This is what a field of tussocks looks like in New Zealand

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On my drive through New Zealand’s South Island this sight never hurts the eyes. They look like grasses, and we who live in Half Moon Bay might have one or two or three grasses in the garden but these tussocks come in masses and their golden color, texture and shape never bores. The tussock covered landscape reminds me of one huge mural, as big as you can imagine.

Some people say there are great similarities between the bucolic scenery of the Coastside and New Zealand’s remote South Island–and it’s true, if you visit, many sights will seem familiar. You will think, gee, that reminds me of back home. It definitely does. But here there is just so much more of everything,  and it seems to be designed by an artist who was a perfectionist. There are no natural flaws here. I’ve commented before that the color of the water is dazzling, call it turquoise, aquamarine, opal or eggs nest blue. The colors will call to you, draw you in. It’s also freezing cold.

Lakes are everywhere, so pretty and blue they must have inspired the authors of old-fashioned fairy tales. There are thousands of cows, black and white, brown and white, deer, Elk, sheep, white and merino, and heaps of stunning rocks that come in as many shapes and sizes as do the endless mountains, some with what appear to be hanging gardens. Along one stretch of road someone began the tradition of gathering rocks into a small pile and every few feet this has been replicated. I stopped the car and made one of these piles myself–it’s kind of like leaving a tiny bit of yourself in the midst of the giant-sized scenery.

Having recently finished an Arcadia book on Moss Beach, I was handling many photos of the early 20th century beach landscape, very different from what it looks like today. In the early 1900s there were many “natural curiosities” (caves, spouting rocks and elegant arches) to see at Moss Beach–it seemed to be in a more primitive state which reminds me of the South Island beaches I’ve had the pleasure of seeing during the past week.

Kiwis are very proud and protective of their South Island with its massive collection of landscapes, one spectacular painting after the next.

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About June Morrall

1947 - 2010
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