Merlin’s Travels: Waitangi Treaty Grounds, New Zealand

I apologise I have been completely absent from the blog since March, I’m way beyond my studies and I’ve to hand another assignment in soon. However, there was also a computer-change-swap during the Easter holidays, so here is why I was MIA for so long πŸ™‚

This post was in a draft state for a long time…. I thought I needed to finally publish it! About the place, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, it was one of the first places I wanted to visit as soon as I landed in New Zealand. Its better description, from its official website, is: “The Waitangi Treaty Grounds is New Zealand’s premier historic site where in 1840 New Zealand’s most significant document was signed by the British Crown and Māori Chiefs: the Treaty of Waitangi” (


Carved Meeting House – Waitangi T. G.


Carved Meeting House Int. – Waitangi T. G.
Carved Meeting House entrance – Waitangi T. G.
View from the Carved Meeting House Int. – Waitangi T. G.
Treaty House – Waitangi T. G.
View of the Flagstaff from the Treaty House – Waitangi T. G.
The Flagstaff – Waitangi T. G.
Ceremonial War Canoe – Waitangi T. G.
Ceremonial War Canoe long view – Waitangi T. G.
Ceremonial War Canoe carved prow 1- Waitangi T. G.
Ceremonial War Canoe caved prow 2 – Waitangi T. G.
Pohutukawa Tree (New Zealand Christmas Tree) – Waitangi T. G.
Treaty House (extract found inside) – Waitangi T. G.


I hope you enjoyed the pictures, as usual, and see you next time for another post about my travels πŸ™‚

Merlin xx


Merlin’s Travels: Bay of Islands, New Zealand

One of the places I was keen to visit once I landed in New Zealand was the β€˜Bay of Islands’. It is located at about 2 hours 40 minutes from Auckland (with no traffic…). If you’re interested in visiting it, you might find some interesting information at these links:

The number of small islands in that region is over 140, mostly uninhabited. I rented a car for a few days and booked a small B&B on the coast (I think it was at Wangaruru but my memory could play a trick at this moment). Weather was pretty much awful all the time so it ruined a great deal of pictures. I even barely made it to the renown 90-mile beach and a thunderstorm joined me there after 3 minutes I got off the car!!!

I also never made it to Cape Reinga (most northern point of New Zealand), because the sealed motorway A1… stops about 25 km before Cape Reinga and becomes a gravel road!!! Take note that rented cars have NO insurance cover that extends to gravel roads…. So if you want to visit Cape Reinga it is better to do one of the many organised bus tours.

The Bay of Islands is also the region where the first English settlers arrived in the 19th century (at Russell), as well as the location where The Declaration of Independence of New Zealand was signed in 1835 and the Treaty between Maori and English government was signed in 1840. But given that that site is really interesting and magical, I will write about the Waitangi Treaty Ground in the next post.

I also went to visit the Whangarei Falls, lovely spot and nobody was there, just perfect!! πŸ™‚ (and… a bit off topic, but they had the cleanest and most lovely public toilets ever…. πŸ˜€ 

Bay of Islands, main coastal road
Bay of Islands, main coastal road
Bay of Islands
Bay of Islands
Lovely place to live...
Lovely place to live……
Bay of Islands… little harbour?



Whangarei Falls
Whangarei Falls
90-mile beach (which is not 90 miles long, I think about 63...)
90-mile beach (which is not 90 miles long, I think about 63…)

See you soon for another post about New Zealand!! πŸ™‚

Merlin x

Merlin’s Travels: Hamilton Gardens, New Zealand

Hamilton is a little town (well, ‘little’ by European standards…) situated in the North Island, New Zealand; the driving time between Auckland and Hamilton is about 1h and a half. Firts of all, I must tell you that one of my biggest interest of my life is… Gardening. I’ve never had a garden before moving to the Highlands of Scotland (my rented little cottage in Sutherland had one) and when we bought a house in England we even got two (front and back), imagine my delight! πŸ™‚

Anyway, I’m going off topic. One of the most famous gardens in New Zealand is in Hamilton so I could NOT visit it, of course! The town layout vaguely resembles one of the typical seaside towns on the Adriatic Sea (in Italy), but I don’t think that the settlers, the architects or the town planners of Hamilton went for that ‘model’ on purpose! It is funny to think that the first thing I took a picture of was a Christmas tree in an incredibly sunny and warm day πŸ˜€ I went to Hamilton on December 9th, 2009; you certainly know that in the southern emisphere the seasons are inverted compared to the north one, hence the sunny and the short-sleeved or sleeveless clothing πŸ˜‰

Christmas Tree - Hamilton
Christmas Tree – Hamilton
Hamilton town centre
Hamilton town centre
Hamilton town centre
Hamilton town centre

The Hamilton gardens, a mix of gardening/building styles all in the same place (there is the Italian garden, the Japanese one, the English, etc. etc.), were really lovely and full of flowers in bloom. I’m not posting all the pictures, as usual, but just a selection; I didn’t post pictures of close-ups of flowers either, I went home with 200 pics and I can’t post them all, sorry!!

Italian garden Hamilton g

hamilton g2

A Japanese lady took a picture of me in the English garden!
A Japanese lady took a picture of me in the English garden!

Hamilton g3

Hamilton g5

Tropical greenhouse
Tropical greenhouse

hamilton g7

I hope you enjoyed the pics πŸ™‚ I got home with lots of memories that will always remain with me, a tan and a fantastic relaxing day spent in a wonderful place for the soul and….my lungs!! πŸ˜€

And in the parking lot of the Hamilton Gardens I could not avoid to notice a reference to the Lord of the Rings… a personalised licence plate of a car that someone had named ‘Frodo’!! Not posting the pic for privacy reasons, of course.

See you soon!

Merlin x

Note: more pics at this link

Merlin’s Travels: Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand

A long time ago, in a far, far, far country….. LOL Well, Merlin was getting bored during the weekend and she decided to explore the Coromandel Peninsula… in one day. Ok, I was living in a town south of Auckland, so it wasn’t that far… on the map. In reality, as I would have found out at my own expense it was a very long trip and maybe, just saying, maybe I should have stayed for the night in a B&B.

Instead, I didn’t and the driving time was incredibly long… but of course, when you visit beautiful and new locations (to me, at least) time doesn’t really matter, right? πŸ˜‰

Well, I know that you just want to see the pictures. The weather was sometimes cloudy sometimes sunny so the pictures came out with not a great quality….. I selected the best ones. I don’t remember the names of cities and places I took a picture of, I should have noted those but I didn’t. So, if anyone from these places recognise them in my pictures, please feel free to contact me and I will happily update the post.

Unfortunately I haven’t a page on Facebook anymore since July 2016, therefore these are the only pics I could upload to the page:

Coromandel Peninsula

Coromandel Peninsula 2

Coromandel Peninsula 3

Coromandel Peninsula 4

Coromandel Peninsula 5

Coromandel Peninsula 6

A sign of a Kiwi Protection Area:

Kiwi sign

And, last but not the least… The route I had chosen to go back to Auckland was flooded, a river was running over it… I was stopped by fire rescuers and only some SUVs could actually ford the place.. See for yourself the state of highway A25 on that day… ( The river is running from right to left in the picture, meaning crossing the highway.

State Highway A25

See you soon for more New Zealand pictures and tales!! πŸ™‚


Merlin’s Travels: Hobbiton, Matamata, New Zealand


Well, I’m editing this post because it seems that I saw Hobbiton as a ‘bare’ landscape, but it was before ‘The Hobbit’ was filmed. Therefore it is all ‘complete’ now and you can have lunch at ‘The Shire’. Follow this link for an example of a tour (a video is included!):


A bit of introduction to this first post of my Travels series. To be honest, I never had the intention to write about my ‘travels’. I always travelled more as a ‘consequence’ of my migrating habits than out of passion or leisure. However, I admit that the ‘tone’ of my blog was becoming sad, negative and a bit angry sometimes, all feelings I try to steer clear of. Therefore, I think that the encouragement I received to start writing a few articles about the places I’ve visited was good and welcome, both to me and my audience too. Given the lack of webspace of my WordPress account, all the pictures will be of a low-quality size. I apologise for this beforehand but I can’t afford to pay for extra webspace at the moment.

Posts won’t be in a chronological order, especially because many of my pictures still are at my mum’s home (therefore articles about France, Venezuela and USA will have to wait…). I’m also sorry if you won’t find this first post interesting at all given that it only becomes interesting if you are a fan of the “Lord of the Rings” movies. Stay tuned for more posts and pictures though!

I’ve visited Hobbiton, near Matamata in New Zealand, in 2009. They still had to shoot ‘The Hobbit’ series back then, therefore the site was going to be re-used. This explains the fact that the Hobbit houses are without any decoration, the tourist guide told us it was for reasons of copyright and because the crews were coming back in about 4-5 months. It could be different now, so in case you visited Hobbiton after that year please leave a comment in the appropriate section! I’d love to hear more πŸ™‚

27/10/15 Well, I’m editing this post because it seems that I saw Hobbiton as a ‘bare’ landscape, but it was before ‘The Hobbit’ was filmed. Therefore it is all ‘complete’ now and you can have lunch at ‘The Shire’. Follow this link for an example of a tour:

Hobbiton Set sign
Hobbiton Set sign
Me in front of the Hobbits houses
Me in front of the Hobbits houses
Another view of the Hobbits 'holes'
Another view of the Hobbits ‘holes’
View of the tree and the surrounding field from Bilbo Baggins house
View of the tree and the surrounding field from Bilbo Baggins house
An example of how to create an effect of small vs. big through a camera perspective
An example of how to create an effect of small vs. big through a camera perspective
Me sitting on a fence in front of where Bilbo's birthday celebration took place
Me sitting on a fence in front of where Bilbo’s birthday celebration took place

Well, my first entry of the diary done!! See you next week πŸ™‚

Merl x