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Adventure Cars Family Forest Lakes Landscapes Mangakino Rotorua Travel Weather Whanganui

May 29, 2022 … Waikato road trip (part III) … homebound

This is the third and final in a three part series describing our road trip to the Waikato and back.
Part I covered the trip from Wellington to Mangakino
Part II covered our trip from Mangakino to Wingspan and now we cover the journey from Mangakino to Horopito, to Whanganui and home.

In one sense, our spontaneous adventure away from home was a trip to nowhere. With all due respect to its 1,200 inhabitants, Mangakino is scarcely a tourist destination. On the other hand, having spent six years as a single man in nearby Tokoroa back in the late 1960s, I was familiar with the region. I knew and loved the rhythms of life in the area at this time of year. Sharp frosts, river mists, clear days and dark brittle starlit nights characterised the early yeas of my working life. The smell of logs burning in open fireplaces so familiar back then was still familiar now, though no longer acceptable in most other places.

Our last two days in Mangakino after our memorable trip to Wingspan were characterised by soft but steady rain. That was OK by me. I had lots if image processing to do and Mary seemed happy reading or knitting when she wasn’t managing the fire or organising excellent meals for us.

There was a break in the weather on Sunday, our last day in the region, so I made one last expedition back upriver to Atiamuri and thence to Lake Ohakuri. This was new territory to me. I don’t know how I had never been to Lake Ohakuri before, but like the other lakes on the river, it seems to enjoy a sheltered situation and its surface was glassy calm. No one else was visible. I had this vast beauty all to myself. However, we were due to leave for Whanganui the next morning and there was packing to be done, so it was back to Mangakino to enjoy one last log fire.

We left Mangakino in drizzle conditions and headed Westward on SH30 towards Benneydale and Taumarunui. My love of the South Waikato landscape has been expressed several time in recent blogs. Even in these soggy conditions I find it attractive. Pouakani is not a place I have previously heard of. Nor, as we pass through it, is it a place I am likely to remember. However, according to Google Maps, the picture above was made there.

Maniaiti/Benneydale is a town in the Waitomo district that is home to about 180 people. When I lived and worked in Tokoroa in the mid 1960s, we thought of it as a frontier town on the Western edge of forestry country. It was in fact a coal mining town between the years of 1931 and the early 1990s. That has now ended. Until 2018 Benneydale was the only town in the King Country that did not have a Maori name. Local iwi applied to the Geographic Board to remedy that and it is now Maniati/Benneydale despite considerable local opposition. I photographed this same derelict house last time I came this way in 2016. Back then the green tree was just beginning to appear through the roof.

The King Country is an interesting area. While you can draw it on a map, it has no existence as a governance entity. For that, it falls partly within Waikato, and partly within Manawatu/Whanganui region. All of this is merely of passing interest, as we headed down a backroad from Benneydale to join SH4 at Ongarue. The region is heavily forested and very hilly. The only clue I have about where I made the image above through the windscreen is that it is somewhere North of Taumarunui.

We made a rest stop and had an excellent morning tea in Taumarunui. Then it was Southwards through Raurimu and National Park, heading purposefully for Horopito, home to Horopito Motors. This place is known globally as “Smash Palace” and was the setting for the 1981 Roger Donaldson film of the same name.

The last time I was there was in 2013. Back then in return for a gold coin donation, they allowed photographers and tourists to enter the 5 or so hectares and wander at will among the thousands of rusting cars.

On that occasion, we arrived early in the morning and there was no one in the office. The gate was open so I made the expected donation and began wandering about and making pictures. Mary sat in the car and knitted while I was in photography heaven. After I was done, I started to thread my way out of the maze only to be confronted by a man with a rifle and a bunch of distinctly unfriendly dogs. Awkward. He had been hunting and was a bit late back and was startled to find a wandering photographer on the premises. We resolved our differences peaceably.

This time things were done properly, and I paid the now required $10 admission fee at the office and spent a blissful hour looking at rusty textures and the shapes of cars as they used to be in my youth. There may be a pattern or system to the way in which cars are placed when they come in, but if so I could not work it out. It definitely is not brand, year, nor even the era from which the car was made. I am told that if you need a part for your old car, the staff can nevertheless tell you whether they that or a similar model.

At first I was a bit disconcerted that, near the front gate, there were many cars of recent manufacture that still had visible full-coloured paint and chrome work. I presume they were recent crashes or simple mechanical failures. They were not what I had come for, so I avoided them as much as possible.

There are estimated to be about 5,000 cars on site. As I wandered about I saw many that I have not laid eyes on for years. Mostly these would be British cars that are rarely on our roads any more. There were a few continental models , but by far, most were from Dagenham, Cowley, Solihull or the like.

“Austin of England” was the brand emblazoned on the boot of cars with that grill. There are very few bearers of that brand still running in New Zealand. And yet they remind of of a sunny childhood and I retain a certain affection for them. We once even owned a lovely three litre A110 Austin Westminster.

It was fun testing my ability to identify some of these old wrecks Across the back, a Ford Zephyr, a Ford Prefect sitting on a Standard Vanguard, a Hillman or Singer wagon. In the front row, I suspect the one on the left might be a Renault, and then a Fiat Bambina in front of who knows what.

I said there was no apparent organisation to the placement of cars. This pile seems to be an exception as there are at least three Morris Minors here. I struggle to imagine that there are many useful parts in these cars, or what economic model makes them worth keeping. I imagine that these were once someone’s pride and joy, and were probably washed and polished weekly. Now there are few if any body panels that would be of any use.

If you have seen enough rust by now, I would not hold it against you should you choose to skip this and the following two images and go straight to Whanganui. For my part, I see interest in the different patterns and textures in each image. And I wonder at the story behind each vehicle. A quote from Casablanca comes to mind: “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in the world, she walks into mine”. There is no way that all these vehicles belonged to families or businesses in the nearby towns. So how did each car come to be here, so far from any significant centres of population?

Not only the individual vehicles, but the way in which they are scattered around the vast property is fascinating. Occasionally you can see that an attempt has been made to group like vehicles together. It never seems to have lasted though. Three or four Morris Minors together might be the start of something and then a Ford Consul Classic 315, a Trekka, a Wolseley 6/110, a Vauxhall Velox, a few Holdens, a Bradford and an Alfa Romeo throws the pattern into confusion.

Always, the harsh climate, rain, snow and sun are breaking down the once polished paint, and red rust becomes the dominant colour. The odd car puts up a longer resistance. Or perhaps it came into that part of the plot at a different time to its neighbours. Why is that Ford Prefect in the shot above still blue? Why is the paint on the back corner of that car the only bit that hung on?

The land on which the cars are stored is uneven and though there are many flat areas, there are gulleys and small hills. Cars are strewn close together over almost all of it. The tracks left clear for access form a maze of sorts, and often you come to a dead end. Though you can see the home buildings on the other side of the stack, there is no way to get there without risking an avalanche of sharp rusting steel. And so you retrace your steps, dodging the deep puddles in the soggy ground.

Every path you take reveals a different view and models you hadn’t noticed when you came the other way. A person of my vintage keeps seeing models familiar in my younger days but not seen on the roads for many a year. The Armstrong Siddley Star Sapphire, the Vauxhall Cresta, The Ford Pilot, the Morris Oxford, the Triumph Mayflower, the Rover 3500, the Lanchester. It’s not the cars themselves that arouse the emotion, but rather the way they trigger recollection of happy times, youth, friends and family members long gone.

Enough wallowing in maudlin sentimentality. To my photographic eye, the place is a delight in any weather. Regardless of the memories, the stacks of rusting remains provide fascinating set of opportunities to capture shapes and colours, though rust is dominant. After an hour of photography, I decided that though the cars in front of me were different, I was making the same image over and over again, just with different cars. Time to resume our Southward journey.

We had an excellent picnic lunch beside the Makotuku River in Raetihi during a break in the drizzle. Then it was down the winding 95km of the Parapara. In case you didn’t know it, SH4 runs parallel to the Whanganui River from Raetihi to Whanganui and is known as the Parapara. It is notorious for its treacherous greywacke landscape. It is magnificent to look at but prone to crumbling landslips and washouts, potholes and floods. When the Parapara is closed as it is at least a few times in most winters, then it is a very long detour down SH1 to Bulls, or even around Egmont and through New Plymouth. I think I dozed off on this part of the trip.

Fortunately I wasn’t driving, and soon enough we were crossing the Dublin St bridge in Whanganui on our way to our Airbnb in Castlecliff.

The owner of our Airbnb advertised it as “quirky”. I must remember to avoid any described as such in future. Fortunately we were there for just two nights. Whanganui, along with most of the North Island was fairly wet during our brief stay. Peat Park was looking more like Park Lake. We drove up to Waverley to visit my brother and sister-in-law and that trip was even wetter. And then it was time for the journey home.

Wetness persisted all the way to Wellington. We broke the 190 km trip home with morning coffee and a magnificent cheese scone at the excellent Riverstone Cafe at the South end of Otaki. Then the final leg home is much quicker than it ever was in the past. The expressway starts at Pekapeka just North of Waikanae and from there it’s motorway all the way home. I asked Mary to drive the last bit because I wanted to snatch an image of the bush near the summit of Transmission Gully.

Just before the Southbound summit on Transmission Gully there is a forested valley on the left side. Each time I have crossed that road, I have wanted to catch it. Most of the surrounding hills are covered in pines, but here is a remnant of the native bush landscape as it once was. Not possible to photograph if you are driving, of course.

And here at last we are at the foot of the Haywards Hill, emerging into the sunshine of the Hutt Valley and Wellington and home. The distant hills are the Miramar peninsula and the prominent tower block is the former TV studios at Avalon.

I hope you have enjoyed my rambling and the images related to our trip. Now it is done. I continue to post photo-blogs on this site on random topics every two or three weeks. I advertise infrequently so if you care to, you could check back every few weeks to check for the latest. Or you can subscribe to have it emailed to you. Thanks for keeping me company, and special thanks to all who sent kind comments which warmed my soul.

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Family flowers Food Haywards Hill Landscapes Maritime Weather Wellington

January 25, 2022 … Belated Happy New Year Wishes

Warmest greetings to any who still read my ramblings. I am honoured and pleased that you still visit my page. There have been a few memes in circulation that bid a scornful farewell to 2021 and wish for a better year in 2022. My immediate response was “blessed are they that wish for nothing, they shall not be disappointed.”

As I enter my 78th year, I am aware that I have not done a good job of keeping fit as some my friends and colleagues of similar years have done. My fault, no one else is to blame. I hate and resent being nagged, so my nearest and dearest have backed off unless there is an immediate danger or I really annoy them. In short I take each day as it comes.

Some days I feel it’s worth getting my camera out. Other days not so much. Given the somewhat mixed weather in the last month I am starting the year with fewer images than I would usually hope to share.

Let’s see what we have.

Festive food

In the days before Christmas, Mary was very busy baking for family, friends and neighbours. She does superb shortbread, both plain and with ginger. She also does excellent ginger biscuits (in the British use of the word). On one of those wet days back then, her baking served as a substitute subject for my camera. They tasted as good as they looked, though I risked life and limb getting in the way of the baker.

Heavy weather on the South Coast

This has been a strange approximation of summer, and on many days only the numbers on the calendar looked like summer. If we get serious wind for several days, then the ocean swells become worth a look. In this instance the view is across the harbour entrance

Transmission Gully … North End

Transmission Gully has been almost ready, it seems forever. It is still almost ready, and the current narrative is that it is stalled while issues with stormwater drains are resolved. I suspect that we may be able to drive on it by Easter or perhaps mid-year. In case you are away from home, Transmission Gully runs from just North of Paekakariki, up through the hills behind Battle Hill Farm Park and down to Pauatahanui Village where there is an exit that joins the Haywards Hill road to get to the Hutt Valley, or continues on behind Porirua to rejoin the old SH1 at Tawa.

Self-heal

I have recently become fascinated by the many tiny but beautiful flowers/weeds that grow around home. This particular pest is called Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris) … lawn enthusiasts hate it. When you get close, it is quite pretty. We have deduced that the birds are at fault. They spill the seeds that Mary puts out to encourage their presence.

Its day has gone

Way back in 1954 when my family first migrated to New Zealand, it was unusual to see other than British cars. There were a few American cars, the odd Ford V8, the big Chevrolets and a Chrysler or two. Europe was represented by the Volkswagen and the odd Mercedes and Citroen, but the very idea of a Japanese car was completely novel. Most private cars were British. There were Austin, Morris, Hillman, Humber, Vauxhall, Riley, Wolseley, Jaguar, Armstrong Siddley, Allard, Bristol, Ford, Land Rover and so on. This weed covered wreck on the Wainuiomata coast road is a 1948 Hillman Minx. It had an 1,100cc motor and in its prime could accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in about 55 seconds. They were gentler and slower times.

Blue

A visit to our green-fingered friends in Waikanae gave me access to this beautiful wall of blue. If my identification app is correct, this is “Mealy sage”, a member of the Salvia family. I like blocks of solid colour.

Salad escargot

My gifted assistant (Mary) found this snail at the door. We placed it on a lettuce leaf which may not have been to its taste, because it immediately began to leave. Not sure what it would have preferred. Sadly it kept moving, waving its various stalks so it was hard to get everything sharp.

Faded glory

Just as the shape of cars has evolved, so too have styles in marine architecture. I mourn the disappearance of the beautiful curving sheer lines on big ships, and the disappearance of the graceful curves on pleasure craft. This sad old yacht in the Clyde Quay marina looks long neglected. On the other hand, with a good suit of sails she would still look like a racer.

Fan club

A near calm day at the West Wind wind farm saw the turbine blades just ticking over, and probably not generating any useful output. I decided not to make a single long exposure, but rather to make several exposures with the blades in different parts of their cycle. I then merged them at home. The result is not perfect but at least interesting.

That’s all for the first post of the year. A nice slow start as in times gone by. Constructive feedback is always welcome. As always thanks for being with me, and I wish you all the happiest of new years.

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Adventure adversity Architecture Birds Boggy Pond Family Hokio Beach Lower Hutt Otaki Plant life Rivers Waikanae Wairarapa Weather Wellington

December 28, 2021 … what lies ahead?

Another year reaches a conclusion, and what a year it has been for the world, and for our country, for my family and for me. Despite the fact that I try to live with hope in my heart, I look forward to 2022 with trepidation. On the personal front, I seem to crumbling at the edges. As well as the cataract, I have now been fitted with hearing aids, and hope to become accustomed to them. Then, following some sort of event that resulted in double vision, vertigo and nausea (unconnected with the cataract procedure), I ended up in hospital for a couple of nights undergoing a CT scan and MRI. No clear causes identified, but nothing sinister found. And thank heavens for free public health care which was superb for me. Nevertheless, with the vertigo and visual disturbances, my doctors say I am not permitted to drive for four weeks. Grrr.

Christmas has passed and family is scattered in Melbourne, Brisbane, Queenstown and Gisborne. Happily youngest son Anthony,, his wife Sarah and our lovely grandkids Maggie and Jack are at home nearby, so we spent some of our Christmas with them. OK, enough with the babble, what images did I get this round?

Black fronted dotterel

Fine days have been rare in recent times, so when one occurs, I select from one of my preferred locations. On this occasion , it was Hokio Beach (again). Since the whitebait season is ended, it was peaceful with no whitebaiters to deter the bird life. In fact, we had the beach entirely to ourselves. Mary went for a walk along the beach to the South while I lay back on the water’s edge and waited. In just a few minutes, I was blessed with a visit from one of my favourite birds, the black-fronted dotterel. These tiny creatures move very quickly and their legs are almost invisible in motion. They appear to hover across the sand and water. Just beautiful.

Also present at Hokio were the bar-tailed godwits, champions of long distance flight. They fly to tidal estuaries in New Zealand from Western Alaska in epic non-stop flights lasting 8 to 9 days. Barring the great albatrosses, they are the olympic athletes of the bird world. And they are handsome birds, aren’t they?

Feed me mama!

It was a great trip. Dotterels, godwits and even dabchicks. In this visit, the chicks have grown too big to be carried around on the parent’s back any longer. In fact they seem even bigger than the parents now, Nevertheless, they are still dependent on the parents for food. As always, the water in the Wetlands at Queen Elizabeth Park is reasonably sheltered and echoes the deep green of the surrounding bush.

Californian Quail

On another damp but windless day, Mary drove me up to the regional waterworks at Kaitoke. I was delighted to spot a small cluster of female Californian quails browsing in the lawns there beside the road. The males are more spectacular, I suppose, but the females as seen here are beautiful in their own way.

Stick insect

Stick insects are always problematic for me. They are interesting but very hard to make an attractive image with. They seem to need a context, so in this case it was moving slowly among the flax and lavender at the back door. It’s the first time I have seen a stick insect with a face.

Gold

It drives me nuts that, every year, the mainstream media are surprised to discover the existence of Metrosideros excelsa aurea. Breathless headlines about “rare yellow pohutukawa” appear without regard that they used the same story last year and the one before that. To be fair, I probably make the same complaint about them each year too. The yellow variety is definitely less common than the more familia crimson variety, but I think they are far from rare. There are plenty of very fine yellow specimens in the Wellington region.

Coat of many colours

This little Hebe moth is, like many others quite spectacular when up close. Mary drew it to my attention on our stairwell, so I switched to my trusty macro lens and got really close. Do click on the image to see it in the larger version. It reminds me of some of the more spectacular weaving that I have seen, though I think it would be a talented weaver indeed who could produce work as beautiful as this.

Rata in the rain at Kaitoke

Like the pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa) , the rata (Metrosideros robusta) is a member of the myrtle family and of the genus metrosideros. The flowers are, to my eye, indistinguishable from those of the pohutukawa. If you get close, the leaves of the pohutukawa are larger and a darker green, and have small hairs on the underside. Rata leaves are smaller, glossy on both sides and have a notch on the tip. A good friend alerted me to the spectacular colours of the rata trees in bloom in the rain up at Kaitoke. He was right.

Waterloo railway Station, Lower Hutt

Most people think of somewhere else when Waterloo Station is mentioned. Our local version would probably fit in the cafeteria of the other one. Nevertheless, it is a locally important interchange between the Upper Hutt/Wairarapa railway line and the Hutt Valley bus services. The wind-shelters in the station are an interesting and necessary feature. As I said before, I am not permitted to drive until early January so I decided to use public transport and roam around the region by train and bus for the day.

Wellington commuter traffic

On arrival at Wellington railway station, I made this image. It occurred to me that not much has changed since the first time I passed through here in February 1954. Well, there are no steam locomotives, and the electric units have advanced through two generations. And then there are the face masks, and the cell phones. And the women wear trousers and the men don’t wear hats. No-one is smoking. Apart from that, nothing much is different

Top deck

Part of my day wandering the region by public transport was to take a trip from the railway station to Island Bay by double-decker bus. Like the schoolboy I sometimes am, I grabbed the front row seat on the top deck, and enjoyed the different perspective from up there. A feature of the city at this time of year is the proliferation of pohutukawa trees in magnificent bloom. This specimen is about midway along Kent Terrace.

Back to the station

On my return from the Southern suburbs, I decided to take the train out to Upper Hutt and thence back to Petone Station from where I would catch a bus back up the hill to home. This was all for the pleasure of riding the rails and seeing our city from different points of view. I paused for a pizza lunch in the station before heading North. Since I wasn’t driving, a glass of Pinhead Supercharger IPA helped that go down.

Once was a high school

Through the train windowI was intrigued by the extent of the “Bob Scott Retirement Village”. This was built on the site which was once Hutt Valley Memorial College and before that Petone Technical College. In its latter days as it was rotting, graffitied and increasingly vandalised, it suffered an arson attack and was totally destroyed. It has taken several years but the retirement village that stands in its place is now complete. Despite its somewhat forbidding appearance, I know many people who enjoy living there, and liken it to living on a cruise liner. I am happy for them, but the lifestyle does not appeal to me.

A favourite corner

I am very blessed that Mary works so hard to compensate for my driving prohibition and she made a picnic lunch and drove us over the hill to Lake Wairarapa. We also visited Boggy Pond and had our lunch on the shores of Lake Onoke at Lake Ferry.

Time was when the trip over the hill was a long and arduous journey, especially with kids in the car. Now you wonder why it was such a big deal back then. Heck there was even a greasy spoon cafe at the summit to break the journey. Obviously the places have not got closer together, but modern cars are more powerful, more comfortable and more reliable. The journey from Te Marua to Featherston is a mere 25 minutes. My favourite spot is a corner just to the North of bridge number 6 where there is a bank of trees down a steep ridge. There is no footpath and no safe space to stop to get my desired view. This shot is not what I desired. I should have waited until we got to where that next car ahead is, but it will do as a grab shot. As a passenger I can stick the camera out the window and point it in the right direction.

That is my last blog post for the year. I hope the festive season treated you kindly and you all had a great time. For any who are locked down or constrained by Covid, my sympathies. I look forward to your company in 2022. I enjoyed a cartoon I saw (but can’t find) which depicts the occupiers of 2021 cowering behind a corner in a dark corridor, reaching out tentatively with a very long pole to nudge open the door to 2022. I would like to hope for a much better year than this has been for the world, and I wish all the very best for the new year to all those who share my journey in this blog. Thank you for being with me and for the kind words from so many of you.

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Birds Day's Bay Family flowers Landscapes Maritime Plant life Reflections Weather Wellington

11 Aug 2021 … when you find the thing you weren’t looking for*

It has never been my intention to have ponderous photographic aspirations. Instead, I want to understand what moves me and why, and photograph it well. Like most people who want to be creatives, I get pleasure when my family and friends, or others who I respect express approval of my efforts. On the other hand, before I share my work with you, it needs to meet my own expectations first.

I have been casting an eye on what images I have chosen to share with you recently. To nobody’s great surprise they have been mostly landscapes in the Wellington Region, ships, the sea when it is either flat calm or wild storm, birds or flowers. It’s a very rare occasion that I shoot people. I never do glamour, and very rarely do abstracts. I often have lively curiosity about the subjects I shoot, and like Alister Benn’s idea of pointing the camera at things that excite me.

Why those topics, you might ask. The only answer I can give, is that that’s who I am. Those genres appeal to me. If I get better at making those kinds of image, I’m happy. So let’s see how I did in this edition.

Ken Jyo waiting for a berth

Mid July and the weather has been up and down. We had a wonderful string of calm days and some really rough ones. On this morning, things had calmed down and the freighter Ken Jyo was anchored in the harbour waiting for a place at the berth where they load logs. I loved the glittering sea in contrast to the solid bulk of the ship.

Birthday Bouquet

An unexpected visit from our middle son Drew came with a nice bouquet to mark Mary’s birthday. To my eye, it was a very attractive arrangement, though, as always, the greatest joy was having our son home, however briefly.

Adam and Eve

The Tui is a native honeyeater from New Zealand. At first sight it looks black apart from the white ruff which caused the colonists to name it “the parson bird”. But it is not black. Its plumage is a glorious irridescent mixture of brown, blue and green with flecks of white.There was a time when they were relatively rare. I think a careful management programme has resulted in a significant boom in their numbers.I love to see them as they have a beautiful song of their own as well as being capable of mimicking cell-phones or reversing trucks.

Daphne

The Daphne is a pretty shrub, popular with gardeners around the world, including in New Zealand. Unfortunately, I struggle to make appealing images of it, even when its flowers are in good condition. I decided to try using it in conjunction with a sheet of florist’s tissue. It helped, after a fashion, but not one of my better shots

On the Waiwhetu Stream

The Waiwhetu Stream winds its way down pleasant suburban landscapes on the Eastern side of the the Hutt Valley from the slopes above Naenae until it reaches the light industrial area at Gracefield. Once it passes under Seaview Road it is contained within concrete embankments and the charm evaporates. Except for a hundred metres on the Southern side adjacent to the Owhiti Urupa (cemetery). The black swan added to the appeal of this view of that stretch. I was astonished to learn that after being almost eliminated from New Zealand, they were deliberately reintroduced from Melbourne in the 1860s, presumably as game birds. There are now about 50,000 of them in New Zealand.

The Wellington Harbour Tug Tiaki heading back to Wellington

After assisting the coastal tanker Matuku to its berth at the oil terminal, the two local Damen 2411 tugs Tapuhi (nurse) and Tiaki (carer) then set out on the return journey to their home berth in the city. Tiaki is seen here hurrying along the coast of Matiu/Somes Island . My friend and well know photographer Simon Woolf expresses the view that a significant patch of red in an image is usually a positive influence on the opinion of a photographic judge. Having stepped down as an accredited judge myself, I am less interested than I used to be in the opinions of judges, but I think he is right.

Stillness at Ivey Bay

This one is hands down my favourite shot in this edition, I don’t know if it is the best shot, but it is the one I like the most. And that, my friends is what I believe counts the most. So why? Firstly, the camera is pointed at a subject that is of interest to me. Secondly, the scene is still and the image is sharp. Thirdly the image is simple and unambiguous. We can all see what the subject of the image is. Yes, I like it.

Camborne Boat Sheds

Across the inlet from Ivey Bay are the boat sheds on the Camborne walkway. The poet, Sam Hunt lived in one of those at some time. The walkway behind them goes from the beach at Camborne around the shoreline to Grays Road on the Northern shore of the inlet. It is a favourite walk for dog owners though the rules about leads are often flouted. On days such as this one I find the scenery to be magical, and it’s not often I look at it from the other direction.

Weather

During a brief stay in Dammam, Saudi Arabia some thirty years ago, I encountered the story of a British expatriate who came close to being strangled by his compatriots because he greeted them at the bus stop every morning with “well, I see it’s turned out nice again!”. In case you are unaware, almost every day in Saudi Arabia “turns out nice again”. Nevertheless, I understand the obsession with the weather because the weather governs the light, and light governs photography. So, we had some weather recently. Strong Southerly winds and even snow in the Remutakas made for interesting conditions. Heavy swells breaking across the road in Lowry Bay make commuting interesting.

Fantail in Hiding

The New Zealand fantail is a favourite, perhaps because it flits so close to people walking. I believe this is because they chase the insects that are stirred up by the passing of humans. They are pretty little songbirds. This one seemed to be hiding behind the dead stalk of a nearby flax bush.

Semper Fi

A feature of the Queen Elizabeth II Park at Mackays Crossing is the memorial to the members of the United States Marines who were based there in transit to the war in the Pacific. These little profiles represent the hundreds of huts that stood on this ground almost eighty years ago.

That will suffice for this edition. I might see you next time.

Categories
Adventure adversity Airport Aviation Birds Family flowers harbour Landscapes Light Maritime Oriental Bay Pauatahanui Rongotai

July 27, 2021 … taking life as it comes

After some mysterious point, the ageing process suddenly starts forcing certain changes. No longer can I hop confidently from rock to rock. Nor can I clamber down steep slopes. The only way in which my spatial awareness has improved is in my knowledge of the direction and distance to the nearest public toilet.

These gradual changes have made their presence felt in my photography. I started thinking about this after a consultation with a health practitioner recently. She suggested I might be losing my enthusiasm for photography. I rejected that idea vigorously, but realised that the kind of the images that I observe are being brought about by the gradual changes brought on by age. Most obviously, I find myself treading old familiar paths and more rarely finding the energy or enthusiasm for long trips to new places.

One of those days

When the sky is clear and blue and the water mirrors it back, Oriental Bay has a special charm. I prefer the openness of the old Clyde Quay Boat Harbour to the regimentation of the Chaffers Marina on the city side of the wharf. On this particular day, I was tempted to hang my camera underneath the tripod as close to water level as possible. I know that the green algae on the concrete ramps down to the water has an evil reputation for being slippery. In keeping with the increasing caution I mentioned earlier, I was edging gingerly towards the water when a janitor called out and warned me that two others had already slipped and come close to taking an unexpected swim that morning. I find that the heightened risk awareness limits my mobility even further, so I didn’t quite make it to the water’s edge. Incidentally, if you want to moor your boat there, the annual fee is NZ$1,293.

New Zealand Native Wood Pigeon

The next image was made without leaving home.This magnificent bird was munching happily on the fresh leaves of a kowhai tree less than two metres from our front door. I saw it through the window so very quietly unsnibbed the front door and let it swing slowly open. I stayed well back from the door and used the long lens to get close to a bird that was very near to begin with.

Alpacas

Again, close to home I went over the Wainuiomata Hill and down the coast road to the beach. It was a frosty morning, which happens less often than it used to in my opinion. Anyway, on the way, a small herd of alpaca was casting long shadows and defrosting patches of grass.

Clinker built

Certain weather patterns raise the idea of going to places that have been previously successful in similar weather. Mist suggests a trip to the Wairarapa, or perhaps the upper valley or maybe Evans Bay. Calm water prompts me to go to the Hutt estuary, Pauatahanui, Oriental Bay or again Evans Bay. Strong Southerly wind takes me to the beach on the Wainuiomata Coast, or anywhere along Wellington’s rocky South coast.I suppose that the region’s folded landscape constrains human access to places where roads can more easily be made, leaving the ridge lines free to be farmed or to remain in native bush. And so it is that the number of accessible photo sites is fewer than the overall land area might suggest. On this occasion, the stillness took me to the Hutt River estuary. There, I struggled to to make an image different to those made in my many previous visits. Down low and select just one of the small boats, perhaps. A splash of red is always worth having.

Walkway

High tide or low, I love the Pauatahanui Inlet. Of course, I prefer it when there is no wind, and the water is totally still as it was on this day. Well done to the Porirua City Council and its various sponsors who now have a well made walkway beside the water along the entire length of Grays Road from Pauatahanui Village to the Camborne Walkway. Even when the bird life is modest, I love the reeds that lend such colour to the landscape.

Sacred Kingfisher

A trip to the Waikanae Estuary brought me close to this kingfisher. It was sitting on a branch beside the road. I didn’t even have to get out of the driver’s seat to make the image. Apparently this fellow is well known locally and is not as skittish as most kingfishers I have encountered.

Royal Spoonbills

Pauatahanui is not only a place that you have to pass through on your way north up SH1 from the Hutt Valley, but also a site worthy of visitation in its own right. Apparently there is a flock of royal spoonbills who hold a similar view. For them, the attraction may be the small mud crabs which number in the thousands per square metre. Not for me though, to deny them the enjoyment of the visual beauty of the place.

Ivey Bay

At Paremata on the South Western end of the Pauatahanui inlet where the water passes under the motorway and rail bridges to the Porirua Harbour, is Ivey Bay. It provides sheltered moorings for some of the old classic motor launches. From Camborne on the opposite shore, it provides a lovely view of the little known suburb on Moorhouse Point. I knew murky weather was imminent, so had to take advantage of conditions such as these. Blue skies are well enough, but the quilted effect of the clouds really appeals to me.

Lily parts

And then came the rough weather. I stayed home. Perhaps this is part of that decreasing appetite for discomfort and adventure. Happily, Mary had recently celebrated a birthday and I got very close to the inner workings of a lily which was part of a bouquet she had received. Not being gifted with a green thumb, I have not bothered to familiarise myself with the reproductive organs of flowers, but the lily is quite spectacular. I know that the anthers (the rough brown bits) leave a vicious almost indelible stain on fabrics. Handle with care.

Another familiar view

After the worst of the storm passed, the weather was still murky, and it was utterly unappealing to wander out. So this image was shot from the front door looking across the valley along High Street towards Naenae.

Faithful old workhorse

If memory serves (and it doesn’t always) this old girl (NZ7004) entered RNZAF service in 1969. As with the rest of the five-strong fleet, it underwent major life-extension upgrades in the first few years of the new century, and is now fated to be replaced by much more capable C130J aircraft beginning in 2024. I love the condensation around the tips of its massive propellers in the moist conditions as the captain pushes the throttle levers forward.

King Alfred Daffodils

A very pleasant lunch with friends in Waikanae allowed us to see early daffodils. I always regard them as one of the first portents of spring. In mid-late July, this is perhaps a bit optimistic, and there is probably plenty of rough weather to come before the season of lambs and new growth. These flowers from the garden of our friends are of the King Alfred variety.

Magic morning

Back to where we began, though from the other end of that little harbour. Last Friday Wellington was still and bright though a little hazy. Again, I was very cautious about walking on the green algae at the water’s edge so this image was made from a higher viewpoint.

Naval Whaler

Rear Admiral Victor Montagu apparently proposed this design as a standard workboat for the Royal Navy in 1890. Originally there was no engine housing inboard, nor was there a mount for an outboard hanging off the stern as on this one. Sailing was done with a fore and main mast, and rowing was with six oars and a coxswain at the tiller. They served with the navies of Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand in these roles until as late as 1970, and to this day remains in use by many youth organizations. I have always loved the elegant simplicity of the design. This one in the Clyde Quay Boat Harbour and the one in Evans Bay have been shot by me on many prior occasions.

And then came the calamity. It was, as you can see, a beautiful morning so I began crossing the carpark on Clyde Quay Wharf to see whether there might be some useful reflections in Chaffers Marina. With my eyes fixed firmly on the boats ahead, I missed the fact that there were some barriers on the ground to stop cars from banging into the electric charging stations. Whoops! I crashed to the ground and to add to my pain, I heard the camera and tripod bounce beside my head.

I lay there for a minute or so before some other seniors came rushing over to my rescue. To be honest, I needed their assistance to get up. I was assisted to a seat nearby where I gathered my scattered wits and checked the hardware. As the old cliche has it, ageing is not for sissies. Be assured that I am well, though going to a physiotherapist this afternoon. Photos will continue to be made.

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Airport Aviation Birds Cook Strait Day's Bay Family flowers harbour History insects Landscapes Light Maritime Masterton Military Paremata Waves Weather Wellington

March 13, 2021 … Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth*

I begin this edition with a tribute to a valued friend and long time reader who died last month. George Combs Berger, Lt Col USAF (Ret) died on 2 Feb 2021 aged 98. In my experience, George was the ultimate gentleman, and was a frequent and very generous contributor to the earlier versions of WYSIWYG News back when we paid an assistant to format the news. He and his late wife,Patricia had a particular affinity with New Zealand and most years he would attend the ANZAC ceremony at the Washington National Cathedral, and then post me the printed programme from the service. George told me the story of him flying a B47 Stratojet bomber across the Atlantic to the UK and having its generators fail mid-journey. He turned off everything that could be done without, and arrived at the RAF base with barely sufficient battery power to illuminate his navigation lights. My condolences to his family. He will be missed. Rest in peace, my dear friend.

Photographically it has been a mixed period. I was quite pleased with myself, almost smug in the previous issue. This time some of my shots have fallen back into the mediocre category but, what the heck, keep shooting.

Ferry and the fisherman

I have made similar shots to this one many times before. On this occasion Kaitaki was leaving the harbour, hotly pursued by a fisherman in a “fizz boat”. As with my similar prior shots, the attraction to me was the delightful “blue on blue” of the clear sky over a calm sea.

Surface confusion

Across the harbour on this near perfect day, a young couple were setting out fishing from Lowry Bay in their little boat. Across the harbour, anyone with a nostalgic connection with Victoria University of Wellington will see the red brick of the old Hunter building above the yellow buoy on the left.

An extremely rare selfie

It has long been part of our family tradition to make pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. Our kids always loved this, and we are passing it on to the grandchildren, or at least those who live close enough to join in. This year, Mary had other commitments on the day so I brushed off long neglected skills. To my great delight, I had not lost the knack of tossing them from the pan, and contrary to the skepticism of some friends did not spoil or lose any. The device in my left hand is my iPhone which I used to trigger the camera on its tripod. Who says men can’t walk and chew gum at the same time?

Hawkweed flowers

I always thought they were dandelions. Apparently not. These are hawkweed or more scientifically, Hieracium. These examples were found on a riverbank in Wainuiomata

Days Bay Ferry

Unless the weather is really rough the two little catamarans, Cobar Cat and City Cat scuttle across the harbour on a regular schedule carrying tourists and commuters between the Queen’s Wharf terminal in the city and the jetty at Day’s Bay. They drop in at Matiu/Somes Island for people who wish to explore the island (highly recommended), and on a few trips, they divert to the jetty at Seatoun. One is seen here approaching Day’s Bay as observed from Lowry Bay.

Paremata Boat Sheds

In many parts of the world, it seems to be a tradition that any collection of boat sheds should be painted in motley colours. The sheds at Paremata follow this plan, and each owner seems to have had their own pot of leftover paint to use up. This is seen from across the inlet at the Pauatahanui Wildlife sanctuary.

Economy class

Over in Ivey Bay, there are some character-filled moorings where boats seem to sit and rarely move. I suspect that the owners have dreams of restoration that rarely come to fruition. I occasionally see the owners sitting on their deck beside the water, just basking in the pleasure of being there.

Military relics

Over the hill from Upper Hutt is the Mangaroa Valley where there are some old buildings which once served as part of the Maymorn military camp. If I understand correctly, they are long surplus to the needs of the defence ministry and have been given to the local iwi in part reparation for breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi. History hangs heavy on the buildings.It has been a long while since they saw any paint.

Moonlit bay

I rarely go out at night for photographic purposes. If conditions are still, I will carry my camera and tripod when I go to camera club and see whether there is anything worth shooting near the harbour after the meeting. On this particular night, I went down to Lowry Bay and looking to the North made this 40 second exposure. Despite the long exposure, the boat moved very little. Remember that boat. You might see it again.

Blue Globe Thistle

Our very good friends, Jane and Roy are superb gardeners and their home is often visited by the local garden circle. From my perspective, as one who avoids most forms of physical labour, I love their results but am unlikely to follow in their footsteps. I enjoy strolling around their property seeing all the unusual and interesting flowers. This specimen is a Blue Globe Thistle which I would not have known without the aid of https://identify.plantnet.org which is right more often than it is wrong.

In stillness

It was a nice still morning at Petone, but I was struggling to find anything of interest. There is a set of small piles just to the Western side of Petone wharf. I speculate that they exist to hold an old stormwater outlet pipe in place. Anyway, I was intrigued by the multi-coloured weeds growing on the ancient timbers.

It’s that darned yacht again

A misty day in the city imposes a moody atmosphere. Not so much waves, but sharp ripples arrive on the beach at Lowry Bay. The mood was worth the effort, I think.

If you have no interest in aviation, please skip the next three images.

Atmospherics

Last time I went to an airshow, I was disappointed and said I would probably not bother again. I backed down and joined my Son Anthony, daughter-in-law Sarah, and grandson Jack at the recent “Wings Over Wairarapa” airshow at Hood Aereodrome, Masterton. One of the highlights for me was the Yakovlev YAK-3U, a radial engined version of a Russian WWII fighter. It has a very powerful P&W R2000 engine and is extremely fast. In this shot you can see the condensate spiralling back from the tips of its propeller during a high speed run . The trails at the wingtips are made by oil burning.

Scribbles

The Yak pilot put on a masterful performance in a beautiful machine with an engine almost twice the power of the original. He zipped through the sky leaving smoke trails with which he made the most amazing patterns.

Age is no barrier

For the 2019 iteration of this air show, the US ambassador used his influence to persuade the US Air Force to do a fly-by with a B-52 on its way from its base in Guam to the much larger airshow at Avalon in Australia. Sadly, a mechanical malfunction meant that it didn’t arrive. So here we are again, and truth to tell, the promise of a B-52 was a strong influence in my decision to visit one more air show. It came from Avalon this time and was on its way back to Guam. The B-52 is notoriously smokey so its presence was visible long before the aircraft itself. They did three wide passes, including one with its bob doors open. I hope I am never beneath one when it does that in anger. I don’t want to glorify war or militarism, but this grand old machine is a tribute to its designers and builders, and to the brave crews that fly them.

When shall we three meet again?**

Mary has a sharp eye for things that might be photo-worthy. She saw the shed exo-skeletons of these three cicada nymphs all clinging to one little stick. Astonishing! I have never seen two together before, let alone three.

Help from the sky

This air ambulance was basking in the sun at Wellington Airport. Used mainly for the transport of patients between various specialist hospitals this Jetstream 400 makes a brave picture. Lurking behind it is the local search and rescue helicopter.

A rare visitor

Were this just a common white-faced heron, which is what I thought I had taken, I would have discarded this image. It wasn’t until I got home that closer examination showed I had caught a very rare reef heron. Apparently the total number of them in NZ lies between 300 and 500.

What, again?

Yes, it is that darned yacht again. The excuse for this image, however is that rainbow fragment behind it. You will be relieved to know that the yacht has since been moved from the open mooring into the nearby marina, so it no longer offers itself as a feature of the landscape.

The oil terminal

Sometimes, the light falling on the oil wharf lifts an otherwise banal structure and makes it quite attractive. I liked it anyway.

That will do for now. See you next time.

  • *High Flight by John Gillespie Magee, RCAF
  • **Shakespeare, Macbeth
Categories
Architecture Art Butterflies Family flowers Landscapes Maritime Railway Waves Weather Wellington

January 30, 2021 … the road goes ever on and on*

I occasionally evaluate my reality. Mary and I are retired, living in leafy suburbia in a small city (pop 104,700) adjacent to our small capital (population 215,100) in a small peaceful and politically stable country (pop 5 million) in the bottom right hand corner of the world (population 7,794,798,739). We have so much to be grateful for.

From my perspective as a photographer, while other parts of the country may offer more spectacle, even the region in which I live offers many opportunities within an hour’s drive and even more within a four hour round trip. So why, you might ask, have I been so grumpy of late? Well, I continue to claim the right to grumble about almost two solid months of grey dismal blustery weather, but remain hopeful of some semblance of summer weather in the remainder of the season. I know I should be more appreciative of what I have. The landscape and seascapes around me have good bones. When the weather precludes those shots, there are interesting possibilities in the close up.

Tree Mallow

Sometimes I encounter a plant or flower and identify it confidently. Then I find that I have been wrong for years. In the certain knowledge that this flower was a hollyhock, I submitted the image to my favourite plant identifying site looking for the scientific name. It seems that this is in fact, a tree mallow. Pride cometh before a fall.

Monarch butterfly

Mary came in from her walk in bleak and blustery conditions, carefully nursing something very delicate. A monarch butterfly! It was unwilling to sit still and fluttered about until it settled on a piece of foliage I had been using for other purposes. Snap. Then it flew away.

Unexpected stillness

A promised and long awaited calm day appeared, and brought some mist with it. I can live with that. My wandering took me to Hataitai Beach in Evans Bay. I loved the appearance of the distant yachts sandwiched between the cloud above and the glutinous sea below. The tiny wavelets lowered themselves almost silently onto the gravel beach.

Paint and varnish, masts and rigging

The conditions in Evans Bay allowed me to narrow the focus onto a few of the yachts. I like these “old school” yachts, with no sign of moulded plastic or meaningless shapes. These are the shapes taught by the sea, shapes that have served generations of mariners well. I suspect that these will still be here even as the plastic gin-palaces crumble to dust.

Van Gogh Alive (1)

At the instigation of Mary’s brother Paul and his wife Robyne, we went together to see the “Van Gogh Alive” at an exhibition centre on the Wellington Waterfront. I used the word “see” … perhaps I should have said “experience”. This was an immersion with beautifully selected elements of Van Gogh’s art projected on the multiple surfaces at various angles all around us. If this exhibition comes near you, don’t miss it. It is a joy.

Sunflowers

The final element of the Van Gogh exhibition was a mirrored room filled with artificial sunflowers. The effect was truly spectacular. As I said, don’t miss it. That pink sunflower against a black background in the back centre is not a sunflower. It is me. A rare but inadvertent selfie.

The city railyard on a public holiday

An actual fine day came as a surprise, so I drifted along the less travelled roads around the city. It was Wellington’s provincial anniversary day and a public holiday, so the town was quiet. I paused at a gate on Thorndon Quay where I had a view of the railyards and many commuter units sitting dark and quiet in orderly rows.

In Wellington

That same public holiday, I was walking around the inner city and found myself at the intersection of Willis Street, Manners Street and Boulcott Street. Across the street, the little old house, now a pub, was long known as “The House of Ladies” due to its time as a massage parlour. It was physically relocated from a little to the right, to make way for the 116 metre “Majestic Centre” tower block behind. The spot from which the image was made, used to be known as Perrett’s Corner. It was so named for the Chemist shop which was a significant landmark through most of the early twentieth century, and I have added a link to a fine National Library photograph.

Italian grace

I had a brief flirtation with the idea of buying upmarket cars as a photographic portfolio topic. I had no intention of buying such a car. With the dealer’s permission, I made several trial images and decided that I was less excited than I expected to be. Nevertheless, this Maserati does embody my expectations of Italian automotive style. The idea is paused rather than abandoned.

A cliche but a good one

No matter how often I drive from Evans Bay around Pt Jerningham to Oriental Bay, my breath is always taken away by the great Southern Wall of the Tararua ranges. On days such as this when the morning light makes layers the view is especially wonderful.

On Bowen Street

Behind the parliamentary precinct, Bowen Street curves up the Thorndon gully to Tinakori Rd. It passes through some of Wellington’s oldest and most picturesque dwellings. To my regret, the government (I presume the State Services Commission) seems to be transforming the area into an administrative precinct. Whereas I think the old houses are protected by legislation, glass and steel are changing the nature of the area.

Wild Onshore Wind

There have been ugly blustery winds for most days over several weeks. I shall be glad when they depart. On the other hand, the kite surfers at Lyall Bay reveal in the conditions.

See you again in a week or two. Stay safe. Keep recording your locations and observing your local protocols to avoid the virus.

*J.R.R. Tolkien The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings

Categories
adversity Birds creativity Family Hokio Beach Lakes Landscapes Maritime Music Weather Wellington

December 31, 2020 … thank goodness that’s over

…. but who knows what 2021 will bring? It’s possible that we might look back on 2020 as “the good old days?”

Petone wharf with mist behind it

I remember August with fondness. It was mostly calm and sunny. However, December in Wellington has been mostly complete rubbish, with lots of rain and wind. Some days offered calm, but with mist or drizzle. I can live with that. This image was made at Petone wharf and as you can see, Matiu/Somes is almost obscured in the rain, and there is no sign at all of the Miramar peninsula.

Looking back

The same morning, I took a trip up Malvern road which runs up the side of the hill at the bottom of Ngauranga Gorge. It offers a fairly generous panorama over the Northern parts of the harbour. On this particular day, low cloud obscured the lower parts of the Hutt Valley and it offered a different view to the usual. .

Handel’s Messiah with the NZSO

Our daughter Lena and son-in-law Vasely generously took us to hear the NZSO with the Tudor Consort Choir performing Handel’s Messiah. No matter how many times I hear it it seems always new. The conductor, Gemma New encouraged the ancient tradition of all standing for the Hallelujah Chorus. The performance earned them a rarely given standing ovation from the capacity crowd in the Michael Fowler Centre. Of course I didn’t take my camera so this is a sneaky grab shot from my iPhone.

Minimalism

On one of the few fine days this month, I went to the wetlands at Queen Elizabeth Park at Paekakariki in the hope of finding some interesting bird life. sadly, the birds had made other plans so I was out of luck. There was the sound of a million frogs, and though I was very close, I saw not one. I settled for the remnants of some rushes in the water.

Welcome Swallow

Despite the lack of water fowl, there were, as always, Welcome Swallows flitting about and performing impossible changes of direction in mid air as they gathered insects. They are fast and unpredictable so I was pleased when one sat on a branch near me.

Kota Lestari

Sunshine is nice, but it would be better without the Southerly wind. I was on the South coast when the Singapore registered container vessel Kota Lestari picked up her pilot. She has a gross registered tonnage of 41,578 and has the capacity to carry 4,300 twenty foot containers. She berthed soon after 3 pm and left just after midnight bound for Napier and then on to Hong Kong.

Canada Geese

Mostly I like all the Canadians I have met. I am less fond of their geese, despite their handsome appearance. They always seem to choose pathways as a place to deposit their calling cards. Even so, I enjoyed seeing this family at QEII park.

Thunder of wings

A favourite spot on a calm day is Hokio beach. It is just over 100 km to the North from home and is situated on the West Coast of the North Island, a little to South of Levin. The Hokio stream runs Westward from Lake Horowhenua and forms a beautiful estuary where it meets the Tasman Sea. There are seabirds aplenty most times, though my favourites, the black-fronted dotterels were missing. A large flock of black-backed gulls were basking in the sun when some idiot in a small SUV came racing towards them and instantly there was feathered chaos.

On Brooklyn Hill

Like many landscape photographers before me, I love conditions of mist or fog, though sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. Driving up the hill from Aro Street to Brooklyn, conditions were clear, though overcast. Then from just above Brooklyn shops things got heavy. These misty pines are a few hundred metres up the hill towards the wind turbine. The turbine itself was scarcely visible even as I stood at its base.

Not monochrome

I hardly ever make monochrome images. Sometimes nature presents itself in black and white and then I am happy to capture it if I can. This view from the Titahi Bay road looks South towards Porirua City. It is an eight-image panoramic stitch.

Sparrows feeding

Mary was given a new bird-feeder that allows birds to sit on various perches around its base and access the seeds. They will empty that pile in about an hour, after which no matter how they sulk, they wait until tomorrow.

Red

I recall a respected photographer friend telling our camera club that any image containing a splash of red had a much better chance of favourable treatment. This little yacht in Evans Bay certainly grabs attention

So ends 2020. Though we have lamented its many downsides, we in New Zealand have come through it fairly well. Our covid-19 statistics are among the best, and even the impact on our country’s economy has been much less than was feared. Our biggest personal sadness is our inability to visit family in Brisbane and Melbourne, or indeed for them to come here. But they and we are well and we can talk to each other, so again things are less bad than they might have been.

I wish you all the warmest of wishes for 2021. May it be a kinder and better year than its predecessor. May all your hopes and dreams come true. See you next year perhaps?

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adversity Aviation Birds Cook Strait Family flowers Food Landscapes mountains night Weather Wellington

October 13, 2020 … interesting times

We are in the last week of New Zealand’s electoral cycle, and on Saturday, it will be all over. That combined with the disruptions of our various stages of Covid-19 lockdowns have made the last few weeks some of the fabled “interesting times”. It is not my intention to use this as any kind of excuse for photographic shortcomings, so here’s what I got, and in keeping with our long-running meme, what you see is what you get.

Cornflowers and lavender

After a particularly beautiful August, we have endured a fairly dire September. Rain and gales resulted in a lot of indoor photography. Our neighbour has the cornflowers growing in their garden and they are generous in giving me access to them. I seem to recall that blue is perhaps the least common of the colours in nature, so I am always delighted by the intensity of the cornflowers.

Springtime in Upper Hutt

As in the last two years, Mary and I paid a visit to Aston Norwood Gardens at the foot of the Remutaka hill road because it is cherry blossom time. This year, with the region recently out of lockdown and with some judicious publicity, the place was insanely crowded. On the weekend of peak flowering, some 5,000 people paid to go through the gardens each day. There was about half of the required parking space.

Such brief glory

Somehow, despite the hordes of people making selfies, I managed to get some people-free shots. As the image shows, we visited height of blossom season. The gardens are situated in a gully such that it seems to be sheltered from the wind whistling down from the Tararuas. The petals were falling but there remained plenty of colour.

Spring in the city

Despite my grumbling about the boisterous Spring weather, we got a few rather nice days, though the temperatures were not especially warm. Nice to look at but not yet swimming weather. Soon after this image, there were heavy machines replenishing the sand brought in from the South Island each year.

I love those lemon muffins

Mary is very generous with her baking and shares it with neighbours and friends. I get to smell the good smells, and view the golden textures and even get to eat one or two. I am always available for testing purposes.

Smooth sailing

Some seemingly nice days have a mean streak. The view across the strait was sharp and clear, but the breeze had a very nasty bite. Still, I liked this view of Tapuae-o-Uenuku as the ferry Kaitaki passed in front of it on the way to Picton.

Seasons come and seasons go

My colour printer died on me. Canon NZ pointed me to an agency that undertakes repairs, and it was located in the light industry area in the South of Porirua. Happily, the repair depot was able to resuscitate the purge pump (whatever that is) at a modest cost since the printer was several years out of warranty. On my way there, I spotted the lovely contrast between spring flowers and a red corrugated wall.

Weather

Amidst the days of unpredictable weather we had several days of sustained heavy rain. This shot was maid at night through a rain splattered wind. I do love our view from up on the hill even in such turbulent weather as this.

Search and Rescue

They say you are getting old when policemen look young. Our youngest son Ants has just resigned after 21 years as a police officer and has taken up a new career as an apprentice builder. Ants spent most of his police career in search and rescue duties, and in the latter years, as sergeant in charge of the Wellington region’s land rescue activities. He was also a disaster victim identification specialist, and I couldn’t be more proud of him. Among the gifts bestowed at his leaving ceremony was this pewter figurine of a search and rescue person. It’s about 30 cm tall and weighs 5 kg. Ants is now happily learning to be a builder.

Across the harbour

Erratic weather continues and suddenly there was bright sunshine and flat calm. I got low on Petone Bach and looked across the harbour to Wellington City.

Pied stilt

Pauatahanui Inlet has some areas defined as wildlife reserves, of which my favourite is the ponds near Grays Rd. The most common inhabitants of this pond are the pied stilts which usually nest there. They are handsome birds, though a little aggressive. In nesting season they will dive-bomb anyone near their nests or the chicks.

The old bird

The C130 Hercules entered service with the RNZAF in 1965. Who would have thought that they would still be in service 55 years later. Or indeed that they would be replaced by the C130J-30 Super Herculese in 2024. Meanwhile, the old birds soldier on.

That’s all for now. See you after our election.

Categories
Adventure Architecture Arrowtown Birds Children Family Kawarau Gorge Lakes Landscapes mountains Queenstown Queenstown Rivers Waves Weather

September 1, 2020 … a change of pace

Oh my goodness, time has slipped by and it has been almost a month since my last post. I have no clue how many regular readers still remain, but if you are one, thank you.

Winter morning – Oriental Bay – August 1

I know that August is generally the kindest of our winter months, but this one was extraordinary. According to the books, Spring is now with us I shall not be surprised if we now get some of the rough weather that we missed in winter. Even as I write, we have a howling Norwester with rain. On this morning, at the beginning of August, my attention was caught by the black-billed gulls at rest on the water at the Eastern end of Oriental Bay. That, and I am always intrigued by the textures of the cityscape from here.

Looking good for 112 years – August 4

At the intersection of Lambton Quay, Mulgrave St and Thorndon Quay this grand old lady has stood in various states since 1908. As the engraved letters attest, this was once the headquarters of the long defunct Wellington Corporation Tramways. Indeed I remember being here in the early sixties when the trams were still operating. My memory is of a constant stream of uniformed drivers and “clippies” coming and going through those doors. The rooftop amendments are not entirely to my liking but I suppose they could have been worse.

Off-peak storage – August 5

Just behind the spot from which I made the image of the old tramways building is a stairway that leads to the concourse of the city’s Sky Stadium. It is a featureless flat concrete walkway that crosses the railyards. This image was made just after 10 am., long after the morning commuter rush is over. I liked the moody atmosphere and the glittering tops of the Korean-made commuter units as they wait for the rush to resume in the afternoon.

At Te Haukaretu Park, Upper Hutt – August 6

The duck pond in Te Haukaretu Park, Upper Hutt is sheltered from the wind and often provides a peaceful scene. I particularly like the form of the trees in the pond.

Atrium – Wellington Station – August 9

Having seen some of the truly great rail terminals of the world, I know that Wellington railway station is a relatively small competitor. Nevertheless it has a handsome and well proportioned main atrium. It lacks the stalls and shops that you might find in Washington or New York, but on the other hand it has a mere 30,000 passengers per day compared with 750,000 in New York.

At Pencarrow Head -August 10

I have the privilege of being allowed to accompany a group of conservationists who specialise in the care and observation of the dotterel population along the South East coast of Wellington harbour. This gets me to Baring Head and beyond in comfort in a car as opposed to the four hour return walk. We saw few dotterels on this day, but I enjoyed the view across the harbour entrance. I should acknowledge that this was one of the few windy days in August.

Pipit – August 11

A second trip to Baring head was also a bust as far as dotterel sightings went, but I enjoyed the company of this New Zealand pipit (Anthus novaeseelandiae). They characteristically bob their tail up and down as they walk.

Dabchick at QEII park – August 15

When there is little or no wind, the wetlands at Queen Elizabeth Park in Paekakariki are a favourite place for me. The still dark waters reflect the green of the surrounding bush and provide a lovely contrast for the water fowl that visit. In this case, the dabchick is moving quickly to escape the photographer.

Pauatahanui Inlet – August 17

Some calm days are better than others. In this case, the water on the Northern side of Pauatahanui Inlet was just perfectly still. I rather liked the pattern made by the rocks.I almost wonder whether I should have cropped out everything above the sandbar.

Shoveler ducks – August 17

I am always fascinated by the Australasian Shoveler duck (Anas rhynchotis). It is the duck equivalent of a baleen whale. It feeds by filtering water through a curtain of fibres in its extraordinary bill to catch plankton, seeds and other edible material. This was also made at QEII park.

Puzzle time – August 20

I mentioned a change of pace. We had long planned trips to see our more distant grandchildren. Sadly the virus has taken away the possibility of a visit to Brisbane any time soon. However, since New Zealand is at alert level 2, domestic travel is possible, so we could fly to Queenstown in time for our youngest grandson’s tenth birthday. For that journey I love to get a Westward facing window seat, and Mary always generously yields it to me. I look for interesting land forms below. I can usually identify the larger settlements and geographic features, but I have fun with the smaller places, grab the shot and try to match it against Google Earth when I get home. In this case, the river caught my eye and then the little township sliding into the view at bottom left. It took me a while to identify the town as Luggate and the river as the Clutha.

Lake Hayes Estate – August 22

Our middle son Andrew lives in Lake Hayes Estate which can be described as a dormitory suburb about 15 km to the North East of Queenstown. I was intrigued by the oak trees that lined many of its streets,. The leaves had turned colour and died many months ago, but refused to let go. Spring in New Zealand is generally regarded as the months of September through November, so we are still seeing Autumnal brown even as nature starts applying some green to the landscape.

Wild Irishman – August 22

Despite the severe economic impact of the covid virus on Queenstown’s tourist industry, there is still a great deal of development to provide new housing. At the Southern end of Kelvin Heights, on the narrow part of the isthmus just beyond the golf course, a large patch of land has been cleared for development. Among the few plants remaining was a sturdy example of the matagouri (Known in colonial times as Wild Irishman). Happily, it is relatively rare in the North Island. It too will go to be replaced no doubt by upscale housing.

Para-penting in Queenstown – August 22

Before anyone gets too excited, no I did not lash out the $219 required for a tandem jump. I don’t do heights, remember. We were at the base of the gondola to the skyline complex where the young folks were about to have a ride on the luge when this pilot and his passenger caught the light as they passed in front of the gondolas.

On Lake Hayes – August 23

I can’t visit Queenstown without spending time at Lake Hayes. I mean the lake itself which seems to enjoy a lot of shelter from the wind. The bird life is interesting and varied. I always hope to see and get close to the crested grebe which we just don’t see in the North. Alas, I saw coots and scaup, oystercatchers and a huge variety of ducks but no grebes. This common mallard drake gets the call because it was bold enough to take centre stage.

Rushing in Arrowtown – August 23

Down below the historic huts in which Chinese miners lived, Bush Creek tumbles through the bush to join the Arrow river. I liked the little waterfall. The light was low enough that I didn’t need a neutral density filter. The rushing effect is conveyed well enough with a mere 2 second exposure.

Clyde Bridge – August 26

Andrew was at work, and the children were at school so Mary and I did a tour through the Kawarau Gorge and Cromwell to Clyde, Earnscleugh and Alexandra looking for whatever the landscape might reveal. After a great morning tea in Dunstan House, Clyde, we drove over then under the historic Clyde Bridge to catch this view of the Clutha.

Rock of ages – August 26

When we reached Earnscleugh, I made a fortuitous turn into Conroy’s road (recommended) and up through the scientific reserve where the rocks are shaped in fantastic ways. This view from near Black Ridge Winery includes one such formation and then looks beyond across the Manuherakia Valley to the Dunstan Mountains in the background. Somehow, the plentiful birdsong did not spoil the silence of the magnificent landscape.

Coronet Peak – August 27

Family trips always come to an end and so we were homeward bound. Mary gave me her window seat again, and as we left Queenstown we passed over Coronet Peak where the ski-field operators were desperately trying to wring the last out of a virus-ruined season. The snow guns were working hard overnight to keep the popular trails useable. We loved our time with the family, and as always, loved coming home.

I am Groot – August 29

Our amazing spell of benign weather was obviously coming to an end so we looked for a walk that kept us out of the boisterous wind. I suggested the Catchpool Valley area of the Remutaka Forest Park. Mary set out on a brisk circuit of the various tracks while I explored the beech forest areas.This tiny shoot, growing out of a dead log tickled my fancy. The title of the image is borrowed from the movie “Guardians of the Galaxy”

Remutaka Forest Park, – the Five Mile Loop Track – August 29

That tree root in the foreground is fairly obvious so I crossed it without incident. I failed the test on the next one which was concealed in the leaf mould, and did a face-plant. I landed on my camera which ripped my recently repaired macro-lens in two pieces. Waaaahhhhh! No significant personal injury, so I returned to the car park to await Mary.

I hope to post again after a shorter time lapse.