Adventure Bay of Plenty Lakes Landscapes mountains Ohiwa Reflections Rivers Whakatane

January 26, 2016 … road trip and relaxation

Mary and I are on a road trip.

Ruapehu from the Desert Road

Our purpose is to visit relatives in Whakatane and New Plymouth,but also to have some rest and relaxation on the way. We left Wellington early on Sunday Morning, travelling up SH1 and across the Desert Road from where we had a great view of mighty Ruapehu. Despite a gloomy forecast, we were lucky to get a clear view of the mountain before that cloud shrouded its summit.

Oturere stream passing under the road bridge on its way to the Tongariro River

On the way down into Turangi, the road takes some very sharp turns and one of them crosses the Oturere stream, which tumbles its icy way from high on the mountain to join the Tongariro river on its way to Lake Taupo.

Near the Matahina Dam

We enjoyed a picnic lunch beside the lake near Motuoapa and then carried on towards Rotorua. Turning off at Waiotapu, we went through Murapara and turned North to Whakatane. This was a road I have not previously travelled, so I was watching for new landscape opportunities. Since the road passes through Kaingaroa Forest, it was quite some while before I saw a chance as we came down from Lake Aniwhenua towards the Matahina dam. The haze looked like that of a forest fire, but I have not heard any news of one.

The end of the line

Our accommodation for four nights is a delightful cottage on a farm us to the West of Whakatane. It is well clear of the main road and offers amazing pastoral tranquility and open views to the South. There are some cattle on the farm, and a wonderful assortment of old farm implements and a very ancient motor home in a state of picturesque disrepair.

Oystercatcher and chick

After settling in for the night, we used Monday to visit the Ohiwa spit  where the dotterels and white-fronted terns nest in large numbers. Sadly I saw neither but I did enjoy this Oystercatcher and its chick.

Fernbird … the first one I have ever seen

In case I didn’t mention it, the Ohiwa Spit is at the Eastern end of the stunningly beautiful Ohiwa harbour. On the way home we passed the Nukuhou Salt Marsh and saw a sign that suggested a useful lookout. The visitor information at the sight urged a lookout for the Australasian bittern and the very rare fernbird. To my great joy, I saw both, though the bittern was just a glimpse of its disappearing tail feathers as it crashed into the reeds to get out of sight. And there suddenly, was the notoriously shy fernbird. Fantastic.

Reflections in one of the many streams near the harbour

This morning we went back again in hope of seeing the bittern. We didn’t, but the scenery alone made the trip worth while.

Pied stilts on parade

It wasn’t a total loss for birds, as we spotted a colony of pied stilts standing in the shallow water, milky calm reflecting the sea-mist behind.

Mangrove reflections

As I have said on many previous occasions, I love still water, and as I sat watching the stilts, I saw the tips of some mangroves peeping above the very high tide. As I said, the water was absolutely still.

I am loving this trip.


Academic Maritime mountains Wellington

January 23, 2016 … time to get a grip

Clearly, if I hold the reins too loosely, this thing could get away on me.

It was never my intention to let a week go by without a new edition of this blog. On the other hand, I had done little by way of deliberate purposeful photography which always was my intention.

Celebrity Solstice towers over the other ships in port. The ferries Aratere and Kaiarahi are to the right

This morning, I had the very great pleasure of a brief reunion over breakfast with a good friend and former colleague and his wife. With another colleague, we spent several years urging each other towards the finishing line of our doctorates. In the end, all three of us got there by dint of mutual support, doggedness, and of course some fine supervision. Our breakfast today was at the rather quirky “Beach Babylon” in Oriental Bay. Arriving early as always, I snatched a shot  of the cruise liner Celebrity Solstice which was in port for the day.

Strait Feronia leaves for Picton. Her sister ship, Straitsman, will follow in an hour or so.

After a congenial meal together, we parted company and went our ways. I paused at the kerbside to note the sailing of the Bluebridge ferry Strait Feronia. I see that there is an open deck on the front of the superstructure where passengers can look down on the bow. I imagine that space will be deserted in all but he mildest of weather.

To the North

From the same spot, there was a nice view Northwards towards the Tararuas, misty in the distance.

An imposing structure

My final shot for the day was from the railway station where naturally enough, I was photographing the cruise liner. Not in a thousand years would I contemplate the social hell that is called cruising, but I find the naval architecture involved in their massive structures to be impressive.  It’s almost as if a new city block was erected overnight.

Depending on internet access, it may be a week before the next edition, since Mary and I are off on a road trip. I’ll tell you all about it when I can.

Adventure Birds Evans Bay flowers Weather Wellington

January 15, 2016 … confessions of a recovering obsessive

It has been easier than I thought.

pohutukawa (1)
Getting close to the pohutukawa blossom

On the other hand, though I no longer have the daily photograph imperative, I am rarely far from my cameras. I have yet to achieve the purposeful project-oriented photography that I envisaged, but these things take time. Today’s ferociously battering winds are likely to bring to an end the season of the pohutukawa in Wellington, so let’s begin there.

Pohutukawa (2)
The arrival is explosive and I wanted to represent the suddenness of its flowering

New Zealanders take great pride in their native “Christmas tree”, though its flowering season is all too brief. It is odd that on the 18th of December, the foliage on Jervois Quay  was its usual  drab green self, and then on the 19th, someone flipped the switch. Crimson flowers were everywhere. The annual arrival of these treasured flowers is an explosive thing so I played with that idea.

Pohutukawa (3)
An ugly wind shakes the stamens loose

Sadly, the departure of the flowering season is usually equally sudden, and is often brought about by the mean-spirited wind that shakes the stamens loose to create red snow-drifts in the gutters, on the footpaths, and on the paintwork of cars parked near them.

The heavy bumble bee seems to like the blue flowers

What else have I been doing? Trying to regain some of the gains I made a few years ago by walking more, and eating less. The walking doesn’t come naturally to me, and blustery winds of which we have had far more than our share, are a further deterrent. When I do get out, I have the camera with me and take whatever opportunities arrive. Just a little up Normandale rd from home, this bumble bee (Bombus terrestris) was exploring the blue flowers of what I think is Viper’s Bugloss (Echium vulgare).

Shelly Bay
Shelly bay from near Mt Crawford

Of course, if I have to be somewhere for social reasons, I take that chance too, and this I found myself on Miramar above Shelly Bay to capture a different view of the decaying jetties below.

Evans bay
Character oat sheds in Evans bay

Across the bay from the same viewpoint, the boatsheds of Evans bay  make an interesting target. The lurid green, yellow and red shed on the right is often photographed for the spectacular reflections it offers when the water is still.

Together in the reeds at Pauatahanui

The wind stopped briefly yesterday afternoon, so instead of taking the opportunity for a walk, I drove to Pauatahanui where I encountered a pair of white-faced herons in their breeding plumage  with long feathers on their backs and the pink-brown breast colouring.

As you can see, things are moving more slowly, but I still enjoy it.


harbour Landscapes Maungaraki Normandale Weather Wellington

January 8, 2016 … close to home

Curse you, Facebook!

From the lower part of Normandale Rd looking up to the lookout tower on Poto Rd. As you can see the magnificent spell of blue skies has come to an end.

You sent me a picture from four years ago, in which I was very much slimmer than I am now. Perhaps 18 kg slimmer. And so it was, that I walked the Petone waterfront on Wednesday, and up around the block here in Normandale yesterday. Snacking is also off the list (mostly). Anyway, I took my camera with me, though Mary always believes that the presence of the camera destroys the aerobic value of any enterprise.  As I trudged up Normandale Road, I got a glimpse of a new lookout tower erected by the council as a pay-off for the disposal of public reserve to private housing development.  As you can see, they have scraped the once bush-clad hill back to bare clay.

Wildflowers, or perhaps domesticated flowers scattered randomly

My walking has some rewards, since it allowed me to see some wildflowers by the side of the road.

Matiu/Somes Island from Normandale

I kept trudging and eventually arrived gasping, but virtuous at the top of the tower, from where there are great views to the South and across the harbour to its entrance.  Matiu/Somes Island seemed closer than it really is, and I enjoyed looking at tracks and buildings that I visited last year.

Water tank
Maungaraki Reservoir keeping the pressure on

Around to the right, the water reservoir at the top of Maungaraki was a dominant feature of the view.

It is not my intention to publish quite this frequently, but it’s taking me a while to adjust to my new-found freedom. New posts will appear at random intervals whenever I feel I have something to say. If I have nothing to say, then nothing will be said.


Adventure Cars creativity Newtown Wellington

January 5, 2016 … watching the traffic go by

Hello and welcome to the first of my revised efforts for 2016. Many thanks to so many of you who sent messages of thanks and encouragement at the conclusion of the blog in its earlier daily form. Your kindness was much appreciated.

It will take me a while to find my feet and to live up to my own hopes and expectations, so I hope you will bear with me, and at the same time be kind enough to offer any constructive criticism that may occur to you.

Mt Vic (1)
Mt Victoria Tunnel looking towards the Basin Reserve

Today I concentrated on one topic at four different locations in Wellington City. There is still a degree of “happenstance” in today’s edition. All I knew when I left home was the approximate location where I intended to start, and that took me through the Mt Victoria Tunnel. There can be few people who grew up in Wellington who don’t remember the habit of tooting in the tunnel. There are the odd curmudgeons who write disapproving  or enraged letters to the editor about this eccentricity, and I am sure the people plodding along the pedestrian walkway hate it. Anyway, the tunnel itself sparked an idea for me.  A day on “traffic”. After parking in Hataitai, I walked back to the tunnel and about thirty metres inside to see what might be done.

Mt Vic (2)
The traffic through the tunnel pulses, sometimes the lanes are empty, sometimes busy in both directions. It would be a rare transit though the tunnel that you didn’t hear at least one other car blow its horn, and hardly ever for legitimate reasons. It’s just a local custom that is not applied to the other tunnels

Various shutter speeds assisted by the ND400 Neutral Density filter gave differing results.  There were several more in similar vein, but by now I had decided my theme for this blog would be traffic.

Busy Adelaide Rd in Newtown

Adelaide Rd in Newtown is always busy by Wellington standards, and the busy-ness is compounded by the heavy presence of the Wellington Hospital at the North, and the Newtown shops in the South. I began at the intersection of Adelaide and Rintoul St. Again using slow exposure on this glorious day, I tried to give a sense of Newtown’s main street.

North view
There is always something moving in Newtown. This view is at the Constable S intersection, looking North towards the hospital.

Undoubtedly the most cosmopolitan centre in the region, Newtown has a lot of quirky shops including Bookhaven, Don Hollander’s very fine second-hand bookshop. The number of serious bookshops dwindles each year, so I hope this one continues the battle. My next standpoint was on the corner of Constable street, looking back to the North.

Molly Malone’s stands empty. I hope someone revives it. Meanwhile the traffic races up and down Taranaki St.

My last choice for the day was on the intersection of Taranaki St and Courtenay Place in the central city.  Most Western cities, including Wellington, seem to have an Irish pub called Molly Malone’s. Sadly, the one across the road went broke and has been closed since early last year.

Anyway, I have left you with five images that give you a sample of traffic in Southern and central Wellington today. I am not sure if this will be how the blog evolves, but would welcome any and all feed back.




Architecture Newtown Weather Wellington

January 1, 2016 … Happy New Year

This is not my last blog entry.

It is merely the last of the entries based on the self-imposed discipline of a photo a day. That has been a splendid misnomer too. Last year, for example, I made 10,555 images, or an average of 36 a day. Of course most of them were, at best, mediocre, but they gave me sufficient that I could hope for some reasonable shots to place before you. They helped me to learn why I liked some shots more than others. It has been a useful learning experience, including the late-dawning realisation that the obligation to make a photo at any cost did not necessarily result in better images. Anyway, let’s get the last of the old regime out of the way.

Newtown suburbia

Yesterday was New Year’s Eve, and I wandered around Wellington which seemed an appropriate way to conclude the original project. In case you had wondered, I love my city, and have been privileged to explore many of its lesser known corners, so it seemed a good way to bring the project to its end. I decided to look for the textures of the city from places I had not used often before. The first shot is from Hutchison Rd, just above what I once knew as the “winter show grounds”. As I understand it, it is now the New Zealand School of Dance. The (former) church in the left middle ground was St James Presbyterian Church on Adelaide Rd, and I speculate that the red roof next to it was probably the church hall. On the left edge, near the town belt, the two identical grey roofs are part of the Mary Potter Hospice.

Mt Vic
The lower slopes of Mt Victoria with Newtown in the foreground

Finnimore Terrace is a quirky little street just a little further up the road. An exposed knoll at the top overlooks McAllister Park and gives some nice viewpoints of the city from the South. For orientation purposes the church on the skyline to the right is part of the landmark St Gerard’s Monastery that overlooks Oriental Bay. The glorious pohutukawa in the foreground will forever mark this image as a December shot.

Te Aro
Basin Reserve, Cambridge and Kent Terraces

From the same knoll, the view to the North looks across the manicured green of the Basin Reserve and straight down the surprisingly leafy lines of Kent and Cambridge Terraces. They look far more industrial at ground level. As the poet observed, “‘Tis distance lends enchantment to the view”*My final shot in the series is also of Newtown from Finnimore Terrace. Again, for orientation, the curved roof in the right foreground is St Anne’s Catholic Church. The distinctive rooflines of Mary Potter Hospice are towards the upper left with Mein St in the top left corner.

Newtown (2)
A closer look at Newtown

So where to from here?  WordPress tells me that in the last year the blog had 26,000 visits which  is gratifying. I shall probably post at least once a week, but the images may be less geographic in nature than they have been thus far. There will still be landscapes and birds as the mood takes me, but my picture making will be more mindful and definitely not every day. I hope you will continue to keep me company as and when I post. Thank you all for your support and encouragement, and the warmest wishes to you all for a happy, healthy and safe new year.


The Pleasures of Hope by Thomas Campbell