These images I shot in an afternoon in Queenstown New Zealand. The afternoon of Saturday Nov 8 to be exact. I’d never met these people before. I had no idea about who they were or what their life story was but, New Zealand being the friendliest place I’ve ever been, no one said no to a photo. Everyone told me a little about who they were. And once again it was clear that people everywhere have a uniqueness and a similarity. Each and every one of us have a story that is special and valuable including Michelle from Inverness who I met in the local sweet shop. She was fit, tiny, delightful and had some brilliant tattoos including a lighthouse, a Star Wars character and a new anchor across her chest. I said she reminded me of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and she said she got that every now and again. She posed for the camera with a “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” attitude in front of a window filled with sweets. Then there was Justin McLean who was delivering fire wood to the local bars and hotels with sisters Lynn 61, and Sharon 70. Justin has just had his hand, which he accidentally chopped off in a wood cutting incident, reattached. He was going to be on the New Zealand Sunday Night TV program in the next few weeks. Ron the snowboarder I met drinking wine on the beach with friends. Ron said he was hanging around waiting for winter to return. Not hanging about was Chris the head chef at Botswana Butchery who had a full restaurant to deal with and still stopped and let me take photos. In just a couple of hours I met these people plus an Irishman dressed as a Penguin, a group of old friends in striped blazers and kids walking tightropes in the park. Lovely people with brilliant stories and kind hearts. Thank you.
It’s getting close to summer in New Zealand. That means the sun will shine … and the snow will fall. In fact the country’s favourite band Crowded House didn’t need to look very far for inspiration when they wrote Four Seasons in One Day. No matter what the time of year, you are pretty much guaranteed to get a little bit of atmospheric everything. So I wasn’t really surprised (more hopeful) that on a recent walk along The Routeburn Track (one of the nine great walks in New Zealand) day two saw a lovely dump of snow along with a bit of driving hail. At one point our Ultimate Hikes group was tramping along in the sunshine while the snow fell and distant thunder could be heard. As the locals would say: it was pretty sweet.
Just a quick word about Ultimate Hikes. The name says it all. These guys are the best. Great lodges. Expert and capable guides. Superb food. Nothing is missed. (Note: I walked independently and paid for my trip in full.)
A quick trip to Lightning Ridge with Ufocus to meet the locals and go opal hunting. Some of the quirky characters we stumbled across included a flexible miner, a beauty queen serving burgers at the cafe, a part time novelist who went to the Ridge for love then killed her husband (nothing was proven she told me), a former Swiss engineer now proud Sea Eagles supporter/miner and a gentle giant named little Johnny who says all his best friends are cactus. I bought a black opal with a flash of green lightning and a brain (cactus). Lightning Ridge. Great place with plenty of friendly weirdness.
All images copyrighted © 2014 Annie Greenwood.
When it’s dark enough you can see the stars. When It’s really dark you can see the heavens coming and going, winking in and out of existence like sparks in a bonfire. And when you do, when you look up and the sky is like a mottled hide shredded to breaking point by tiny pin holes of light you wonder how it just doesn’t collapse, how the dark skin doesn’t give way and let all that brightness fall.
Last week I found myself on a tropical island wrapped in warm breeze, fringed by coral sand beaches, festoon with gently swaying palm trees. The sort of place anyone who’d ever seen a holiday brochure with the standard photographic cliches would want to be during winter. In fact many thousands of anyones had not only seen the brochure but picked it up, rung a travel agent and flown to the island with all the family not to mention their entire wardrobes packed into mounds of luggage.
Not being a big fan of luggage or hundreds of ferocious holiday makers hell bent finding happiness in paradise, I escaped as best I could (it was a relatively small island) walking on deserted trails (it seems finding happiness is more focused on the hotel buffet than rocky footpath to small coves) taking along my reading material of the moment – Alain BeBotton’s The Art Of Travel.
If you have not read it, I highly recommend you do before you are seduced by the next airline advertisement or picture of paradise dipped in a turquoise sea. Oh and the message in the bottle read: bring more wine.