Asher on Holidays

This one’s for Will, who came up with the brilliant idea of combining the themes of our 2020 most popular/most liked posts: my review of Neal Asher’s The Line of Polity and Piotrek’s report from his Sicilian Vacation. So I took my trusty Asher with me, and here we are :D. Don’t worry, I will write a proper review of The Technician in due time πŸ˜‰

Asher’s book and a glass of white wine at the sunset by the lake Rerewhakaaitu… A glorious combination πŸ˜€

The lake above lies near a still active volcano; its shores are made of pumice and sand, and the waters cover chunks of obsidian. Bhind us by the lake is Tarawera – the volcano responsible for the destruction of a natural wonder called Pink and White Terraces in the late 19th century. I suspect the obsidian and pumice present in the lake might be remnants of that historical eruption, which dramatically altered the entire landscape around the volcano.

Neal Asher on the beach near Taranaki πŸ™‚

This is a West Coast beach – you can recognize it easily due to the black volcanic sand which is much finer-grained than the regular white sand prevalent on Eastern beaches. The winds eased, the sun came out, and Asher and I were able to go for a short walk. White cliffs, black sand – very dramatic! Lots of sea life fossils there, too!

The Technician resting on a rock by the cave entrance…
A stone shark on the beach. I can assure you that Asher survived this encounter ;). The sand on those beaches forms such a hard surface that people often drive in their cars there.
Okay, I admit, I didn’t take Asher on this trek, but he was around, waiting in the tent πŸ˜€

Above, Taranaki in all his glory. In Maori mythology, volcanoes are male and mountains/hills female. According to legend, Taranaki is a spurned lover who lost his fight for a shapely wooded hill called Pihanga with the mighty volcano Tongariro and as a result, wandered off to the western part of the island where he rules alone and unchallenged. Taranaki is an amazing sight because he just seemingly grows straight from the flat ground around him. Usually, he has a cloud on his head, and it’s said at times like these that he hides, crying for his lost love. Fortunately for us, when we got there, Taranaki was in an exuberant mood.

Goblin Forest on the slopes of Taranaki.
Asher looking speculatively at the faraway volcanoes Tongariro (Mt Doom for Tolkien fans out there) and Ruapehu (both dormant, though Ruapehu has awakened slightly this year; we actually ski there in winter ;))
The Technician in the middle of a much needed rest among hydrangeas. Looks so innocuous, but that’s misleading!
And here are our tents πŸ˜€

On this trip we visited the central part of NZ’s North Island, stopping at Rotorua, Taupo, Whanganui (Wanganui), Waverley, and Taumarunui. We visit the far North and Coromandel every year, these parts are just amazingly, heart-stoppingly beautiful, and in November last year we went to Tauranga, Whakatane and Bay of Plenty. We still have Gisborne, Hastings and Napier to see. And of course the South Island! But that’s for another time, and with another book ;).

61 thoughts on “Asher on Holidays

  1. Wow! The Technician visited a lot of places over the holidays!
    I appreciated all the photos. I had to look up the Goblin Forest because the name sounded too cool not to and the Pink & White Terraces because I’ve never heard of it before.

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    1. Yeah, he did! Now he seems a bit worse for wear, but it was worth it! πŸ˜€
      Taranaki is amazing. The Goblin Forest and the Enchanted Track are both unique, and there’s a theory that the trees grow this way because of the ash eruptions from Taranaki… A bit far-fetched to me, as the last eruption was in 1854, but then the native NZ trees grow very slowly indeed, some taking several centuries to reach maturity. So, maybe there’s a grain of truth in it πŸ˜‰
      Pink & White Terraces seem unfortunately lost for good – but there is plenty of other natural wonders to see in NZ! πŸ˜€ I have some really nice Mt Doom pics, alas, without Asher πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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    1. Oh, that’s so cool! πŸ˜€ What did you think of NZ?? Waitomo caves are pretty cool – we’ve been there last year. We’re still waiting with our Tongariro trek, some members of our family must get a bit older than they currently are πŸ˜‰

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        1. Yes, it’s absolutely beautiful here! And the conservation efforts are picking up, so I hope it will become even greener, in a more sustainable way (I’d have a few choice words to say about NZ forestry as it is :P)
          We live in Auckland and have been steadily visiting the different nooks and crannies of the North Island over the last few years, but the visit to the South Island still awaits us! πŸ˜€

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            1. Lucky you! Yeah, Russell is a place I want to live when I retire πŸ˜„

              We’ve stayed in Uretiti Beach camp nearby Ruakaka – nice surfing conditions. On the other side are Kai Iwi lakes – these are just marvellous! They look like an enormous swimming pool, seriously! But I loved the far North – Bay of Spirits and Cape Reinga. Coromandel is our go-to place for long weekends, it’s just so wild and untamed and peaceful 😁

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                1. You’ve got history for ten others, though – and art πŸ˜€ And a long experience of compromise and awareness of their surroundings, which is what I think everyone should learn, the sooner the better.
                  And let’s not forget a good, safe place in EU – that counts too! Especially when you consider Poland… 😦

                  Emigration is always hard, and was freaking hard for us, but we don’t regret moving – even if not everything went according to our expectations πŸ˜‰

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                    1. Political situation, mostly. We led a very comfortable life in Poland, and here in NZ we had to start from scratch – but at least I don’t have to worry anymore about authoritarian governments investigating what I’m doing in my bed, blaring propaganda and outright lies in schools, and destroying whatever good the last few decades brought.
                      Nature was important too πŸ˜€

                      We do miss our families, however – and with Covid, any reunions are impossible for now. But we’re at the point where we decided we won’t be going back – though we don’t rule out moving a bit closer to Poland at some point πŸ˜‰

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                    2. Yeah from what I hear from Poland these days, those are not fun messages. At least people are protesting.
                      I guess Poland has nice nature, at least in the south, that’s where I have been. I’ve visited Krakow and Zakopane. Polish people are mountain goats. πŸ™‚ But it probably doesn’t hold a candle to what NZ has to offer.

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                    3. Yup, not fun at all. But Poland’s natural beauty is wonderful – from the sea and forests in the North, through post-glacial lakes, to the mountains in the South. We lived in KrakΓ³w all our lives before we moved to NZ. Yes, we used to go to the mountains a lot, to ski and hike – mountain goats indeed πŸ˜… But NZ is much wilder, more diverse, and cleaner. Smog in Poland is just horrible – we had to wear masks throughout the whole winter.

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    1. LOL, exactly! 🀣 He does look good on the beach! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

      New Zealand in summer is gloriously perfect; I wouldn’t change a thing (well, maybe rebuild the ozone layer a little πŸ˜‰) But sadly, in winter we only get snow on Tongariro. Winter in Auckland resembles mostly English summer – wet and cold and windy, and temperatures inside are nearly the same as outside πŸ˜‰. But summer? Ah, summer is simply wonderful!

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        1. Hahaha I actually enjoy it 😁 Though I do miss white Christmas, I am well aware that Christmas over these last several years were snowless, at least in Poland. We had snow for New Year’s Eve, even a few years back, but not for Christmas. So having great weather for holidays is actually a welcome change 😁

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  2. You didn’t find my ring there by any chance? It abandoned me and I feel old and thin without it…

    Great pics and a nice idea! Summer in winter. Lovely! One of my best memories of my time in Australia is a BBQ on the beach on Christmas Day πŸ˜€

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    1. Since you mention it, I might have spotted it on the craggy slopes of Mt Doom… 🀣

      Thanks!
      Summer in winter is just perfect. Winter in summer – not so much πŸ˜‰ But we’ll get by, watching your pics in turn! πŸ˜€

      Yeah, Christmas on the beach is a unique experience πŸ˜‰ I still think we should move it to June on this hemisphere, as it’s dark and wet and cold then and we’d sure enjoy a bit of Christmas warmth, but I guess it wouldn’t be the same πŸ˜‰ Maybe it’s time to dig up the old Solis Invictus holiday?? πŸ˜€

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  3. These are wonderful photos and definitely make me want to travel. I am a fan of the LOTR movies (and books) and I love the beautiful scenery. Tongariro Crossing is probably one of my favourite one-day hikes ever. I hope you get to explore the South Island as well at some point, I really enjoyed that.

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    1. Thank you! ☺️

      We’ll definitely visit South Island one day! We’re planning a longer trip down there, at least two weeks 😁
      What were your favorite spots on South Island?

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      1. There were a lot of highlights… If you are lucky, there is a magnificent view from the so called Key Summit (Routeburn Track). I loved hiking in Hooker Valley, which was very scenic and we had amazing weather (which may have influenced my view positively). Queenstown was fun if you enjoy adventure sports (I did my first ever bungy jump) and I loved just walking around in Christchurch. NZ might be one of my favourite holiday destinations, if it wasn’t so far away, I would probably visit again.

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        1. Thanks for the tips! Yeah, NZ is beautiful indeed. I do love the fact that I don’t have travel through it all at once but can just sample here and there, finding my favorite spots. I have high hopes for South Island! 😁
          Yeah, remoteness and now covid-19 make it difficult to visit NZ… But if you ever choose to come back, do let me know! ☺️

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  4. Pingback: Neal Asher, The Technician (2010) – Re-enchantment Of The World

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