Continuing on our journey to Karekare beach…
We cross the black sand dunes, through strands of cabbage palms. The black sand is a muddy black after the week’s rains, but on a summer’s day the quartz glitters and becomes positively scorching.
I watched a delightful film at the Sydney Film Festival last week called The Strength of Water. It’s about two Maori kids growing up in remote Northland.
It’s wonderful what can be done with non-professional actors, especially children. In this film the film-makers really brought out the best in them and the landscape they inhabited.
It brings to mind all the strikingly beautiful places I visited last October on my journey around Northland, where the film was shot, particularly Hokianga and the West Auckland black sand beaches. To illustrate, here are my two favourite shots from the trip:
At the head of Hokianga Harbour.
Driftwood on KareKare Beach, west of Auckland.
It’s been 3 months since I returned from my holiday in Northland. I took my trusty Olympus OM-2 to NZ – a 30 year old camera that was my dad’s – and yesterday I got the film developed. I miss the thrill that you get upon first glimpsing your photos. Never happens any more in this instant digital age. I like the moodiness of these shots. There’s something about black and white photos that can’t be replicated with a digital SLR – character.
Blogging about Karekare has made me think of Crowded House and their wonderful album Together Alone which they recorded in a makeshift studio at the back of the beach. It is my favourite CH album because it is so atmospheric.
I went in search of live performances of songs from the album, and while doing so I discovered this gem:
It must be the one of the most poignant versions of Throw Your Arms Around Me I’ve heard, and certainly the most unique.
The kids also did this fantastic version of another CH favourite, Private Universe.
Black as mud
Sea spray wisps
From pummelling sea
Into majestic cliffs
Like dinosaur bones
Bleached against black
Smell, feel, taste
My soul to soar
Drawfed as am I
By such magnificence
In a secluded corner of Northland, far, far away from the tourist hordes of Bay of Islands, lies the jewel-like harbour of Hokianga. There are no buses – a battered old car is all you need – and no harbour bridges – you can only cross by car ferry.
It is tropical. The bush is actually sub-tropical rainforest, and they can grow macadamias and avocados and papayas and all other manner of tropical fruits there. It is coastal, with a massive dune system that stretches out into the ether.
It is also a very old place. Western civilisation may only be 150 years young there, but the forests themselves are thousands of years old. The trees there can be incredibly old, and when you look at the massive Tane Mahuta, you’re seeing history.
Hokianga has definitely left a mark on my memory.
If New Zealand is on the edge of the world, then Cape Reinga must be where you fall off!
A day touring around the tip of Northland is eye-opening in a lot of ways. From the holiday village of Ahipara to the listlessness of Kaitaia, from the wildness of Ninety Mile Beach to the sheltered harbours of the east coast, from sandboarding down dunes to sedately fishing in calm waters. There’s certainly a lot on offer, and I got a good sample of it.
Just returned from New Zealand. Yes, your honour, I might have a slight addiction to this country. Then again who could blame me. There are so many stunning places. Witness my latest journey to Northland. Might have only been gone a fortnight and driven less than the distance from Sydney to Brisbane, but I saw 10x as many things.
Northland actually reminds me a lot of the NSW North Coast, only much, much more laidback, and with the exception of Paihia, much less touristy. The area around Doubtless Bay is an example. Absolutely lovely place, and thankfully a place where tourist buses have yet to roam.
What do you know, being on Flickr does reap some dividends. This photo I took of the interior of Old St. Paul’s Cathedral got into the Schmap Guide to Wellington, NZ.