Shades of New Zealand

New Zealand, lush and alluring, whispers in my dreams back in the arid, sunny state I presently call home. Its draw is undeniable. 100% Pure.

I spent the first two days of September with my friends Sherry and Jeff in and around Auckland, where we were all transiting on our collective way to the USA – a happy coincidence of flights and timing if there ever was one. 

Auckland proved to be an amazing city, laid back, charming, and remarkably beautiful, with volcanoes everywhere, abundant, varied flora, tug boats all over its waterways and also, strong integration of Maori art and symbolism into everything from place naming to commercial signage. Very visible signs of an arguably controversial biculturalism.

The strongest memory I have of those two days though, is that of the volcanic sand beaches that I was so crazy to see. PihaKarekare and Te Henga, broad stretches of deep charcoal nestled in between dark brooding cliffs being destroyed over the millennia by the grey, tumultuous Tasman sea. I was completely entranced by the sand that weighed cold in the hand like solid despair, and sparkled like a million lost diamonds when swept with sunlight. It is nothing at all like the sand of the beaches where i live, which is light and white, all weight and colour scorched away by the fierce Australian sun, a perfect frame for the deep blue hues of the Indian ocean and eternal sky. It didn’t rain too much during our time Auckland, but the sun gods have no real power here, where the restless ocean reigns. I spent hours walking up and down various beaches just staring and running handfuls of the heavy grain through my fingers, much to the amusement of my travel companions, who then understood why I didn’t seem interested in anything but black sand beaches in all pre-trip discussions.

In Te Henga, as the clouds rolled in to close the day, we spotted a rider schooling a spooked horse down by the shore, its coat as grey as the world around us. It was a scene straight out of a Jinny novel. The pair cantered past us out of the beach, the big mare shying and rolling her eyes at the three wind-whipped humans dragging their tired feet. We stopped to let them go by without startling the horse any further, and watched them disappear into the thick surrounding bush like ghosts.

New Zealand, I’m bewitched.

My thanks to Sherry and Jeff for making those two days so memorable. I couldn’t have asked for better people to have a first taste of such a gorgeous land with.


  1. Radek says:

    Something about these images and your black & white treatment that makes me go “have to be there some day” immediately. New Zealand must be extraordinary and the beach reminds me a little of black sand Vík beach i stumbled upon in southern Iceland couple of years back. Heavy and wet grain in hands, rocks sticking out of water, rushing tides – this one very much brings those memories back so thanks for this great post !!

    1. charlene says:

      It’s probably pretty similar to volcanic sand beaches everywhere else Radek… I’d not seen any before this so I was all amazement. But your description of that beach in Iceland is spot on, except I’m guessing NZ is a touch warmer. Glad I brought some good memories back for you :)

      (PS Iceland, omg… there’s a place I have to visit before i die)

  2. Radek says:

    Yeah, you’re probably right, but i’ve seen only one so far too – that’s why it’s so vivid in my memory and why i appreciate your post so much. Yup, Iceland is definitely not to miss !! Have to trip back there some day, this time with camera gear and no bike……now look what you’ve done – i’m daydreaming now :)

    1. charlene says:

      Nothing wrong with daydreaming. Sometimes they even come true ;)

  3. Brian Miller says:

    Wonderful post. The words and images together are magical. There is a black sand beach on Maui you might be interested in….

    Now, given your enchantment with NZ, I can’t wait to see what you have to show us of NM. :-D

    1. charlene says:

      Thanks Brian. Writing about New Mexico is going to be hard. I don’t have the words to express what it was that NM did to/for me…but I sure as hell am going to try!

  4. Love the words and images. Pure magic mate. Magia! There’s a real fantasy magic feel to the images. Mas magia por favor :)

    1. charlene says:

      Thank you :) Coming right up… I get the feeling my next post is going to be one I will struggle mightily to write

  5. peta says:

    Great story and images, You made me want to see the image of the big mare though…..
    I cant imagine you struggling to put pen to paper, just write from your heart and it will be perfect…I too am looking forward to your journey to NM.

    1. charlene says:

      I tried taking a picture of them schooling by the shore, but needed a considerable zoom for that, and by the time they came past us, I was so so exhausted (and cold!) that all I wanted to do was get in the car and sleep. It would not have been a good idea to be clicking and whirring around the mare though. She was so incredibly skittish, just us being there, still, was sending her over the edge.

      One NM post coming up… eventually ;)

  6. Ed says:

    Can I say bucket list. Actually, I don’t like that term, but rest-assured your images and post has done nothing at all to remove En Zed from my travel list, in fact such a detail orientated post only enhanced it.

    1. charlene says:

      Ed, I was so very struck by the vibe I got in and around Auckland (first time to NZ ever), that I pretty much decided I have to live here for a while one day. I’m so buying into their 100% Pure campaign. It’s true!

Comments are closed.