Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: along the Cathedral Cove Walk

with 43 comments

Five years and a day ago we found ourselves on New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula, where I’d say Cathedral Cove was the scenic highlight. On our hour-long walk back up to the car park from the cove I got fascinated by what you see in the top picture: the graceful curves of leaves and korus, which is what the Māori call the fiddleheads on ferns. (Close individual koru portraits appeared here in 2015 and 2017.)

Also catching my attention along the Cathedral Cove Walk were the lichens and spiderwebs shown below. As for the brown insect, Kazuo Ishiguro might have called it the remains of the prey.


This post ends the four-part mini-review of our 2017 New Zealand visit’s last days.


‡         ‡         ‡


It is a fine needle to thread, giving children enough space to make their own decisions and mistakes, and protecting them from real danger. Our societal pendulum has swung too far to one side—to protecting children against all risk and harm—such that many who come of age under this paradigm feel that everything is a threat, that they need safe spaces, that words are violence. By comparison, children with exposure to diverse experiences—physical, psychological, and intellectual—learn what is possible, and become more expansive. It is imperative that children experience discomfort in each of these realms: physical, psychological, and intellectual. Absent that, they end up full-grown but confused about what harm actually is. They end up children in the bodies of adults.

That’s another passage from Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein’s A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century: Evolution and the Challenges of Modern Life. You can also watch many presentations by them on their Dark Horse podcasts.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 8, 2022 at 4:33 AM

43 Responses

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  1. I love the post and your thoughts, thank you!




    March 8, 2022 at 4:44 AM

    • You’re welcome. New Zealand’s a great place to visit. In 2020 I began including quotations relevant to the way the country has been going.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 8, 2022 at 5:02 AM

  2. Added to my book list. Thanks.

  3. Beautiful Fern.
    So green! In California, I don’t see children playing alone in the park anymore. All ages always supervised.

    Alessandra Chaves

    March 8, 2022 at 6:58 AM

    • That group of ferns and korus fascinated me into taking many pictures of them. New Zealand is one of the world’s rainiest countries, so green dominates in many places there.

      Safetyism has unfortunately pervaded American life. The elementary school that I attended in a Long Island suburb in the 1950s was about four blocks from home. I walked there and back by myself every school day. So did all the other kids. After school we got together and played outside by ourselves wherever we felt like it. It was the same for Eve in the Philippines; all her parents required was that she come home before dark.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 8, 2022 at 7:12 AM

  4. The type of fern you photographed in New Zealand is very pleasing to look at. The ones I am familiar with in our area look crude by comparison.

    Peter Klopp

    March 8, 2022 at 8:30 AM

  5. The timing of your NZ posts is very appropiate for your NZ readers as it is Seaweek here from 5–13 March. . https://www.doc.govt.nz/news/events/national-events/seaweek/ Although I won’t be visiting Cathedral Cove this week, I certainly hope to take a walk in one of our many nearby seaside areas. Children are much more protected here than they used to be but I still see children walking or scootering to/from school on their own.


    March 8, 2022 at 7:21 PM

    • That’s the first I’ve heard of Seaweek. It makes sense for a country of islands. I hope you’ll have gotten to take part in some of the local activities.

      So you confirm that even there children are more protected than they used to be. I wonder if physical isolation from the rest of the world mitigated the trend toward safetyism that’s so apparent in the United States.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 8, 2022 at 8:32 PM

      • Possibly but I think it is more that most of us live in smaller communities, outside of Auckland, of course. Also, our heroes, for better or worse, tend to be tough sports people and our population is small enough that most of us will know somebody who knows somebody who is a sports hero. For example, I discovered late last year that I am related to two NZ Olympic cyclists! Unfortunately that has not inspired me to get on a bike.


        March 8, 2022 at 9:18 PM

  6. Beautiful ferns. I’ve never read the book you mentioned, but I thought the movie with Anthony Hopkins was excellent, and I’m a fan of Emma Thompson, too. I always use a ruler now when I set the table, one must keep up standards!

    Robert Parker

    March 8, 2022 at 7:30 PM

    • Yes, great ferns. New Zealand’s one of the best places for them.

      Like you, I appreciated the movie (which I’ve watched several times over the years) but have never read the book. I remember how the ruler gets used to set the table. And speaking of standards, the word standard is etymologically ‘stand hard,’ meaning ‘stand firm.’

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 8, 2022 at 8:38 PM

  7. That’s quite an interesting frond…korus.

    I try not to be too judgmental about overprotective parents since I have no children and can’t possibly know the worry they can have for their kids. While it is sad that the media portrays so many crimes against children, it is good for parents to be aware of the dangers. And one thing we do know is that no matter how great an effort folks make to educate their children about the care they need to take out in the world, peer pressure can lead to bad decisions. It is a fine needle to thread indeed.

    Steve Gingold

    March 9, 2022 at 3:37 AM

    • For us nature photographers, a frond is a friend. (I don’t think English has any other word that fits the pattern frVnd, where V is a vowel sound. But wait: if we go by sound rather than strictly by spelling, English does have frowned.)

      The wide proliferation of social media has apparently made the negative effects of peer pressure stronger and more immediate than ever before. We don’t have children either, so I can’t speak from experience, but recent statistics show the incidence of anxiety and depression among children has risen significantly, especially during the pandemic.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 9, 2022 at 5:43 AM

      • And so, with reference to the first paragraph, we can say:

        “He frowned when I punned that a frond is a friend.”

        Steve Schwartzman

        March 9, 2022 at 6:15 AM

      • How could it not with the ability to read of every vile act happening in the smallest towns in the most out of the way places. Plus, with websites like Tik Tok spewing out the dumbest ideas for challenges, impressionable youth who yearn for attention are risking their well being like never before. And teen suicides are at all-time highs for a variety of reasons…online bullying being near the top.

        Steve Gingold

        March 9, 2022 at 4:06 PM

        • It’s a shame things have gone that way. In addition to children getting depressed, it makes me depressed.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 9, 2022 at 5:57 PM

  8. Of course you realize that fear is a primary means of control. We saw that during the pandemic, when reasonable caution transformed into widespread pathological behavior. It’s a pattern being repeated by politicians and bureaucrats who’ve discovered how easy it is to gain and maintain control. First, create the fear, and then offer to eliminate the fear — provided we accept their premises, and live by their rules. Pfffft.

    I walked to school by myself from my first days of kindergarten because my parents were intent on nurturing independence. Today, independence of thought is labeled ‘misinformation’ and independent action is considered subversive. Double pfffft.

    The photo of the ferns is gorgeous. It reminded me of those tree-like ferns you photographed.


    March 9, 2022 at 8:29 AM

    • I was slow to see all the Covid-19 restrictions as a means of control, but as 2020 wore on, I heard more and more people pointing that out, and eventually the evidence seemed undeniable. Declarations that people couldn’t gather in groups outdoors due to the risk of spreading the virus—except in the case of BLM protests—added hypocrisy to the political control. Double pfffft indeed! Wokeists took over Austin’s Gilbert and Sullivan group last year. This past weekend marked the first public performance in two years, but with the requirement that attendees show proof of vaccination and wear masks. To hell with them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 9, 2022 at 9:01 AM

  9. Loved that area – and the whole country and its people and wildlife. In Sweden children are more protected now than when I was a child, but they play alone and walk and bike to school alone too. Unless you live in one of the big cities, Malmoe, Gothenburg or Stockholm. When we visited NZ in 2011, I was so happy to know they still didn’t lock their doors – we didn’t when I was a child either. Today that would be unthinkable.


    March 9, 2022 at 2:52 PM

    • You beat us to New Zealand by four years. Even after two trips, we’d only visited a portion of all the places we wanted to.

      In the Long Island suburb of New York where I grew up, the family of one of my two best friends left their door unlocked when they were out. My family didn’t do that, and I can’t imagine anyone there now who doesn’t lock their door. It’s good to hear that in Sweden, at least outside the large cities, children play and walk and bike to school by themselves.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 9, 2022 at 5:54 PM

  10. Similar to the ferns unfurling their fronds, we humans need to spread our wings and learn to fly while growing up, even if the landing won’t always be smooth.


    March 10, 2022 at 4:18 PM

  11. I will be judging an online competition titled, ‘Pattern & Repetition’ this week. I think that top image would fit nicely into the theme. I like to see a pattern/repetition and then something that breaks it as in that image. I like your gull shot too. Seeing millions of heron, egret and eagle shots over the years, I much prefer a shot of a gull now and then.


    March 13, 2022 at 10:51 AM

    • While preparing these look-back posts about our visits to New Zealand, I rediscovered the set of pictures that includes the top one, which I hadn’t shown any version of when I originally posted about our second trip, nor when I did commemorative posts between then and now. The way you described the image is what appealed to me and why I took a bunch of variants: “pattern/repetition and then something that breaks it.”

      From your last sentence we might say that you’re gullible.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 13, 2022 at 11:09 AM

  12. […] A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century: Evolution and the Challenges of Modern Life. The passage I cited pointed out the dangers of overprotecting children. Later I came across the City Journal article […]

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