August 31, 2017 … don’t trust the GPS

Since my last post, Mary and I did a random “no-good-reason” day trip to Dannevirke. The day was beautiful, so we just went.

Farm

The real New Zealand at work … the mob of sheep is being controlled by a pack of well-trained dogs responding to the whistles from the farmer on horseback. He obviously has a hobby, hence the two somewhat battered stock-cars in the yard.

As soon as Dannevirke was mentioned, I decided to come back via the scenic route out to the East. This included a trip past the Waihi Falls which, though I have done it before, is always worth another trip. It was here, that things went wrong. I used Google Maps for navigation. I knew there was another road that would take us more directly to the falls without first going to Weber and Waione. It seems that there are two such alternatives, one of which was at least 35 minutes longer than the other. Just before the decision point, Google changed its mind about which route was labelled as quicker. So it was that we set off down Waitahora Road towards Coonoor Rd and then to Towai Rd and on to the falls.  Apart from Skippers Canyon in Central Otago, I have not previously been on such a wild, lonely and ill-maintained road. The landscapes more than compensated.

Panorama

This is a seven shot panoramic stitch that doesn’t quite convey the grandeur of this landscape.

As well as a view into New Zealand’s rural back yard, this accidentally taken road led us high into the hills  from where there were great views. Mary was driving at the time and I got her to pull over whenever I saw an irresistible view which may have added a little to the length of the journey. I also had to make sure that, when I stepped out of the car, there was something on which to stand. Quite often there was a long steep drop to the valley below.

Falls

Waihi Falls near Dannevirke (if you take the more direct route)

Waihi Falls were flowing well, with less brown sediment and a smaller volume of water than on our last visit. However, the sun was already low in the sky, and home was still 200 km away. I have said before that the back road from the falls to Masterton, though very scenic, is remarkably empty of people and settlements. Even the named towns seem to consist of a mould-covered and apparently disused community hall and little else.  It was much later and darker than we planned when we finally got home.

Apple

Apple blossom in Lower Hutt

We have had a run of seemingly endless damp weather, but perhaps it is warmer than usual because I am seeing signs of Spring everywhere. As well as apple, plum and cherry trees, there are lambs.

Daffodils

Herald of spring

Daffodils are the unfailing sign of the new season and suddenly they are everywhere.

Lake

Lake Wairarapa from the Western shore

Yesterday, there was a change in the weather and instead of the rain we had mists and cloud. Mary said “go forth and photograph”. I went first to the upper valley, and that led me to the Rimutaka Hill where the road is often wreathed in tendrils of cloud in such weather. The problem with the hill road is that there are very few spots where you can safely stop, and almost nowhere to safely walk back to a viewpoint. The clouds were there, but were simply inaccessible. I carried on to Featherston, and thence down the Western side of Lake Wairarapa. It’s quite a large lake, but rarely does it have the cam surface I hope for. Yesterday was an exception, if only for a short while.

Pond

A random farm pond on the East-West Access Road

At the Southern end of the lake, the East-West Access road provides a route across the South Wairarapa and here and there are little scenic gems worthy of pausing and appreciating.

Ruamahanga

Ruamahanga River from the Barrage

The access road crosses the Ruamahanga river diversion by way of the barrage system which provides flood control for the Southernmost part of the valley. The surface of the river was almost perfect in its stillness, despite the flow southwards towards Lake Onoke and the open sea. I went South from there to Lake Ferry Hotel. There I had an excellent whitebait fritter and a glass of beer, before turning for home into the teeth of a sudden downpour from the South.

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Posted in Adventure, Animals, flowers, Lakes, Landscapes, Light, mountains, Reflections, Rivers, Wairarapa | 3 Comments

August 24, 2017 … across the hill and down the other side

It seems I have let time get away on me again.

Dotterel

Banded dotterel on the Wainuiomata coast

Since I last wrote I have spent a lot of time trying to improve my ability to see things in creative ways. Sometimes it works, and sometimes the seeing is ordinary. I seem to have a strong tendency to see things as they first present themselves. I suppose it is the visual equivalent of literal interpretation of texts.  Sometimes that works out alright, as in the case of this little banded dotterel (Charadrius bicinctus) lurking on the edge of the reeds on the beach at Wainuiomata.

Mist

Mist in the Belmont Regional Park near home

We have had a lot of “interesting” weather, with swirling mists. Though I am ready for some brighter weather, I am always a  little excited if there is some mist about, as long as it is not too uniformly dense and grey. The dips and folds of the Wellington landscape allow the mists to create some wonderful sheaths, and I have a good idea where to go for the best effects. This river of mist was in the Belmont Regional Park at the top end of the road on which I live.

Normandale

Normandale looking mysterious in the mist

On another day, with another mist, I needed to travel less than a kilometre up the road and the view back up the hill was totally transformed.

Waterfront

Waterfront at night

Sometimes, when a day or two goes by without a reasonable photo, and if the night is still and there are no domestic obligations, a gather up my tripod and camera and see what  photographic opportunities the night offers. This shot was made from the old Interisland wharf. Now it is used as a base for the tugs and a few fishing trawlers and during the day it is a car park.

Haywards

The Haywards Interchange at Manor Park

Another slightly odd day sent me out in search of mist. At Manor Park, the new pedestrian overbridge is finally open and I got this shot of the almost complete Haywards Interchange, where traffic coming over the hill from Porirua can now join SH2 without the need to for traffic lights.

River

Racing river in the Kaitoke regional park

From there, I went onwards to the regional park at Kaitoke North of Upper Hutt. There had been some heavy rain and the Hutt River was flowing fast even this far up the valley.

Tararuas

Tararua morning

Yesterday, we had a sudden fine clear day. My lovely wife gave me a packed lunch and said go forth and photograph. Often as I head North to the Rimutaka Hill Road, if the light is right, I am captivated by the great South wall of the Tararua range, and so it was on this occasion.

Wairarapa

South Wairarapa

On the other side, I made my way towards Tora on the East coast of the Wairarapa. As I climbed the hill out of Martinborough my rear view mirror suggested that I stop and look at the view to the West. Yes, there is some snow on the high peaks of the range and the sky was clear and blue.

Wind farm

Hau Nui wind farm

A few kilometres further to the East, some of the turbines at the Hau Nui wind farm. There is a public lookout from which six of the fifteen turbines are visible and four of them were ticking over in the light breeze.

Opua

The wreck of the Opua at Tora

By lunch time I was at Tora. To my great delight, the wreck of the collier, Opua was more accessible than I have seen it on previous visits. A combination of low tide and near calm sea allowed me to clamber over the rocks on which it was wrecked without loss of life on October 2, 1926. If I had stronger ankles and a better sense of balance, or was willing to get wet, I might have got closer still. As it was I was about 30 metres from the wreck, and could see much detail. This view is near the stern. We can see the rudder pintle at the left and  the top of the toppled triple expansion steam engine is visible just to the right of the great bulk of the boiler.

 

 

Posted in Adventure, Birds, Haywards Hill, History, Landscapes, Machinery, Maritime, Martinborough, Wairarapa | 2 Comments

August 9, 2017 … a thing of shreds and patches*

There is little or no coherence to the images I have been catching recently, except that in each case, I have been trying to see. I want to look behind the obvious.

Building

The as yet un-named building at 20 Customhouse Quay

My first image this time was taken on Customhouse Quay where a new building is nearing completion. It stands where the BP Tower once stood until it was deemed incapable of economical repair after recent earthquakes.  The new building is a steel structure with glass curtain cladding. It presents a bold face to the world though I had to work hard to get a full frontal image of it. I shall try again once it is complete.

Church

Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Ohariu Valley.

In the depths of the Ohariu Valley, there is a one of those delightful little colonial churches built in Wellington’s earliest days. The Holy Trinity Anglican church was built in 1870 and is the oldest Anglican church still in active use in the region.

Rays

A new day begins in the Hutt Valley

I have often said that I am not a morning person, but there have been some interesting mornings recently. Perhaps it is the quality of the light sneaking through the curtains that wakes me. On one day last week, I opened the curtains and then literally ran for my camera, knowing that this would be a fleeting opportunity. Crepuscular rays are always interesting to me, but on this occasion they were aligned perfectly with the angles of the hills across the valley at Naenae. Within minutes of the shot, the light was gone.

Fog (1)

Morning fog fills the valley as seen from my bedroom window

A day or so later, another strange morning  occurred. A fairly heavy mist was filling the Hutt Valley and drifting out into the harbour, while Wellington City was in clear bright sunshine.

Fog (2)

Valley fog drifting towards the harbour mouth

I got in my car and went around the hills to Anthony and Sarah’s house in Maungaraki. They have a stunning view across the harbour to the city. However, the mist was already thinning as the sun rose higher in the sky.

Dotterel

A banded dotterel in the shingle at Wainuiomata beach

It had been a little while since I last went to the coast at Wainuiomata and I knew that it was coming up to the time when dotterels nest. At first sight there was nothing there, but the thing with dotterels is that you don’t tend to see them until they move. I sat and waited and after a while they began to move about. As tiny as they are, they need to come close to allow a good shot, so I lay face down on the shingle and waited, and in due course, was rewarded.

Lambs

Harbingers of Spring

On the way back from the coast, I saw some early spring lambs walking on wobbly legs in the late afternoon sun. Truly a gilt-edged investment for the farmer.

Reflections

“Architextural” photography

On Monday I spent some time in the city again, looking as always to see things differently. From the parking deck of Pastoral House where I used to work, I looked across Lambton Quay and saw reflected in the tower block opposite, the two adjacent buildings. I was thinking of coining a new word to describe this  -“architextural”photography.

Daffodil

Definitely Spring

Finally in this edition, to reinforce the notion that Spring is imminent, I set up to photograph what I hope to be the first of many daffodils. Time now for me to seek “a dreamy lullaby”*

* A Wand’ring Minstrel by W.S Gilbert

Posted in Adventure, Animals, Architecture, Birds, Landscapes, Light, Lower Hutt, Maungaraki, Naenae, Reflections, sunrise, Weather, Wellington | 3 Comments

July 28, 2017 … erratic swings of the weather pendulum

A true pendulum swings from one extreme to another at a steady and predictable rate. The idea of the pendulum as an analogy for weather breaks down completely with sudden and unexpected (by me) shifts, sometimes within the same day.

Rain (1)

Locals (and perhaps a visitor) on Willis St

Towards the end of last week, we experienced some really heavy rain over several days. It was sufficient to cause localised flooding and a few landslides. It caused some inconvenience in the city as people rushed about their business, trying to pretend it wasn’t happening. People with umbrellas are probably newcomers to the city or else incurable optimists, as few last more than a few trips before being wrecked if the wind comes up.

Rain (2)

People don’t look surprised or concerned, do they?

Despite the rain and the dark cloud, the city seemed cheerful enough as people did whatever it is that working people do in their lunch hours. As I keep saying to members of the camera club, you can still get some interesting shots even if the weather is unkind.

Rain (3)

Mother shepherds her infant over the crossing at the Wellington City Library

I make sure that, although it is advertised as “weather resistant”, my camera stays reasonably dry, so I shot this image from the shelter of the city library on Victoria St.

Cuba St

This “art” must have cost a fortune in spray cans

A day or so later, it was all dry, so I went looking for images to meet a specific topic for the camera club and found this splash of colour on Cuba St.

Akatarawa

Akatarawa Mood

After that, things got moody but the rain stayed away for a while so I was in the Upper valley on the Akatarawa Road and loved the mist drifting along the river back towards Upper Hutt.

Boggy Pond

Boggy Pond on the edge of Lake Wairarapa

Early this week, I went over the hill to the Wairarapa area to a favourite location – Boggy Pond on the Eastern side of Lake Wairarapa.  The weather was still moody, so Boggy Pond was at its dark and mysterious best.

Tapuae-o-Uenuku

Tapuae-o-Uenuku as seen from Tarakena Bay

Yesterday I went to the South Coast at Tarakena Bay  where the sun was shining, albeit weakly. The sharp rocks of the Wellington coast formed an interesting foreground to Tapuae-o-Uenuku all that distance across the strait near Kaikoura.

 

Posted in Adventure, adversity, Art, Boggy Pond, Camera club, Children, Cook Strait, Lakes, Landscapes, Weather, Wellington | 3 Comments

July 23, 2017 … there and back again

Since I last wrote, Mary and I spent eleven days in Queensland with our eldest son and his lovely family. In so doing we missed most of the wildest and coldest storm Wellington has had in four or five years.

Fishing

Fishing at Tinchi Tamba Wetlands Reserve

The very first evening in Brisbane was just the opposite of hat was starting to happen already back in Wellington. It was a warm evening  with a delightful rosy sunset starting to happen on the North Pine river at Tinchi Tamba wetlands.

Kangaroos

Wild Kangaroos at Tinchi Tamba

On the way in, Mary and I had spotted the mob of feral kangaroo and I really should have taken the shot then before the sun disappeared.  I am told this is a mature female with its immature offspring.

Glass House Mountains

Glass House Mountain sunset

Rowena and David had arranged for us all to spend three days on the Sunshine Coast at Noosa. On the way there, we visited the stunning Mary Cairncross reserve. If you are in the area North of Brisbane and like nature this is not to be missed. Regrettably we arrived rather late in the day, so it was very dark inside the rainforest area. Happily, there was a lovely view out over the Glass House Mountains, before we carried on to Noosa.

Noosaville

Lagoon at Noosaville

As luck would have it, it rained on our first day at Noosa, but it didn’t prevent a nice sunset glow on the lagoon behind our accommodation.

Wattlebird

Brush Wattlebird at Noosa

On our last day there,  we went out on Noosa Sound on a rented boat, and during a brief walk ashore at the Noosa Spit Recreation Reserve, I managed a shot of this handsome Brush Wattlebird.

Orbweb

Golden Orbweb Spider

Not to everyone’s taste, but equally handsome to my eye was this Golden Orbweb spider … apparently a small one at about the size of the palm of my hand.

Pelicans

There’s always one who can’t keep the rhythm – Pelicans

The youngsters went back to school and parents back to work, so Mary and I spent some time exploring the delights of the Brisbane River on the excellent Rivercat ferries.  It was a  delight to see the formation of Pelicans flying over us against a clear blue sky.

Water Dragon

Water Dragon – Gardens Point

Back in the city, in the magnificent gardens at Gardens Point, we encountered a water dragon. In summer there are dozens of them, but since this was midwinter and the temperature a mere 22 deg C, they were harder to find.

Brisbane

Goodbye to Brisbane til next time … not bad for an iPhone shot

All to soon it was time to return to reality. Having stowed my camera in the overhead locker, I resorted to my iPhone to capture a departing shot of this lovely city.

Storm

Into the storm over the Marlborough Sounds

Continue reading

Posted in Adventure, Animals, Arachnids, Birds, Brisbane, Landscapes, Waves, Weather, Wellington | 2 Comments

July 2, 2017 “So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing”*

Somewhere on our bookshelf is a book of meditative quotes and poems called “In the stillness is the dancing”**. I always found that book helpful. In the last several months, Wellington has been blessed with a lot of stillness, mixed with fewer windy days than we normally expect. I love every minute of it, and as someone else said, the stillness allows my soul to dance.

Harbour

Stillness on the water

My stillness cliché is always water. And so it was on this day. People strolled along the waterfront by Frank Kitts Park, and the rowing fraternity were taking every advantage of the morning’s stillness.

reflections

Abstract reflections

In the inner basin, by Queens Wharf, there were reflections worth remembering. Someone suggested that they were Dali-esque.

Anemones

Anemones in Lower Hutt

Driving through Lower Hutt CBD, I spotted a bed of what I first mistook to be poppies, but which I now think are Anemone coronaria. It was a delightful splash of mid-winter colour.

Pauatahanui

Ration Point, Pauatahanui

And then the stillness persisted, so I spent a delightful sun-bless morning at Pauatahanui Inlet. As well as the lovely landscape there was a good-sized flock of pied oystercatchers basking on the sandbank.

Kaitaki

Kaitaki – waiting for its load of cars and passengers

And then it was back across the Cook Strait, to share with my youngest son, the celebration of his 40th birthday in Hanmer Springs.

Leaving

Leaving the Harbour

The crossing was serene, and the sea was blissfully flat all the way across. The shot above was taken in the harbour entrance looking back past the leading light and Ward Island towards the misty Hutt Valley. There was a some brief  lumpiness near the Karori Rip, but otherwise nothing to disturb even the most queasy of sailors.

Lake Rotoiti

Lake Rotoiti

Earthquake damaged State Highway 1 from Picton to Kaikoura is unlikely to be restored before Christmas, so it’s a long long haul to Hanmer Springs via Murchison and Maruia Springs, especially since we had three kids with us. A brief pause at St Arnaud allowed us to enjoy yet more stillness on Lake Rotoiti.

Panorama

Panorama from Hanmer Springs

We enjoyed our time in Hanmer Springs, apart from having to drive all the way to Christchurch to find a replacement tyre for Anthony’s car which had hit a rock the previous night. I trudged up the track on Conical Hill at the back of Hanmer Springs hoping for a spectacular sunset panorama. The light was disappointing to I settled for this panorama to the Organ Range in the SouthWest.

Maruia Falls

Maruia Falls

After two nights, it was time for Mary and I to leave the youngsters and head home. We set out at 8am. There was fog on the road from the Lewis Pass towards Murchison and I hoped for some dramatic photographic possibilities if it were still there at the Maruia Falls. Alas, no mist at the falls, but they are attractive in their own right.

Gowanbridge

Buller River at Gowanbridge

From there we paused for coffee in Murchison and then travelled back towards Picton. I had to stop at Gowanbridge where SH6 and SH63 intersect to catch the scene where the road crosses the Buller River. At this point, the river is serene. A little further West it becomes a fierce tumbling torrent.

Lake

Lake Rotoiti again

Our last stop before Picton was back at Lake Rotoiti. It was a chilly wait in grey overcast at Picton followed by a night crossing to bring us home by 10:30pm, a long day on the road.

*T.S.Eliot
**Mark Link, SJ

Posted in Adventure, Cook Strait, Lakes, Landscapes, Light, Maritime, mountains, night, Sunset, Weather, Wellington | 1 Comment

June 18, 2017 – making up for lost time

Oh my goodness. How did I let 19 days pass without posting? To be fair, I have been busy with photography, both personal and club-related.  I had never intended to be so slack.

Lowry sunset

Sunset in the Harbour as seen from Lowry Bay

It has been an extraordinary month weather-wise. A friend from long ago suggested that my posts on Facebook misrepresented the number of calm days we get in Wellington. I have lots of images that attest to the many windy days we have, but recently there has been a great deal of stillness, and when there is stillness, I try to get there.

Getting low

Getting low in Lowry Bay at the end of a calm day

A recent trend in my seascapes has been very low angle, low light and panorama style. I am sure that this too, shall pass.

Night pano

Night panorama from Pt Howard looking SouthWest towards Matiu/Somes Island and the city beyond.

However, while it is in full flight, I am tending to indulge it, even in the dark. The image above is my first attempt at a night-time panorama. This one is a stitch of eight images. It was bitterly cold and my fingers were clumsy with the chill.

Kereru

Kereru in the kowhai

A change of direction(briefly) was brought about by the arrival of a New Zealand wood pigeon to nibble on the tender shoots of our miniature kowhai plant which is currently in bloom. This is a big heavy bird, almost the size of a chicken, so it sits well down inside the shrub to harvest its leaves.

Straitsman

Straitsman succeeds where the others failed and arrives at Wellington despite heavy swells

We had some winds and subsequently some good-sized swells. The Interisland line cancelled its ferry sailings because it was expected that the wave height would exceed safety limits. I went to the South Coast and was surprised that the Bluebridge line decided to take the gamble, and there was the Straitsman inbound from Picton.

Sunrise

Sunrise from our front lawn

On Thursday, the calmness resumed and the day started in glorious colour. Ignoring the warnings of folklore, I set out to visit the Southern Wairarapa district.

Grey

Shades of grey near Pirinoa

There were still some good swells at Lake Ferry, but I decided to go further Eastward, pausing on the way to capture these silhouetted trees between Lake Ferry and Pirinoa.

Seals

New Zealand Fur Seals basking in the sun at Cape Palliser

At Cape Palliser the seal colony had more seals than I have ever seen there before. Mothers and pups were scattered everywhere, and most of the paths were impassable without risk of having one of them rear up with bared fangs and hiss of fishy breath.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looking back Westward from the colony, I rather liked the receding series of headlands becoming increasingly hazy in the airborne sea=spray. The nearest of these slopes, the one with the little spike at the top, is Nga-Ra-o-Kupe, or Kupe’s Sail. It is a large triangular sheet of sandstone that, according to Maori legend, is the sail of the great explorer, Kupe.

Boielle Flat

Rapids on the Waiotauru river at Boielle Flat

The next day was also beautiful, or at least it was in Wellington. I decided to go to Otaki Forks. This is inside Tararua Forest Park which is itself inside the foothills of the Tararua range, inland from Otaki township. The road is scenic, and increasingly narrow and winding. There are two fords to cross and after a major slip last year, the road is somewhat precarious in places. Nevertheless, it leads to a place of great beauty and if you are adventurous, experienced and well prepared, is the entrance to many superb hikes across the ranges to the Wairarapa on the other side. Many foolhardy people have died attempting it without the required skills or with inappropriate equipment. I stayed firmly on the ground at Boielle Flat which is the entry for several of the well known hikes. Sadly, the weather had clouded over to the North of Waikanae, but it was still worth the trip.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Adventure, Animals, Birds, Cook Strait, Landscapes, Light, Lowry Bay, night, Otaki, sunrise, Sunset, Waves, Weather | 3 Comments