The varied landscapes of New Zealand have captured my imagination for as long as I can remember. I still vividly recall holidays in Rotorua, an excited 8 year old exploring the native bush and tall redwood trees of Hamurana. We often visited relatives in Palmerston North and I revelled in the journey, especially from Taupo where the mountains of Tongariro National Park beckoned like a Lonely Mountain or an ashen peak of Mordor. My imagination ran wild through the gorges of the Rangitikei as the cliffs frowned down on the mighty river below. It might have been the real Middle-earth that I gazed upon but it was incomplete.
Browsing in a record store in 1972 my curiosity was piqued when I spied an album cover featuring a beautiful illustration that featured a ring being held in the palm of a hand with a fantastical landscape receding into the distance. I had never heard of Swedish artist Bo Hansson or the book that had inspired this haunting music. The music continued to play in my mind and the following year I was introduced to the final two pieces of a jigsaw that would shape my life. We went on holiday to the South Island of New Zealand and I purchased a very weighty tome by JRR Tolkien.
The landscape, the book, the music all melded together and as I stood on the shores of Lake Wakatipu I realised I was standing in the real Middle-earth. It was real and I was part of it. It’s now forty years on from that moment, but that emotive feeling hasn’t faded and the landscapes of my country still call out to me with their wildness, their simple untouched beauty.
I consider myself very fortunate. Travel and photography have been part of my life, have shaped my essence and have allowed me to be part of a phenomenon that fifteen years ago I would never have imagined.