Photos of rural scenery: Middle of the North Island, New Zealand

Near Palmerston North.


Come for a drive in the countryside with me. April 2016. Dairy farm … grass fed stock


Toi toi






Sheep farm


Old homestead


I meet sheep on the road


Down into the valley


Cattle look tiny


Self evident


Rural mail boxes


Old shearing shed and yards


Green swampland. Vital to the region.

Funky inner city hotel in Christchurch

Good coffee/tea station in my room
Good coffee/tea station in my room

Funky, with attitude, BreakFree on Cashel (street) is one of the biggest and newest of Christchurch hotels, it has a modern urban feel and all rooms include a
smart TV and free fibre-optic Wi-Fi.

It certainly epitomises a city reimagined and is handy to many tourist attractions and great cafes restaurants and bars.

Bought ‘as is’ after the quakes (10/11) the company has done lots of work refurbishing, updating, and most importantly, seismic strengthening.

For me, it was a great base to explore the city and after a hearty breakfast, I set out on walking tours, tram rides, New Regent St, Re-Start Mall, the Quake City Museum, punting, and of course, the wonderful Botanic Gardens in the Christchurch Art Gallery.

The local city council has created a great app which you can find on your App Store or Google play ( which will help you find your way around.

I'm shown around the hotel
I’m shown around the hotel

The test of any hotel for me is would I stay there again? Absolutely. Although I was their guest on the sixth floor this time I would willingly pay – and you it has a range of rooms for you to choose from. I suggest you check out their website and decide which is best for you. I was shown around the different configurations of rooms – from the smallest to the largest I’d be happy in any of them.

Thanks for hosting me Breakfree. Here are some photos I took of those rooms:

NOTE: This is one of a series of posts about Christchurch. See this recent post about the 2010/11 quakes – an elephant in the room and one about Christchurch as it is.

Ash Keating creates a huge art work in Christchurch, New Zealand

Ash Keating, the Melbourne (Australia) artist was commissioned (by Gap Filler and the Christchurch Art Gallery) to create a large art work in Christchurch in 2012.  He was in the city at the time of the February 2011 quake and I loved his great rusty orange work on Manchester Street.

In January 2016 it was tagged and he has just returned to repaint it … I had seen the tag and then a few days later walked past as he was repainting it. (NOTE: If you are looking for it, it’s just around corner from New Regent Street, and a couple of blocks south of the magical Margaret Mahy playground)


Christchurch has a long history of great art and artists, and since the seismic shaking over 5 years ago it has again embraced art and I will later blog some of the art around the city.

For more information on the artist see his Facebook page here

It seems the tagger has been identified – he was bragging about it on Facebook. Duh!

This is one of a series of blogs I’m writing on Christchurch  and how its emerging five years on from the 2010/11 quakes when it lost some 80%, yes eighty percent, of its inner city buildings- not because they fell down, but had to be demolished because of the damage – I will be writing about what it is now, not what was lost.

*See recent posts about the quakes – an elephant in the room and one about Christchurch as it is.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Wellington sanctuary has 500 year vision to save species

Zealandia is a sanctuary  with a difference:  it has a vision for 500 years – its goal,  to restore  this Wellington valley to its pre- human state. It’s twenty years into the plan!

Only minutes  from the centre of New Zealand’s capital,  and parliament buildings,  it’s a great place  to spend a few hours,  a day  or, take an evening guided walk to check out New Zealand  wildlife  flora and fauna.  I spent a couple of hours there  2 days ago  and here just a few of the many photos I took. (search in this blog for other Zealandia posts I’ve written)

use IMG_4807 use IMG_4837 use IMG_4920

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Revisiting Waitangi again – next month

New Zealand’s birthplace is a must visit.


One of the motivators for my 2012 road trip around Northland was to revisit the birthplace of New Zealand – the Waitangi Treaty Grounds – and in particular be there for our annual public holiday (Waitangi Day, 6th Feb.) that commemorates the 1840 event.

I’m thrilled to be going back again in about 6 weeks, not for a road trip, but for a few days staying in the hotel beside the Treaty Grounds and which I’ll visit again.

In the meantime, read some of my two weeks road trip blogs (and photos) written while travelling around New Zealands beautiful Northland – here’s one to start you off🙂

NOTE: For more information about Northland check the official tourism website and to hire a rental car in Auckland I can recommend the company I use:  Rental Cars NZ.

French arrive in New Zealand: it’s festival time

Despite not one French beret or baguette maker in my ancestry I love attending the annual (October) French Festival in Akaroa, the oldest colonial town in the South Island, and famed as New Zealand’s sole French Settlement just over the hill from Christchurch.

Akaroa,  sited on a peninsula on the east coast of the South Island,  is usually advertised as a place to unwind, to wander and soak up times past among the  historic buildings.

Banks Peninsula, and its two large harbours, was formed by volcanic eruptions. The sea then breached both cones with the craters forming the Lyttelton and Akaroa Harbours – Māori tell great legends of those times.

Whalers played an important role in the early European history of Banks Peninsula and used Akaroa as a safe harbour.

A French whaling ship commander purchased land from some of the local Māori, Kai Tahu chiefs, thinking the Peninsula was a suitable place to begin French colonisation. The French Government backed the Nanto-Bordelaise Company which was set up to found the proposed settlement. But the British already had stronger trading interests in New Zealand.

In 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi, which paved the way for British sovereignty, was signed only days after the French colonists left the port of La Rochelle. When they arrived at Akaroa, the French found the Union Jack flying. However the 57 French (and a few German) settlers set up camp at Akaroa. Evidence of the walnuts, willows, grapevines and roses that they brought with them still remain and French street names are further evidence of the unique origins of the town.

It’s against this background, and over the past 11 years, that the French Festival Akaroa has blossomed into a real celebration of their French heritage.

So, join Akaroa people (in October) as they paint the town red, white and blue for a town-wide market day with French food and wine stalls, market stalls, entertainment, fun and frivolous competitions and a re-enactment of the first French landing in Akaroa. Special features includes roving French entertainment, food and wine stalls with a French flavour and a French cooking master-class

See the website:

Akaroa, Banks Peninsula
Akaroa, Banks Peninsula Akaroa
akaroa harbour  - just over the hill from christchurch
Akaroa harbour – just over the hill from Christchurch