Winter in Wellington is a total lottery. Statistically, the season is wetter, windier and colder, but any given day can range from howling wind and rain to mirror calm and clear sunlight.
With family and friends in town, I visited the city a few times and got some of the good stuff. Midland Park is a popular venue for the lunch crowd, even if the seats are still damp from recent rain.
Along Lambton Quay, I spotted a tree in a planter at the Terrace level.
Later in the week, having taken nothing all day, I got a call from Mary at work, alerting me to the moon rising over a spectacular cloud bank on the Eastern Hills.
A day or so later, I got a text from a friend to tell me that the Pauatahanui inlet was flat calm and worth a look. Sadly, such notices have a short shelf-life, and the bright morning had faded by the time I got there.
Later in the week I was in town to celebrate a birthday with a friend and enjoyed a still day on the harbour.
That same evening, a clear sky and a near full moon provided a lovely view over the valley from home.
Towards the end of the week, I went to the Hutt estuary where there was a lovely golden evening.
In the weekend just past, we had a strong gale, and I went looking for serious waves. I timed it wrong, so this was the best I managed.
Oh darn, another guilt trip. I did not envisage ever letting so much time pass between editions. My defense is that we had a major family event and visitors over the last week as a major distraction from the routine pf blogging.
I recently sold an unwanted device and applied the proceeds to the acquisition of a high quality neutral density filter for my Cokin filter holder. I really did try to support my local retailer, but the price in that direction was $550. It saddens me that I can get the same item freight paid from the astounding B&H store in New York for less than half of that. I did try, but I suspect the national distributor wanted too great a cut. As soon as it arrived, I began experimenting.
The South Coast near Island Bay offered a view across the unusually calm waters of the Cook Strait to the distant mountains of the Kaikoura ranges.
The family event I mentioned brought our son David and grandson Isaac across from Brisbane, so we made a trip up to the splendid Southwards Car Museum a little North of Paraparaumu. I find that taking general shots in there is unsatisfying, so I settled on representative fragments and samples. I know tha Rolls Royce’s “Spirit of Ecstasy” is among the most prestigious of hood ornaments, but for sheer elegance the stork in flight which adorns the mighty Hispano-Suiza is my favourite.
Rolls Royces do have a certain presence, and a row of them with their cousins, the Bentleys are eye-catching.
My last shot this edition was made when we accompanied our younger son Anthony who is a specialist in Disaster Victim Identification (DVI). He was preparing to conduct a training day for his fellow police officers and was setting up a roaring fire on a farm in the Akatarawa Valley. In due course, he would throw some animal parts from the local abattoir onto the fire and the next day, set the course members to sifting through the remains. I choose not to display the more graphic shots.
We are in the second half of the year now, and on the long slow haul through the worst months of our Southern winter. Mary and I are just back from a sudden trip to Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty to attend a funeral. There had been a lot of very heavy rain in the last few days so the landscape was looking clean and well washed.
Just North of Bulls is one of those frequently photographed derelict houses. The light and the sheep made it interesting to me on this trip.
But we were travelling with purpose, so I limited the stops, passing many fine opportunities and attempting to make a mental note to visit again when time was not pressing. Everyone who ever followed the Desert Road with a camera has probably taken a shot of Ruapehu, but despite having a bag full of such images already, the cloud around its mighty shoulders and the light demanded yet another try.
Google maps recommended that we turn off near Waiotapu and follow SH 38 around the Southern edge of Kaingaroa Forest and then turn North through Galatea, Matahina and Te Teko to emerge on SH2 at Awakeri. The idea had a lot of appeal, not least because there are fewer trucks on the narrow back country roads. Where the road crosses the Rangitaiki River at the top (Southern) end of lake Aniwhenua, the river was running fast and brown with the burden of the recent downpours. But beside the road on the South Eastern side of the bridge there was a flooded area, that I think is part of the lake only after such heavy rain. Though separated from the turbulent river by a few metres, the lake was a perfect sunlit mirror, reflecting its surrounds beautifully. The Ikawhenua range in the background was still wreathed in the heavy clouds.
Before we resumed our journey, I snatched a few shots, marvelling at the lake’s perfect stillness.
The funeral the next day was a wonderful tribute to Mary’s aunt, Natalie Ella Keen, a very gracious and talented lady now at peace. After a delightful if somewhat sad gathering with rarely seen family, we returned to the lovely farm cottage we had rented, And then the heavens opened. Listening to the hammering on the roof overnight, I began to wonder if the roads we had taken would be above the water when we returned the next day. So I determined that we would travel via Te Teko and Rotorua and thence down SH5 to Taupo and home from there.
It was a grey sullen day with a lot of heavy traffic, and being stuck behind trucks with thirty-four tyres pumping water off the road into the air is not fun. There was a break in the rain as we approached Lake Rotoma just after sunrise, so I paused and snatched a shot of the bush reflected in its still surface, From there it was unremittingly grey all the way home. From the desert road, the rain limited visibility to about a hundred metres in all directions. We got home safely.