Airport Aviation Cook Strait Weather Wellington

June 30, 2015 … half the year gone

A string Northerly cleared the cobwebs yesterday.

Boeing B757-200 of No 40 Squadron, RNZAF takes to the sky at Wellington. Smart paint job.

Nothing really caught my imagination, but since I was near the airport, I went up Wexford Road and up the little hill that looks down the runway from the North and East. The wind was really howling and I had to  hold the camera and tripod firmly to the earth. Just as I was nearing the crest of the hill I noticed the polished military grey of  one of the RNZAF’s two Boeing 757 transport aircraft. The wind carried its noise away to the South but I could see its exhaust shimmering as it lined up for take-off. The Air Force tend to take their 757s much closer to the edge of the envelope than civilian operators of the type, and have made a feature of flying them like a fighter at air shows around the world. But this was at a civilian airport in normal operation. Nevertheless, the stiff wind gave the pilot in command the excuse to burst off the runway like a rocket  and its wheels were up  and closed long before it came level with me.

Arriving from Brisbane, the passengers on the B737-800 will find the 9 degree temperature and 60km/h wind a nasty shock

Whitecaps on the strait made a fetching background to aircraft coming and going, and my next shot is a Virgin Australia  Boeing B737-800 arriving on its daily trip from Brisbane.

Aratere crosses the flight path

As an Air New Zealand Bombardier Q300 began its take-off run, our old friend the Aratere photobombed the scene. Unlike yesterday’s image this shows how desperately she needs a paint job. Rust streaks really show up on a white hull.

Briefly busy moment

Things got busy (by Wellington standards) for a moment or two as the Q300 departed, the Virgin 737 taxied to the terminal, and a Sounds Air Pilatus PC12 waited to cross the runway to prepare for a trip to Westport.

Excuse the self-indulgence of an aviation centred edition, normal service should resume tomorrow.

Cook Strait Island Bay Landscapes Maritime mountains South Coast Waves Weather Wellington

June 29, 2015 … waves and wind

The stillness ended.

Heavy green against solid rock

Sunshine continued. The day seemed too nice to waste, so Mary and I went to Palmer Head at the harbour entrance, and enjoyed a picnic lunch in the lee of a large flax bush. As we ate our sandwiches, the waves  rolled in solid and green against the rock, throwing spray high in the air. The strong Northerly instantly hurled the spray away to the South.

Palmer Head
White foam and red rocks

Off the point, the jagged rocks and the thundering white surf looked like a place you wouldn’t want to be. There were people snorkelling a  little further round in the shelter of the outer rocks, but they were still being shunted back and forth by the surging tide.

From this distance the white paint on the Aratere looks almost as clean as the snow on the mountain. (It isn’t).

Around to the South West, the ferry Aratere was  coming into the picture with the snow-capped peak of Tapuae-o-Uenuku. That mountain is over 100 km away so I was impressed by the performance of the Olympus in this kind of image.

The Aratere hidden in a flying curtain of spray

After lunch, we drove around to the rocky area just beyond Lyall Bay and I liked the contrast between the Aratere’s white hull and the green waves and red rocks. As I took this shot, the wind whipped the top off the nearest wave to create an interesting effect.

Across the strait from Island Bay

My last image in today’s post is a slow exposure with a Neutral Density filter. It turned the tumbling waves into a meringue coating.

The wind is still with us today.

Animals Birds harbour Landscapes Petone Reflections Weather Wellington

June 28, 2015 … on a good day, it can’t be beat

Wellingtonians everywhere say it.

The Western arm of the Hutt River estuary at Hikoikoi. The Waione Street Bridge has its usual quota of fishermen

“You can’t beat Wellington on a good day.” It’s a defiant catch cry that tacitly acknowledges that we have more than our fair share of wind and rain, but says the good days make up for it all and we wouldn’t swap it for anything. Yesterday was a very good day. Yesterday was a magical day. Yesterday was perfect. And to cap it off, the Australian rugby team, the Brumbies discovered they couldn’t beat Wellington on a good day either. If you have followed this blog for any time at all, you know that when the weather is perfect, I head for the water. Hikoikoi was a great place to start.

This pretty little boat has been moored at Hikoikoi for a month or two now. No sign of its mast and rigging though, and I hope it gets restored to its full glory before the rot sets in

For four days now I have been going on about the photographic value of stillness. Wind is the enemy of stillness but yesterday it was absent.

I think George regards himself as the master of this vessel. Recently it lurched to the right, presumably by the force of the wind.

I peered cautiously around the end of the Northernmost boat shed and to my enormous satisfaction, George was in residence on his favourite boat, despite its recent lurch to the right.

odd couple
The odd couple .. but I suspect that the affection is a one-way street

When he first took up residence here, he was almost invariably accompanied by a white-faced heron, and I came to think of them as “the odd couple”. I have no idea if it’s the same white-faced heron, but one tried to join the white heron as I watched. George was having none of it and chased the smaller bird away.

Thank you George for the beautiful display

Then for reasons known only to himself, George launched into flight and flew low and slow  in a tight circle, landing back exactly where he launched from. He passed within a few metres of where I stood on the narrow little jetty.

Rowallan sets out to earn a living while everyone else has fun

In the city, the inner harbour precinct was filled with couples and families, and the odd lone photographer strolling about.  On the water, despite the apparent stillness, there seemed to be just sufficient wind to ghost the yachts along, as the fishing trawler, Rowallan set out about her business.

New Zealand fur seal pup

To add to everybody’s pleasure in the morning, a New Zealand fur seal pup was basking on the rocks near the rowing club at the lagoon.

A perfect mid winter weekend

It’s a long time since we had such a  perfect day, but opportunities like this have to be seized when they occur.  I regard it as a good day if the number of images I decide to keep exceeds 20. Yesterday I retained 98. I really must get some more storage disk space.

It was a good day.

adversity Birds Landscapes Moonshine Valley Pauatahanui

June 27, 2015 … seize the day

Another day of flat calm and mostly blue sky.

Sacred kingfisher keeps its feet dry while waiting for the next crab off the rank.

These are opportunities not to be missed. Miffed by my failure with the kingfishers the previous day, I went back to the inlet to try with the Canon. Wrong tide and the birds were  far away, so this image is a significant crop.

White-faced heron

A little further round the point, I found a pair of white-faced herons perched on adjacent rocks. I love the colour in their plumage.

Moonshine Valley

From there I went home via Moonshine valley and the insanely narrow and twisting road down to the Moonshine Bridge. A landscape on the way was worth a look.

Not an exciting day, but tomorrow will be a different story.

adversity Birds Paremata Pauatahanui Weather

June 26, 2015 … still there is stillness

Stillness persists.

Kingfisher emergent

Against my expectations, yesterday remained still, so I went to Pauatahanui. To my great joy there were half a dozen kingfishers in the big tree, diving repeatedly for crabs in the calm water. Sadly, I had left the big Canon at home, and despite my earlier discoveries, I tried to capture them with the Olympus. Aaaagh! The results were ugly. Nevertheless here is one image which is at least pointing in the right direction.

Boat sheds
Boat sheds at Paremata

Fortunately the conditions at Paremata were such that the Olympus could redeem itself with some nice sharp landscape pictures.

Boats at Paremata

There are only so many shots I can show of a favourite place, but the light was a lovely honey colour and combined with the water conditions I couldn’t pass it up.

That’s all.

Birds Hutt River Landscapes Light Lower Hutt night Pauatahanui Weather

June 25, 2015 … still, chill and cold

Severe cold is a rarity in New Zealand.

I believe stilts don’t often swim, so these two are almost certainly wading to the full extent of their long legs at Pauatahanui

A weather system over New Zealand at present is bringing snow and chilly weather to the South Island with temperatures around -20C. This may seem almost temperate to my Canadian friends, but here, it makes headlines. A little of the chill has spilled over the strait and temperatures near freezing have been felt in Wellington, but I have yet to see actual frost  this time. However, such conditions tend to bring stillness   with them, and I like stillness. So, it seems, do the birds. Pied stilts at Pauatahanui stand in sharp contrast to the still water.

Pukerua Bay
Dark rocks at Pukerua Bay

At Pukerua Bay, the inshore rocks make a statement as Kapiti Island sits aloof on the horizon.

Underneath the lantern …

In the evening, Mary told me there were some interesting halos around the ornamental street lights at the Eastern end of the Ewen Bridge. Suitably wrapped against the low temperatures, I ventured out into the dark. Whatever caused the halos she saw had dissipated by the time I got there, but I liked the tree and the light, and could hear Marlene Dietrich singing “underneath the lantern, by the barrack gate …” *

Train crossing the Hutt River at Moera

The view down the river was tempting, so I tried a long exposure (16 seconds) and no sooner had I pressed the shutter than a train clattered across the bridge at Moera. That’s the green and white streak above the bridge handrails and below the oil tanks at Seaview.

That will do for today.

* “Lili Marlene” by Hans Leip (lyrics) and Norbert Schultze (music)

Art Botanic gardens flowers Weather Wellington

June 24, 2015 … getting bloomin’ close

More rain yesterday had an influence on my choices.

Begonia clean and simple

I decided to take my new macro lens for a walk and went to the Begonia House in Wellington’s splendid Botanic Gardens. I should note that yesterday’s exercise came nowhere near the capabilities of this lens, but the flowers on display there are situated in particular places, and it is forbidden to touch them. Since I needed to use my tripod, I simply could not get close enough to test the lens to the fullest. My first shot is, appropriately, a simple begonia.

bromeliad (1)
A bromeliad

More spectacular, are the various bromeliads  blooming in the warmth of the structure.

bromeliad (2)
Another bromeliad

There seemed to be many different bromeliads in bloom and I was surprised that, with few exceptions there were no insects or pests to be seen.

Orchid or an alien

I think my next image is an orchid, but on the other hand, are those eyes peering at the camera? If so, what is this creature?

Water lily
Water lily

There is an ornamental pool at one end of the Begonia hose which presumably helps maintain humidity. It also provides a home for the carp swimming in its green murk, as well a place for the water lilies. Sadly just one water-lily was in flower, and even that was pointing the wrong way. I extended my tripod to its limits to get the best possible view.

Fountain in the rose garden

A cup of coffee in the very nice cafe attached to the begonia house set me up to face the cold Southerly drizzle outside. On my way back to the car, the fountain at the centre of the Lady Norwood Rose Gardens  was adding even more water to the already saturated environment.

That’s all for now.


Cook Strait Maritime Waves Weather Wellington

June 23, 2015 … what sharp teeth you have

Digital photography changed things.

Deep green rollers at the harbour entrance

When I was shooting Kodachrome, all those years ago, every push on the shutter represented a significant portion of my photographic budget. Since digital, electrons are (approximately) free, so  I can keep pushing the shutter. At ten frames per second, the only downside is the irritation when the card fills up, and there are dozens of nearly identical images to sort through and select from. Storms tend to bring out that failing in me. I find I end up with a lot of images but just two or three basic scenes. A strong Southerly on the South Coast yesterday is a case in point. Heavy green water surging in is mesmerizing to me.

South Coast
Wellington’s South Coast is a very inhospitable place, especially in weather like this

Around the coast road to Moa Point and there, the red/black rocks were baring their teeth in the face of thundering waves. I should add that the Southerly comes up from the direction of Antarctica, and each time I go out of the car, I was reminded of this fact.

Straitsman toughing it out

From Lyall Bay,  the ferry Straitsman could be seen across the airport breakwater,  butting bravely into the heavy swells. That would have been an “interesting” journey for the passengers.

That’s all for now.

Adventure Maritime Newtown Railway South Coast Weather Wellington

June 22, 2015 … exploring the South

Looking for a different viewpoint is a constant challenge.

Rows of cast steel which are nothing at all like the Rose of Castile

I usually set out  with a very vague idea of where I shall go, and tend to turn towards the conditions of light or circumstances that might make a good image. I began yesterday on the waterfront where an all but disused chunk of railway line was gleaming in the sun. The geometry of rail yards always appeals to me.

Faded glory in Newtown

I followed some lesser travelled suburban roads up to the Prince of Wales Park where there were some different perspectives on the housing near Newtown. The big old house stripped of its paint was eye-catching, especially since there seem to be no arrangements to repaint it.

Tapu Teranga
Tapu Teranga in the sun … deceptive because it was very chilly

Down Happy Valley Road to the South coast, I came towards Island Bay from the West. Taputeranga  Island was picked out in the low sunlight.

Eye to eye with the fishing fleet at Island Bay

My last shot for the day is in the bay itself., getting down to water level. The fleet was looking smart in the last glow of the day.

That’s the day done



Adventure Art Landscapes Light Museum Upper Hutt Weather

June 21, 2015 … midwinter according to the calendar

The worst is yet to come.

Depiction of army surgeon, Lt.Col. Percival Fenwick, who survived the war and went on to pioneer the use of radium and x-rays in New Zealand. Remember that this art work is two and a half times larger than real life. (Art by Weta Workshop)

Bad weather provides an incentive to do indoor things, so yesterday, Mary and I went to the national museum, Te Papa, to see the ANZAC exhibition, “The Scale of Our War“. Mounted by Weta Workshops this is a tribute to the fallen to mark the centenary of the Gallipoli landing. The primary exhibits are a series of models or sculptures two and a half times larger than life, of actual New Zealanders in wartime situations. They are stunning in their execution. Every hair is perfect. Dental records were consulted to ensure the individuals were portrayed accurately. Family members of those shown have attested to the accuracy of the portrayals. My first picture is of the military surgeon, Lt. Col. Percival Fenwick. The scene shows him sitting devastated at the end of a particularly bloody day of surgery.

Le Gallais
Staff Nurse Lottie Le Gallais in a moment of personal grief. Every detail is depicted to perfection by the Weta Workshop people … I can’t even imagine how you go about representing fabrics two and a half times enlarged, but they did it.

There were many very powerful scenes depicted, but among the most moving was that of Staff Nurse Lottie Le Gallais, New Zealand Army Nursing Service, who was on the hospital ship, Maheno. She is shown grieving as she learns that her own brother had been killed. The news was conveyed to her by the brutally honest rubber stamp on the letters she had sent to him: “Killed. Return to Sender”.  Personal note: I have done my best to depict these figures well, but want to acknowledge that the real art, the astonishing skill, is that of the people at Weta Workshops.

Upper Hutt
Eastern Hills behind Upper Hutt in mist and rain

Later in the day, as heavy rain disrupted most main roads in the lower North Island, I wandered about near Upper Hutt looking for the misty shots of clouds wreathed around the hills.

The Rimutaka landscape looking Eastward from Kaitoke

I went as far as the Plateau at Maymorn and enjoyed the beauty of the mist-shrouded landscape, hoping that there were no trampers in those rugged hills who might need to be rescued.

It was a good day, despite the weather.