Architecture Art harbour Light Maritime Weather Wellington

June 30, 2014 … and having writ, moves on*

Saturday’s glory was ending yesterday, even as I wrote.

moving feet
In a fixed position on the Wellington waterfront, thousands of feet pass by each day

Sunday started well enough, but around mid-day a nasty breeze came up, and it just got slowly worse from there. Before it turned completely ugly, I went to the harbour side o experiment with uses for the long exposure other than running water. There will be more of these, but I know I have not yet achieved what I hoped for.

Te Papa Tongarewa
The wonderful treasure-house is passed by without a thought each day. Of course, many, indeed most, of its treasures are stored away somewhere away from the public view.

Opposite the national museum, Te Papa, I tried to get a sense of the traffic passing the national storehouse of our cultural treasures.

South Wellington
Cook Strait vista – Arahura passes by

From there I wandered the back roads of South Wellington and saw a view over the Cook Strait with the ferry Arahura heading towards Picton.

Petone foreshore at dusk

My last leg was nearer home. By now the weather was definitely deteriorating and the wind was bleak and bone-chilling. I got out my wide-angle lens which I do nowhere near often enough.

Time to move on, at least for today

* The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam by Edward FitzGerald

Birds Landscapes Light Oriental Bay Weather Wellington

June 29, 2014 … mid-winter weekend

Technically, we have just passed mid-winter.

IMG_1162-EditGrey Teals
Grey teals at Pauatahanui

Theoretically it is all uphill from here as we begin the journey to reclaiming spring and summer. Of course, experience says that the worst of winter’s weather is yet to come, but this weekend at least was magnificent. Bright sun, no wind, perfect. The temperature was a bit chilly but it was a photogenic day and I began it at Pauatahanui. A group of grey teals were just drifting about on the ponds, with a few paradise shelducks and the odd pied stilt for company.

Mirror perfect water at the inlet

A friend was sitting out in the reeds waiting for the tide to recede and the kingfishers to return. I had other things to do, so rather than disturb the birds for him, I settled for this six-shot panorama to illustrate how beautiful it was on the inlet yesterday. Please click to see the bigger image.

The Carter Fountain playing at Oriental Bay. Yes, ND filter, long exposure.

In the afternoon with still just the barest breeze, I went to Oriental Bay. Mid-winter? Not bad! There were even people swimming out to the fountain and back. The fountain itself was worthy of a close look and I got as near to the water as possible. I think this is an improvement on my attempt last month.

Oriental Bay
Beach play at the end of June

From the same vantage point, I saw people playing on the beach.

Oriental Parade
Lots of people just enjoying this lovely day

What seemed like a large proportion of the population was strolling along Oriental Parade and many of them went to nearby Kaffee Eis and other shops to buy ice cream!

Board and yacht
Water sports

The young people were out on their stand-up boards, while a beautiful old classic gaff-rigged yacht ghosted back to the marina.

It was a beautiful day and if this is winter, let’s have more of it.


Children Family Food Maritime

June 28, 2014 … egg whites and candles

Yesterday was ridiculously busy.

Oil tanker
Patagonian Mystic … where do they get these names from?

Someone had found this blog and made an offer to purchase some images from it. I spent the morning putting together a hundred candidate images and sold three. It is never going to be a significant revenue stream, and indeed may never happen again, but the price made the effort worthwhile. It left little time, however to catch pictures for the day. I drove out along the Eastern Bays and explored one of the side roads from York Bay. This view down to the oil terminal at Seaview caught the Panamanian registered “Patagonian Mystic” offloading oil products.

Pavlova … a bit unconventional in its presentation … each person could choose their own filling

In the evening we had a small gathering to mark the birthday of youngest son Anthony. Mary had prepared a pavlova, the dessert dish which has now been proven by scholarly research and beyond all doubt, to have been invented in New Zealand, regardless of spurious claims from the West Island.

Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday Ants … Cooper and Maggie carry in the birthday dessert for their father


Our grandchildren Maggie and Cooper needed no persuasion to be the triumphant bearers of the birthday pavlova, complete with lighted candles.

Normal service should resume soon.

Birds Hutt River Plimmerton Rivers

June 27, 2014 … a fisherman’s tale and I swear it’s true

Another slightly lacklustre day.

Hutt River weir flowing briskly

Perhaps the recent rain had made the flow over the Hutt River weir more spectacular. When I got there, I decided I had missed the best, because the road down to the riverbed had been seriously undercut by recent water flow. There is now a big step down from the sealed ramp to the actual river shingle. Nevertheless the water was flowing fast and dark.

Weir 2
Near eye level along the weir No visible sign of that trout but I saw it very clearly

I decided to scramble up the dry portion of the weir … a strip less than a metre wide near the river bank, and to look for a shot along the top part of the weir. While I was making this thirty-second exposure, before my very eyes, I saw a good-sized trout slither up the slope. Its back and dorsal spines were well clear of the water and its tail was threshing like an outboard motor. Sadly, the length of this exposure means it left no trace on the image.

Shore plovers
Shore plovers in partial concealment

Out at Plimmerton, those rascally shore plovers were lined up perfectly still, lurking behind a ridge. There are normally six so I hope we haven’t lost one. I took this shot from the car window. Eventually they began to scurry about again, but I decided not to push my luck or add further stress.

Little black shags
Vikings parade before the next raid? Little black shags.

I took the road home on the southern side of the inlet, and spotted this military formation of Little Black Shags . I am intrigued to know what the social purpose is of such a formation. I know that  they gather fish as a community, but this disciplined gathering is very interesting.

That’s all for now.

Birds Plimmerton

June 26, 2014 … just one topic

Single-mindedness can be a virtue.


I am not so sure about yesterday. At Plimmerton, the shore plovers were there again, despite the ugly weather. To be honest I got little else yesterday, so I’ll offer a few shots of the plovers and call it quits for the day. I get excited about these because they are reputedly among the rarest of the dotterel family in New Zealand, and perhaps in the world. The ones at Plimmerton are about to be captured and relocated to the bird sanctuary at Mt Bruce, to protect them from predation.


Four or five birds were scurrying about, and like the other dotterels, they do quite a good job of choosing rocky environments in which they hide quite well.


One of them made a short flight as I watched, though I was not quite onto it in terms of focus and framing.


One of the birds found some food … hard to tell exactly what, perhaps a small fish, but it disappeared quickly.

That’s all for today


adversity Birds Evans Bay harbour Maritime Seatoun Weather Wellington

June 25, 2014 … the quality of mercy*

Even on the grey days, I love this city.

Oriental Bay
Oriental Bay in damp weather

Greyness was there in abundance yesterday. I set out to try those failed birdshots at Zealandia again, but even as I drove towards the city, the rain began to fall. It was a fairly dense drizzle rather than an unabashed rainstorm. I decided to see what the greyness might give me and set out around the harbour, with my first stop at Oriental Bay. No rain at the time, but the Hutt Valley was invisible, and I really liked the mood. Please click on each image to see the detail.

Evans Bay
Evans bay, with gull

On Cobham Drive near the airport, I got this shot back up Evan’s Bay … still no sign of anything in the North. I got a version with and without the gull and decided that the gull added something.

Hataitai in the rain

Around Shelley Bay Road, the view across the bay was interesting. The houses up in Hataitai were in the drizzle, while those at sea level were, for the moment at least, in the clear.

Wellington city catches a shaft of light … everything else is wet

At Point Halswell, I paused to construct this six-shot panorama of the view back towards the city. Compare it with the view from the same place in the edition from June 5 this year.

Halswell Light
Halswell Light and harbour

Swing round to the North, the lighthouse is sporting a fresh coat of paint, and you can see that immediate squall receding towards the Hutt Valley. Don’t worry, another was close behind.

Matiu/Somes Island

At Seatoun beach, again looking North, Matiu/Somes Island is silhouetted against the rain cloud. The Wainuiomata hill is on the right and Pt Halswell on the left.

That’s my lot today.

*” … it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven”  Shakespeare, “the Merchant of Venice”



Birds Wellington Zealandia

June 24, 2014 … fishing, feeding and climbing

In the heart of Wellington there is a wonderful oasis.

Shag chicks
Sibling rivalry … strategic wrestling to be at the front of the line when the food arrives

It used to be known as the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, and many of us still think of it in that way. It went all “corporate” on us, and rebranded itself as “Zealandia” and describes itself as an “eco-sanctuary”. The bush-clad valley is 225 hectares (555 acres)  surrounded by a predator-proof fence at the Southern end of Karori. It stretches from the Kelburn tunnel all the way up to the wind-turbine in Brooklyn. Most visitors tend to stay on or around the wider and more civilised paths near the upper and lower dams. Others can spend a day hiking the less well-formed and steeper tracks up towards the boundary fence. I began beside the lake at the lower dam. Bright sun, and deep green waters made wonderful opportunities. The resident shags are still feeding their fledglings so naturally I headed to that area.

NZ Scaup in panicked flight from a marauding shag

When I arrived, there was a great deal of noise, as chicks wheedled and whined for food. Not much seemed to be happening, and obviously the providers were out searching for fish. I was amused to see a pair of New Zealand Scaup being harassed by one such shag that clearly objected to their presence in its exclusive fishing zone. Every time they settled down, it would emerge underneath them with a lot of noise and splashing and the scaup would flee in panic to the site of the next incident.

Shag chick
Shag chick inspects the mysterious landscape outside the nest. No useful feathers yet.

I am not sure how old these youngsters are, but feathers are only just starting to appear to replace the grey down that has been their uniform until now. They are curious about their surroundings  but not yet capable of flight or feeding themselves.

Shag feeding chick
Feeding time … my imagination ran away with me, and I envisaged a great echoing dining hall down that corridor

Eventually I saw a feeding session. I have no idea which is male or female, though I guess the larger bird is likely to be the male. Anyway, it arrived, and the hungry youngster set up a great cry of impatience and I suspect that its rubbing of the parent’s throat possible helps the regurgitation process. The next bit is extraordinary  … the chick sticks its head deep inside the parents throat, and it appears as if the parent is trying to swallow the chick whole. There is much convulsive action and eventually the chick emerges, fed but apparently not satisfied.

On the Fuchsia Loop Track, Zealandia. The photograph was a good excuse for a pause.

I went to other parts of the sanctuary where I got my camera settings all wrong for the birds that I saw. A return visit is required. However, I saw a sign pointing to a track I had not previously walked. It said “Fuchsia Loop”. It sounded benign, so I followed it. It kept climbing. Surely it should change direction soon, and head back towards the dam. It was a very pretty walk, but I found I had to take it at a modest pace.

Harbour view
Wellington harbour from high on the fence line at the sanctuary

And still it climbed. Eventually, it arrived at the boundary fence, and judging by the radio masts on the other side I must have been just below Wright’s Hill in Karori. There was a nice view across the harbour and up the Hutt Valley. I took the loop back down, but the recent rain had made the path very slippery underfoot and I found myself hanging on to trees to retain my footing. Safely back, I enjoyed lunch in the cafe at the headquarters building.

That’s all.



Architecture Cars Family Food harbour Maritime Sunset Weather Wellington

June 23, 2014 … the shades of night are falling fast*

Mary did some baking yesterday.

Lemon muffins fresh from the oven

That’s always a good thing, though I hear a dissenting voice from the region of my bathroom scales. I love her lemon muffins (and of course, her).

The MG TF, last in a line of real sports cars

While I was waiting for family to arrive, so as to direct parking, I spotted a strong of classic cars going by. I always did like the MG TF, though I would never want to own one. It just seems to have brought a very successful bloodline to a fitting conclusion. The MGA, MGB and MGC which followed in succession, somehow missed the magic.

Victoria University of Wellington is spread out along the hill with the much loved Hunter Building on the right. The buildings in the foreground are in the area of Upper Willis Street and Manners Street

Towards the end of the day, as I raced to get shots before the light died altogether, I sought the higher ground. From the Mount Victoria lookout, I rather liked the architectural textures looking across Willis Street and up the hill to the university at Kelburn.

New apartment block
Clyde Quay development

Down in front of Mt Victoria, the new apartment block on Clyde Quay is at last open. I recall some great ships moored there when it was the Overseas Passenger Terminal. Ships like the Dominion Monarch, Southern Cross, Northern Star, and even the former royal yacht, Britannia.

Wellington Airport at dusk

To the South, darkness was closing in. The runway lights were on and a B737 had just landed.

Good night all.

*Excelsior, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Architecture Hawkes Bay Wairarapa Weather

June 22, 2014 … homeward bound into darkening weather

Napier was grey, and a little damp.


After a coffee in Taradale with our younger daughter Helen, and a brief visit with other family members staying in the area, we hit the road. I could see, as I drove South, that we were heading into “weather.”  There were some spectacular clouds overhead, but I was driving and needed to make sure I stayed on the road. I chose SH50, the lovely scenic back road through Tikokino and Ongaonga. Sadly the light was fairly flat most of the way and I decided that the grand landscapes I had hoped for would not eventuate. A little past the Tikokino pub, Mary said “Stop!” Ever the dutiful husband, I did. She was pointing back to an old cottage and a chimney stack standing in the middle of a paddock. I liked it and took several angles, of which this is my favourite.


We had a very nice lunch in Dannevirke (The Red Sky cafe) and then moved on into the ever-darkening Wairarapa district. The drive down towards Wellington was uneventful until Masterton where some sort of emergency was in progress with Hazmat command  vehicle and Breathing apparatus trucks racing in from Wellington to join the already plentiful collection of flashing red and blue lights.  Clouds on the Tararua Range looked interesting but I didn’t get anything like the view I wanted until Carterton. Trees and buildings cluttered the view so I went a little way up Dalefield Rd towards Mt Dick and caught this view of the conditions in the mountains.

From there it was back to the winding road home. Despite signs warning of extreme winds on the Rimutaka Hill road, we made it safely. What? Only two images? I took many more, but they were mainly of the same two subjects.

Enough for today.

Birds Family Napier Taradale Weather

June 21, 2014 … solstice sunshine

Yesterday morning, my windscreen was misted up on the outside, so naturally I turned my wipers on.

The conditions were just perfect and even from here I could see spoonbills, stilts, geese, and other waterfowl.

Instead of wet clear glass, I got that mocking dry rasp of rubber blades bouncing on ice. The clear blue sky in Taradale and the morning chill should have warned me, but the day looked so perfect, so innocent, I had not expected ice. Having cleared that mystery, and the windscreen, I went out to Ahuriri. See how still the morning was. No ND filters were needed here. This is a simple shot, as seen by the camera.

Mallard ducks trying to decided whether to run away from the person with the camera

I began my exploration on SH2 looking to the West, and though common mallard ducks would not normally excite me, I just loved their setting.

Shades of blue

Obviously the morning was so perfect and so full of promise that I decided I should walk the 4 km circuit of the inlet and see what else  I could find. Again the stillness was captivating and I enjoyed the shades of blue in the sky, in the hills, in their reflections and in the water.

Pied stilt in flight

My first encounter was with pied stilts which are plentiful around this inlet. They are shy creatures though and flew off if I came too close. The bird and its reflection were appealing.

Kingfisher lurking at the edge

As I approached the now disused Napier to Gisborne railway line, I spotted a kingfisher lurking. Since I was dressed for the funeral, I chose not to leave the formed path, and settled for the distance shot.

Bar-tailed godwits staying on for winter

Walking beside the railway over the old road bridge, I spotted a significant flock of bar-tailed godwits which I expected to have left on their annual migration to Siberia by now. It seems that some proportion of them “winter over”, and will not make the trip until next year.

The old bridge at Ahuriri

I got many more shots on my circuit of the inlet but the last one I put forward in this edition is a panorama of the old road bridge, stitched together from six separate hand-held images. It was a perfect morning.

In the afternoon, we said our farewells to, and celebrated the life of, my late Mother-in-Law, Catherine Bidwell, a fine lady. May she rest in peace.