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November 24,2016 … so much to be thankful for

Thanksgiving as an organized  festival, is not part of New Zealand’s history or culture. Nevertheless, as we emerge from that nightmare of a week with earthquakes and flooding, it is impossible not to be grateful for all that we have. When the Earth stops moving and the sun shines again, we look around and rejoice in the beauty of our land, in the caring of our people for those in trouble, and the comparative sanity and representative nature of our system of government.

Rolling over the top – the Hutt Valley

It took a while for the weather to clear and there were some surly looking clouds for a while.

Four of the five ships. From near to far, they are HMNZS Te Kaha, HMCS Vancouver, HMAS Darwin and HMNZS Endeavour. The USS Sampson is just out of view

Meanwhile, down in Kaikoura, there was a concentrated effort to bring relief to those most affected by the earthquakes. One praiseworthy effort was that ships from the US Navy, the Canadian and Australian Navies joined HMNZS Te Kaha and HMNZS Endeavour in making their helicopters and cargo handling expertise available. When that task was done, the five vessels sailed as a flotilla back to Auckland which was their original destination to celebrate 75 years of the Royal New Zealand Navy. They stopped in Wellington  en route presumably for PR purposes.

Wellington Harbour from Lowry Bay

That night, I went around the Eastern Bays to see if I could catch a shot of the flotilla. Sadly the haze from a beautiful day rendered them almost invisible with their battleship grey paint. Never mind, it was a beautiful afternoon.

Derelict farm-house on Lake Wairarapa

On Monday, Mary and I did a day trip into the Wairarapa, driving down the Western side of the lake. The remains of a once grand farm-house caught my eye.

NZ Fur Seal

The lake itself was not in a photogenic mood, so Mary suggested we go along the coast to Cape Palliser.  Just near the cape, there is a set of rock pools which is used by New Zealand Fur Seals as a nursery and it is a pleasure to watch the pups and their mothers frolicking in the sheltered pools.

The mountain is just to the right of centre

On the way back, at Mangatoetoe, there is a proliferation of wild flowers so I tried a low angle to capture Tapuae-o-Uenuku across the flowers and the strait.That summit is 153 km away.  My next post will be from Brisbane.




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November 16, 2016 … the earth moved and then it rained

It was an ordinary week, to begin with. I went about my business, muttering about the sustained bad weather and looking for things to photograph in such circumstances.

Old St Pauls
Old St Paul’s is a jewel in Wellington’s architectural treasury. It is de-consecrated and is now merely a historic place.

On Wednesday, I went into town, prowling. Old St Paul’s caught mu eye. There were no cars outside and the open flag was waving. so I decided to try to capture the golden glow of some wonderful wooden architecture. Barely had I unpacked my tripod when not one, but two busloads of tourists pulled up and they came in chattering and blocking the view. Several of the Chinese tourists thought I would make a good prop for their travel photos so I found myself grinning inanely with my new best friend for several photographs. As you can see there is still a cluster of the Americans getting the tourist guide speech up the front.

The lovely stillness lasted an hour or two

Saturday started out well enough, and by now you know me well enough that I dashed down to the marina while the water was still.

On Sunday with more rough weather in prospect, and recognising the signs of cabin fever,  Mary instigated a “just because” road trip. We drove up SH1 to Palmerston North, through a few heavy bursts of rain, and had a picnic lunch beside the Centennial Lagoon. We came back via the Manawatu Gorge. I paused briefly on one of the very few lay-by parks on that spectacular road and made an unspectacular image or two. I had just resumed driving when a steam whistle blew and there, across the river was a steam locomotive hauling an excursion train. Many expletives needed to be deleted. If I had stayed parked for another two minutes I would have had some great shots.

Shed at Greytown

At Woodville, we turned South and headed towards home through Mangatainoka, Pahiatua, Ekatahuna, Masterton, and Carterton. There is an old shed at the Northern end of Greytown  which has been photographed far too often, but the newly planted maize made it tempting this time. We carried on with a diversion through Martinborough and then through Featherston and over the Rimutaka Hill to home.

I was in bed that night when the earth moved for me. It moved for something over 2 minutes and registered 7.5 on the Richter Scale. It was a violent lurching and rolling which I hope never to experience again. A little later, a friend of Mary’s rang. Her apartment in downtown Lower Hutt had twisted and flexed  to such an extent that all her windows blew out, so like many in Wellington that night, we acquired a refugee. We sat and drank a medicinal whisky before returning nervously to bed. Aftershocks have continued since. Most of them are thankfully small and distant but every now and then there is a bump that pushes the scale over 5.5 and I clench everything ready for fight or flight.

Flooding under the Ewen Bridge in Lower Hutt. The driver appears to not care that his wake is inconveniencing others and what’s that he is holding to his ear?

On Monday I stayed home, processing images and contemplating the meaning of life. To add to the drama facing our city, we were struck with a gale and heavy rain. As well as damaged buildings we had flooding to contend with. Every main road in and out of Wellington was closed by slips or floods, and we had to feel sorry for the rest of the country which was now cut off from us.

Contained flood
The Hutt River has burst its normal banks, inundated the car parks but is still within the stop banks

The Hutt River is normally a small placid river. Yesterday it flexed its shoulders and burst its banks. The riverside car park disappeared from view  but the stop banks did their job and protected most of the city and suburbs. The lesser Waiwhetu Stream was not so well contained and a few houses were inundated on the Eastern Side of the valley. Things eased off today and the rivers have subsided but there is another gale forecast for tomorrow. Bah, humbug!


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November 9, 2016 … staying close to home

I decided not to mention the (expletive deleted) meteorological circumstances, so moving right along …

The Eastern facade of the former Whitcoulls building

A walk on Lambton Quay gives views of some rather nice old buildings, though for now it is difficult to evade the trolley wires. Happily (from my perspective), the trolleybuses are soon to be replaced by hybrid buses and the wires which have been an eyesore for so long will be removed.

Into the mist at Kaitoke

Rain in copious quantities turned the skies grey and the bush wet. I wandered up towards Kaitoke, the city’s water catchment area at the foot of the Tararua ranges. I like misty landscapes but so far have not achieved the level of impact that I would like.

Hutt River just downstream from the waterworks at Kaitoke

Under the dripping canopy of the bush, I got to look out on the upper waters of the Hutt River sliding by. The rattle of pebbles was almost drowned out by the hiss of rain on the water and on the leaves above.


At the riverside market on Saturday, Mary bought a few peonies and mentioned to the vendor that the image being used to advertise them was one of mine. The lady gave her a couple of extras by way of thanks. I was happy for the opportunity to spend more time with these magnificent blooms.


They are very sensitive to temperature and if not kept cool will open up prematurely and get droopy. In their prime, they are magnificent.

Model of HMS Warrior by Mr Graham Beeson

My last shot this week is of a model displayed in a local gallery as the centrepiece of a naval-themed exhibition. Built by Mr Graham Beeson, the ship is representative of the Royal Navy’s Warrior class of armoured cruiser, 1905. It is painted in the then novel “dazzle” scheme on the starboard side, and naval grey on the port.

See you next week.

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November 2, 2016 … stillness on the face of the waters

Much of the time, there is the whining of the wind rising and falling, and making life uncomfortable. Sometimes, though, the whining you hear is me, complaining about there being too much wind. For a couple of days in the week just past, there was a startling silence. Into the car, then, and off to find some still water.

Tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae) in the flax

At Mana Marina, in Paremata, though the wind had dropped, the water was not yet still so I watched the tui flitting from flower to flower on the flax bushes now in the early stages of flowering. The tui is a nectar feeder with a long tongue that extends far beyond is beak into the depths of the flower.  From a distance it is easy to mistake them for blackbirds, unless you see the white ruff at the throat, but up close, they wear a magnificent coloured plumage. In this season, they are so fixated on the nectar that you can often get very close.

Purple ragwort (Senecio glastifolius) at the roadside in Ivey Bay

A day or so later, I went to Mana Marina again, pausing in Ivey Bay to take a few shots of boats at their moorings. As I was returning to the car, my attention was caught by the prolific purple ragwort. This South African invader is absolutely everywhere along the roadsides, and especially on hillsides. Despite its status as a pest, the flowers en masse put on a wonderful seasonal display.

Mana marina with no wind

At the marina, conditions were near perfect, and despite popular belief, most photographers hope for a few clouds to relive the monotony of an empty blue sky.

A lovely warm evening at Seaview Marina

Maintaining the marina theme, I went to Seaview on Monday night. Odd to name a suburb “Seaview” in a city with so few places that don’t have a sea view.

Sunset reflection at Seaview

I lingered as the sun disappeared and despite having to tidy up a few flares caused by dust on the filter glass, was happy with the result. Perhaps I should stop whining, even though the wind is back.