Posts from the ‘New Zealand’ category

Plugging 19 UNESCO Heritage Sites Around the World

I’ve been fortunate to experience significant travel since 1995: first as a green graduate student on my first (of many) trips to Chile; followed by the opportunity to live and work in 3 countries on 3 continents inside a span of 10 years. I didn’t give much thought about their relative importance at the time, but I’m lucky to have visited a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites (WHS).

I’ve written previously about 5 UNESCO sites in Germany with a future upcoming post listing another five in the country. But here, I list and briefly describe here 19 additional UNESCO Heritage Sites from around the world.

  1. Australia: Blue Mountains (Katoomba)
  2. Australia: Sydney Opera House
  3. Argentina: Iguazú Falls, Iguazú National Park
  4. Brazil: Iguaçu Falls, Iguaçu National Park
  5. Brazil: Atlantic Forest South-East Reserves (Curitiba)
  6. China: Historic Centre of Macao
  7. Czech Republic: Historic Centre of Prague
  8. Czech Republic: Kutná Hora
  9. Denmark: Kronborg Castle (Helsingør)
  10. France: Historic Site of Lyons
  11. Italy: Cinque Terre
  12. México: Historic Centre of México City
  13. México: San Miguel de Allende
  14. New Zealand: Te Wāhipounamu (South Island)
  15. Spain: Alhambra, Generalife, & Albayzín (Granada)
  16. Spain: Spain: Cathedral, Alcázar & Archivo de Indias in Seville
  17. Sweden: Skogskyrkogården (Stockholm)
  18. United Kingdom: Old & New Towns of Edinburgh (Scotland)
  19. USA: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Big Island)

Australia: Greater Blue Mountains Area

After moving to Chile in 2006, I traveled across the southern Pacific to Australia several times over the subsequent five years. My friends in Sydney were very kind to take me on the drive west from Sydney for a weekend in Katoomba and the Blue Mountains National Park. Surrounded by the eucalyptus mist, there’s good reason why there’s a big blue aura.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Three Sisters, Blue Mountains, Katoomba, fotoeins.com

Kedumba View: Three Sisters and Kings Tableland, Katoomba (HL)

Australia: Sydney Opera House

I have to see the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge (a.k.a., “The Coathanger”) whenever I’m in Sydney. They’re not going anywhere, but whenever I’m in the city, I always take the train to Circular Quay, because when I disembark onto the station’s platform, the view immediately assures me they’re still there

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Morning on the Opera House and the Coathanger, Sydney, fotoeins.com

Good morning to the Opera House and the Coathanger (HL)

Argentina: Iguazu National Park

Personal tip: spend at least two days, with the 1st day on the Brazilian side at Foz do Iguçu (Iguacu Falls), and the 2nd day on the Argentinian side at Las Cataratas del Iguazú (Iguazu Falls).

•   UNESCO WHS listing, Argentina

Cataratas del Iguacu, Iguacu Falls, Argentina, fotoeins.com

Near the Devil’s Mouth, Iguazú Falls, Argentina (HL)

Brazil: Iguaçu National Park

Personal tip: spend at least two days, with the 1st day on the Brazilian side at Foz do Iguaçu (Iguacu Falls), and the 2nd day on the Argentinian side at Las Cataratas del Iguazú (Iguazu Falls).

•   UNESCO WHS listing, Brazil

Foz do Iguacu, Cataratas do Iguacu, Brazil, fotoeins.com

Iguaçu Falls, Brazil (HL)

Brazil: Atlantic Forest South-East Reserves

Visiting portrait-and-fashion photographer and friend Paula in Curitiba in southern Brazil, I’m taken on a drive east from the city into the Atlantic rain forest next to the Serro do Mar mountains to Santuário Nhundiaquar and Morretes for an easy day-trip.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Santuário Nhundiaquara, Serro do Mar, Paraná, Brazil, fotoeins.com

Santuário Nhundiaquara, Serro do Mar, Paraná state (HL)

China: Historic Centre of Macao (澳門)

It’s less than one hour on the ferry from Hong Kong, and I’m in the other former European colony bordering China next to the South China Sea. In Macau, I see signs in Chinese, English, and Portuguese. Called 澳門 (“Oh-moon”) meaning “gates to the bay or inlet”, Macau is the other Special Administrative Region of the P.R.C.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

South view from the Ruins of St. Paul, Macau, fotoeins.com

South view of the city from the Ruins of St. Paul (HL)

Czech Republic: Historic Centre of Prague

I’ve visited this open-air museum of a city over a dozen times. When I’m away for too long, I ache for her, like a lost lover, and it’s why I wrote this love letter to Praha.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Morning moon over Prague Castle, Prague, fotoeins.com

Morning moon over Pražský hrad (HL)

Czech Republic: Kutná Hora

It might surprise some to know the famous “bone church” in Sedlec is not included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site listing for Kutná Hora. The listing includes the Church of St Barbara in the old town’s centre and the Cathedral of Our Lady in Sedlec (shown below).

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Cathedral of Our Lady at Sedlec, Chrám Nanebevzetí Panny Marie, Kutná Hora, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Cathedral of Our Lady (Chrám Nanebevzetí Panny Marie) in Sedlec (HL)

Denmark: Kronborg Castle (Helsingør)

In the Danish town of Helsingør (Elsinore), Kronborg Castle keeps watch over the narrowest portion of Øresund Strait between Denmark and Sweden, and is the inspiration for Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, which gives this castle its unofficial name of “Hamlet’s castle”.

•   UNESCO WHS listing.

Kronborg Slot, Helsingor, Denmark, fotoeins.com

Elsinore’s Hamlet castle (HL)

France: Historic Site of Lyons

Lyon is a home of French gastronomy and the historical home to French cinematography with the Lumière brothers. As an introduction to southern France, I’m completely charmed by the city, her people and their neighbourhoods, and traditional French cuisine.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Fourvière, Louis XIV, Place Bellecour, Lyon, France, fotoeins.com

From Place Bellecour, Louis XIV looks over to Fourvière (HL)

Italy: Cinque Terre

After a week-long workshop in Rapallo on the Ligurian Riviera, I have the entire Saturday to travel along the Cinque Terre route and coastline by train and on foot. I’m at all five key stops: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore; I easily envision spending a few days in each of the five villages.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Italy, fotoeins.com

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre (HL)

México: Historic Centre of México City

By all accounts, there are as many people packed into the metropolitan region of the Mexican capital city as there are people in all of Canada. It’s something to wrap around in my brain, until I realize there’s no other place I’d rather be when I think of Mexico, her living history, and satisfying early-morning munchies in a taquería in the city’s Coyoacán.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Ciudad de Mexico, Distrito Federal, Mexico, fotoeins.com

Zócalo, Plaza de la Constitucion (HL)

México: San Miguel de Allende

Thanks to my friends in the D.F., we take off northwest from Mexico City for a weekend in this historical town with beauty, charm, and a lot of expats from both Canada and the US.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Jardin Allende, San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico

Jardin Allende (HL)

New Zealand: Te Wāhipounamu

Te Wāhipounamu (Māori for “the place of greenstone”) is located in the southwest corner of New Zealand’s South Island, and includes Westland National Park, Mount Cook National Park, and Fiordland National Park. For me, this place is pure magic, especially under clear skies, with her unbelievably deep blues and greens. Even now, I hear from afar her calls with anthems in both Māori and English.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Harrison Cove, Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, South Island, New Zealand, fotoeins.com

Calm waters at Harrison Cove, Milford Sound (HL)

Spain: Alhambra, Generalife, & Albayzín (Granada)

One of my first introductions to Spain and Andalucía is Granada. What better way for me to see this place is the Alhambra illuminated in the golden hour with the snow-covered Sierra Nevada mountains in the background. I followed this view for some special magic with a nighttime tour of the Alhambra.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Alhambra, Sierra Nevada, Granada, Andalucia, Spain, fotoeins.com

Alhambra, Sierra Nevada

Spain: Cathedral, Alcázar & Archivo de Indias in Seville

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Cathedral, Sevilla, Spain, fotoeins.com

Catedral de Santa María de la Sede: largest gothic cathedral in the world (HL)

Sweden: Skogskyrkogården (Stockholm)

I’d been reading about Great Garbo, and it felt like a special moment to visit Stockholm’s forest cemetery and to pay silent respect at her final resting place.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Skogskyrkogarden, Forest Cemetery, Stockholm, Sweden, fotoeins.com

Stockholm’s forest cemetery (HL)

United Kingdom: Old & New Towns of Edinburgh (Scotland)

Were 2 days in Edinburgh enough time? The answer is a big no; I want a full week to explore more of the little side alleys, nooks, and crannies in the old town.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Calton Hill, Canongate Kirk, Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland, fotoeins.com

Calton Hill from Canongate Kirk (HL)

USA: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Big Island)

This was once parkland. This was once a paved highway. Now, it’s all covered by pahoehoe from a recent eruption and lava flow. It’s real, it’s happening; the Big Island is still getting bigger through powerful internal forces from inside our planet.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, fotoeins.com

Sitting on the pahoehoe lava, waiting for the afterdark glow: Ka Lae Apuki (HL)

Do you have a favourite or must-see UNESCO World Heritage Site? Please leave your comment below!

Sunday TravelerI made all of the photos above between 2007 and 2013. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-nr, and is part of the Sunday Traveler series.

New Zealand anthems in Māori: Pokarekare Ana, E Ihowa Atua

New Zealand inspires fully with her magnificent scenery and the easy friendly warmth displayed by her people. The longer I’m in country, the more the land provides insights, leading me deeper to her cultures, her languages. An appropriate choice of music can evoke a grand sense of longing and isolation that’s especially true, standing small in the midst of the Southern Alps.

Mount Tasman, Mount Cook, Southern Alps, Westland Tai Poutini National Park, New Zealand (HL)

I know I’d like to sing, with last light on Horokoau (Mount Tasman) and Aoraki (Mount Cook) | HL

Time has passed, but memories remain sharp and fresh. Multiple visits to Wellington and Auckland, and three weeks around the South Island have left me feeling ‘beached’: “I’m beached, bru … I’m beached az …”

I’m also hopelessly in love with New Zealand.

New Zealand has three official languages: English, Māori, and New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). Along with definitive images of the country, two songs sung in Māori bring me back to this beautiful land. “Pokarekare Ana” and “E Ihowa Atua” are, respectively, the unofficial and official anthems for the nation.


Pokarekare Ana

“Pokareare Ana” began as a love song on New Zealand’s North Island in the second decade of the 20th-century. The song is identified widely as unique to New Zealand.

Pōkarekare ana (They are agitated)
ngā wai o Rotorua/Waiapu (the waters of Rotorua/Waiapu)
Whiti atu koe hine (But when you cross over girl)
marino ana e (they will be calm)

E hine e 
(Oh girl)
hoki mai ra 
(return to me)
Ka mate ahau
 (I could die)
I te aroha e (of love for you)

Tuhituhi taku reta 
(I have written my letter)
tuku atu taku rīngi 
(I have sent my ring)
Kia kite tō iwi (so your people can see)

raru raru ana e (that I am troubled)

Whati whati taku pene 
(My pen is shattered)
ka pau aku pepa (I have no more paper)

Ko taku aroha 
(But my love)
mau tonu ana e (is still steadfast)

“Pokarekare Ana”, by Wanda

“Pokarekare Ana” (a cappella), by Front Row Chorus

E Ihowa Atua (Aotearoa)

“E Ihowa Atua” is a Māori adaption in 1878 of the poem “God Defend New Zealand” which was published two years earlier. Also known as “Aotearoa”, the Māori version of the song is an approximate translation of the English version. Royal assent in 1977 finally confirmed the song’s status as one of the nation’s two official national anthems, including “God Save the Queen.” Presently, the official national anthem is performed with the first verse of “E Ihowa Atua” in Māori, followed by the first verse of “God Defend New Zealand” in English.

E Ihowā Atua (Oh Lord, God)
O ngā iwi mātou rā (Of nations and of us too)
Āta whakarangona (Listen to us)

Me aroha noa (Cherish us)
Kia hua ko te pai (Let goodness flourish)
Kia tau tō atawhai (May your blessings flow)
Manaakitia mai (Defend)
Aotearoa (Land of the long white cloud)

God of nations at thy feet
In the bonds of love we meet
Hear our voices, we entreat
God defend our free land
Guard Pacific’s triple star
From the shafts of strife and war
Make her praises heard afar
God defend New Zealand

“E Ihowa Atua” (Aotearoa) & “God Defend New Zealand”, by Hayley Westenra

Performed in New Zealand’s 3 official languages, by Deaf Aotearoa NZ – Tangata Turi

How do I love New Zealand’s South Island? Let me show the ways …

•   Akaroa: Akaroa’s Long Harbour with special guests
•   Akaroa: La petite ville française de Akaroa
•   Christchurch: Christchurch’s changing Red Zone
•   Christchurch: Christchurch’s Art Gallery: glass and light
•   Dunedin: Baldwin Street, steepest in the world
•   Fiordland: Cruising up and down Milford Sound
•   Fox Glacier: The slow forest walk up to Fox Glacier
•   Franz Josef Glacier: The slow approach to Franz Josef Glacier
•   Interislander Ferry: On the ferry between the North and South Islands
•   Lake Matheson: What are the sounds of a New Zealand sunset?
•   Southern Alps: Flying over the South Island’s Southern Alps
•   Southern Alps: The Southern Alps at sunset, from Lake Matheson
•   Train: Coastal Pacific train, from Picton to Christchurch
•   Train: TranzAlpine train, from Christchurch to Greymouth

Have you visited New Zealand? Where are your favourite places and memories? Please leave your comments below!

This post marks Māori Language Week (Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori), celebrated annually in New Zealand since 1975. Māori Language Week in 2014 takes place 21 to 27 July inclusive. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com at http://wp.me/p1BIdT-5gd, and also appears as part of the Sunday Traveler series.

Fotoeins’ 13 Instants from 2013

It’s been an interesting year, as “interesting” came complete with their own highs and lows, across a variety of nations on three continents. Friends would say that’s simply par for the course to describe any length of time on travel. I ended my year-long around-the-world (RTW) trip in January, sought a new path in Sydney, Australia between March and June, and returned to Vancouver, Canada with a short stop in Europe for a writing course at the end of July. The following 13 moments in 2013 arrive courtesy from Berlin, Germany; Sydney, Australia; Vancouver, Canada; and Wellington, New Zealand.


January 15 – “Coming home”

My RTW lasted 389 consecutive days from the end of 2011 to the early part of 2013. Here at Terminal 5 in London’s Heathrow Airport, I waited to board a British Airways Boeing 747-400 plane for the non-stop flight and return to Vancouver.

The BA B744 that takes me home … : T5 London Heathrow Airport – 15 Jan 2013 #travel #rtwend

A photo posted by Henry Lee (@fotoeins) on


January 30 – “This is home”

I’ve visited the Museum of Anthropology a handful of times, one memorably on a field-trip when a wae lad was I. Located at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, the museum holds a large collection of art and valuable cultural artifacts from First Nations’ peoples. I’m home in British Columbia in the presence of “Raven and The First Men,” a sculpture by Bill Reid, showing a part of the creation myth for the Haida First Nation.


February 10 – “Our flag”

It’s easy to forget Canada’s present flag was unveiled only in 1965, and the official National Flag Day was declared in 1996. It’s easy to pick out where flags appear once I know it’s time to look; the following are examples on Vancouver’s Granville Island. I write more about Canada’s Flag Day here.


March 23 – “Hang over”

The third week of March marks the onset of autumn in the southern hemisphere, and in Sydney, the season also heralds time for the annual Royal Easter Show. The 2013 version at Olympic Park marked the 190th anniversary of the festival, complete with all sorts of animals on show, amusement rides, and a wide assortment of “carnival or fair food”. Click here for more highlights.

"Hang over" : Royal Easter Show, Olympic Park, Sydney, Australia – 23 Mar 2013

A photo posted by Henry Lee (@fotoeins) on


April 14 – “Sydney Sunset Haiku”

Part of Sydney’s public transport includes ferry access on the Parramatta River between the western suburbs and the City (centre). I arranged to travel on one of the ferries into the City right around sunset, leading to this haiku attempt: “Sydney Harbour Bridge – from Parramatta River – time for dusky light.” Click here for more.

"Sydney Sunset Haiku", 14 Apr 2013 : Sydney Harbour Bridge – on Parramatta River – time for dusky light

A photo posted by Henry Lee (@fotoeins) on


May 25 – “End of the line”

The photo shows at Walsh Bay installation number 60 called “The Dalgety Line” at the VIVID Sydney festival: top panel on Dalgety Street; bottom panel at Wharf 8/9. This was one of the last sculptures or installations on the list, and I wonder if it wasn’t subconscious, seeing this installation, and feeling as if I myself was at the end of the present journey. Click here for more highlights from the festival.


June 7 – “Of spheres and monoliths”

The “FERNS” spherical sculpture is suspended high over Wellington’s Civic Square. The afternoon sun, the FERNS, and the City Gallery made for an ominous combination, calling to mind images from “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Instead, I drew hope and optimism, with light streaming out from the corner of the monolith and a hint of a reflection from the sphere.


July 1 – “Metal dinosaurs at dawn”

It’s been a long time since I’ve been home on Canada Day. The opportunity presented itself beautifully in Vancouver under perfect summer conditions, and I made photographs throughout the entire day. Up at 430am, I began the holiday with a walk out to Burrard Inlet to witness the rising sun to the northeast at 510am. My 18-photo set appears here.

530am & good morning, Vancouver: it's Canada Day.

A photo posted by Henry Lee (@fotoeins) on


August 12 – “Eclipse”

At the end of my short return-visit to the German capital, I wandered over to one of my favourite spots to watch people and to gauge the city’s rhythms at Berlin’s Alexanderplatz. I had to return to Vancouver, but I wanted very much to stay, to examine and explore what it would be like, under the guise of perfectly suited people in an imperfect situation. I wrote about my ambivalence and struggle with conflicting feelings here.


September 11 – “Honoured figures”

With fellow travel blogger Pamela in town and summer hanging on strong with sun and +25C/77F temperatures, it was only right for a mid-week stroll on Vancouver’s Seawall. Balanced stone figures appeared out of the sand and boulders at Stanley Park’s Second Beach next to English Bay. I like how the one on the left is holding fast to that log.


October 12 – “The fall classic”

There’s an abundance of evergreen trees in the Canadian Southwest rain forest. Fortunately, there are sufficient numbers of deciduous to provide occasional (and wild) splashes of colour. A clear mid-October afternoon provided a good exercise in colour, form, line, and symmetry at Vancouver’s Andy Livingstone Park.

"The fall classic" : Andy Livingstone Park, Vancouver, Canada – 12 Oct 2013

A photo posted by Henry Lee (@fotoeins) on


November 22 – “Vancouver Weihnachtsmarkt”

My love of things German arrives in full circle at my hometown’s Christmas Market. I spent a part of the festival’s opening weekend with Amanda and Megan, marveling at the lights, fixtures, and decorations; and eating and drinking our way through the market. I wrote more about the Vancouver Christmas market here.


December 21 – “Winter break”

December solstice marks the first day of winter (summer) in the northern (southern) hemisphere. In Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood, the wide-open green space that is MacLean Park has always provided a source of fun, comfort, peace, and a sense of community. After 10 centimetres (4 inches) of snow fell the previous evening, the chairs here at MacLean Park suggested a place for impromptu meetings which are out of session for the holidays.

"Winter break" : Strathcona, Vancouver, Canada – 21 Dec 2013. #myvancouver #strathcona #winter #solstice

A photo posted by Henry Lee (@fotoeins) on


What are your favourite moments and photos from 2013? Please leave your comments below with your favourites!

I made all of the photos above on a 4th-generation iPod Touch. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

Mum’s cooking at Auckland’s Food Alley

Long distance recollections

A number of years ago, I stopped in Auckland, New Zealand for a few days on my way back from Sydney, Australia to La Serena, Chile.

I was stunned to find mum’s cooking.

I immediately called mum in Vancouver to let her know someone stole her recipe for claypot rice.

She was skeptical and told me to get back to Vancouver for the real thing.

I told her the commute back home from the southern hemisphere was a little rough, but I’d be back to visit in a few months …

The holy urban trinity

It might be an odd combination, but when I’m in a city for the first time, I look for three things: green spaces, art spaces, and decent food.

With subsequent visits to Auckland, I’m happy to have found all three in New Zealand’s largest city.

Getting around Auckland isn’t as difficult as it might seem, as various Link Bus services are an inexpensive and effective way of getting around the city for both residents and visitors. After my visit to the Auckland Domain and the Auckland Museum, I step off the Inner Link bus on Albert Street, and I make the short way to Food Alley for dinner.

Food Alley in Auckland’s CBD

Recommended as a cheap-eat by various sources including the New Zealand Herald, Food Alley is an unassuming looking no-nonsense food court, consisting of Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Indonesian, Korean, Malaysian, Thai, and Vietnamese stalls.

While some might express disapproval at eating in a food court, Food Alley is similar to the Cooked Food Centres (the old “dai pai dong”) in Hong Kong or the hawker centres in Singapore. Drawing comparisons with southeast Asia is a very good thing.

In late-afternoon and early-evening, Food Alley is packed with people, and every stall is seeing some action.

This is a first indication of a good thing.

Many minutes of indecision ensued when faced with all of the choices. But I feel an invisible force tugging at my sleeves, and I’m “pulled” toward Claypot Rose, where a number of dishes are cooked in … well … claypots. They even include little pictures of how the dishes appeared.

Now, a common piece of wisdom is avoid places with pictures of food, but every stall in Food Alley has little pictures showing what they have on offer. But it’s busy here, and people are quiet as they’re digging eagerly into their food. They’re in animated conversation once their plates are empty.

This is the second indication this place is going to be good.

Food Alley, Auckland, New ZealandFood Alley, Auckland, New Zealand

I remember looking into our family’s kitchen while mum prepared steamed chicken with ginger and Chinese sausage on a bed of rice and bok-choy. I see that memory come alive in front of me: “claypot chicken rice with Chinese sausage” (煲仔雞飯) consists of chunks of steamed chicken and sausage, seasoned with ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and crowned generously with chopped green onion and red chiles. To augment my round of gluttony, I order an extra BBQ-pork egg foo yung.

Pure taste was my third indication and the ultimate clincher.

Like a question of what came first or, simply, what’s better, both chicken and egg are really good, but the claypot chicken rice brings me back to the past with the familiar flavours. I never thought I’d experience that taste outside of my childhood home, until I stepped into Food Alley and discovered the replicated stylings of mum’s cooking.

Address & Map for Food Alley

Food Alley is located in Auckland’s Central Business District at 9 Albert Street, just minutes on foot from Britomart Train Station. They’re open every day from 1030am to 10pm. The Link Bus, including the City-, Inner-, and Outer-Link services, runs in both directions on all routes with 10- to 20-minute frequencies every day until about 11pm.

Other recent commentary about Food Alley: The Selfish Years, and The Food Pornographer.

I made the photos above with a 4th-generation iPodTouch on 31 July 2012. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

No Connection, Unpaid, My Own Opinions Disclosure: No Connection, Unpaid, My Own Opinions. I have not received any compensation for writing this content and I have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned herein (cmp.ly/0).

Milford Sound in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park

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