Ours was a working class family, but then, and happily still largely so now, the beaches and coastline in New Zealand are free to all, rich or poor. Our bay, Martins Bay, was out on a dust cloud of a metal road on the Kowhai Coast, north of Auckland, and all summer was spent playing around in boats. Homemade ones of course. None of these fandangle modern fibreglass or aluminium models. Summer fun was always prefaced by winter toil, as the kids helped sand off layers of paint and varnish so that the Dad-built-and-named Kotare (the Maori name for the kingfisher) was ship shape. And what fun. Martins Bay may have been just an old dairy farm turned into a camping ground but it was life shaping: we’d pitch the tent on Boxing Day and camp rain, hail or shine for four weeks until we returned to school nut brown kids with a new crop of freckles at the end of January. At the bay I wore my first bikini, first communed with fish with a mask and snorkel rather than the rods and hooks favoured by the male members of my clan. I had my first kiss at the bay, learned to drive the boat there and first felt the “magic” of the sea, night water skiing home from historic Kawau Island under a full moon with the phosphorescence streaming like liquid silver. And always we ate giant snapper, so many snapper, proudly brought home by my “king” fisher Dad and seemingly consumed every breakfast, lunch and dinner. These days my turangawaewae (Maori standing place or stamping ground) is North Head (Maungaika) the emerald headland, overlooking historic Devonport village, and around which all visiting ships must make a sharp right turn at Rangitoto Island to reach the city of Auckland. On this volcanic cone, variously lashed by ocean breakers or kissed by limpid wavelets, the wind moans in a big macrocarpa while my dog frolics daily on its slopes. It is a place of breathtaking beauty and cleansing calm. One day I want my ashes to be blown to the four winds from this guardian of our biggest city (of just 1.4 million people).
by Robyn Langwell
We grew up in an ocean-kissed, mountain-studded paradise, not that we stopped for a minute or even 30 seconds to appreciate it back then, and sometimes not even now. Only with increasing age and travel do we learn that we are truly blessed as New Zealanders. We come from this land Down Under that is crammed with the best of landscapes from many countries. In our slim isles taking up just 265,000 square kilometres in the Southern Ocean we are flush with remarkable and largely benevolent land forms. We’ve got it all: innumerable islands, majestic mountains, plentiful plains, rushing rivers, rumbling volcanoes, gushing geysers, grand glaciers and surging seas. A perfect package backed by a largely clement climate that allows us to embrace the elements in all seasons. We are indeed lucky Kiwis. My first golden memories are of summers spent camping. Of waking in the 10 by 10 canvas tent and listening to the wind riffling the tops of the crimson-coated pohutukawa tree on the foreshore, the kookaburra bird having a good old laugh and the tide whispering its siren song. Stepping out into the salt-scented dawn, rushing down the dunes and across the virgin sand to test the water signalled the start of another day of sunshine and seemingly endless possibilities. A half century on my life still starts with a daily communion with the ocean. Going down to the sea is a Kiwi tradition, verging on religion. Small wonder really when we’re surrounded by so very much sea. Aotearoa (our “land of the long white cloud”) may stretch just 1600km from north to south but we have over 15,000km of coastline to play with. Even at its broadest point, New Zealand has only a 450km girth, so that our most inland town, Cromwell in Central Otago in the South Island, is just 120km – a couple of hours drive – from the coast. ADVENTURE LAND Morning breaks calm and clear over Abel Tasman National Park
NIKAU SOLDIERS Graceful nikau palms stand sentry duty on the coast road to Karamea. 4
Just 90km and a 90 minute drive north of this city another coastal stretch, seemingly far from the madding crowd, has stolen my heart. Tawharanui Regional Park is just 15km from wine-booming, Napa Valley-like Matakana, but it is light years away in pace and perfection. Its gem is Anchor Bay, the park’s main beach with an 800-metre marine protection zone. On the horizon is Little Barrier, another precious off shore nature reserve. The bay has honeycomb cliffs draped by pohutukawa, rock fingers reaching out to sea, warm rock pools for small children to paddle in, caves to explore and the most benign champagne surf which with the aid of a boogie board throws young and old skywards and then hurtles them to the silver shore. Here there is always life and laughter: happy trampers and bikers heading for the peninsula hills, excited children learning the wonder of beneficent waves, and the babble of squadrons of native birds. A multi-million-dollar predator fence, built by the Auckland Regional Council and serviced by a band of enthusiastic volunteers, ensures that ocean lovers and endangered birds like the kiwi can literally rub shoulders on this beach of benevolence and bliss. No paean of praise to a land I am now old and wise enough to appreciate would be complete without mention of my other heartland: Central Otago. That variously very hot and very cold southern land that now grows such boisterous red wines in the shadow of snowy mountains with names like Rock & Pillar and Old Man Ranges. This country is best tasted by bike on the now-world-famous 160km Central Otago Rail Trail opened in 2000. Once an abandoned old rail line, now a group of determined local dreamers has turned it into a tourist pathway that has brought bounty to struggling wool farmers and joy to 20,000 cyclists a year and growing. Back in the early 90s another group of volunteers – bless this do-gooding New Zealand tradition – raised $850,000 to upgrade the track when the rail line was pulled up and spent six years making the pathway safe and rideable. Now it’s managed by the Department of Conservation (guardians also of our 14 national parks) and it belongs to all New Zealanders. 6
It’s a sun-soaked three or four day adventure soaring over plains, sweeping through gorges while criss crossing the 45th parallel. Brown trout flash in crystal streams, thyme and sweet briar scent the air as bikers in their thousands revel in “Central”. On the hot breeze you can almost hear the scrape of the shovels and the stamp of the horses used to carve this rail line over 42 years, through tough country with only the most basic tools in the late 1800s. There is history, heart, health and wonderment in this crossing. Small wonder that it’s on the top 10 list of Must Do Things for all New Zealanders. No surprise either that it’s been picked up by new Prime Minister John Key as a prototype for a biking trail he dreams of for all New Zealand. A ride, much like this beautiful book, full of our joys from north to south.
About the photographer
HEAVENLY HERITAGE TeWahipounamu,theSouthWestNewZealandWorldHeritageArea,covers10percentofNewZealand’slandmass.
I first met Gareth Eyres at the very beginning of my 22-year tenure as editor of North & South, New Zealand’s premier current affairs magazine. He was a dog lover, adventurer and keen celebrator of Aotearoa. And a superb photographer. We were and are kindred spirits and remain friends after two-plus decades, even when we don’t keep contact, sometimes for months at a time. In all my editing years if there was an outdoors assignment or key landscape image I needed, Gareth was the go-to man. His curiosity, impish enthusiasm and outdoors wanderlust in pursuit of the true New Zealand ensure that there are very few seminal New Zealand scenes that he Gareth Eyres and trusty companion doesn’t have in his image library. Polly,readyforanotherphotographic He is a treasure as are his assignment. pictures. 7
a brief O V E R V I E W
This spread MORNING GLORY The sun kisses Mt Victoria, an extinct volcano at the heart of historic Devonport village.Acrossthemirror-gloss WaitemataHarbourthecityof Aucklandisa12-minuteferry ride away. Following spread ROCKS OF AGES Arainforeststreamshimmers eerily on the Rees Dart track, accessedfromGlenorchyon the edge of Lake Wakatipu. Thismagnificentfourdaywalk crosses the Mount Aspiring National Park and offers spectacularmountain,forest and alpine scenery.
This spread REST AND REFLECTION Trampers tackling the three-dayGisborneCoastal Walk pause to take in breath andthebeautifulviewovera coastal farm nearWainui on the Gisborne coastline. Following spread MAGICAL MATAPOURI This sheltered bay with its goldensandnecklaceliesjust northofTutukakaandnotfar fromWhangareionacoastline prized for its fishing, surfing and diving.
This spread HOMEWARD BOUND Happy mountain bikers put the pedal down on a balmy autumnafternoononthePort Hills track. Between Sumner and the Port of Lyttleton the hillsoffersweepingbayviews ononesideandharbourvistas on the other.
This spread WHALE WATERS The sleepy East Cape seaside community ofWhangara is now internationally known as the setting for the New Zealand film WhaleRider(basedonthebookby locally-bornwriterWitiIhimaera). Just 30km north of Gisborne, Whangara is part of the Ngati Porou tribeâ€™s ancestral lands.
This spread CHRISTMAS CRACKER Thismagnificentpohutukawa (New Zealand’s native Christmas tree) marks an old fortified Maori village site on Urupukapuka Island, one of theouterBayofIslandsgroup. Prized by early Maori and Europeansettlersforitsfishing groundstheislandalsodrew writerZaneGreyonhis1920s game fishing expeditions. Following spread GREEN SCENE Magnificent coastal forest coversmuchoftheKahurangi National Park, on the South Island’s West Coast. Kahurangi’s450,000hectares of wilderness and coastline makeupthecountry’ssecond largestnationalpark,including the 79km Heaphy Track, the longestofNewZealand’sgreat walks.
This spread POSTCARD PERFECT PicturesqueQueenstownwith its rushing rivers and soaring mountains attracts nearly 1.5 millionvisitorsayear.Thehistoric townâ€™sstellarsceneryandheady mix of wild white water, snow skiing,bungyjumpingandother adventure activities, make it a not-to-be-misseddestination.
This spread FIRE IN THE SKY A blazing sunset and storm clouds jostle over Granity beach, north of Westport. Steepedincoalmininghistory, theWestCoastisdottedwith smalltownsbuiltaroundearly mine heads. Coal mining still helpsdrivethelocaleconomy alongsidefishingandtourism.
This spread WILD SOUTH Somebrave-heartedvisitors choose to walk halfway around Stewart Islandâ€™s challengingRakiuratrackto get to Mason Bay. For those wanting easier access to one of New Zealandâ€™s most southern beaches the local airlinedoesbeachlandings. Earlylocalfarmersdispatched theirwooltomarketonwhale boatsrowedthroughthesurf to ships waiting off shore. Following spread MOUNTAINS TO THE SEA Dawn clouds paint the sky over the seaward Kaikoura mountains.
This spread LORD OF THE FOREST Tane Mahuta, a majestic 1200-year-oldNorthlandkauri tree,stillstandstallandproud in a glade in the Waipoua Forest. Following spread WHITE OUT Hoar frost blankets the Maniatoto Valley and surrounding ranges after two weeks of freezing fog.
This spread SUMMER LOVE The beach boys and girls come out to play on Taupo Bay, near Kaeo. This classic Northlandbeachissheltered by headlands to the north and south and is a mecca for fishers and divers who beat a path to off shore Stephensonâ€™s Island.
This spread RIVER RUN TheWhanganui River cuts through wild heartland country on its way from theTongariroNationalPark mountains to the sea. Enroutehopefulfisherscast netsinsearchofwhitebait.
This spread SAILING AWAY Young sailors, some with America’s Cup dreams in their heads, learn the ropes in Optimist sailboats on Auckland’sKohimaramaBeach. Following spread GO WEST YOUNG MAN The sun goes down over the TasmanSeaoffCapeMariaVan Diemen,nearCapeReinga.The mostwesterlypointoftheNorth Island,CapeMariaVanDiemen wasnamedbyDutchexplorer AbelTasmaninJanuary1643.
New Zealand North to South
NORTH ISL AND
This spread BAYS A PLENTY Urupukapuka Island offers dreamypohutukawa-fringed vistas and safe anchorage for many boats on another magnificent Bay of Islands morning. Otehei Bay is glimpsedontherightwiththe aptlynamedParadiseBayin thecentre.TheWaewaetorea Passage at left offers easy access to the outer bays.
This spread IN YOUR BOAT Sun-soaked sea kayakers paddle pellucid waters in the Bay of Islandsâ€™Waewaetorea Passage.Thisafternoonreverie can become a whole lot more excitingwiththeaddictionofa rodandlureasthelocalwaters are rich with fish including kahawai (sea trout).