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Adventure Arrowtown Camera club creativity Family Forest Kawarau Gorge Lakes Landscapes Light Queenstown Reflections sunrise Sunset

April 28, 2016 – Autumn in Central Otago

To the best of my knowledge, I have never posted sixteen images in one post before. On the other hand, this edition covers a whole week in a photographer’s paradise. It began on Wednesday 20th April when I flew from Wellington to Queenstown to attend the 64th annual convention of the Photographic Society of New Zealand. My son and daughter-in-law very kindly offered me accommodation for the week I would be in Queenstown, even though they are yet to finish unpacking after their move to their brand new house.

Hayes
At the Bendermeer reserve on Lake Hayes before the sun has fully risen

On my first morning there, I woke to a lovely still morning that hinted at a golden day ahead. I borrowed a car and drove the 5 km to my favourite spot on Lake Hayes.

Queenstown
Even in the commercial centre of the town there is Autumn colour

Later in the day, I went into town to meet my son, and enjoyed some excellent tacos in the restaurant which, with his wife, he owns. I am more than a little cynical about tourist towns, but the stunning natural beauty of the place, even downtown, makes it hard not to walk about with a smile on your face.

Remarkables Rd
Lake Hayes mirrors the sky perfectly. This was taken from very high up the Remarkables Road. The back-end of Lake Hayes Estate is at bottom left, and Arrowtown is at top right.

In the afternoon, with my grandchildren Billie and Otis, he drove me up the Remarkables Road. The amazing vistas before me were just breathtaking. I made many images up there, but I particularly enjoyed the view of Lake Hayes from up there.

Kawarau
Kawarau jet races upstream on the Kawarau River

Far below us, the Kawarau Jet was carrying a boatload of tourists down the Shotover River and then up the Kawarau, under the bridge onto Lake Wakatipu and back to Queenstown.

Kenwood.
My beautiful Queenstown grandchildren, Otis and Billie supervising the mixing of the cookie dough.

The next morning was Friday and before the registration for the convention opened, I watched Billie making biscuits (US = cookies) for a fundraising activity for her guide troop. Of course, Otis had to help (he licked the excess dough from the beater).

Gardens
At the lake in the Queenstown gardens

Then it was time for the convention itself. We had some fantastic, world-class guest speakers of whom the most memorable for me were Andris Apse, Jackie Ranken, and Mike Langford. They gave some wonderful talks and led superb field trips. On Sunday Morning, Jackie and Mike led a field trip into the magnificence of the Queenstown Gardens, offering help and guidance to all who asked for it.

Trees
Tree worship?

Autumn leaves were a particular focal point, and at one stage, my fellow conventioneers looked like some new cult of tree-worshippers offering their cameras in sacrifice.

Skippers
“Then sings my soul …”

In the afternoon, I went into the grandeur of Skippers Canyon on a trip led by Andris Apse. In such surroundings it would be impossible for any landscape enthusiast to not have a good time, though my well-known fear of heights gave me a few interesting moments as our driver took us within inches of some very long drops to the river far below. I gritted my teeth and kept shooting.

Pines
Dead wilding pines. The tiny patch of beech on the lower part of the picture is indicative of how the pines overwhelm everything else.

At the end of the road, near the old Skippers School, a stand of wilding pines caught my eye. Like so many in the area, they have been poisoned, and left standing. Apparently the cost of extracting the timber is greater than any value in the trees. If the poisoning is not carried out, Central Otago would lose its magnificent beech and poplar trees, and the fast-growing pines would overwhelm everything else. The policy is controversial.

Shotover
If you get to Queenstown, do not miss a ride on the Shotover Jet. It is expensive but worth it.

After the convention had run its course, I still had a day and a half in Queenstown, so while Andrew was at work in the restaurant, I borrowed his truck and went looking for shots.

Fountain
Back in the gardens … the bright tree across the lake is the same one that was surrounded by all those photographers earlier

Queenstown gardens, this time without all the other photographers seemed like a good idea.

Earnslaw
Earnslaw has been plodding backwards and forwards to Walter Peak for 103 years

Near the harbour, that grand old queen of the lake, the Earnslaw was making her smokey way back to the wharf.

Hydro attack
Hydro Attack in action

From a different era entirely, came the little high speed “Hydro Attack” shark was taking a customer out for a fifteen minute high-speed thrill ride. This thing is capable of 80 km/h and can submerge, and leap into the air. I can feel myself going green thinking about it.

Panorama
Panorama from Crown Range to the Remarkables

Before we went out for dinner that night, Andrew took me up the road towards Coronet Peak from where I compiled this panorama looking towards the Remarkables, and the Crown Range in the last light of a lovely day.

Ahuriri
The Ahuriri River, a little South of Lake Ohau

And then it was time to go home. Having cunningly booked a seat on the Western (left) side of the aircraft, I got some spectacular views. The sun glittering in the sinuous course of the Ahuriri River gave me a lot of pleasure.

Sounds
Over the Marlborough Sounds

As we neared Blenheim and aircraft begin its turn towards Wellington across the strait, I enjoyed a splendid “receding planes” view of the  hills behind the Marlborough Sounds. And just like that the adventure is over. What a week.

 

 

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Art Camera club harbour Landscapes Light Weather Wellington

April 19, 2016 … the spice of life

I am about to depart to Queenstown for a week  where my middle son and his family have just moved to a new house. Of course, as much as I love seeing the family, the reason for travel is the annual convention  of the Photographic Society of New  Zealand which is being held there. I hope that by mingling with some of the world’s great landscape photographers, Andris Apse, Jackie Ranken and Mike Langford, some of their skills and knowledge will rub off on me. I am booked in to a field trip into Skippers canyon with Andris Apse and come rain or shine, I have high hopes.

André Brönnimann
A young man with dreadlocks, carrying a skateboard seems to be having a deep conversation with the subjects of the prize-winning portrait.

Meanwhile, in the last week I have done relatively little. Mary and I visited the display of finalists in the Adam Portraiture Awards in the National Portrait Gallery on Wellington’s waterfront. There was some very fine work on display including a self-portrait by my brother-in-law, Paul. There seems to be universal acceptance, however,  that the winning image, entitled “Sisters” by André Brönnimann of Whanganui  was a very worthy winner of the first prize. I would be proud of it as a photograph. To achieve such stunning work with a brush and oils is astounding. I love the serene faces of his three models.

Camera Club
Well known local photographer, Simon Woolf shares some of his expertise with the Hutt Camera Club

My term as president of the Hutt Camera Club is coming to an end in November, but in the meantime, the club continues to give me pleasure, the opportunity to mix with some great people, and a lot of inspiration. Last week’s guest speaker was well known local professional, Simon Woolf who came directly to us from shooting the Investiture ceremony for the New Year Honours at Government House. Simon is always a thoroughly engaging and entertaining speaker, and we had a full house on this occasion.

Harbour
Te Whanganui-a-Tara – Wellington harbour on a magnificent day

Towards the end of the week we had one of those very special days. No wind, bright sun, cool clear Autumnal air, and a beautifully still harbour. With the aid of Google Earth, I found a place that I thought might offer me a new viewpoint. I had never heard of Waihinahina park in Newlands, but realised that it was the area where the now closed landfill used to be. Indeed across the flat dog-exercise green area there are vent pipes for the dispersal of gases from the decomposition occurring far below. However, my interest was in the views to be had from the seaward edge of the park and the ridges on either side. This is a nine image stitch to create a panorama from the Petone foreshore past Eastbourne and Matiu/Somes Island and the harbour entrance, the Miramar Peninsula and Mt Victoria. It was a truly perfect morning.

I may or may not post again before my return from Queenstown.

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Adventure Birds Cook Strait Kapiti Island Landscapes Maritime Paekakariki Paremata Pauatahanui Porirua Pukerua Bay Waves Weather

April 11, 2016 … filling in time

Reading is dangerous. It fills your head with strange ideas. Likewise, listening to people whose photography you admire is disruptive. I am becoming accustomed to not feeling guilty if a day or three go by with no images made. On the other hand, I am much harder on myself if I tolerate mediocrity in the images I decide to keep. By this time last year, I had almost 5,000 images. This year to date, I have 1,061, and that is a massive drop. I am trying harder to see images that are worth taking, and to walk away if there is nothing there.

birds
Admittedly a surplus of black swans, but I also see Caspian terns, royal spoonbills, pied stilts, masked lapwings, shags, ducks and gulls

I still love photographing birds, but lack the patience of some of my birding friends who will lie on the belly in mud and shells for hours trying to sneak up on rare birds in their nest. For my part, I tend to arrive at a location, and shoot what I can see, from where I can see it. Naturally that process is a lottery. When I arrived at Pauatahanui on Saturday, I thought I had won the big one. I have never seen so many waterfowl there before.

stilts
Hasty dispersal – they were having a stilted conversation anyway.

A significant gathering of pied stilts at the pond looked like a group of men dressed for a white-tie dinner and they seemed to spend a lot of time admiring their own reflections. A passing jogger on the walkway caused them to scatter.

Strait
Many a homesick South Islander has stood on this beach and gazed across to the hills of the Marlborough Sounds

The next day Mary wanted to do the new 10 km walkway that runs along the steep escarpment from Paekakariki to Pukerua Bay. It is advertised as a four-hour walk across some steep and narrow tracks with 490 steps and a couple of wire swing bridges. The brochure says “not for those who suffer vertigo or fear heights”. I drove Mary to the beginning of the track and agreed to be close to the other end three hours later, so I was free to wander. I began under a sullen sky at Paekakariki Beach, looking across the calm Strait to the South Island.

Kapiti
Kapiti Island looking dark and moody in the distance

From the same spot, with a 90 degree swing to the right, there was a nice view of Kapiti Island. That little spot on the water near the Northern (right) end of the island is a man on a stand-up paddle board.

Kate and friend
Long term residents at their moorings in Ivey Bay. The white spots are bubbles emerging from crab holes as the unusually high tide flows quietly across the sand

From there, hoping to find a post office open at Porirua, I went South. On the way I paused at Paremata where an extraordinarily high tide put the idea in my head that I should get the camera as close to water level as possible for a different view of an often seen subject.

Kayak
A splash of red is always welcome

The camera was sitting on a miniature tripod with its feet in the water, and I was operating it remotely through my mobile phone. At that moment I spotted a man in a bright red kayak paddling across my field of view. In the few seconds I had, all I could control was the focus so I tapped the screen to focus on him and took the shot and he was gone.

IMG_8942-Edit

I got to Porirua where the post office was shut. A shag which my birding friends agree to be an immature pied shag was sitting on a stick  in the harbour reflecting on life on a calm day.

And then it was time to head back towards Pukerua bay where I thought to browse through the splendid Archway Books for an hour or so. I just pulled up and heard my name called as she walked up the hill having completed the “four-hour traverse” in 2:45:00. Crazy woman. I never even got into the bookshop. But, having just celebrated our 46th anniversary, I remain fiercely proud of her.

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Adventure Birds Cars Clive Family Hawkes Bay Lakes Landscapes mountains Napier Te Mata Peak

April 3, 2016 … road trip

Mary and I set out for a week in Napier,  We chose to take a back road because I had seen an image taken by a fellow club member of the Waihi waterfalls.

Mauriceville
The limeworks at Mauriceville where there was once a Dairy factory

I had never previously heard of these falls, but from the South, they are most quickly accessed on SH52 through Mauriceville, Alfredton, Tiraumea, Pongaroa and Waione.  To be honest, most New Zealanders would need to use Google to find where most of those places are. Even after driving that route, I am still not sure I am any the wiser. Most of them seem to consist of a disused community hall. I had the sense of having driven through 92 km of deserted farmland. The scenery is beautiful but it seems empty.

Falls
Waihi Falls near Waione

The falls themselves are worth the journey. However, be warned that there is absolutely nothing else there. No commercialization, and the only facilities other than some reasonably formed paths are toilets and a shelter over some picnic tables.

Cars
Automotive graveyard tangle

We drove on towards Dannevirke, and on the Weber road, I spotted a car graveyard. It was fenced and heavily padlocked and chaotically overgrown with blackberry and other weeds. Unlike its better known counterpart at Horopito, there is no  visible semblance of order in this place, and in my opinion, no way of retrieving any of the rapidly decaying vehicles. On the other hand, many photographers of my acquaintance would sell their own body parts for unfettered access. My images were taken across the fence from the road side. We had lunch in a park in Dannevirke and resumed our journey to Napier, where we celebrated the 60th birthday of my brother-in-law, John.

Balls Clearing
A tiny glimpse of the magnificent Balls Clearing Scenic Reserve

On Tuesday, Mary and her youngest brother Gerry went hiking in the Kaweka range while I satisfied myself with lesser walks including the stunningly beautiful Balls Clearing Scenic Reserve near Puketitiri. This is a remnant of the podocarp forest that used to cover this entire area, and which was spared the axe by way of public petition to parliament and was finally made a public reserve as late as 1945. Many of the great trees in here are 600 years old.

Kaweka
From Puketitiri looking West to the Kaweka range

A little further on, closer to the Kaweka range, there was a lovely view over part of the Makahu station through which it is necessary to drive to get to the popular Mangatutu Hot Springs on the edge of the Mohaka River. We dined on venison from Makahu station that evening with Gerry and his wife, Vivienne before driving the remaining 50 km or so back to Napier.

Mountains
From the top of Gentle Annie towards the Mountains. Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro are all visible.

On Wednesday we drove part of the “Gentle Annie” road from Napier to Taihape, and turned around after the steepest and most winding parts were over, and where we could see across vast open high country to Ruapehu on the horizon. If you look near to the right hand of the image you can also see the summit of Ngauruhoe peeking across.

Stream
Te Ngarue Stream at the foot of the Tangoio Falls track

On Thursday, we drove up to beautiful Lake Tutira which is presently toxic due to an infestation of blue-green algae. After a very nice lunch beside the lake, we returned towards Napier, but Mary was keen to walk the 4.5 km Tangoio Walkway, so I dropped her at the top of the hill and then drove to the bottom end of the walkway by the Te Ngarue Stream to wait for her.

Shoveler
Australasian shoveler at Clive

On our last day in Napier, I went looking for birds at Clive while Mary walked the 14 or so km from there to Havelock North on the magnificent walkway system throughout the bay. Among my captures was this handsome male Australasian Shoveler duck. Jimmy Durante would be proud of a nose like that.  I then drove to the end of the trail to collect Mary and we had lunch at the summit of Te Mata Peak.

That’s all for now.