Adventure Birds Cars Clive Family Hawkes Bay Lakes Landscapes mountains Napier Te Mata Peak

April 3, 2016 … road trip

Mary and I set out for a week in Napier,  We chose to take a back road because I had seen an image taken by a fellow club member of the Waihi waterfalls.

The limeworks at Mauriceville where there was once a Dairy factory

I had never previously heard of these falls, but from the South, they are most quickly accessed on SH52 through Mauriceville, Alfredton, Tiraumea, Pongaroa and Waione.  To be honest, most New Zealanders would need to use Google to find where most of those places are. Even after driving that route, I am still not sure I am any the wiser. Most of them seem to consist of a disused community hall. I had the sense of having driven through 92 km of deserted farmland. The scenery is beautiful but it seems empty.

Waihi Falls near Waione

The falls themselves are worth the journey. However, be warned that there is absolutely nothing else there. No commercialization, and the only facilities other than some reasonably formed paths are toilets and a shelter over some picnic tables.

Automotive graveyard tangle

We drove on towards Dannevirke, and on the Weber road, I spotted a car graveyard. It was fenced and heavily padlocked and chaotically overgrown with blackberry and other weeds. Unlike its better known counterpart at Horopito, there is no  visible semblance of order in this place, and in my opinion, no way of retrieving any of the rapidly decaying vehicles. On the other hand, many photographers of my acquaintance would sell their own body parts for unfettered access. My images were taken across the fence from the road side. We had lunch in a park in Dannevirke and resumed our journey to Napier, where we celebrated the 60th birthday of my brother-in-law, John.

Balls Clearing
A tiny glimpse of the magnificent Balls Clearing Scenic Reserve

On Tuesday, Mary and her youngest brother Gerry went hiking in the Kaweka range while I satisfied myself with lesser walks including the stunningly beautiful Balls Clearing Scenic Reserve near Puketitiri. This is a remnant of the podocarp forest that used to cover this entire area, and which was spared the axe by way of public petition to parliament and was finally made a public reserve as late as 1945. Many of the great trees in here are 600 years old.

From Puketitiri looking West to the Kaweka range

A little further on, closer to the Kaweka range, there was a lovely view over part of the Makahu station through which it is necessary to drive to get to the popular Mangatutu Hot Springs on the edge of the Mohaka River. We dined on venison from Makahu station that evening with Gerry and his wife, Vivienne before driving the remaining 50 km or so back to Napier.

From the top of Gentle Annie towards the Mountains. Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro are all visible.

On Wednesday we drove part of the “Gentle Annie” road from Napier to Taihape, and turned around after the steepest and most winding parts were over, and where we could see across vast open high country to Ruapehu on the horizon. If you look near to the right hand of the image you can also see the summit of Ngauruhoe peeking across.

Te Ngarue Stream at the foot of the Tangoio Falls track

On Thursday, we drove up to beautiful Lake Tutira which is presently toxic due to an infestation of blue-green algae. After a very nice lunch beside the lake, we returned towards Napier, but Mary was keen to walk the 4.5 km Tangoio Walkway, so I dropped her at the top of the hill and then drove to the bottom end of the walkway by the Te Ngarue Stream to wait for her.

Australasian shoveler at Clive

On our last day in Napier, I went looking for birds at Clive while Mary walked the 14 or so km from there to Havelock North on the magnificent walkway system throughout the bay. Among my captures was this handsome male Australasian Shoveler duck. Jimmy Durante would be proud of a nose like that.  I then drove to the end of the trail to collect Mary and we had lunch at the summit of Te Mata Peak.

That’s all for now.


Adventure Bees Family Landscapes Napier

November 30, 2015 … from Clive towards the Kaweka Ranges

Yesterday was the day of wedding.

A seemingly electric bottlebrush flower with a honey bee lurking within

It dawned fine and clear, and the bottlebrush tree outside the motel window was almost electric in its colouration.  Bees were humming around, and all was well with the world.

Landscape near Puketapu

We weren’t needed for the wedding until 4 pm, so with Mary and her brother Vincent, I drove westward though Taradale, Puketapu, Rissington, Patoka and out to Puketitiri  and the Mohaka river at the foot of the Kaweka Ranges.  The landscapes were a delight all the way, but I had made a major blunder and left the chargers for my camera batteries at home. One of my spare sets of batteries was flat. I had to conserve shots for the wedding reception, so took far fewer images than I would normally consider.

Landscape near Patoka

Another panorama was made soon after we passed through Patoka. I love the way the character of the landscape changes so swiftly as you move about our country. From the openness of the Heretaunga plains to the folded landscape of the Kawekas it’s all a wonderful spectacle.

The wedding was a delight, but that’s a family matter.


Birds Family Napier Taradale Weather

June 21, 2014 … solstice sunshine

Yesterday morning, my windscreen was misted up on the outside, so naturally I turned my wipers on.

The conditions were just perfect and even from here I could see spoonbills, stilts, geese, and other waterfowl.

Instead of wet clear glass, I got that mocking dry rasp of rubber blades bouncing on ice. The clear blue sky in Taradale and the morning chill should have warned me, but the day looked so perfect, so innocent, I had not expected ice. Having cleared that mystery, and the windscreen, I went out to Ahuriri. See how still the morning was. No ND filters were needed here. This is a simple shot, as seen by the camera.

Mallard ducks trying to decided whether to run away from the person with the camera

I began my exploration on SH2 looking to the West, and though common mallard ducks would not normally excite me, I just loved their setting.

Shades of blue

Obviously the morning was so perfect and so full of promise that I decided I should walk the 4 km circuit of the inlet and see what else  I could find. Again the stillness was captivating and I enjoyed the shades of blue in the sky, in the hills, in their reflections and in the water.

Pied stilt in flight

My first encounter was with pied stilts which are plentiful around this inlet. They are shy creatures though and flew off if I came too close. The bird and its reflection were appealing.

Kingfisher lurking at the edge

As I approached the now disused Napier to Gisborne railway line, I spotted a kingfisher lurking. Since I was dressed for the funeral, I chose not to leave the formed path, and settled for the distance shot.

Bar-tailed godwits staying on for winter

Walking beside the railway over the old road bridge, I spotted a significant flock of bar-tailed godwits which I expected to have left on their annual migration to Siberia by now. It seems that some proportion of them “winter over”, and will not make the trip until next year.

The old bridge at Ahuriri

I got many more shots on my circuit of the inlet but the last one I put forward in this edition is a panorama of the old road bridge, stitched together from six separate hand-held images. It was a perfect morning.

In the afternoon, we said our farewells to, and celebrated the life of, my late Mother-in-Law, Catherine Bidwell, a fine lady. May she rest in peace.


adversity Birds Family Napier Weather

June 20, 2014 … a journey in soft focus

The day was busy, in preparation for today’s funeral.

Takahe in the enclosure at Mt Bruce

Mary and I drove from Lower Hutt to Napier, pausing at Mt Bruce for a coffee break instead of our usual stop at Dannevirke. The coffee was less than stellar, but I managed to grab a shot of the Takahe  across the fence from the verandah of the coffee shop.

Ruahine Range
Rain on the ranges

The journey was mostly in grey overcast thought it improved as we went North. Somewhere North of Dannevirke, there were road works which allowed me to see this view of the Ruahine range.

Napier wetlands

Mary was attending to family matters and I was turned loose to see if there were photographs to be had. I had really left it too late, and the best I could manage was this wetland area near the airport.

I have nothing else today.


insects Landscapes Light Napier sunrise Te Mata Peak Wairarapa Weather

May 19, 2014 … from perfect morning to grey overcast

Yesterday was the day we came home.

Napier panorama
The grand panorama from Sugar Loaf Hill in Taradale. The lump towards the left on the horizon is Bluff Hill with Te Mata peak on the right.

Before we left Napier, Mary spent some time with her mother and I was turned loose once again. It was a magically magnificent morning, clear blue sky, no wind, and a hint of winter crispness in the air. Totally beautiful. Since I was in Taradale, and had a limited time, I chose to trudge up Sugar Loaf hill. The approach from the East is short and brutally steep for one so unfit as I am. With many pauses to look back at the landscape unfolding behind me, I eventually made it, gasping, to the trig station at the top. There, I took the eight images that were stitched together to make this panorama.

Te Mata Peak and Havelock North from Taradale

The air was spectacularly clear except in the direction of the recently risen sun. The obvious solution is to look in another direction, so the next image from that delightful hilltop looks across the plains to Havelock North and Te Mata Peak.

Mission vineyards
Across the vines at Mission to Westshore. Morning mist lingers

In the opposite direction and far enough around to avoid the sunstrike, we look across the vineyards of the Mission Winery. If you look down in the lower right hand corner you can see some of the plane trees lining the driveway  which featured a few days ago.

feral bee
Honey Bee on Magnolia

Back at the rest home, I was waiting for Mary and spotted a honey bee (Apis mellifera) wandering about on the blossoms of a small magnolia shrub. Sadly the feral honey bee is a rarity now, so it was a delight to see a few in the garden here.

Northern Wairarapa … just before we got to the uglier weather

My last image from yesterday was taken on a side road just North of Woodville. We had been driving in perfect conditions until Dannevirke, and suddenly heavy clouds appeared. We decided to enjoy a lunch break in the last shafts of bright sun. Happily the ugly weather was confined to the Northern Wairarapa and it cleared again by the time we reached Carterton.

Home at last, and reunited with my big lens, and getting to know the replacement camera.



Birds Clive Family Hawkes Bay Napier

May 18, 2014 … from bird-hide to the high country

Surplus to immediate requirements again, I was free to amuse myself.

White-faced heron among the reeds

To the South of the Clive River estuary, there is a wonderful wetland area which is often home to a great variety of shorebirds.  I took my hide, my gumboots, my camera and a borrowed 200 mm lens to see if I could overcome the woe of not having the 400 mm. I am quite pleased with what I got, though I think they would have been better with more horsepower. I just have to include more of the environment and persuade myself that the picture is the better for it.. So we begin with a  white-faced heron striding purposefully through  the reeds.

Sacred kingfisher
Kingfisher in flight

Next, we have a kingfisher. A little camera-shy, this one moved promptly to a more distant perch.

White heron in flight

And then, great glory, a white heron. I took several shots but almost all were too far away. Happily when it finally took off, it came towards me.

Amorous suitor in hot pursuit – dabchick

Things went quiet for a while and I amused myself with the Kindle app on my mobile phone, while keeping a watch for sound or movement outside the hide. It was the patter of little feet on the water that alerted me to the next scene. A lovelorn dabchick was in hot pursuit of a reluctant female, and the walking on water was just funny to watch. He didn’t get lucky, at least while I was there.

A pleasant driveway in Puketapu

In the afternoon, we set out from Taradale to visit my brother-in-law and his wife who live in a tiny settlement called Patoka. I recommend  that you use Google Maps to find it. After leaving Taradale, the first little settlement is Puketapu where I found yet another pretty tree-lined driveway.  From there another thirty-plus winding miles of splendid pastoral scenery brought us at last to Patoka. It consists of a school, a hall and a few houses. That’s it. The road carries on for another 40 or so kilometres until it finally expires on the edges of the Kaweka Range.

From Patoka back towards the coast

As I said. it is a stunningly beautiful landscape, but I couldn’t live there. It is just too far from anything else. This shot looks back to the East, but there is nothing but the infrequent farmhouse until you come at last to the coastal settlements.

Enough for now, the repaired lens arrived at home while I have been away.



Architecture Art Light Machinery Maritime Napier

May 17, 2014 … at last the sunshine

Bright sunshine is good for the soul.

Morning light
Port of Napier

The temperature to go with it would be nice, but you can’t have everything. Bluff Hill in Napier was sparkling, if somewhat chilly. Down below the port was busy with two ships working freight and a dredge digging out the basin.

Old cart
Beyond it’s use-by date

Later in the morning, I was inveigled into taking Mary to a cafe near Mission vineyards. The food and coffee were fine, but I felt I was living in a visual gauze-draped nightmare designed by Miss Haversham. Its customers were predominantly women, though there were a few spouses dragged along too. However, among the many props in this setting were some old carts, and I liked this one.

I have no idea what it is, but I like it

Another artfully strewn piece of equipment (not sure what it was) caught my eye.

Plane trees
Mission Winery driveway … lined with plane trees

From there we passed the gateway to Mission Vineyard and I had yet another tree-lined avenue to shoot.

Clock tower
Taradale War Memorial

At the end of the day, walking back from the shops with Mary, I paused to capture the Taradale War Memorial.

That’s all for now.

Architecture Hawkes Bay Landscapes Light Napier Taradale

May 15, 2014 … in the not-so-sunny bay

Napier was not living up to its sunny reputation.

This tired old cart is itself becoming compost, even as it acts as a planter for flowers on its deck. I liked the lichens on the spokes and the web in the hub.

The motel in Taradale is very pleasant, and the first thing I saw outside the window was this decoratively displayed ruin of a farm cart. Despite the rotted wheel rims and the flowers growing through the cracks in its decking it was very attractive.

Cloudscape somewhere near Havelock North … from Roy’s Hill Reserve

After lunch, Mary was visiting her mother and I was turned loose to pursue photographs. I went out to the Fernhill area, near all the vineyards planed in the famed Gimblett gravels. Nothing much left on the vines by now save some autumn leaves. I chose to visit Roy’s Hill reserve, which is a small knoll just out of Fernhill which offers spreading views across the area. Cumulus clouds out to the East were worth a look.

Vineyard impressions

While I was up there, I experimented with a technique I saw in Blenheim of panning while the shutter was open, to try to capture an impression of the colours of the post-harvest vineyards.

Old building
Weary old building in Fernhill

Back at ground level, the road took me though the old village at Fernhill and this rather forlorn old store.

Oak avenue
Oak avenue – Ormond Rd, Hastings

From there, the road took me back towards Hastings where I saw this historic oak-lined avenue. A police car was lurking at the edges to catch anyone defying the 60 km/h speed limit. The officer offered to move his car if it were interfering with my picture. I like our police. I didn’t need to move him, but was glad to have his eyes looking out for me as I stood in the middle of the road to take this shot.

I hope the sun comes out soon.


Family Greytown Hawkes Bay Napier sunrise Sunset

April 22, 2014 … from an unaccustomed part of the day

Apparently there is a whole world out there before morning coffee.

Sunrise, Monday 21 April, 2014
The very first edge of the sun peeks over the horizon yesterday. The sea was calm with just a modest swell coming in from the East.

Who knew? I always thought that my coffee at 10am actually caused the day to begin. My natural inclination, if I wake earlier, is to pull the covers up and close my eyes until eventually the desire for breakfast triumphs. For some reason, my normal reactions failed yesterday and my eyes remained open.  I could see through the curtains that there was some light in the sky. Perhaps it was time to discover whether these rumours of a phenomenon called “sunrise” were based on fact. The motel was a few hundred metres from the beach so I walked out, across the railway line, and over Marine Parade. Though the sun had not yet risen, the sky was quite light, and looking North along the beach, I could see that there were many other photographers along the beach, all pointing out to sea, awaiting the arrival of the new day. Gisborne is the nearest city to the International date line, and is thus  first city in the world to see the light of each new day. Napier will be just seconds behind.

Beach sunrise
Beautiful light on the clouds at sunrise

The sky was reasonably clear for the most part, but there was a line of cloud along the beach that was catching the light of the newly emerged sun. The building to the left is the national aquarium.

Delicately floating on the weed-covered water

After a visit to Mary’s mother, we set out for home. Without the urgency of the Northbound journey, we had the freedom to stop now and then for photographic purposes. Mary is very patient, most of the time, and  has knitting and a book at hand. One such stop was the Pekakpeka wetlands, just South of Hastings. The water level was quite high, and though it was tea-brown, seemed quite clear. Bird life was disappointing, though, with little to see but the ubiquitous black swans. Usually I can rely on this site for dabchicks and Australian coots. It is perhaps symbolic that my image from this part of the trip is a solitary feather left behind to float on the water.

Dark cloud
Rain in the hills to the East of Dannevirke

Near Dannevirke, the weather started to deteriorate. The hills to the East were shrouded in some heavy-looking cloud, and rain was falling, no doubt to the delight of the farmers in this often drought-plagued region.

Old farm building
Greytown landmark in the maize

Nearer to home, at the North end of Greytown, there is an old shed in a field of maize. It presents different aspects at different times of the cropping cycle, and at different times of day. Most photographers in the area have probably given it a shot. I finally stopped and Mary didn’t actually roll her eyes as she got out her knitting. I liked the warm afternoon light and te height of the maize.

Well, it’s been a longer day than usual and I am still unsure about this “morning” thing.

adversity Cape Kidnappers Napier Taradale

April 21, 2014 … in sombre mood

As I write this, the Radio NZ Concert Programme is playing the 1812 Overture.

Waves at Napier
Napier beach, near the port. The slow exposure has flattened the short sharp waves

We have just arrived home after our very hasty trip to Napier. Somehow the mood of Tchaikovsky’s beautiful opening movements matches perfectly with my perception of the scenes I was taking yesterday. As I mentioned Mary and I had dashed up to Napier to be with Mary’s mother who had suffered a serious health set-back and we feared the worst for her. Happily she staged a come-back so for now, at least, all is well.  Mary sat with her mother and I went to the beach at marine parade to contemplate the meaning of life and to take pictures.

Waves at Napier (2)
Looking South along the beach to Cape Kidnappers. Again the waves are flattened by the long exposure.

It’s a fearsome beach comprised of billions of small grey pebbles. It shelves very steeply and the relentless waves produce a tremendous backwash. It has claimed many lives over the years. This is a beach to look at rather than to swim at. However the grand sweep of Hawkes Bay from Cape Kidnappers in the South to the Mahia Peninsula in the North is a magnificent place for contemplation.

Moody afternoon
Westward into the setting sun, from the ridge above Taradale

Later in the day, I went up the road through Taradale, and from a ridge looked at the moody landscape to the West. I am quite unsure which ranges I am seeing in the distance … poring over a map leads me to believe they are the Glenross range and the Black Birch range.

More tomorrow.