Black sands

Auckland, October 2017

Five years ago I transited in Auckland with my friends Sherry and Jeff for a couple of days, on our collective way to the USA. They brought me to the volcanic beaches of Karekare, Piha and Te Henga. At some point in those 2 days I decided I really, really wanted to live in New Zealand. Since that wasn’t likely to happen at the time, I then settled for “I really really want to come back for a long time.” I left quite reluctantly, and later waxed all kinds of lyrical about that one day we visited those black beaches.

And here Flemming and I are after all this time, with almost 2 months of road tripping ahead of us.

Magnetically, the volcanic beaches called to us. Piha and Te Henga, sparkling darkly in the sun.

There was nothing to do follow that draw, and stare at the forbidding grace of sand and cliff and raging surf.

Ten Henga (Bethells Beach), at sundown.
The furious rising tide at Te Henga
Just in case it isn’t entirely obvious I’m in love with Te Henga
Sunlight glinting off the volcanic sand at Piha Beach
Dissolving light: salt sprays over Piha Beach in the crazy wind.


  1. alex says:

    beautiful post

    1. Charlene says:


  2. Erin B Wilson says:


    1. Charlene says:

      Come back Erin!

  3. Mark Kinsman says:

    The lead image must’ve required one hell of a selfie stick ;-)
    Love these black sands – mysterious and intriguing. There must be a time shift – yesterday there were no new posts since the xe3 – today there are two, one from several days back….. time lords at play.

    1. Charlene says:

      It’s all magic, Mark ;) Yes, there might be quite a few posts over the next couple of months… Being on the road always encourages writing.

  4. Jason says:

    Thanks Charlene … for making me instantly hate Instagram.

    Looking at the same images here on your blog is 10x more impactful than viewing them on my tiny little phone screen.

    1. Charlene says:

      I’m with you on that Jason! It’s a love hate thing we photographers have with Instagram, I reckon

  5. Mike says:

    I’ve never seen a beach with black sand. Black, volcanic sand at sunset, wanderlust increases.

    1. Charlene says:

      Go on then, you know you want to. Iceland, Hawaii, New Zealand….mmmmmmmm black sand.

  6. Sean Hansen says:

    Positively magical! I love the rich tones that somehow manage to be contrasty and subtle at the same time. You are an amazing landscape photographer. It’s like you capture not just the obvious beauty, but also the soul of the earth, water, and sky. :-)

    1. Charlene says:

      I’m not a landscape shooter at all Sean, so is very nice to hear. Thank you!

  7. walker says:

    “I’m not a landscape shooter at all”

    Please do not deceive the readers ;)

    1. Charlene says:

      Ehehehe, don’t get your hopes up. Once I’m out of this mountainous, cloudy paradise, it’ll be back to the same old, same old!

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