campement sous les Tamaris – Dar Daïf

Ils ont osé (et en plus quand comprendront-ils enfin que le gruyère n’a pas de trous?)

Dernier petit déjeuner du trek. C’est probablement la dernière occasion de déguster l’hérésie appelée “Vache qui Rit goût Gruyère”, mais nous nous abstiendrons quand-même de peur que l’on nous retire notre passeport Suisse… Une fois que tout est empaqueté, nous n’avons qu’une petite demi-heure de marche avant d’arriver à la route où nous attend la Jeep de Désert et Montagne pour nous conduire à Ouarzazate. En route, on passe par la vallée des roses, et l’on s’arrête dans une échoppe de produits corporels. Les parents et Caroline testent tous les produits, autant dire que dans la voiture, ça sentait la rose à en donner la nausée.

Dernier petit déjeuner
L’équipe au complet. Mohammed, Caroline, Mohammed, Jean-Jacques, Samuel, Thierry, Brahim, Claire, Lahcen, Brahim, Saïd

Nous arrivons ensuite à Dar Daïf, la maison d’hôtes tenue par Zineb et Jean-Pierre Datcharry, qui sont aussi les organisateurs de notre trek à travers le haut Atlas. Le confort de la maison est bienvenu après le trekking, et on profite de se reposer un peu et du couscous du soir. Pendant le nuit, je me trouve enfermé dans ma chambre suite à une porte défectueuse, et doit appeler mes parents à la rescousse, vu que personne ne semble être à la réception, mais mis à part ce petit incident où la seule réelle victime fut la porte dont la poignée m’est restée dans la main, notre halte à Dar Daïf s’est parfaitement déroulée.

Fin du pataugeage dans le M’Goun

Un village le long du M’Goun – Campement sous les Tamaris

Aujourd’hui, c’est la dernière véritable étape, mais à l’image de celles des derniers jours, elle est vraiment très courte, et nous arrivons déjà au campement à midi. A noter que Caroline et Thierry on décidé de faire Ramadan avec Brahim et les muletiers aujourd’hui. Ils ont donc été réveillés avant le lever du soleil pour boire et manger, mais suite à quelques problèmes d’organisation dans la maison où nous passions la nuit, le repas a eu du retard, et à peine à table le Muezzin s’est mis à chanter, signe que tout doit cesser. Ceci fait que Thierry n’a pas l’air très content au réveil, mais il tiendra jusqu’au bout de la journée. Nous profitons de l’après-midi tranquille pour se baigner dans la rivière et lire. Ensuite, c’est le moment de préparer les habits que nous avons amenés pour les muletiers. Nous mettons tout ensemble et faisons ensuite un tas par muletier. Certains auront quelques surprises…