There are so many places in Auckland that have strong associations to my beautiful late wife Amber McWilliams. Te Henga is one of them. Amber filmed The New Adventures of Black Beauty there in the early nineties, and it became a cherished soulful place for her to return to over the remainder of her life.
On occasions when the stars align I am able to make Fridays my reflection days, giving space to memories of Amber, and an opportunity to focus on grieving, life, living and the beauty of the world.
Today was a star aligning Friday, and my reflection day was at Te Henga, Bethells Beach, on the wild west coast of Auckland. I walked, sat, bathed in the sun, read my book, and took photos.
My favourite memories of Amber at Te Henga are: holding hands on the long drive out there; walking the beach and talking talking talking with the wind whipping the sand across our legs; swimming in the glorious cool yellow-water lake; chasing the kids around in the sand dunes; hearing Amber’s crazy horse riding stories and funny continuity errors from filming out there; and hiking the Te Henga Walkway from Muriwai to Bethells Beach with our friends Nik and Carmen – diving into the sea at Bethells at the end of the walk!
Today I tried to capture the mood and beauty of Te Henga, Bethells Beach. Here are my photographs for your enjoyment.
One of my favourite suburbs in Auckland is Birkenhead. It has a genuine community feel (people know and greet each other in the street) and the population is a fair representation of the diverse cultures that make up New Zealand.
The shopping centre is inviting, and although it has a pretty standard mall, it also has a load of great street-side shops and a fantastic array of excellent cafes and restaurants representing food from all corners of the globe.
As an example, here you will find a specialist binocular and telescope shop (and they sell cameras), with prospective purchasers regularly out on the pavement looking into the distance through a scope on a tripod.
Poking around the shopping centre you’ll uncover second hand goods, great op shops, fashion, beauty, fresh food (fish, meat, fruit/vege, bread, sushi), yoga, books (including two excellent charity secondhand book shops), massage, hairdressers and barbers (an unusually large number of these), travel, coffee and tea, cakes…
…and a Dutch Delight pancake cafe… in fact, enough cafes to stop for coffee, tea, breakfast or lunch several times over!
Birkenhead hosts what I think is the nicest and best designed library in the city!
Best of all, and possibly one of Auckland’s best kept secrets, is the magnificent Le Roys Bush. This native bush reserve is in the middle of the suburb, surrounded by housing and light industry. It is a genuine reprieve from the day-to-day bustle of town life.
Once inside, the sounds of the city melt away and are replaced by the sounds of native birds, waterfalls, wind in the trees, and the odd friendly ‘hi’ from passing joggers and dog walkers. This is a place to reconnect with nature, get some exercise, explore the diversity of native fauna and flora, and just take some time out for yourself.
Enter into or exit from Le Roys bush at Little Shoal Bay, Hinemoa Street, Valley Road, Onewa Road, Glade Place or Le Roy Terrace.
Birkenhead Transport buses regularly depart from corner Lower Albert Street and Quay Street in the City; check with the driver if you should get off at the top of Onewa Road, as not all buses go into the town centre. A stroll down Hinemoa Street from the town centre will take you past the library and to the Birkenhead Point boutique shops and cafes. Glade Place is directly opposite, and entry to the bush is at the end of Glade Place.
For a really good walk, catch the Birkenhead ferry from Downtown, and walk up Hinemoa Street to Glade Place, or down Maritime Terrace to Little Shoal Bay Reserve. Follow the signs in the bush to pop out at the top of Hinemoa Street opposite the library, and turn right up Hinemoa to get back to the town centre.
Both bus and ferry take around 15 minutes. The bus drops you right in the town centre, the ferry challenges you with a decent hill climb up Hinemoa Street. But what a great day out!
I always take my camera when I stroll through Le Roys bush, and thus have a selection of photographs from within the reserve. I’m particularly interested in the detail and patterns of the native ferns, as you’ll see below.
As with all of the photos on this site, these images are available as framed prints. Please contact me for more information.
This exhibition was created at the invitation of Panuku Development Auckland. It formed a part of the Wynyard Quarter 6th birthday celebrations on 5 August 2017, and continued for 2 weeks after.
As the client representative for Auckland Theatre Company during the building and commissioning of the new ASB Waterfront Theatre in Wynyard Quarter (2014 – 2017), I spent a lot of time in the Wynyard precinct at odd hours of the day and night.
The images in this exhibition are selected from hundreds of photographs I took in and around the Wynyard Quarter during those years, capturing the changing moods and atmosphere of the precinct.
The exhibition offers a unique perspective on the Wynyard precinct. By providing new views of familiar subjects, the images challenge the viewer to see the area with fresh eyes – to look up, and into corners, and down alleys.
In the words of French novelist Marcel Proust (1871-1922): “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”