Architecture harbour Light Maritime night Weather Wellington

February 28, 2015 … pushing the limits

Leaving things until the last minute is a bad habit of mine.

Oosterdam just needs her passengers to get back aboard before she sails for Port Chalmers

Yesterday was the last possible day to submit images to a national competition so much of my day was tied up with finding eight images that seemed to match the criteria. Of course, ten minutes after I pressed send, I was second-guessing myself and I know I shall regret my selection when the results come out. Anyway, as a result, my photography fr the day was also at the last minute. From Oriental Bay, the cruise liner Oosterdam was not far off sailing time. She certainly occupies a large chunk of the available berthage.

Probably the most photographed piece of public art in the city, Tanya Ashken’s “Albatross” has been photographed in every light and every weather

In Frank Kitts Park, the fountain was running and I tried for some contrast against the setting sun. Somehow that darned fountain knows when I am near because it shuts off before I could complete the sequence I intended.

Kota Lestari
Local yachts ghost along while Kota Lestari heads for the harbour mouth

I turned my back on it in time to see the Singaporean container ship Kota Lestari heading out of the harbour bound for Napier.

City skyline … Hunter building nicely lit up.

Hoping for some city lights, I crossed back to Oriental Bay and pointed the lens towards the city and Kelburn. I am not often in the city at night so I am unsure how long Victoria University has been lighting up the historic and much loved Hunter Building but it certainly is a jewel in the city’s crown.

Maybe I’ll stop procrastinating tomorrow.

Birds Landscapes Light Vehicles Weather Wellington

February 27, 2015 … getting back to normal

I got my car back at the end of the day.

Solitary and unhappy white-faced heron

My first shot of the day once mobility was restored was of this white-faced heron sitting at the roadside on top of a grassy bank by the sea. Unusually for these normally skittish birds, it seemed unmoved by passing traffic, so a pause to get close was in order. Anthropomorphism is always dangerous, but I judged this bird to be depressed. Being in breeding plumage and alone might account for this.

From Kelburn across the Harbour

In the evening, I went into the city to try for some “rosy evening” shots. The building I wanted was covered in scaffolding and plastic wrap. I surmise that the North facing stained glass window of Victoria University’s Hunter building still has water issues. Oh well, up to Kelburn by the cable car terminus. The spot I wanted to use was occupied by a young couple engaged in an intense but quiet debate of the deep and meaningful variety so I backed off. I came back half an hour later to find that peace had broken out with kissing and couple-selfies happening. I like to think that my discretion played a small part in this. When I set up my tripod, at last, I thought the soft pink light was worth the wait.

Inner city from Kelburn. Kelburn park is in the foreground with the fountain sitting idle.

A little further around the walkway and looking back into the city gave a different view.

That’s all for now.

adversity Butterflies flowers Lower Hutt Normandale

February 26, 2015 … pedestrian perspective.

With the car in the shop for new brakes and other issues, I was of necessity a pedestrian.

A pride of managers

Walking from the Northern end of the CBD towards home, I spotted these guys in Riddiford Gardens. The Lower Hutt City Council’s administration building is just to the left of this image, and is being extensively reconstructed to make it safer in the event of an earthquake. I guess these folks are mostly managers of the company doing the work. The business shorts tend to give them away. Ear defenders on two of the helmets suggest that these two actually work on site routinely.

Come to my arms

Halfway up the hill to home, a gorse bush demanded attention. It is wise not to ignore anything as well armed as this. Whether it is a seasonal die-back or the result of a weed killer, this plant appears to be on its last legs. Either way, a close encounter would still be an unpleasant experience. Gorse was introduced to New Zealand as a suitable hedge plant to contain stock, and in much of the country it still performs that function. However, the original importers did not foresee  the damage it would do as it thrived exceedingly well in the wild.

Monarch butterfly on a Buddleia plant

On an altogether more gentle note, it seems to be the season for Buddleia plants to bloom, and that brings lots of Monarch butterflies and small birds  to the vicinity. I was surprised to learn that the otherwise attractive Buddleia is classified as a pest plant.

On with the day.

Adventure Architecture Camera club Petone Queenstown Weather

February 25, 2015 … drifting slowly back to earth

Back to earth and home yesterday.

If you have never done it, I heartily recommend it. Despite my aversion to heights, this is somehow different.

The day was as warm and clear in Wellington as it was in Queenstown, but already I miss those mountains and of course, our grandchildren. The day began, as the previous one had, with a hot air balloon passing low and slowly over the house. There was scarcely any wind to achieve forward motion so the pilot had to experiment with height changes to seek out the currents that would take him to a landing site.

Church (1)
One of the many churches in Petone. I liked the wispy clouds.

Back in Wellington, it was camera club night, and I had arranged a walkabout in Petone. Members were offered the choice of going down to the shore, or through the character-filled back streets of Petone. I chose the latter.

This church is less than fifty metres from the other

There are a lot of churches in Petone, some of which have more architectural merit than others. The warm light of the setting sun helped a lot.

That’s all for today.

Adventure Lakes Landscapes Queenstown

February 24, 2015 … adventures supplied

Queenstown is, without doubt, New Zealand’s capital of adventure tourism.

Hot Air balloons over Lake Hayes Estate


Whatever way you want to put your life at risk, there is someone in Queenstown who will take your money from you and then let you do it. Though such lunacies as bungee jumping and skydiving are not for me, I appreciate the chance to see other people do it Watching is much less risky, vastly cheaper, and offers good photographic opportunities. Even as I got out of bed yesterday, there was the tell-tale roar of a gas-burner overhead. Sure enough, a pair of hot-air balloons were drifting quite low overhead, and I speculate that this is not only making use of the cool morning air, but also the temporarily quiet airspace in a physically constrained approach corridor to the Queenstown Airport.



Andrew had some work to do in his restaurant, so Mary took the kids shopping and I wandered the town basin. A pair of intrepid tourists were just going aloft on a paraglider towed by a powerful jet boat.

Earnslaw heading off to Walter Peak Station


For those of a more sedate turn of mind, the “lady of the lake”, the TSS Earnslaw was just leaving town on one of its scheduled trips across the lake to Walter Peak Station. Great clouds of smoke mark her passage but she is a beloved icon of the region.



The latest attraction on the water is a pair of small dolphin-like two-seat power boats that rely on speed and hydroplanes to frolic in the water like a dolphin. I am told that they can reach depths of up to 5 metres. The antics it got up to made me queasy to watch.

That’s all today.


Cromwell Lakes Landscapes mountains Queenstown

February 23, 2015 … the lofty mountain grandeur

That was a stunner of a day.

Lake Wakatipu from Drift Point

The weather was perfect. It was crystal clear to begin with and a few small puffy cumulus clouds formed later in the day. There was almost no wind most of the day. Beginning in Queenstown, we went down towards Invercargill beside beautiful Lake Wakatipu which was at its magnificent best.

Garston district with Eyre Range beyond

A little past Fairlight, we turned on to the Nevis road and began the long and winding climb across the Southern part of the Remarkable Range. Far below, the quilted farmland was spreading out below the Eyre Range across the lake.  Over the ridge and down to the Nevis Valley  we marveled at the vast grandeur of the landscape.

Deep in the Nevis valley, a hut is dwarfed

A hut in the distance helps give a sense of scale to the place.

Andrew having fun crossing a ford

This is not a road for the average family sedan, it’s definitely for serious four-wheel drive vehicles. Fortunately, Andrew has a large and very capable Toyota which negotiated some of the rutted tracks with ease, and gave Andrew and the children some fun as they splashed though some of the many fords along the way.

Remnants of a miner’s dwelling in the Nevis Valley

We stopped for lunch on a sunny bank beside a pond near some gold tailings and some remains of old stone miners dwellings. The large fireplace at either end of the small room was a testament to the savage cold in this region in winter, as was the total absence of any surviving trees nearby.

“Horrid Spaniard

I walked around the small lake trying to get different angles on the remains of the mining settlement. There is a plant which is regrettably called “Horrid Spaniard” (Acyphylla horrida) and which can reputedly puncture mountain bike tyres. It certainly hurts if you wander into it.

Lake Dunstan from the ridge above Bannockburn

Eighty kilometres after leaving the lake, we reached the top of the valley above Bannockburn and looked down on the lovely blue of the distant Lake Dunstan.  We enjoyed a very welcome cool drink at a pleasant hostelry called Pisa Moorings on the shores of the lake.

A truly fantastic day.


*”How Great Thou Art” by Stuart K Hine


Birds Family Lakes Landscapes Light Queenstown

February 22, 2015 … lake in the morning light

Birthday celebrations are all done, and they went very well.

Australian coots gathering

That left me free to explore the wonders of the Queenstown area. Lake Hayes is a favourite of mine, not only because it is immediately accessible but also because, on the crisp clear mornings, when the lake is still and golden, the bird life appears.  At first it was just more Australian Coots.

Women’s eight in training

Across the lake, a women’s rowing eight were training under the watchful eye of their coach in the power boat.  Though they looked great I though they would be incompatible with good bird opportunities, so I went to the other end of the lake.

Crested grebe at Lake Hayes

O wonder of wonders, the crested grebes were there.

Grebe courtship

It soon became apparent that there were courtship battles going on. I was unable to interpret who the various players were or whether the battles were between males competing for the female, or amorous males being beaten off by a reluctant female. Either way, there was a lot of splashing and short bursts of flight.

In the right weather this is a magical area.

Birds Children Lakes Queenstown

February 21, 2015 … in another nine years she’ll be eighteen*

The trip to Queenstown was uneventful.

A gaggle of gigglers loitering within tent

It was a great joy to catch up with granddaughter Billie who had her ninth birthday yesterday. She also had seven of her friends for a sleepover. So there were eight excited girls four grandparents, and a bunch of friends for a very pleasant evening. The girls were “camping out” in a tent on the lawn, and the tent was giggle central for a long time into the evening. I took this shot trough the thick plastic window of the tent.

Coot and chick

Earlier in the evening, I visited Lake Hayes in the hop of some interesting bird life.  Not much happening apart from some Australian Coots with chicks.

A brief post today.

* Attributed to my elder daughter

Petone Weather

February 20, 2015 … wandering locally

We are travelling to Queenstown today.

Te Puni urupa. The chief’s marker is the square one three back in the centre

Our beautiful granddaughter Billie has her ninth birthday today and it’s nice that we can get here to share it with her. As always, however, today’s blog is about yesterday’s images.  When I get back to Wellington, I have organized a walkabout in the streets of Petone for the camera club, so I thought I had better have a trial run. Among the noteworthy places on the back streets of Petone is the Te Puni urupa (cemetery) where Honiana Te Puni, a chief of the Te Atiawa people was buried after his death in 1870. Honiana Te Puni formed an alliance with the pakeha and helped avoid many a battle. See

These fibres are almost two metres above the ground, I have no idea how they get there

Many of the nearby industrial sites have high fences topped with barbed wire. Somehow, most of them have strands of fibre streaming from the barbs. On a farm, nearer to ground level, I would assume sheep had brushed against the fence, I am baffled as to what creature is sufficiently far off the ground to make it happen here.

Altocumulus over Petone

That persistent wind was still blowing, and may have been a contributor to the fascinating cloud patterns over the  Western Hills. I am no meteorologist, but I suspect that they are altocumulus clouds

More from Queenstown tomorrow.

adversity Architecture Forest Landscapes Light Maritime Weather Wellington

February 19, 2015 … I speak for the trees*

Bright sun and strong wind frustrate me.

Te Ahumairangi
Panorama from a place of desolation on Te Ahumairangi

Seeking out the high places yesterday took me to the Northern (Wadestown) end of Te Ahumairangi, formerly known as the Tinakori Hill. The drive up to the carpark is steep and very narrow, and last time I went there, it passed through a stand of old dark pine trees. It was shocking then, to arrive there and discover an open wasteland of tree stumps and woodchips. It seems the trees were deemed hazardous, so were felled and removed. There is a plan to replace them by planting native trees over the next three years. The silver lining in this is that there is now access to stunning views through an arc of about 270 degrees. Exposure to the wind is the natural corollary of a superb view. I had to hold the tripod firmly down to take the seven images used in the creation of this panorama which includes about 170 degrees.

It looks fine, but it was a struggle to keep the camera still even with a heavy tripod.

Battling to retain my footing on the steep woodchip-covered slope I moved towards the harbour and looked down on port. The Interisland ferry Aratere is just leaving, while the cruise liner Dawn Princess is berthed at the cruise terminal. Unless my eyes deceive me, there are many passengers who chose to sit poolside, sheltered from the wind by the ships many glass screens. Note that the Westpac Stadium has been stripped of the logo of its principal sponsor for the duration of the cricket world cup.


In the evening, I formed the mistaken belief that the wind was falling off as the sun began to set. I went to Oriental Bay where my illusions were shattered. The wind was brisk and chilly. Clouds were scudding across the skyline. The only redeeming feature was the reflected light on the facade of the city.

Spray drift

In Oriental Bay itself, despite the wind, the Carter Fountain continued to play. There is some sort of  interlock which shuts the fountain down if the spray is reaching the shore, Clearly it wasn’t working last night and sheets of water were drifting toward the shore.

There is still a strong wind today.

* The Lorax by Dr Seuss