January has been a month of mixed fortunes. Weather-wise, from my photographic point of view, it was great, with sun, little wind and lots of warmth. That has now been replaced by a severe gale suddenly lashing central New Zealand. And I could have done without the catastrophic engine failure I experienced during a trip to the Wairarapa last week.
The week began hot and fine. I spent time wandering the waterfront, trying to look behind the obvious, to find the image-worthy subjects. On the waterfront near the TSB arena I saw a reflection in the tower block on the other side of Jervois Quay, and liked its contrast with the Norfolk pine nearby.
Later that day, in the afternoon, I was crossing the bridge from the waterfront as the evening rush hour began. My camera has an interesting feature intended to build high-resolution composite images by taking eight images in rapid succession, each with the sensor moved in very small steps to left or right, up or down and then combining them to a single 40 megapixel file. It is intended for still subjects, but I wondered what it would make of the traffic below. As you can see the road, the building and the trees are all shown as they should be. The rendering of the moving vehicles is interesting and to my mind, as I hoped, catches the sense of the slow-moving step by step progress towards home.
Then came my day of madness. Despite a forecast temperature of 33ºC, I crossed the hill into the Wairarapa and just a little to the East of the town is the Te Ore Ore – Bideford Rd. You can guess the names of the two localities it connects. Otahoua hill overlooking a large expanse of somewhat dry-looking grain caught my attention.
The road from there, through to Dannevirke, though picturesque, is long, winding and narrow, and in places quite rough. My car chose that remote spot to start sending me distress messages via the temperature gauge. I stopped for a while to set up this North-facing panorama of the wild and lonely countryside in the area. Click on the image to get a better sense of the emptiness of the area. The road I was following runs along the edge of that pine plantation and winds on to Dannevirke perhaps 50 km further to the North West. Very little traffic on the road though I did have to wait until a convoy of motorcyclists thundered past. Then I resumed a cautious slow drive to Dannevirke where I sought assistance. I did eventually get home, but perhaps should have stayed. It is either a cracked cylinder head, or a leaking head gasket. Either way, the engine in the car is wrecked and the cheapest repair option was a replacement used engine.
The next day, back in Wellington, using a courtesy car provided by my dealer’s service department, I went to explore yet another day of magical warmth and stillness. An old man got in his dinghy and rowed out from Petone beach to tend his fishing nets. That’s Matiu/Somes Island to the right and in the haze on the left is that drilling platform looking for a fresh-water aquifer below the sea bed. Next to that is its attendant tug, Tuhura.
Yet another day dawned hot and hazy and this view from my bedroom window promised at least one more day of summer. After that, all bets were off. A tropical storm brought wind at 130 km/h and rain, lots of rain. The delicate people amongst us cheered as they temperature dropped from consistent 30ºC to nearer 20ºC. It seems so long since we had a real summer that I would have liked it to continue a while. Of course, farmers and gardeners were delighted. According to media reports this was Wellington’s hottest January in 150 years of temperature records. I have loved it.