Nothing says spring has sprung quite like sweet cherry blossom. Bare trees transform into giant sticks of candy floss and confetti petals dance in the wind; it's like a little nudge from nature indicating winter's been given the boot, and all is well again.
With cherry blossoms erupting the length and breadth of New Zealand, and festivals both going ahead and being postponed due to Covid-19, some of us will be able to dive head first into the celebrations, while others might have to sneak a distanced peek over the neighbour's fence. Failing that, heading online to access a virtual cherry blossom event is a must.
For those at level 1 and 2 status, the NZ Cherry Blossom Festival is rolling out between September 26-October 3 at Tamahere's English Cherry Tree Manor in Hamilton, with each day boasting a different theme. In Wellington, at Aston Norwood Gardens, things are already in full swing with the annual Valley of Blossom festivities continuing until October 3. This year, patrons can also enjoy an evening light trail to admire the blossom under moonlight, complete with Asian-inspired picnics.
in the South Island, the Alexandra Blossom Festival 2021 has regrettably been cancelled but independent saunters through blossoming hotspots are an easy substitute. Make a beeline for Cherry Walk in Dunedin's Botanic Garden, hiding somewhat sneakily in The Rhododendron Dell, or pack a hamper and discover Nelson's Miyazu Japanese Garden. Roll out the picnic rug beneath a shower of petals and say goodbye to any lingering winter malaise.
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Alas, we arrive at our level 3 and 4 comrades. For this we may have to travel further afield, albeit quickly via the web. Visit Brooklyn Botanic Garden online (www.bbg.org/collections/cherries) for a virtual tour of their Cherry Esplanade and Cherry Walk in New York, or punch 'Google Earth Cherry Blossom' into your search engine for a pink-hued stroll navigable by mouse.
For the ultimate cherry-blossom experience, hop over to Japan. Known as Sakura, where it blooms with ferocity every January and February, earlier this year the Japanese Weather News site uploaded a series of 360-degree virtual tours. Visit weathernews.jp/s/sakura/vr/ for the full video suite.
Check alert level restrictions and Ministry of Health advice before travel. covid19.govt.nz