Illume Festival: Coromandel Town’s Winter Celebration Of Light

“We all have different taste in women!” the girl exclaimed. Of the three swimsuit lanterns we’d each chosen a different one as our favourite. From nearby we heard the band start up, and we went off to check out the live music, complete with swirling lasers and smoke machine. This was the Illume Festival of Light, when on two of the cold, long nights of winter, the normally quiet Coromandel Town came to life, with lights, lanterns, music, dancing and food.

The Rakaia River surrounded by vegetation, with farmland and mountains behind, seen from the Rakaia Gorge Walkway.

New Zealand Walks for Wimps: Rakaia Gorge Walkway

High above the river, the narrow path snaked along the rim of the gorge. The turbulent waters far below were an improbable shade of milky aquamarine, having come straight from glaciers. Trees clung precariously to the steep side of the cliff I was on, while on the opposite bank they lined the winding river, providing a barrier to the bright green fields lined with vibrant yellow flowers.

Crashing a Batak Funeral in Sumatra

“Go, go!” my guide urged me, “join in, take pictures!” “But it’s a funeral” I said, hesitating, “I can’t take pictures at a funeral!” And yet I did. You just don’t go crashing funerals where I come from. In my culture funerals are generally sad, serious affairs and while the general public is usually able to attend, you normally wouldn’t go to the ceremony for a complete stranger. And if you did, you would never take pictures like a gawking tourist.

The Rob Roy Glacier hanging off the mountain.

New Zealand Walks for Wimps: Rob Roy Glacier Track

“After a tedious climb, we at last saw the head of the gorge, a wonderful sight on which not many eyes have gazed. It is closed by a semi-circle of cliffs, precipitous and black. And wedged, as it were, between three mountain peaks, lies an enormous glacier. Not a long river of ice but a mighty mass of ice, breaking off sharp at the top of the stupendous peaks.”

-A. Maud Moreland, 1911