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February 22, 2017 … is it here at last?

Since my last post, summer has mostly continued to elude us, even as some of you in the Northern hemisphere report signs of spring.

Mana Island as seen from above the waste water treatment plant, Porirua

Whenever there is the slightest hint of a reasonable day, I am out looking for photographic opportunities.  I still like to explore streets in unfamiliar suburbs to see if there is what town planners call a “view-shaft” – a place where there is a clear view of the surrounding landscape from the street. Sadly, they are rare, and all too often, the gap between adjacent houses is obstructed by fences or plantings designed to keep the view exclusively for the owners. This sudden wide view-shaft is in Porirua near Titahi Bay. It looks out onto the blue Tasman Sea and Mana Island. If you get the chance of a trip to the island, take it. It is much more interesting and varied than it looks from the distance.

White-fronted terns bouncing in the wind

We have had some fierce winds recently, and that often drives the white-fronted terns to seek shelter. These were huddled on the remnants of the old patent slip in Evan’s Bay. The contours of the walkway and various walls provided little relief from the wind, and you can see from their posture that the birds are rocking in the gale.

Willis St
Willis St, Wellington

Another sunny break and I went into town. I had some shopping to do on Willis St, and was attracted to the Hibernian Society’s building on the corner of Bond Street. Perhaps it was aided by the wide angle lens, but it occurred to me that this was a miniature flatiron building.

Into the blue

Then we had an impossibly perfect day. If you have been part of my journey for a while, you will know that mere sunshine is insufficient. I want flat calm, total stillness. I had just turned onto the Esplanade at Petone and I caught sight of the interisland ferry Kaitahi leaving harbour. The blue of the sky and the blue of the sea were so close as make the ship seem to be floating in space as it passed by the various lights and marker buoys on the way to Picton.

Sandra II
Sandra II preparing for a day’s fishing in the harbour

On Port Road, near the Seaview oil terminal, I found myself keeping pace with the little fishing vessel Sandra II. I have often caught her as part of a still seascape, but she was heading out to work. The pied shag skimming towards her was a bonus.

Low angle view out of the harbour at Petone Beach

A day later, I came to the beach at the Western end of Petone, and miraculously there was still calm water.

River mist
River mist at sunrise

Three consecutive still mornings has been a rarity lately. This one was accompanied by river mist. The shot is looking North from my bedroom window towards Upper Hutt. On a clear day the Boulcott golf course and the Avalon tower would form part of this view.


Four from four was a reason for celebration. I wandered around the waterfront  and made yet another attempt at the downtown architecture, choosing a wide angle, and long exposure. The long exposure softened the clouds and stilled the few ripples on the water.

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February 13, 2017 … our missing summer

The wind outside my window has averaged somewhere over 100 km/h today according to a report I heard on the radio. It has carried rain with it for much of the day, and no hint of summer. There are reports that this has been our worst summer for over three decades.

Evening in the Takarau gorge

Such summer as we have had seems to have been doled out with a fine day here, a fine day there and several days of foul weather in between. We take them when we can get them.

Something of an agricultural crime these days is letting farm animals into the waterways. These two sheep marched in musical unison across the water and clambered up the steep hill beyond.

And then we wait for the next one.

I find the dabchicks intriguing,. They look so severe.

It seems I missed the part of the dabchick life cycle where the new chicks are carried about on the parents back. The youngsters are already too big for that.

Dry hills
The dry hills to the South of Hastings

This seems to be a localised phenomenon. With a couple of friends I drove to Havelock North and back for the funeral of a good friend and former colleague. It seems that the Hawkes Bay region has been as dry as Wellington has been wet. The hills and most pf the paddocks are parched and often it is hard to see a flock of sheep since their wool is almost the same colour as the sun-bleached grass.

Begonias in all their glory

Back home, some days just didn’t offer any hope of outside action, so I chose to visit the Begonia House in the Lady Norwood garden in Wellington.  No matter what the time of year, they always have some wonderful specimens in bloom.

Water lily … I couldn’t find where the battery was hidden

On this visit, I enjoyed the proliferation of water lilies.  The heart of the flower seemed to be on fire.


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February 1, 2017 … drifting without a rudder

A batch of competitors rush to the water in the Wellington Classic swim competition

Perhaps it’s the lack of a specific project, but I have made fewer images than usual in the week just passed. It was a while since I had done the South Coast so I went round Moa Point and the end of the airport and as I approached Lyall Bay saw a lot of people gathered on the beach. The coastguard vessel “Spirit of Wellington” was stooging around off the beach as were three surf rescue RIBs and several people on paddle boards. I stopped to look and realised it was some kind of swim event. Sure enough a signal was given and all these lemmings rushed into the water. It seems there is an annual event based at the Freyberg beach in the harbour, but the Northerly gale forced its relocation to Lyall Bay.

Pencarrow upper lighthouse

Around Palmer Head, I looked across the spry-covered harbour entrance to the upper Pencarrow light. This is the original one that was replaced for visibility reasons by the lower light which in turn was replaced by the light on Baring Head.

BE2c reconnaissance aircraft in its bleached Irish Linen scheme looks for all the world like a tissue-covered model

Later in the week, Anthony and I took Cooper over the hill to Masterton for an open flying day at The Vintage Aviator Limited. On these days, the pilots who want to keep or obtain type ratings on specific aircraft get to spend time flying the aircraft. It’s not specifically an airshow, but the joy of watching these museum class restorations and reproductions take to the air is amazing. Each aircraft is immaculate and presented as a specific aircraft at some verifiable moment in history.

The Clerget rotary engine at the front of a Sopwith Camel. Incredibly, the propeller is bolted to the engine and the whole engine spins around the stationary crankshaft which is fixed to the firewall. A bit of oil gets spread around, but all those drips will be cleaned off before it is tucked away for the night.

Cooper loved them all and spent the day wandering round with his notebook, writing down every marking and notice on each of the aircraft.