Capturing NZ

A selection of Iain Jaque's NZ photos

A selection of Iain Jaque’s NZ photos

In a previous post I chose my ten favourite photos that I’d taken in New Zealand. During the last couple of weeks I have been pouring over my friend Iain Jaques’ photos of the country.

Captured in just one month travelling around NZ, his photostream features 35mm pictures from Auckland & the Hauraki Gulf, Wellington, Tongariro National Park, Napier, Rotorua.

See Iain’s photos here.



Ten favourite photos

I could have agonised over this selection for much longer, but I’ve given myself the length of the train journey from Newcastle to Grantham to choose my ten favourite photos from our year away.

There were a few points where I wondered whether we should have bought a fancy camera but our pocket Kodak served us pretty well.

Our stops in China and the (rainy, rainy) Cook islands did not make the cut, but NZ, USA and Oz are represented.

So, in no particular order (but with some logic applied)…

1. The Robs by the Lake


A couple of our friends came over from the UK to tour around the south island with us. Halfway through our time away it was lovely to see some familiar faces and we had a fantastic time together.

This was taken at one of many scenic photo stops, I think around the lakes in Otago. It’s one of the most stunning parts of NZ, with its combination of mountains and light blue water. Right after this we were attacked by vicious sand flies.

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Readjusting to Reality – back in the UK

This post has been delayed, as has my return to reality following our trip. The best way to avoid post-trip blues is with another holiday, surely?

We landed back in London in early September, eleven months after leaving the departure gates. Three days later I went away with my family for a week. Slightly ridiculous after spending so long away, but it was a wonderful way to catch up and relax in each others company without distractions. I also relished spending time in mainland Europe. For the first couple of days, being without Rob did feel like travelling like without my right arm! I think some time on our own was healthy after almost a year in each others pockets.

Soller, Majorca

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A Day in Balboa Park, San Diego

We survived the first self-drive of our US leg with only a couple of the most minor of detours. Leaving LA at the crack, we avoided most of their monstrous rush hours and made it to San Diego by late morning.

With little time to spend, it was a blessing to find Balboa Park, the cultural heart of the city. Home to 15 major museums, performing arts venues, restaurants, gardens and artist studios – everything you could want for a day exploring was in walking distance! Starting off at the Visitor Centre, the guide gave us a park map circled with plenty of ideas of how to spend the day.

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Hello San Francisco!

Just a short update, we’ve left NZ and have arrived safely in the US.

After the long flight, our first 24hrs here have been a bit bleary but we’ve managed to have a good walk around the city. My first impressions are the absolute swarms of people everywhere (especially compared to NZ!) and the variety in the districts. We’ve wandered between upmarket neighbourhoods to more sketchy areas only streets apart.

This morning we visited a buzzing market around the Ferry Building for brunch. We walked along the waterfront to the tourist havens to Fisherman’s Wharf and the shops on Pier 39.


Tomorrow we’re beginning our week-long tour to LA with a San Fran city tour and then a drive to Yosemite national park. Really hope it stays dry for our first night camping!

Lake Tekapo: A Dream Stop Over

Before we leave NZ we had to have a final whiz around the spectacular South Island. We spent a week revisiting Christchurch and Queenstown, taking a different route to our summer trip and stopping over in Lake Tekapo on the way.

Conveniently located half way between the two cities, this small township in the Mackenzie Country has only 300 permanent residents. Similar to the Fox and Franz Glacier settlements, it serves the tourism brought by the geographical beauty. The town overlooks an azure glacier lake against a backdrop of tussock land and snow-capped mountains – not a bad place for a stop over.

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Rarotonga: A Rainy Stay in Paradise

I expect most people have had a holiday marred by relentless rain. A wet English seaside or a flooded tent in France can really dampen your holiday spirit. It’s certainly not what we expected from our break in Rarotonga. In their dry season.

The island is the largest of the Cook Islands and usually has a South Pacific climate similar to Tahiti or Fiji. I had been warned by a colleague that Rarotonga has showers almost every day – it must be how the mountainous rainforest covering the centre of the island stays so lush. So when I saw the forecast for rain every day of our stay, I was sure it’d be nothing more than the odd shower to clear the air. In fact, it was daily monsoon-like downpours, in which my waterproofs and more substantial shoes would have been the jewels of my suitcase.

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Wellington: Our Neat Places

Sorry Auckland, you are pretty fabulous but it’s Wellington that’s captured our imaginations and felt like a better fit during our year in NZ.

In our final week in this cracking little capital, and taking inspiration from Neat Places, here are a few of our fave spots…

For weekend brunch:

Fidel’s – it’s worth the wait at this cafe on Cuba Street, for their original breakfast menu, including baked spanish eggs, grilled halloumi and burritos. We stumbled across this local institution on our first weekend in Welly and have made many visits since.

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What to expect… when you’re heading home?

1 month today we’ll leave NZ. After almost a year away, I absolutely can’t wait to see family & friends and I’m looking forward to home comforts and the end of living out of a bag! This milestone has also prompted thoughts about what it’ll be like to return home.

How much will have changed?

When you’ve been out of everything for a while, you feel like you’ve missed a lot and wonder how much will be different to what you remember. The big things like births, deaths, birthdays, weddings and engagements, but also just a year’s worth of the everyday.

However most people have said that, beyond the surface, very little really changes when you’ve been away. A friend of mine recently returned home after 5 years living abroad, and even then, most things felt the same as when she’d left. Hopefully it won’t take too long to catch up and get back into the swing of things.

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Getting to know the Wairarapa

An hour north of Wellington you’ll find the good life of the Wairarapa. Farm and wine country punctuated by small towns with big character. We’ve just spent a whistle-stop weekend in the region celebrating our birthdays.


Our first stop was Greytown, which we’d stopped in briefly before and was worth a revisit. Its refined main street is lined with antiques and boutiques and beautiful Victorian buildings. We enjoyed brunch in Cahoots Cafe, who were proudly displaying their Dominion Post review from last week. For a pit stop, the cafe is a great place where the owners know all their locals.

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