I am starting with Day 10 – take a photo of something that brings you joy and share it🧡 New books to read spark so much joy for me And I have so enjoyed rediscovering my love of sketching in recent weeks.
Thankful for my life’s story so far and having had 30 days worth of travel memories to share in this space.
Thank you to those for joining me on my virtual wanderings down my travel memory lane. I am so grateful for your company.
Thank you to all those brave souls around the world who leave the comfort of their bubbles every day to carry out essential services and provide care for the sick and vulnerable. Your daily courage is such an inspiration.
Thankful for the courage that wells up within to face not knowing what tomorrow may bring.
“I want to see mountains again, Gandalf, mountains, and then find somewhere where I can rest… I might find somewhere where I can finish my book. I have thought of a nice ending for it: and he lived happily ever after to the end of his days.”
J R R Tolkien, Fellowship of the Ring
Today’s wandering takes us to some very special mountains. The volcanoes of the central plateau in New Zealand’s North Island. I have visited this area many times over the years and experience a different mood each time.
Again, quite a bit of filming around here for Lord of the Rings movies…. it definitely has a Middle Earth magic.
For today’s wandering we are back in beautiful Aotearoa/New Zealand remembering another “travels with mom” adventure in search of Middle Earth.
New Zealand’s North Island. State Highway 3 takes you through the King Country west of the Waikato River. The landscape here is mystical and intriguing – limestone and sandstone bluffs surrounded by ancient Podocarp forest.
Take State Highway 3 and wind your way through the Awakino gorge till you hit the west coast and its black sand beaches.
Stay at Struan Farm if you like a green country garden setting with the sheep wandering by.
And then definitely adventure into the hills near Piopio to find the Hairy Feet tour – a perfect Middle Earth location. On this farm they filmed part of the first Hobbit movie – An Unexpected Journey.
The day mom and I were there it was pouring rain. It was just us and the guide…. and it was magical. Not just because I am such a Middle Earth fan but also the karst landscape. I am a bit of a geology geek too!
Still on the same “travels with mom” adventure that brought us to Queenstown, New Zealand’s South Island.
We took a side trip – a bus ride from Queenstown to Fiordland National Park. Then onto a boat for an overnight stay on Milford Sound.
More of Middle Earth to discover. Here we glimpsed the River Anduin, the Dead Marshes and Fangorn Forest.
If I put my ecologist hat on for a moment. Here is a raw, pure Aotearoa/New Zealand environment. Magnificent in scale. Teeming with biodiversity. Truly showcasing the power and awesomeness of Mother Nature. A pure space.
A pure space – this paradox of serenity in harsh, isolated spaces keeps coming up for me as I wander these travel memories. Something that speaks to my soul, I suppose.
I think my need to wander began as a girl. Growing up, my mom and dad organised wonderful family holidays that took us the length and breadth of South Africa. Often intrepid and roads less travelled, sparking a wanderlust that has remained with me.
These days I also have incredible memories of travels with my mom – just the two of us. So grateful to have had these opportunities with my very special mama bear.
Today’s wanderings takes on one of these “travels with mom” adventures in search of Middle Earth. She is very patient with me and my obsessions. This will make more sense as my story unfolds.
I have been obsessed with Professor JRR Tolkien’s writing for as long as I can remember. Then Peter Jackson chose New Zealand as his Middle Earth. I think Professor Tolkien would have approved. Anyway, it has been fabulous to have Middle Earth on my doorstep.
Today I am sharing some pics from a Queenstown and surrounds trip with Mom. We found evidence of Middle Earth all along the way from the Fords of Bruinen to Isengard, Ithilien to Parth Galen, the Mountains of Mordor to the West Fold of Rohan. Magic!
Even if you aren’t in search of Middle Earth like we were, New Zealand’s South Island is simply spectacular. A true pure space. I love mountain environments probably more than being on the coast. Just as in the Kalahari, I am similarly inspired by changing light and colour in these stunning surroundings. And just like in the Kalahari, there is something of the serene juxtaposed with harshness in this space that captures the soul.
We visited Queenstown, Glenorchy, Paradise, Arrowtown, Wanaka and Cadrona among other beautiful South Island spots. Besides wonderful sights and scenery there also seems to be great coffee, food and wine to taste everywhere you go in this area. Mom even got me to go on a little horse ride with her in Paradise! The motivation? A chance of wandering through Lord of the Rings filming sites only accessible on said horse ride.
The Road goes ever on and on Down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, And I must follow, if I can, Pursuing it with weary feet, Until it joins some larger way, Where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say.
Its our last day in the Kgalagadi. Time for one more little adventure – the Nossob 4×4 Ecotrail.
A perfect way to meander through the dunes on the tracks less travelled. Stop to investigate the less iconic wildlife often overlooked. Hear stories about the unique plants including surprising flowers that bloom in the desert. Climb a dune to drink in the view to infinity.
Making camp in time to enjoy a spectacular Kgalagadi sunset before enjoying an evening round the fire. Going to sleep to the screech of an owl or the jackals calling. Wondering what the rustle in the bush close by is during your midnight toilet break only to discover the leopard tracks in the morning. Kgalagadi magic!
Day 3 and we are still in the Kgalagadi. This time highlighting landscape, light and colour.
Light and colour would change constantly during a day and with the seasons or the mood of the weather. I was profoundly captured with each change – a spiritual experience. More a feeling than just using my sense of sight.
And the stillness, the quiet was incredible too. Standing atop a red sand dune staring at the infinite horizon – serenity… You need to be comfortable with silence in the Kalahari, in my experience.
There is a purity here I have never felt anywhere else – it is a soul journey.
My Kgalagadi time actually inspired the name of this blog.
But it wasn’t always serene. There is a harshness here too. It is a place of extremes and paradox… as so much of the human experience is.
My lodgings – a shipping container village within the staff village affectionately known as Blikkiesdorp (Tin Town).
I remember the sound of the barking geckos of an evening, dodging scorpions on windy nights and the amazing family of yellow mongoose who kept the cape cobras at bay.
28 March 2020 8:30pm many acknowledged Earth Hour around the world. I happened to be in Twee Rivieren for the first ever Earth Hour. It was my task to communicate about climate change and its impact on this area of the arid North West. With not too many resources to hand and bearing in mind we are talking 13 years ago, I cobbled together a display, of sorts😀 I have included a pic of the display board in the Twee Riveiren visitors’ centre. We also parcelled up candles with a little info sheet for all the chalets, campsites and staff houses so guests as well as staff could participate.
More Kgalagadi wanderings tomorrow…. this time remembering many breathtaking moments with the incredible wildlife of this unique region.