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June 26, 2018 … and still it goes

With a very few exceptions, in the last week or so, we have been experiencing Wellington’s version of winter. That translates as heavy overcast, strong wind, interspersed with rain or occasionally hail. We rarely get snow, but some of our worst days are chilling to the bone. And then there are the exceptions. So let’s see what happened since the last post.

White fronted terns on parade, with a gull seconded to learn from them

You know it’s a rough day when you see the terns taking shelter. It was very unusual to see them lined up on the handrail of Petone Wharf with one red-billed gull intruding.

The dog was having great fun ignoring all orders to hand over the stick

A day or so later, the wind died away, though the overcast persisted. Nevertheless, the day was sufficiently benign that people were out walking their dogs on Oriental Bay beach.

HMNZS Hawea leaving port

While I was at Oriental Bay, a different shade of grey made its way into my field of view. The Inshore patrol vessel, HMNZS Hawea was visiting the city. Despite its ferocious military appearance, this is a typically New Zealand version of the military as the ship is unarmed except for hand-held weapons. It has neither missiles nor a main gun.

Pied stilt juvenile at Pauatahanui

Then we had one of the exceptions, so Pauatahanui called me. A juvenile pied stilt is seen here stalking slowly around the pond looking for food.

A lovely morning on Pauatahanui Inlet

From a little further around the inlet, the reflections were very nice and Mt Rangituhi and Colonial Knob appear above and below Paremata.

Winter fires in Naenae

The next day began well enough, but very cold with a deep frost making the roads icy. Across the valley, home fires added to the river mist drifting Southward from Naenae.

Hokio Beach

A day later, Mary and I took a packed lunch and went up to the Foxton Beach area in search of birds or pleasant scenes. Unsuccessful up there, we arrived at Hokio Beach just South of Levin where the water was perfectly still. I turned to pick up my camera and the wind came in from the West destroying the perfection I had just glimpsed. We ate our lunch in the shelter of the sand dunes and went searching for some fragment to recover from the day. A small fishing boat being recovered was the best I could manage.

Tiny fungi – type unknown

Then the wind came back in earnest. I suggested to Mary that we visit Trelissick Park which follows the Kaiwharawhara  stream as it flows down the sheltered Ngaio Gorge. I was delighted to spy these tiny fungi, each smaller than the nail of my little finger. Note the two aphids on the rear-most fungus.

School of business – Wellington … I used to have an office on the fifth floor

Yesterday I was in the city to collect a replacement iPad, so while I was waiting, walked around Thorndon from a different direction. Here is Victoria’s Business School where I worked until 2012. They have added more office and teaching space in that addition to the left since I took my leave.

“Rush” hour at Ngauranga

Having collected the new iPad (that’s how Apple deal with defective batteries) I set out on the return home, and for the first time in a long while found myself entangled in the evening rush hour. Since my Apple repair people were in Thorndon, I followed the Hutt Road and rejoined SH2 at Ngauranga where everything ground to a halt. The moon was rising at about the same rate as the drivers’ blood pressure, but things cleared up and I got home to spend the next several hours restoring my iPad from the iCloud backup.

Kaitaki on her way to Picton

This morning was threatening dire weather and from Houghton Bay I saw the ferry Kaitaki on its way to Picton crossing the Wairau Valley where there was snow on what I think is Mt Richmond.

Inland and Seaward Kaikoura ranges with a good dusting of snow … as seen from Wellington

Is Winter here yet? The coating of snow on the Kaikoura Ranges would tend to support that idea. We are past the Winter Solstice and should be headed in the direction of longer warmer days, Spring and Summer, but I suspect we have t

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June 19, 2018 … just having fun

Some of my former colleagues have described me as a poster-child for the joys of retirement. They allege that they can see my grin long before they see me. Now I experience a full range human emotions, ranging from extreme happiness to occasional depression, but as a generalisation, I am a happy man. I am aided in my enjoyment of life by my lovely supportive wife, and by the pleasure I take in making photographs. There are some kinds of image at which I do better than others, and some that are definitely not my style. I am starting to feel better about the landscape and nature genres. So here we go for a new week.

Getting very close to an LED light. Oddly more interesting when dark than when illuminated.

Neither landscape nor nature, though the techniques can be applied to nature, my first image is a macro shot of the front of an LED photolight  … you know those work lights with dozens off little bulbs on their front surface. It was something to do when the weather was not conducive to outdoor shooting.

Tapuhi setting out to see a ship away from the harbour

There was a  day last week that I just loved because the harbour was absolutely still. My favourite days. The tug, Tapuhi is the latest in a series of Wellington Harbour tugs to be decked out in the bright red colour scheme.

Strait Feronia
Strait Feronia leaves on a perfect morning

At the Queens Wharf area, I was enjoying the stillness when the Bluebridge ferry “Strait Feronia” pulled out on its voyage to Picton. In the foreground, on the end of the wharf, is the weary old Sea Lion. Built for the Royal Australian Navy in WWII, she was later put into service around the coast of Tasmania before being sold to a private owner in Wellington in 1990. She has served in various roles. She has been recently inflicted with the indignity of a coat of cartoon seabirds.  Never mind, the morning was near perfect.

I love the beauty of the harbour on days like this

Reflections such as the one of Dockside restaurant give me a real sense of wellbeing.

In case you are wondering, this is the reflection of a corrugated wall

Why reflections are so important to me I am not sure, but I just love seeing patterns.

Cape Halswell light

A day later and the weather had changed dramatically. I went to Cape Halswell on the Northern end of the Miramar Peninsula. Dramatic clouds and some sloppy waves made for an interesting image.

The lovely flowers of the Kohekohe tree

There is a beautiful tree in New Zealand which, when it flowers does so by spouting directly from the trunk of the tree. The Kohekohe  is easy to find because the flowers fall around the trunk for all the world like snowfall. Their flowering season lasts perhaps two weeks. We found a large copse of them in a small reserve at Waikanae.

Black swans in passage


On the way home from Waikanae we stopped at QEII park at Paekakariki where I hoped to see some dabchicks. No dabchicks were seen, but a pair of black swans ghosting by  against the dark green water offered a nice opportunity.


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June 11, 2018 … almost to the tipping point

The Winter solstice is always welcome as a sign that summer is on its way. Of course there is a lot of winter’s weather yet to come, but we know that the days will get progressively longer. Just ten more days to solstice.

A bright spot in the city

As long as I am in Wellington, the weather tends to shape the course of my photography. We have had a lot of days with low cloud and actual rain, and my first image in this edition is from Petone beach looking towards the sunlit city … for some reason, the sun picked out the central city and left the outer suburbs in the shade.

Karapoti mist

As I have said before, there are times when the only way to deal with a problem is to make the problem the focus of the story. My next image is taken at Karapoti on the edge of the Akatarawa forest. There was intermittent rain but it was a joy to look at.

The fantail or piwakawaka flitting about over the Karapoti river

Something about the conditions brought out fantails in their hundreds on the Akatarawa river. It was easy to catch them at rest, but catching them in flight is another matter entirely. I generally regard the image as successful if the bird’s eye is sharp.

Fog in the valley

The mist takes many forms and as I was closing up for the night, I was attracted to the light of the city glowing up through the fog in the valley.

The old Avalon TV studio tower peers up from the fog down below

The next morning showed more promise for  a better day, though the fog lingered around Avalon.

The darkness at the bottom of the glass

Then the rain came back, so I resorted to still life. I called this “the darkness at the bottom of the glass”, and you can interpret that as you will.


I made a black box in which to shoot objects against an absolute black background. No flower or other small object is safe.

Pied shag bring home nest repair material

Yesterday was almost fine, so Mary and I went for a walk in the Zealandia wildlife sanctuary. The shags have some juveniles that are almost the same size as adults, but not yet fully fledged. The adults, meanwhile, keep bringing material for maintenance of the nests.

North Island robin flitting about

My final shot of this edition, also from Zealandia, is of a North Island robin or Toutouwai. This endearing little birds are totally fearless and will sit on your boots in pursuit of the insects stirred up as you walk. Of course the long lens you have on will not focus that closely, so you have to watch them as they flit around you, until they are far enough away.

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June 1, 2018 … challenging every shot

It may be an illusion, but I seem to be making progress. Whether or not that is so, I continue to enjoy the process.

Stamens and pistil of a lovely lily

This edition begins with a macro shot to fill in a wet and stormy day. Mary had a lovely arrangement of flowers including a large lily, so I got up close and personal to its working bits.

A stairway in the lagoon at Frank Kitts Park

When the weather relented I went to town and enjoyed the stillness on the Whairepo lagoon in Frank Kitts Park. As with the lily, I seem to have decided that sometimes, a part tells more than the whole.

To the left of Victoria University’s School of Business is the classical facade of the parliamentary library. Above and behind that to the left is the front of the Sacred Heart Catholic Cathedral.

Wellington’s urban architecture is varied. It ranges from the brutal utilitarian to the classic. No matter how it is classified, I find it makes a pleasing contrast with the harbour and the hills.

Robotic butterflies for the Lux festival.

Recently the city enjoyed a festival of light. I didn’t manage to visit it during the hours of darkness but enjoyed seeing the various components during the day. The stained-glass butterflies apparently flapped their wings when they were turned on.


I am unsure whether this screen which is part of the festival was actually one of the illuminated exhibits or merely an advertisement for the festival itself. In any event, I liked the ghostly translucence and the ordinary things in the background.

Titahi Bay
Titahi Bay boat sheds

Now and then I get out to the Western areas. In this case, the boat sheds at Titahi Bay make a bold statement.

Jonquils out of season

Today, June 1, is officially the beginning of our Winter. How then does it come about that I am seeing a lot of jonquils, the traditional harbinger of spring? Whatever the reason, they are a joy to behold.

Patterns at QEII park, but no birds

I went to Queen Elizabeth II Park in Paekakariki in the hope of seeing water fowl on the wetlands. Not a thing. No swans, ducks, dabchicks or geese. Not even a swallow. It was necessary to make do with the background.

On Birchville Dam

After a few days of persistent rain, Mary and I went up to Upper Hutt, well wrapped, and with my camera in its storm jacket, and walked up the Cannon’s Point walkway to the Birchville Dam. I got lucky and the rain stopped just before I got to the dam. Perfect stillness reflected the beauty of the bush.

Kaitoke Swing Bridge

A day or two later, still in conditions of cold damp drizzle, I went to the Kaitoke Waterworks Reserve, and made my way around the Swingbridge Loop. This hour-long walk begins with a wobbly crossing across the Hutt River. I have referred before to my dislike of heights, and I can add to that, the lack of rigidity. Gritting my teeth, I set up the tripod, and waited for the oscillations to stop.

More next time.