Our Mountain

Mount Cook is “my mountain”. It took my breath away the first moment I saw it many years ago, and it never fails to make my heart beat fast every time I am blessed to have another chance to stand in front of it. We have my paintings and photos of it hanging on the walls at home, and Daniel waves good bye to Mount Cook every night he goes to bed. Mount Cook witnessed some of the happiest moments of our lives, so naturally I had been dreaming of taking Daniel to see it from even before he was born. So our first family holiday had to be in New Zealand, naturally.

We saw Mount Cook from the plane as we were flying towards Queenstown. It was such a sweet surprise to be flying so close to it, but I couldn’t show it to Daniel as he was peacefully asleep in my arms after long hours of travel.

As we were leaving Queenstown three days later to start our drive to Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo, I kept checking the weather forecast which was, unfortunately, not very promising. It was supposed to rain, rain, rain for the next three or four days. Which meant heavy clouds hanging low on the mountain, hiding it from our view, with no chances to see it. And rain it did. We spent two days inside our motel room or inside the car, taking shelter from the rain and the wind, but still venturing out for the drives around Lake Pukaki as the mountains are stunningly beautiful in any weather.

But on the morning of our last day in Mount Cook Village we woke up to starry, clear skies, despite the forecast. We quickly dressed our little one in layers and layers of warm clothing, and rushed to the lookout in front of The Hermitage. And my mountain was there, in all its glory. I lifted Daniel up, and pointed towards Mount Cook. “There.” I said. “This is our mountain, my little darling”.

We were lucky to have that clear morning, so lucky. We even managed a trek along Hooker Valley, to walk closer to Mount Cook, to be surrounded by one of the most stunning landscapes we ever witnessed. The clouds came back in the afternoon when we were already in Lake Tekapo, and it rained in Mount Cook village for days, so we never got the chance to see our mountain again during our holiday.

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Autumn in Arrowtown

I dreamed of visiting the South Island of New Zealand during autumn for many years. And it has finally happened. The circle is complete as we have seen the South Island in all four seasons now, and I must say autumn is one of the most spectacular times to visit despite the occasional rain. We were there in early May which meant we missed the peak of autumn colours by a couple of weeks but it was still gorgeous everywhere.

Arrowtown is a short twenty-minute drive from Queenstown and is a must-see for sure. The streets are quiet, the air is pure, the autumn leaves are covering the ground as a soft warm carpet, and there is the smell of smoke and of wet leaves that creates the most cosy feeling. We took a very slow (as in “we have a toddler who has just learned to walk” slow) stroll along the river. And you know what, following Daniel’s lead gave us plenty of time to stop, look around, breathe in, notice the littlest things, and just be.

And seeing Daniel’s face light up as he was playing in the piles of leaves was the sweetest moment which has now become a very precious memory.

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Our Little Tourist

We took our little one to New Zealand! It was our fourth holiday on the South Island, and, as usual, it was the loveliest experience. Since we knew the exact spots we wanted to see this time, we stayed in the same places for longer and it gave us plenty of opportunities  to let Daniel explore at his own (very slow) pace. It was so exciting to share the places dear to our hearts with our little one, and to see them in the new light through his eyes. It was wonderful and inspiring.

We decided to fly directly into Queenstown instead of Christchurch this time to save time on driving, and I must say landing in Queenstown was exhilarating and spectacular – we flew over Southern Alps, saw Mount Cook (and that sight made my heart flutter), and then the plane was flying right above The Remarkables.

Here are a few photos from our first couple of days there. We walked around the town a lot, checked out the playground next to our hotel, and took a drive to Glenorchy which we always do as that place is pure magic.

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The late afternoon sun on the mountains makes me feel like we are in a fairy tale:

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Checking out the view on our first morning in NZ:

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He was ready to jump into the water. We had to stop him which resulted in a little drama but nothing that a slide and a swing couldn’t fix:

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Autumn, glorious autumn. That smell of wet fallen leaves and the crisp air and the gentle sun are so invigorating:

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On our way to Glenorchy. Look at those views:

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Finally at our destination (someone was extra happy to roam free and play with all the sticks and stones he could see):

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This drive is one of the most stunning we have ever done:

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Nothing like a glass of local Pinot at the fireplace at the end of the long day of exploring and toddler wrangling:

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I will post our photos from Arrowtown next, and trust me, you wouldn’t want to miss it – the autumn colours are magic!

Slow and Steady

He is not walking without support yet but he will be in a matter of weeks*** I guess. He made two little steps all by himself yesterday but as much as we tried to coax him into doing it again he didn’t bother and just continued crawling around happily or walking holding our hands for the rest of the day. Which again reminded me of how much he is his own little person growing at his own pace and doing things when he is ready. And to witness his personality blossoming in front of our eyes is so fascinating – we learn new things about him every day, such as the fact that he needs to perfect one skill, slow and steady, to be confident to move on to the next step. At the moment he is teaching himself to get up from the floor and stand unsupported for a length of time. When he is up he is beaming ear to ear, looking for me to share his joy.

There is something so touching in walking him around, holding his little hand, and seeing him grow confident in his own abilities.

Oh my boy, I know I will be running after you in no time.

*** a quick update – it was not a matter of weeks. He got up and walked half-way across the room the next day after I wrote this:)

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Belinda - April 7, 2015 - 1:09 pm

Oh my. He’s getting so big. I’m loving these posts and getting to watch him grow :) And he seems like such a happy boy. That last photo of him really shows how much he looks like you!

Erin and Simon

love is a place
& through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skilfully curled)
all worlds

– e.e. cummings

You might remember that a few weeks ago we travelled to Melbourne to photograph a wedding. And what a wedding it was!

Everything fell into place beautifully, creating the story of Erin and Simon’s day – from the loveliest wedding details that Erin designed herself, to the super-charged, emotional moments of the ceremony that was held under a majestic golden elm tree, to the words spoken during the speeches, to the most amazing light we were blessed with during the whole day, to the uniqueness of the reception venue (The Pumping Station at the Scienceworks museum was for sure one of the most one-of-a-kind venues I was ever blessed to photograph at).

 Erin and Simon, it was such a great honour to witness and to capture your love, the genuine, deep connections, the laughter and the tears, the tenderness and the sweet emotion of your big day.

Below there are so many images that I am proud of.

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Dress – Carla Zampatti
Flowers – North St Botanical
Celebrant – Jan Mason
Ceremony – Williamstown Botanic Gardens
Reception Venue and Catering –White Card Events
Music – DJ Masters