Saturday, 6 February 2010

A little slice of paradise...

The New Zealand Sea Horse - the largest of the world's species

For those of you who don't know...I live in New Zealand (Aotearoa).  Sometimes, due to the day in day out routine of domestic life and work, it is easy to forget how beautiful this country is.  Now I know I've been belting on about our "green" misnomer since the introduction of my ICE (International Collage Exchange) series a few weeks ago.  I certainly don't want to come across as a modern day Cassandra, so in a bid to temper my doom and gloom prophesies, I want to introduce you to a bit of heaven as I saw it yesterday.

Culturally, historically and visually, our country is still one of the most beautiful and spectacular countries in the world, so even though our green record might be a tarnished one, I want to show you that this part of the world is still a slice of paradise and that not all of it is going to the dogs, environmentally speaking. 

Re-established wetlands - Ashhurst Domain

The Domain Cafe

So yesterday we hopped into the car and headed off towards Napier (about 260kms North West of Sanson, where I live).  Andy had booked a dive at the New Zealand Aquarium to feed the sharks, so this was going to be a very exciting day anyway!!

On the way, we got hungry, so stopped off for a feed at the most amazing little cafe that sells NZ ten dollar cooked breakfasts and serves it up with a view.  In greenbacks, that's not much.  In pounds it's even less:

Yum!

The view is what you see above and below - re-established wetlands, just below the Ashhurst Domain.  Looking like something out of Hobbit country, I got the camera and snapped away...



...and immediately made a mental note to myself - this is one of the themes I have chosen for my ICE contribution: the regeneration of wetlands.  Perfect, I now have the spot I want to look at in more detail...and being so close to home, it really is ideal!!

After having a lovely meal then watching the local dressage club show their horses and ponies at the domain (Jason's first encounter with "Haaawseeesss" - he's so cute), we hopped into the car and drove a long way before a smell in the car elicited a quick nappy change stop. 
So we stopped here:


Well what do you know...we've just driven into the roaring 40s...how exciting.  If Alicia's Finn is reading this, he would be interested to learn that the spot I've photographed here is, in fact, a parallel of latitude.  Finn was telling me today that he'd learned at shool all about latitude and longitude.  And, as a nice little touch, the sign reads "No whaling allowed past the 40 South".  Now there's another ICE subject! 

                              
...of course, Jason immediately chases a rogue rooster through the roaring 40s...

Our next stop is Napier! Hooray!!  We pull up outside the aquarium, and immediately get taken through to the dive prep room for Andy's debut as shark feeder.  They let him go it alone, as he's racked up enough dives to make Jacque Cousteau look like an amateur.  Jason and I race off around the aquarium like we're on the amazing race.  First stop?  A pirate ship:

Watch out for the shark, Jason! He might be vegetarian but Bruce can't be trusted! (and is this a prelude to what Andy has in store?)

Next, we stroke these slippery lovely things:

and admire "Lazy the Croc":
Then it was time to watch "Daddy!!!"
Unfortunately I only took a video of dad's dive, so this is pretty much what I've got - a photo that looks like Andy but isn't actually Andy, ha ha.  Well, all blokes look alike in a wet-suit.  Anyway, this shot is courtesy  of the Napier museum and this is pretty much exactly what he was doing anyway.

So, now it was my turn to have some fun.  Leaving the boy behind with his dad, I ran off down the street! He he.  Here's what I saw:


I was struck by these buildings, above.  Back in 1931, Napier was hit by an earthquake so big that it raised almost the entire city to the ground.  These buildings I photographed are some of the surviving Victorian houses along Marine Parade. 














As a result of the quake, Napier was soon to become quite a unique city.  Because  it was rebuilt during the early 30's, the city is now regarded as one of the best examples of Art Deco architecture anywhere in the world. 

The houses I photographed, above, survived the big quake and are celebrated today as a unique landmark in an otherwise predominantly 1930's one.   At the end of this street where these houses stand, is the Napier Museum and Art Gallery.  I went inside and took a look...

 As a result of the quake, time stood still:
 
Napier became a tent city:
I took this photo, above, inside a large display tent in the museum.  The image you see above was printed on the canvas and backlit from lights outside of the tent.

Remnants of the past were everywhere; Napier was time-locked.  After the quake hit, all things from the Victorian era were either destroyed or salvaged and preserved:
Fires raged across the city and the charred remains of jewellry and personal items were salvaged...


But after the rebuild, it was time to usher in the new...

and now, Napier is something to celebrate!  On the 18 - 21st of February, the Geon Art Deco Weekend is about to commence.  Held every year, people come from all over the world to celebrate and have fun.  Highlights this year include The Great Gatsby Picnic, The Chuff and Burble, Murder at the Club, Steam Train Rides and Putt Putt on Parade (vintage cars).

Photo courtesy of nesthaven.co.nz.  As you can see in nesthaven's photo - it is compulsory to dress up!

Well, I have so much more to write about...like The Miniatures exhibition I went to at the art gallery... 


...but that, I think, will have to wait till next time. I think this posting is long enough!

Till next time then...I must bid adieu....

13 comments:

Lisa said...

what a great trip Deb and some fab photos! What did you do with Jason while you were diving??? I miss the green lush landscape as we are snowed in with the biggest snowstorm we've ever had...enjoy some sun for me! xo

NuminosityBeads said...

A great little tour, Deb. I hope to go to NZ someday.
I just know you wish you could have gotten your hands on that earthquake ephemera if you could have. I know I would!
I keep forgetting that some of you amazing artists are still raising little ones and still finding time to make art. That's commendable! The only way I managed it when my son was young was to take classes outside the home.

La Dolce Vita said...

fabulous tour of your beautiful paradise! NZ is on my bucket list for sure, and it is so nice to see the color GREEN when we have so much snow and #14 is piling up!!! oh yes, there is green in the world! thanks Deb!! xo

Kelly Jeanette said...

What great pictures, Debrina, and thanks for the tour, especially the history lesson. NZ is a beautiful country and I would love to visit there one day.

Debrina said...

Hi all - so sorry to hear about your "snowmageddon" - apparently (according to newspaper sources here) your US president coined that term! And yes, I really wanted to get my hands on that ephemera, lol!

tarnishedandtattered.blogsot.com said...

Debrina,
What a wondrous place you live! NZ has been on my wish list for quite some time & now I have bookmarked this post as a side trip to take once I'm there. I can't believe your husband is so brave as to feed Bruce! Thanks for sharing your day.
Lisa
Thanks for the comment, & I'm right back at ya. #104

Poetic Artist said...

That looks like a great trip you guys had.Beautiful country.. Pictures is as close to I will ever get to NZ. Thanks for sharing.

Seth said...

Fascinating journey through a great land. Thanks for taking us along for the ride.

MrCachet said...

Debrina! Sorry for the long delay in getting back to you after your very nice comment on my blog. I had computer 'issues', big time, and the box spent almost two weeks in the shop before the lady that built it for me figured out what was wrong. She also had to have the laser printer and my scanner, so my little machine corner was perfectly naked.

Are the colorful vases glass or clay? They are really beautiful, and I really enjoyed the story about Napier. Helena has been rebuilt (mostly stone buildings) several times, but only once from a quake. The other times were fire related. Stone building don't burn you say? Support timbers and floors are what burned, and it weakened the stone so they had to come down. Still buildings standing that survived however, and Urban Renewal in the early Sixties brought down a number of historic structures. A shame really, as some of them should never have been destroyed.

Kim said...

What a fabulous wee trip you have had. Love the wetsuit pic LOL! The miniatures museum looks fab can't wait to see more pics and of course the NZ scenery never lets you down for a great shot!

Jill Zaheer said...

Dear Debrina,
What a wonderful tour of NZ, the green views and the cafe treats! Just love the aquarium pics in addition to seeing the city and after quake pictures of the remaining items. The items that were saved and not totally destroyed by the fire are beautiful. So glad they have been preserved. That deco fan fair looks wonderful- if I were there, I'd definitely go to the picnic!!Thanks for sharing these wonderful sights and experiences with us! Loved being on this journey with you!

Debrina said...

Yes! The miniatures display was just incredible! I'll do that after my next posting, which I'm about to put up now...

classic girl said...

Hi Debrina, I am absolutely staggered by the sheer content you have on your blog - you have such beautiful creations here and such diverse talent! I'm officially your newest follower! I used to live in Palmerston North and I'm so glad I found a kiwi! (Enjoyed your post about Napier too) Jenine :)