Mention Mangonui and 9 out of 10 people will say, “Did you go to the Mangonui Fish Shop”? Yes we did go to the famous Mangonui fish shop or world famous, as the sign says, but there is far more to Mangonui than its fish shop. On our road trip of the Far North after leaving our stay in Kerkeri, we headed towards Mangonui, having decided this would be a good base to explore this region, all the way up to Cape Reinga. Driving into Mangonui I was excited by this unique and charming location. Mangonui is an historic fishing village situated on the waterfront on Doubtless Bay. Immediately its lovely heritage buildings took my eye, along with it’s cafes and art shops, and off course the view of the iconic fish shop.
The motel we chose was not of character – rather plain looking but with perfect waterfront views. However 'The Esquire Motel' turned out to be a great choice – never judge a book by its cover. The owner (Santa) could not have been more helpful and the rooms were spacious, comfortable and extremely well equipped.
Mangonui is full of history and Maori legends. Mangonui means ‘big shark’ a reference to the mythological taniwha who in the form of the shark accompanied the canoe Riukaramea into the harbour. It is claimed that Doubtless Bay was where Kupe first landed, leading to Maori migration and settlement years later. A monument at Mangonui’s nearby Taipa marks the spot of that landing. Mangonui was later founded as a whaling settlement and is one of the oldest European settlements in New Zealand.
Nowadays it enjoys a reputation for big game fishing – however we had not come here for that, but rather to base ourselves for exploring and enjoying the other things Mangonui has to offer. We enjoyed walks on the heritage trail and along the waterfront with views across the harbour to its fleet of fishing boats and pleasure crafts. We enjoyed swims at the beautiful nearby Coopers Beach, dinner at the very popular ‘The Thai’, restaurant, drinks and chats with locals and the resident parrot at the historic Mangonui Hotel.
Day 1 a 30-minute drive to the east coast took us to the stunning Karikari Peninsula with its spectacular crystal clear beaches. A lunch stop at Carrington Estate gave us the opportunity to sit, enjoy a pizza whilst taking in breathtaking views over this Peninsula.
Day 2 we enjoyed a whole day excursion – the drive up to Cape Reinga. Our first stop was at Lake Waiparera – here we had a quick stop and walk around the lakeshore before heading to ninety-mile beach on the western coast of the far north. This very long sandy beach is actually 55 miles (88km) long and not 90 miles. There are several entrances to the beach and if the tides are right and you have a sturdy vehicle you can drive almost the length of the beach. Unfortunately we weren’t brave enough to try this even though (Santa) had assured us if we were to get in trouble he would drive all that way to rescue us. Instead we enjoyed a walk along a small portion of the beach and a paddle in the wild sea. I loved the view of the beach but it was the wild horses roaming free along the road down to the beach that really excited me.
Next stop took us to Cape Reinga/Te Rerenga Wairua – the northwestern most tip of the Aupouri Peninsula at the northern end of the North Island of New Zealand. There is something special about being able to say you’ve been to the furthest point in a country and at Cape Reinga you also get to see two oceans collide, as this is where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet. The iconic Cape Reinga lighthouse is a popular spot for photos, along with the signpost. The walk down to the lighthouse and the views across the sea are spectacular and not only is it the furthest point of the North Island, it is also the most spiritually significant place in New Zealand. An ancient pohutukawa tree marks this place as it is here according to legend that after death, all Maori spirits travel, up the coast and over the wind swept vista to the pohutukawa tree on this headland.
Leaving Cape Reinga, having taken in amazing views of the ocean it certainly felt time for a swim, fortunately a nearby road took us down to Tapotupotu Bay where we were rewarded with the most beautiful beach to swim and cool off.
When you think your day has been full with beautiful sights you don’t expect to be blown away with more. If there was saving the best till last then I am sure this is what we did. Our last destination that day was to the Te Paki sand dunes, also known as the giant sand dunes. Arriving perfectly timed for light reflecting on these massive sand dunes I could swear we had arrived in the Sahara – if I had seen camels walking past I would not have been surprised. I was literally fizzing with excitement – these have to be New Zealand’s best-kept secret - although many may know about them there are many more that don’t!! They were truly spectacular on the day we visited, sadly we didn’t go sand boarding (a popular activity on these dunes) but we still had the best time. According to history, Te Paki was once its own island disconnected from the mainland. Over millions of years, sand built up from volcanic activity elsewhere in New Zealand, and the dunes were created – 150 metres high and an area of 10 square kilometres. All I can say was WOW.
After a full day we headed back, and enjoyed our last evening in Mangonui eating fish & chips on the waterfront, but no, not from the world famous fish shop but in fact from the fish & chip shop next door to the Mangonui Hotel, recommended by the locals.
How often do you ignore and drive through those small New Zealand towns, eager to get to those larger, well recognized locations? How many small towns have you never even heard off, and possibly never will because you get focused on places you have heard of.
Fortunately my itineraries are never a given – they are planned quite articulately on paper, but fortunately I am open minded to any changes along the way. Basically my itinerary gives a general direction and gathered information on places I think may be the best locations to stay. On this occasion, exploring the Far North & Hokianga Region of New Zealand I am thankful we didn’t stick precisely to my piece of paper. Somehow this place never even made it to my paper, this place we literally found. If it hadn’t been for a coffee stop before our planned crossing on the ferry to Rawena, on the other side of the Hokianga Harbour, we may not have even noticed it. All I can say is thank goodness for that coffee stop.
Kohukohu is a small, and extremely charming seaside village situated on the northern shore of the Hokianga harbour, where it splits into two rivers, the Mangamuka River and the Waihou River. It is steeped in Maori and European history and legend says, Kohukohu was named by Kupe, after he asked his people to prepare a feast before their return to Hawaiki. When they failed to cook the hangi properly, he swore at those responsible – Kohukohu is Maori for a swearword or expletive. The first recorded European to enter the Hokianga Harbour arrived in 1819 and by the 1830’s, Kohukohu was the heart of New Zealand’s timber industry. For more than 100 years Kohukohu was an important timber milling town and the largest commercial centre on the northern side of the harbour. In 1900 the township had a population of almost 2,000 people, whereas today Kohukohu has a community of 150 people and approximately 350 living in it’s surrounding areas.
So what made Kohukohu so special & what made us STOP, stay two days rather than drive through to catch our ferry to Rawena? Driving into Kohukohu we noticed an extremely rustic wooden building, however it had a big sign saying Café. Sometimes you’ve just got to take a punt when there aren’t many choices and we knew this could be our last chance to have a coffee before our ferry crossing. This café had no door!! The entirety of this cafe was outside on the street front - counter, fridge, table and chairs & a blackboard menu. As we sat on the main street of Kohukohu drinking ‘a great coffee’ I spied the cutest op shop called Secondhand Rose, a local library, a glimpse of the water and a small jetty framed by the Hokianga Arch of Remembrance, and then to my right a sophisticated art gallery. After a stroll up the street it was easy to see this was a very charming village, with the sea on one side and tropical vegetation and historical buildings on the other. I knew then this place warranted far more time than a coffee stop. A quick look on airbnb & a phone call and we were there to stay.
We were greeted by our host of an airbnb named the Galleria, situated a short distance from the café. We were shown to an extremely eclectic room with bath, toilet & bed all in the same space – all but a small divider to hide the toilet. One end of the room had a door into our host’s house – where she would serve us breakfast and another door allowed us to have a separate entrance and a small but very beautiful & lush outdoor area. After discussions with our rather eccentric host we discovered we had arrived in Kohukohu on a fortuitous day. Every year on 12 February the signing of the Treaty is commemorated by the Hokianga community and if we wished to attend we could so by catching a small boat from the jetty to the Mangungu Mission. The boat ride took us across to Mangungu on the shores of the Hokianga Harbour. Mangungu was established in 1828 as a Wesleyan Mission Station and a house situated on the hill overlooking the harbour was built in 1838-39 for the Reverend Nathaniel Turner. The house was barely a year old when it became the site of the countries largest signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on 12 February 1840, with over 70 local chiefs adding their signatures to the founding document. Arriving in the afternoon we had missed the majority of the celebrations but it was still an honor and enriching experience. Our day ended jumping & dive bombing of the wharf with an awesome group of young maori boys whilst waiting for our return boat trip to Kohukohu. That night we discovered the second café/restaurant next to the local fire station – there we ate delicious fish burgers.
Having booked a second night we spent the next day exploring near & far. We enjoyed a swim in the sea, a walk along the road & foreshore, past lovely old heritage homes and New Zealand’s oldest surviving bridge. The Kohukohu footbridge near the centre of the town is the first stone bridge built in New Zealand. Later in the day we headed further a field (a 40 minute drive) to Miti Miti. Miti Miti is a small settlement that lies close to the Warawara Forest, between the mouths of the Whangape Harbour and Hokianga Harbour. Here we enjoyed a walk along it’s wild but beautiful and remote beach, had a walk around the Matihetihe Marae Cemetery which has amazing views over the Tasman Sea and is where Ralph Hotere the famous artist was born and buried.
That evening back in Kohukohu we headed out to the local pub. The local pub is next door to the café and looks more like a hall attached to the café, sharing the same facilities and staff. Here we enjoyed meeting the locals, winning the pub raffle (bar tab prize) and playing a few rounds of pool. The next morning we arose early, had a breakfast made by our host of coddled eggs, fruit and toast with our host and said our goodbyes before driving a few km’s up the road to the Hokianga Vehicle ferry terminal and enjoyed a perfect crossing – mesmerizing reflections of the beautiful Rawena on one side and our much loved KohuKohu on the other.
It's not often we set our alarm at 4.30am while away on holiday – however that’s exactly what we did on the morning of 6 February 2020. Every year on 6 February people gather, as we did, on the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in the Bay of Islands to commemorate the signing of New Zealand’s founding document – Te Tiriti o Waitangi, The Treaty of Waitangi. The Treaty is an agreement in Maori and English, which was made between representatives of the British Crown and about 540 Maori Chiefs. The Treaty promised to protect Maori culture and to enable Maori to continue to live in New Zealand as Maori. The Treaty gave the Crown the right to govern New Zealand and to represent the interests of all New Zealanders. It took until 1934 for this day to be commemorated and many years later, in 1954 for this day to become the public holiday, known as Waitangi Day.
Having planned a trip to explore the beautiful Far North of New Zealand our pre-booked accommodation in Kerikeri lined up perfectly with attending our first ever visit to Waitangi Day celebrations in Waitangi itself. We headed out in the wee hours, along with a long stream of other cars to the Treaty Grounds. This free festival starts at 5am with a Dawn Service in the Te Whare Runanga (Carved Meeting House). Arriving in darkness was an experience in itself, navigating our way from our carpark to the location of the Dawn Service. On arrival at the Meeting House we were pleasantly surprised to find so many others who thought this commemoration was worthy of an early start. We surveyed large crowds craning their necks for views inside the Meeting House or up to the large screens to see the likes of our Prime Minister Jacinda Adern, Police Commissioner Mike Bush, Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon, Treaty Grounds Chairperson Pita Tipene. The Prime Minister called to unite in kindness and care towards one another and then concluded with the last verse of the national anthem.
Following the Dawn Service and Flag Ceremony the crowds dispersed, mingling in various locations around the Treaty Grounds, many waiting on that cloudy morning for the sun to rise whilst queuing for a coffee or a chance to be served a
bar-b-que breakfast by the Prime Minister or one of the many Government Ministers in attendance. Others gathered around the Waitangi flagstaff, which marks the spot where The Treaty of Waitangi was first signed. There was plenty of time to relax, observe and reflect whilst waiting for the day’s entertainment to begin.
The crowds continued to grow throughout the day – large family groups claiming areas to set up around the grounds. Hundreds gathered at the upper Treaty grounds to hear Brian Tamaki on the podium acknowledging breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi by the Crown, whilst others enjoyed the 150 market stalls set up, offering their array of art and crafts and food options as well as bouncy castles, and other child friendly games. The highlights of the day for us, to name just a few were the Royal NZ Navy Big Band performance, the Royal NZ Navy 21-gun salute, the fantastic Kapahaka Groups, the arrival of the Wakas and Navy ships and that moment I got to see up close, Clarke Gayford with young Neve.
Approximately 2,500 people gathered that day to commemorate the 180th Anniversary of the Treaty of Waitangi. I was delighted to be amongst that crowd. Yes there were demonstrators, but mostly there were people feeling the joy and emotions of the day. With so many New Zealanders exploring their own country at present I highly recommend adding the Bay of Islands to your itinerary and like us timing it with your most memorable and rewarding Waitangi Day experience.
(I wrote this story not long after our memorable day at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in 2020 - little did I know then that two years on no one would be able to attend and commemorate Waitangi at the grounds due to level & number restrictions brought about by Covid-19 & Omicron. I feel extremely fortunate to have had my experience that day in 2020 & can only hope 2023 makes it possible for others to experience & enjoy this special day as well).
I often get up early and take a walk on the Miramar Peninsula - where I live in Wellington. I seldom let the weather deter me and I seldom leave home without my camera.
The Miramar Peninsula sits at the South Eastern edge of Wellington - the capital city of New Zealand. The famous Maori Explorer Kupe is credited as the first person to discover Aotearoa (New Zealand) and also the first person to land on what became the Miramar Peninsula. The Peninsula is now made up of a number of suburbs, each with its own unique character - Seatoun, Strathmore, Miramar, Maupuia, Breaker Bay, Moa Point, Worser Bay, Karaka Bay, Scorching Bay and Shelly Bay - home to around 20,000 people. It is an area of rugged coastlines, sheltered bays, bushwalks as well as being the centre of the Film Industry and with a diverse selection of cafe's and restaurants. The close proximity to Wellington International Airport adds to its appeal as a great location to live or visit.
I feel very fortunate to live in this scenic coastal paradise and not a day goes by that I don't enjoy or appreciate my surroundings. I have put together a slideshow of a selection of my photos so "you can see what I see" on my morning walk.
As winter sets in my thoughts are on warmer destinations - places been and new places to discover. Some of you will be yearning a Pacific Island but for me it’s a small beach town we visited in January on the Pacific Coast in Oaxaca, Mexico. I'm not one for returning to a destination as it’s a big wide world out there and so many new places to discover but for some reason Mazunte has a strong calling for me to return. Even it’s name conjures up magical thoughts, and that’s exactly what it is - Mazunte is actually one of Mexico's Pueblo Magico's (magical towns) and surprisingly it is relatively unknown. Hopefully it will always be that magic place - with it’s huge translucent waves, amazing sunsets, a place where turtles go to lay their eggs and whales come closer to shore than the cruise ships seen bypassing in the distance.
As a single in my 20’s I spent many years backpacking and discovering the world. Now as a mature adult with my grown children departing on their own life changing travels, it is time to stop reminiscing and enjoy our own adventures.
As soon as we arrived in Mazunte I knew I had arrived at that special place, where I could relive my carefree past without feeling saddened as I often do by the effects modern living i.e. overcrowding, polluted waterways and rubbish strewn streets. Mazunte seems to attract the traveller who cares for their environment and lovers of nature. Its hippy vibe ensures your days are spent stress free, embracing the crystal clear waters of this 1km stretch of pristine beach and enjoying all that this beautiful area in Mexico has to offer.
Mazunte is a hidden gem that leaves you feeling hopeful – that life may one day be simplistic and people will realize how important it is that places like Mazunte remain unscathed from today’s hectic lifestyle. I like to think that people will one day realize experiences are more important than possessions – a lesson myself is happy to learn and embrace.
I have put together a video clip using photos taken on our recent travels to this magic place - Mazunte.
On Wednesday 4 July 2018 a rare Southern Right Whale appeared in Wellington Harbour. He swam, frolicked and breached and entertained Wellingtonians for up to a week. He caused havoc to the traffic and parking around the bays and disrupted the ferry sailings on many of those days.
Matariki, you bought smiles and joy to so many people and even in bad weather you melted our hearts - unfortunately now it seems you've decided to part.
I have put together a short video using my photos as a reminder of that special day I got to enjoy Matariki playing to the crowds at Miramar Wharf. Matariki - hopefully we will meet again soon (possibly on a brighter day).
On a recent trip to visit our daughter living in Auckland she suggested we venture out of Auckland – great idea and thanks to this we discovered the lovely area of Matakana.
Matakana is 1-hour North of Auckland. This picturesque region is a foodie and artists haven, known for its weekend farmers market, art gallery’s, sculpture trails, spectacular beaches, vineyards and craft brewers - definitely my kind of place!!!
Leaving Auckland on a Friday at 4pm it took just over an hour to get to our accommodation - 3km south of Matakana village (definitely allow more time though in summer). Having booked a cottage through book-a-bach, we were delighted to find such a cozy and creatively decorated place, set on the owner’s 10-acre property. Arriving around dinnertime we ventured into town to find somewhere to eat. A quick walk around the township, a look at menus at the various eating establishments and we finally chose Matakana Market Kitchen – situated under Matakana’s cinema. Here we had a delicious meal – would definitely recommend. Then it was home to our cozy cottage to snuggle up by the woodburner fire and begin the first of the weekends scrabble and monopoly challenges
Our lovely book-a-bach accommodation - Old School Guest House
The weekend was spent discovering the joys of this area – the famous Matakana Markets on Saturday morning, a lovely brunch at Plume Café, a drive to discover a handful of the many glorious beaches – Omaha, Tawharanui Regional Park, Ti Point Wharf and Leigh. On the way back we stopped at the trendy Sawmill Brewery for some beer sampling and a tasty platter. The afternoon was well taken up with a visit and walk around the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail. The trail takes you through native bush and a huge selection of large crafted sculptures. Being a Saturday and the All-Blacks first test match against France we headed out that night to the Matakana Village Pub for dinner and positioned ourselves in front of one of the large TV screens (and yes we won)!!! then headed back to the cottage to continue our scrabble & monopoly challenges
Matakana Farmers Markets held on Saturday mornings.
The Matakana area is surrounded by beautiful beaches
The trendy Sawmill Brewery where we enjoyed craft beer tasting and a platter
A lovely afternoon spent doing the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail
On Sunday we were up bright and early to do a long walk (this time a day planned by our daughter). A 50-minute drive north took us to the start of the Mangawhai Cliffs walk – but not before stopping to have breakfast at the nearby Harvest Blue Café.
The Mangawhai Cliffs walk takes approximately 2 hours – first walking along the beach, then up hill amongst a forest of Nikau Palms and incredible views overlooking hills and down to the rugged coast - below and beyond. After making our way back down the hill we spent the last ¾ hour walking along very rocky but beautiful coastline. This walk has often been named the most beautiful coastal walk North of Auckland and I can certainly see why.
The Mangawhai Cliffs Walk
Some of the natural fauna found in the Matakana & Mangawhai Area
Sunday, our last night in Matakana, we headed out for a drink at the Vintry which is upstairs in Matakana’s funky cinema. Here we sipped our drinks by a cozy fire - only the thought of our own cozy fire and delicious platter made up from treats bought at the Matakana Markets the day before had us leaving to venture out into the cold night. A final night of scrabble and monopoly challenges and a couple of wins for me made it a great end to a truly enjoyable weekend.
When we received our invitation to attend our nieces wedding in Hahndorf (26km from Adelaide City) I was excited - firstly I had not been to a wedding in, many years and secondly I had not been to Adelaide in nearly 30 years, when I was travelling around the circumference of Australia in a campervan. Having very dulled memories of Adelaide apart from time spent in the nearby Barossa Valley, probably drinking copious glasses of wine, I was keen to rediscover this area. With only 4 days away we had to make a decision whether to spend it all in Hahndorf & get to know that area or break the days up and have a speedy stay in Adelaide - reluctantly we decided to take the risk and split our time and rediscover Adelaide City the best we could in this very short time frame.
Being Dazzled in Adelaide City - a city of contrasts - old & new.
After attending Tessa and Jack's lovely wedding in the small town of Hahndorf, we decided to hit the ground running in Adelaide City. Adelaide is the capital of South Australia (SA) is reknowned for it's parklands set around the River Torrens, it's beautiful old buildings, museums, it's numerous creative sculputres, great cafes and restaurants. Fortunately Adelaide is not unlike my hometown Wellington and is quite a small city and much to our delight we were able to tick of a large number of these sights.
No stay away for us foodies would be spent without having tried and researched the best places to eat. Luigi's Delicatessan on Flinders Street was our first choice for breakfast and it didn't disappoint. Breakfast was delicious.
Breakfast at Luigi's Delicatessan on Flinders Street, Adelaide City
Rundle Street and Rundle Street Mall appears to be the main street for shoppers, not being an avid shopper myself the highlight for me was discovering the life sized bronze sculptures of four pigs. These sculptures named 'A Day Out' by Marguerite Derricourt are depicted in lively poses as if they are walking the mall (one even has his head in a rubbish bin). These clever additions have made this mall a tourist destination and the lively place it is .
One of the Rundle Mall piggies - part of a set of four bronze pigs called 'A Day Out'
Rundle Street Mall is also the home to another eye catching sculpture - two stainless steel spheres balanced on top of each other and named 'Spheres' by Burt Flugelman (fondly known as Mall's Balls).
'Spheres' by Burt Flugelman is a creative addition to Rundle Street Mall
'Spheres' often referred to as Mall's Balls offers a great reflective image of Rundle Street Mall.
After our walk along Rundle Street mall and still in need of some exercise to walk of our rather large but delicious breakfast we decided to take in some of the greenery and what better place to go than the Adelaide Botanical Gardens. The Botanical Gardens is a 51 hectre public garden at the north east corner of the city centre, in the Adelaide Parklands and next to the Botanic Park. Here you will find a large diversity of plants from across Australia and around the world. One of my highlights and surprising finds was their huge collection of different Cacti - way more diverse species than I had seen on my recent travels in Mexico.
Some prickly finds.
An even bigger highlight though was found outside the Botanical Gardens in Botanic Park where we discovered the most incredible century old Morten Bay Fig trees. These trees stand majestic with their huge trunks and gnarly roots curling along the ground.
The most majestic array of century old Morten Bay Fig trees
As I reluctantly left these majestic trees and walked further through the park we were intrigued with all the white feathers lying on the ground. These feathers, my guess, could only belong to one bird - the cockatoo. I was soon greeted with the sight of dozens of noisy cockatoo moving along the ground, pecking at some tasty treats. Then to my real joy I would watch them fly up in to the trees - this time Australian gum trees. The sight of these white barked trees against the blue sky and cockatoos perched up high kept me mezmerized for way too long (way too long in my husband's eyes)!!
After getting the hurry along we headed towards the Adelaide Oval (this would keep the husband happy). The Adelaide Oval is located in the Parklands, between the City Centre and North Adelaide. This very impressive world class venue is mainly used for cricket and Australian rules football, although the occasional rugby, tennis and soccer are also played.
The Adelaide Oval - even I was impressed with this world class sporting venue.
Not far from the Oval you can't help but observe the beautiful St Peter's Cathedral. This French Gothic designed Cathedral is a major landmark in Adelaide City and a majestic backdrop against the modern architecture of the Adelaide Oval.
The beautiful St Peter's Cathedral
Next it was time to head to the river. The River Torrens is the most significant river of the Adelaide Plains and runs for 85km. There are some lovely walking paths along the river or you can take a scenic boat ride on a Popeye!! We chose to do a scenic walk instead.
A walk along the River Torrens.
Our next destination the Art Gallery of South Australia, located on the cultural boulevard of North Terrace. Next to this is the University of Adelaide, the third oldest university in Australia - both very impressive buildings but sadly time did not allow us to venture inside.
Outside the beautiful building of the Art Gallery of South Australia.
Having heard Adelaide had a great food scene we were keen to explore Adelaide Central Market - the largest undercover market in the Southern Hemisphere. The market was opened in 1869 and is a gourmet haunt with over 70 vendors selling organic, artisan, and premium products - a food lovers dream.
The Colourful and Delicious Adelaide Central Market.
After a full day of walking and exploring it was time to head back to our hotel on Frome Street and have a quick rest and clean up before heading out for dinner. Having done a fair bit of walking and observing we had sussed out a place to have drinks and then read up on some great places to dine. Golden Boy (fusion Thai cuisine) won the night - was our choice to eat and certainly won the night with taste, restaurant design and service.
I can totally recommend this restaurant - Golden Boy.
Not usually an advocate of exploring and making an assessment of a city in such a short time frame I think we did pretty well seeing as much as we did and I left being charmed by this small attractive city with it's very impressive range of natural, architectural and foodie delights.
Signs of Autumn in Adelaide.
When an 8.2 earthquake struck Mexico in 2017, the State of Oaxaca, one of the areas hardest hit was bought to the world's attention. Many were unfamiliar with this area, however it was well known to my husband and myself who had just started planing a trip to this region of Mexico. The earthquake left us with concern and sadness and in doubts whether we should still venture there. Time however is a good healer, and as the months went by and Oaxaca recovered (as much as you do from a massive quake) we decided it would be fine to go.
Oaxaca City, the Capital of the State of Oaxaca is in central Mexico and is a World Heritage site and culturally rich city - renowned for it's world famous cuisine and beautiful colonial buildings. It has a lovely small town charm and we found the best way to enjoy this city was to wander around the picturesque cobbled streets in the historic centre and observe the people and their daily life and goings on. It's colourful doorways and exquisite colonial structures - many built from a native greenstone were often seen being used as creative backdrops for modelling and film shoots. The Church of Santo Domingo de Guzman with it's carved baroque facade and intricate gilt designs inside is the the most famous of Oaxaca's churches, along with its attached museum set in a former convent and are a must visit.
The beautiful cobbled streets of the historic centre of Oaxaca City.
Having a bit of fun - the colourful doorways and buildings make great backdrops for photo opportunities.
The Church of Santo Domingo de Guzman is the most famous of Oaxaca's many churches.
Arriving in Oaxaca with the knowledge we were in a cuisine hotspot, we didn't waste time before heading out to experience it's amazing offerings. You are totally spoilt for choice in Oaxaca with its great cafe's, restaurants, Mezcal and rooftop bars and food markets. At the markets you find the most colourful array of fresh and diverse ingredients - from grasshoppers to the largest selection of chillies I have every seen. Oaxaca is a popular destination for those wishing to attend one of the many cooking classes on offer. Here you experience a fun day learning how to prepare traditional Oaxaca dishes and the famous Mexican mole sauce - best off all you end the day eating your delicious achievements, washed down with a Mezcal or two (Mezcal is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from the agave plant native to Mexico).
Spoilt for choice in Oaxaca City with great cafe's and restaurants.
Fresh & diverse ingredients at the markets - from grasshoppers to the largest selection of chillies I've ever seen.
Esperanza from Cooking Classes Oaxaca chargrills some hot chilli peppers for the
famous mole sauce.
The central Zocalo square brings a heart to this beautiful city and is a place I will always remember. I like to immerse myself amongst the local people in countries I visit and try and experience their culture. In Oaxaca City this was easy. The people are vibrant, friendly and have a love for festivity and family time.
According to Wikipedia, a party is a gathering of people who have been invited by a host for the purposes of socializing, conversation and recreation. Not so in Oaxaca City. A party was a festive gathering for anyone and everyone - no invitation needed here. As we mingled with the crowds we were surrounded with laughter from children and parents having massive balloon fights, huge crowds applauding and giving money to buskers, street vendors selling food, beautifully woven handicrafts, balloons, plastic toys, and bands were playing and people young and old dancing. Rather than a drunken alcohol fuelled party, people were drunk with pure joy. We found it so contagious, witnessing these surreal nights - we just had to join in.
Bands playing and people young and old dancing.
We left our nights spent at the Zocalo having danced and laughed, and extremely grateful for having been welcomed at such a fun and memorable night.
A passion for photography and a love of travel - Liz now enjoys combing the two.
Mangonui to Cape Reinga