Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park

New Zealand

Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is truly one of my favourite places in New Zealand.

Home to numerous intensely beautiful vistas, it is a rugged and harsh landscape. It has 19 peaks over 3,000 metres -including New Zealand’s highest mountain Aoraki/Mount Cook.

 

Recently I went for a photography road trip/weekend away and stayed in Twizel, which is about a 40 minute drive from the Aoraki Mount Cook Village.

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I was intending for the trip to be photography focused but was not expecting just how amazing the scenery in the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park would be. I was lucky enough that it had snowed heavily the night before and the weather had cleared to a fine day.

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There was so much snow! More than I had ever seen before in this area.

I usually visit in summer when it is dry and hot, but I am so pleased I got to experience it in the height of winter. It was just magical! I ended up trekking through the snow for about an hour to Kea Point and saw the start of the Mueller glacier – it was well worth freezing for!

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Just before I left the cloud finally lifted from Aoraki/Mount Cook…

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The journey back to Twizel was equally beautiful…

 

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Haarlem

The Netherlands

Haarlem is a lovely historical city, located on the river Spaarne, less than 20 kilometres from Amsterdam. It features a magnificent old centre with plenty of monumental buildings. The city was once home to several famous Dutch painters, including Frans Hals, so there is a large art focus.

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Haarlem is where my grandmother is from – her and my grandfather immigrated to New Zealand in 1953. Last year I was finally lucky enough to visit this wonderful city and meet some family members I had never even spoken to before.

Haarlem is probably one of my favourite cities in The Netherlands, not just because it has some personal connection for me, but it also has some of the most beautiful buildings and streets. In New Zealand we have nothing like the old stepped gables or cobblestone pathways. Sure, the scenery here is beautiful but the buildings in Haarlem (and most of the cities in Europe) have and reflect such rich histories.

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It has been voted numerous times as the best shopping city in the Netherlands because it has a very diverse range of shops. The Grote Houtstraat, the main shopping street, has the most shops – including iconic brands and chainstores. The surrounding streets (Kleine Houtstraat and Gierstraat) host smaller shops, where you can browse anything from fancy bicycles to cute teapots.

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Haarlem is one of the cities in the Netherlands that has a number of hofjes. The word ‘hofje’ just means small garden. In the past, small houses were generally grouped around a community kitchen garden with a water pump. They were often attached to a larger field for bleaching linen or growing orchards, but today those fields have been long used for city expansion and only the central gardens can still be seen.

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The Grote Kerk is a Reformed Protestant church and former Catholic cathedral located on the central market square in Haarlem. This church is an important landmark for the city and has dominated the skyline for centuries. It is built in the Gothic style of architecture and it became the main church of Haarlem after renovations in the 15th century made it significantly larger than the Janskerk.

Information from Wikitravel and Wikipedia.

Amersfoort

The Netherlands

Amersfoort is a city and municipality in the province of Utrecht, The Netherlands.

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Amersfoort is a very historic and attractive city. It has many fine medieval buildings that are well maintained.

It is a busy place with a population of just under 150,000 people, but the town centre is easily explored on foot, with most of the main attractions being easily within walking distance. The railway station is one of the busiest in Holland with several tracks converging on the area.

Information from Wikipedia and Netherlands Tourism.

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Beilstein

germany

The boat journey from Cochem to Beilstein along the Moselle was beautiful.

 

The small village of Beilstein is one of the best preserved historical places on the Moselle and is also sometimes known as a miniature Dornröschen der Mosel (“Sleeping Beauty of the Moselle”).

 

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The ruins of Castle Metternich tower above the village, which despite its small size, once belonged to the like-named noble family.

Zaanse Schans

The Netherlands

Zaanse Schans is a neighborhood in the Dutch town of Zaandam near to Amsterdam.

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It is famous for its large collection of historic windmills – many of which are not just heritage buildings but still fully-operational. Tours allow visitors to see for themselves how the windmills are used for sawing wood, grinding oil and much more.

 

 

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The historic windmills and distinctive green wooden houses were relocated to Zaanse Schans in 1961 to 1974 from all over the Zaanstreek in order to recreate the look of an 19th-century village.

Information from Wikipedia.

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