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23 May, 2022 … Waikato road trip (part 1)

Travelling to foreign lands is but a distant memory. Even our closest neighbour presents some interesting bureaucratic hurdles these days, and I am hearing people say that going is relatively easy, but coming back can be tricky. Travel insurance is ridiculously expensive now too. The risk being trapped by the bureaucracy of a sudden lock-down due to the pandemic are, for now at least, deterring us from leaving New Zealand.

So, we decided to do a road trip. As long as there are places to walk, Mary tends to defer to my photographic obsession so asked me to choose a location. My somewhat random choice was dictated by the memory of a photograph that I should have taken in 2016 but didn’t.

Any photographer who sees something worth photographing should do it now! Those of us who say “I’ll catch it on the way back”, or “I’ll come back another time” will rarely see the same scene. Do it NOW! At this time of year, it is quite common that mornings on the Waikato river are characterised by no wind and drifting mist. In the hope of finding such conditions, we booked a week in the nearest Airbnb house to that area. And so we begin with the first part of the journey:

Hunterville in Autumn

Monday was wet in Wellington. It was wet all the way up SH1 through Levin, Bulls and Hunterville. Happily, Autumn colours were all the more vivid for being freshly washed. This image is on SH1 as it leaves Hunterville to the North. Mary was driving at this stage, and I was not at all sure that I would get a clear shot through the windscreen between the strokes of the wipers. I think I got lucky.

Following the Army through Taihape

Soon enough, we were at Taihape which claims the title of Gumboot capital of the world. It was once a significant railway town, though trains seem to pass straight through these days. It is a significant business centre for the local farming community, and has a couple of popular cafes used by both locals and long distance travellers. It is not at all uncommon to find yourself behind a convoy of trucks heading through the town towards the Army training base at Waiouru.

Ruapehu dons its cloak

Waiouru is a place of both misery and beauty. Those who have trained in the army base, especially in the winter will understand the misery aspect. The landscape provides all the beauty you could ask for, whatever the weather. Mighty Ruapehu is an active volcano that stands 2,797 metres (9,177 feet) above sea level on the volcanic plateau in the centre of the North Island. As we approached Waiouru, I could see that the mountain was wrapping itself in cloud and would soon disappear from view. A shot from the roadside in a biting breeze caught that cloud rolling over the summit.

Along the Desert Road

The “Desert Road” is the stuff of legends in New Zealand. It runs 63 km from Waiouru in the South, to Turangi in the North. It passes to the East of the mountain, through the Rangipo desert, and to the West of the Kaimanawa Forest through a wild and barren landscape. There are neither sand nor camels in this desert but its very barrenness justifies the description. Regardless of the weather, there is always something to see and appreciate. Even after the clouds blocked off the view of the mountain, I found drama in the march of the power pylons beside the road. Signs warn of army exercises with live ammunition on either side, so stay in your car or risk staring down the barrel of a 25mm cannon on an armoured fighting vehicle. The other feature of the Rangipo desert is its herd of wild horses. Those I have yet to see.

Tragedy on the Desert Road

Though it has some long straight stretches, the Desert Road has some tight and nasty bends that can bring drivers to grief in the wet and icy conditions that are common at this elevation. If you look a little to the right of the second black and yellow sign, you will see the wreck of a car that has departed from the road at speed and embedded itself in the bank. I have no information as to the fate of its occupants.

Maraetail Mist

Mangakino as it is today has its origins in the mid-late 40s as a dormitory town for the workers who were engaged in the construction of the hydro dams on the Waikato. The houses are modest but sufficient, and the one we rented for the week was very well equipped. Mary loved lighting the fire each day and using the copious supply of firewood included in the rental.

Mangakino is on the shore of the Waikato River where it becomes Lake Maraetai which provides the energy for the two power stations at the nearby Maraetai dam. When I booked the accommodation, I jokingly asked our host to arrange a week of no wind and some river mist. Well goodness gracious, she pulled it off!

Regrettably I suffered a calamity here when I dropped my Olympus camera and wrecked the mounting plate of my favourite lens. As if my insurers did not already hate me.

Dunham Reserve on Lake Whakamaru

Almost as if I anticipated the disaster, I had packed my two venerable Canon cameras (the 5DII and the 7D) so all images for the remainder of the trip were made on these huge, heavy, but still optically excellent cameras.

Anyway, back to the trip. If you are unfamiliar with the geography of the Waikato River, there are a series of hydro dams each of which creates a lake on the river. Coming downstream from Lake Taupo, they are in turn, Aratiatia, Ohakuri, Atiamuri, Whakamaru, Maraetai I and II (both on the same dam), Waipapa, Arapuni and Karapiro.

About halfway between Atiamuri and Whakamaru, there is a beautiful spot on the river called Dunham’s Reserve. This was the place that I failed to shoot back in 2016. Regrettably, on this trip, I didn’t find anything like the beautiful conditions of that earlier opportunity. Nevertheless, the river produced a scene worthy of photographing in its own right. I believe the lily pads are regarded as a pest to the hydro dams and were due to be sprayed with weed killer from the air.

Autumn tones at Dunham Reserve

As already observed, the colours of Autumn were still lingering and this clearing on the Dunham Reserve was a delight to me.

Stillness and River mist at Mangakino

The next day offered those lovely misty conditions on the river, so I went down to the Mangakino Lakefront Reserve where I took pleasure in the stillness of the water on the lake, and mystery provided by the mist. Bear in mind that this apparently still body of water is part of a river system with a mean flow rate of 340 Cumecs (12,000 cubic ft/sec)

River scene

The same morning, from a little further round the reserve edge, I found another view looking downstream towards the Maraetai dams. These are the conditions I came for.

Pastoral scene in the South Waikato

Later the same day, we drove North along the river to the stunning Maungatautiri Mountain Reserve. The South Waikato region offers some delightful scenery that ranges from heavy pine forests to soft rolling pastoral land. The reserve itself is a 3,400 hectare wildlife sanctuary on the Maungatautiri Mountain with a 47 km pest-proof perimeter fence. Within are a wonderland of native bush laced with many delightful walking tracks from which to observe the magnificent bush and the variety of birdlife.

Friendly visitor

I am less agile than I used to be and set out on the so-called Rata-trail with a view to going part of the way and then returning to the entry. The canopy is quite dark, and I struggled to catch the fast moving bird-life flitting about. Fortunately, the little North Island Robin (Toutouwai, or Petroica longipes) is not shy, and will fly around your feet chasing the insects you disturb as you walk. Many a photographer has been trapped with the bird sitting on his or her boots while having a telephoto lens that just won’t focus that close. Foolishly, I went further round the trail than I intended, and soon it seemed better to complete the loop walk than to turn back.

So that’s the end of the first part of this three-part road-trip narrative. If you like what I do, please come back soon for a trip to the amazing, the stunning, the magnificent Wingspan Bird of Prey Centre.

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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
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August 8, 2019 – brittle cold

I seem to have slowed down again. I blame this on some unpleasant weather and perhaps a lack of motivation, rather than health issues. The upside is that it gives me time to seek guidance and inspiration from experts whose work I admire. Sometimes this leads me in strange directions. For example, I came across a speech made to the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) by comedian/musician/artist, Tim Minchin. He is often asked for career advice. I paraphrase his response:

First get good. Really good. This is not easy and there are no short cuts. Just be really really good. You achieve this by working very hard.

Another superb photographer whose work I love is the great Jay Maisel. As I have mentioned before, I like his work. In particular I love his philosophy that you should always be ready to shoot anything that you encounter if it moves you. He is against going out with plans or intentions. Let the subject reveal itself to you. And his crowning piece of advice is “walk slow”. That way you get a chance to see a subject develop.

This week, I offer just six images, and hope they make up in quality for what they lack in numbers

Whitby
Across the Pauatahanui Inlet towards Whitby

Pauatahanui is a place I visit frequently. My hope is always to find some bird life. If there is none close enough to be photographed well, then I revert to the landscape. Note the emphasis on “photographed well”. I am not interested in merely recording that I saw the bird. I want the image to be an artistic interpretation of my response. This is no less true of my landscape images. I rarely make a shot if the water is choppy. It needs to be either flat calm or a raging storm. On this occasion the scene possessed a crystal clarity that just couldn’t be faked. When it is there, I try to grab it. I deliberately excluded the sky above the ridge and attempted balance between the reality and its reflection.

Ja1271
Steam Incorporated crew at work

A little further up the line at Paekakariki, I was pleased to see a plume of smoke rising from the preserved mainline locomotive, Ja1271. As I lined up to make a head-on portrait, two of the staff clambered up on the front and began unscrewing the many clamps that seal the smokebox door. This surprised me since the locomotive was in steam and presumably there was a deal of hot smoke and flue gas from the firebox emerging into this space. Undeterred, the man in the blue overalls proceeded to sweep soot from the front of the boiler. It seems that Ja1271 was due for its annual inspection the next day and they were making sure everything was in perfect order.

Reflection
Wetland reflections

Just a little further still to the North, I came to the Queen Elizabeth II Park at Mackay’s Crossing. This too is a place where I look for water birds, especially dabchicks. Sadly the place was over-run by Canada Geese and Black Swans which are of little interest to me. As before, I swung back into landscape mode and captured the reflection of the bush in the wetlands. As Maisel says, if it moves you, make the image.

Masterton Train
On its way to Masterton

My car has been off the road for a few days to repair damage caused by another driver who got too close to me. I caught a train into the city at Waterloo station (much smaller than its namesake in London) and while I was waiting for the local city-bound commuter train, the Wairarapa service which was also running late rumbled into the other platform. The light was poor to begin with and the train blocked even more, so I had to risk the noise of a high ISO image. I like trains.

Evans Bay
Evans Bay with incoming weather

How could I not be moved by still waters in Evans Bay backed up by a dramatic sky in the South. This was followed by several days of rough cold weather. I like getting down low to the water for shots like this, but I was very nervous standing on a slime-covered sloping boat ramp in this case. I managed to retain my footing.

C130
A true veteran

A few days later I was out near the airport when I heard the unmistakable sound of a C130 winding up. I parked and went onto a mound near the Western side of the runway just in time to catch 03 departing. This aircraft was purchased from the US in 1965 … and has served the RNZAF for 54 years. It has had the wing centre section replaced, and had a whole new set of glass instrumentation installed but it is the same airframe. I had hoped that the replacements would be the Airbus A300M but with a record like that, I can see why the RNZAF has opted for the C130J Super Hercules to arrive in 2020.

That will suffice for this edition. As always your constructive criticism an suggestions for improvement would be we

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June 26, 2018 … and still it goes

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

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

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

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

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

Hawea
HMNZS Hawea leaving port

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

Stilt
Pied stilt juvenile at Pauatahanui

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

Pauatahanui
A lovely morning on Pauatahanui Inlet

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

Naenae
Winter fires in Naenae

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

Hokio
Hokio Beach

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

fungi
Tiny fungi – type unknown

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

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

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

Rush
“Rush” hour at Ngauranga

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

Kaitaki
Kaitaki on her way to Picton

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

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

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

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October 27, 2017 … creeps in this petty pace from day to day*

Once you commit to shifting house, nothing is the same again. Though we have yet to sell, or to place a bid in our hoped-for new home, we have begun packing. And now the silly decisions of 37 years and 27 days of hoarding come back to bite me. How often have I said, I won’t throw that away, I might need it?

Wave
Wild water at Rongotai

Anyway, suffice it to say that I have had little time to get out and make images recently, even on those few days that have been conducive to it. Rarely in recent weeks have we had both clear sky and no wind. This image was made on a sunny day with the wind howling in from the North  and ripping the crest off the big swells on the breakwater beside the airport.

Bahá'í
Bahá’í children wishing peace to the world

A friend who is a member of the Bahá’í  faith asked me to record part of the children’s celebration of the 200th birthday of the founder, Bahá’u’lláh. The wind was dying away as night fell and the youngsters launched candle-lit “lotus blossoms” across the lake at a local golf club.

Fireworks
Carnival of Lights in Lower Hutt as seen from our lounge window. The fireworks are launched from the roof of the library.

In Lower Hutt, last weekend, there was a “Carnival of Lights”, coinciding with, but apparently not connected with the Hindu festival of Diwali. It concluded on each of its three nights with a modest display of fireworks. On each night, the wind was cold and vicious. Nevertheless the fireworks seem to go straight up.

Archery
Randwick Archery Club members at the range … note the flying arrow

This week was camera club, but because our real estate agent was holding an open home at our place, I set out early. As I was driving somewhat aimlessly, I spotted the Randwick Archery club at play. With their permission, and while they went down range to retrieve their previously shot arrows, I set up my camera on its tripod, in front of their firing line, then retreated behind the line  to trigger the camera remotely and safely as they shot again. I was delighted that at least one of the hundred or so images caught an arrow in flight.

Black Falcons
The Black Falcons against a dramatically dark sky

My last shot this week is of a rare appearance in Wellington of the RNZAF’s aerobatic display team, the Black Falcons. A flight of five Beechcraft T6 Texan II trainers was supposed to fly down over various Wairarapa towns and then from Featherston to the Royal Wellington Golf Club’s course at Heretaunga. With a friend, I waited on yet another chilly open space for them to appear over the hills in the East. They came in from the North. Due to extreme upper-air turbulence in the Wairarapa, the came due South from their base at Ohakea. What’s more, due to a last minute illness, there were just four aircraft in the flight.

Back to the packing.

  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare
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Adventure Architecture Lakes Landscapes Light Machinery Military mountains Queenstown

April 26, 2017 … help I am drowning!

So many beautiful places to see, so many images to make and process. Of course, I am loving every minute of it, but it is a bit overwhelming.

A house by the railway line in Warrington

On Friday I went with our middle son, Andrew (Drew to his friends), from Queenstown to Dunedin. While he attended to his appointment in the city I wandered and made pictures. Then he chose to return home via “the Pigroot”  (yes, that is how it is spelled) and the stunning Ida Valley. On the way, at my request, he passed along the coast road through Warrington where there was a house that I had regretted not shooting last time.

Ida Valley
Mountains … perhaps the Raggedy Range from the Ida Valley

The Maniatoto must surely be among the most beautiful places on Earth, especially during the late afternoon on a fine day such as we had. I can’t possibly show all my images so this one was among my favourites. Emerging from the Ida Valley near Poolburn, we are looking to the South West.

Balloon
Balloon descending in front of the Morven Hill near Arrowtown

Then it was time to leave Queenstown. Despite a dismal forecast, we had a fine day for travel, and as we climbed the Crown Range road towards Hawea, we enjoyed watching hot air balloons descending near the Morven Hill for a landing site close to Arrowtown.

Ianthe
Reeds on Lake Ianthe

Our next accommodation is in Pukekura which claims to be the smallest town in NZ with a population of two.  Our holiday home is near the Bushman’s Centre in the midst of some spectacular West Coast rain forest. Pure magic and still the weather holds for us. We retraced our steps a little to stop in at lovely Lake Ianthe, perfectly still and shrouded in mist.

Okarito
Okarito Lagoon

Okarito is another contender for my favourite places and we were there sufficiently early to catch the lagoon while the water still had that lovely unruffled surface.

Fordson
Past its best

Our temporary home has a gate guardian … an ancient Fordson Tractor, and as you can see the main wheels are past repair, and the flanged front wheels look to have been borrowed from a rail wagon.

Ianthe (2)
Lake Ianthe in the morning

The next day was ANZAC day, the day on which New Zealand and Australia remember their dead of various wars, and especially those who died in the disastrous Gallipoli campaign. We went to the ceremony at the tiny town of Hari Hari  (pop. 348) but left early enough to catch Lake Ianthe in all its sun-bathed glory.

ANZAC
ANZAC Parade in Hari Hari

The ceremony was led by a small contingent of the New Zealand Army from Burnham. They commandeered the main road through town and were quite unabashed at blocking traffic during the most sacred moments of the this remembrance.

Chimney
Blocked chimney

Finally this week, I spotted this old house on the way back to Pukekura. I have a weakness for old houses but have yet to see a house more in need of a chimney sweep than this one.

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February 1, 2017 … drifting without a rudder

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

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

Pencarrow
Pencarrow upper lighthouse

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Academic Architecture Camera club History Kelburn Landscapes Light Military Paekakariki Railway Weather Wellington

October 5, 2016 … the sun comes back again

There was a dinner in town for my friend, PhD supervisor and former colleague, Emeritus Professor Pak Yoong to mark the occasion of his retirement. Several of us who were successfully navigated by him to our doctorates gathered to honour his dedication to our success. It was a delightful occasion.

Hutt
The Hutt Valley as seen from the Cable Car terminus at Kelburn

As always, I arrived early, so to fill in time went up to Kelburn and made some landscape shots from the top of the cable car. This image is looking up the harbour to the Hutt Valley. My home is just around the corner of the hill on the left.

Coffee
They serve excellent coffee and make some fine hamburgers, I am told

On Saturday, for the fourth year in a row, I was the leader of the Wellington Worldwide Photowalk. Each year, up to 50 photographic walkers in any one location gather and walk for somewhere between one and two hours around a route planned by the leader, making images and enjoying each other’s company. We usually conclude our efforts in a hostelry and share the successes and failures of the walk. This year, the numbers were down with just 18 registered, but those of us ho walked, despite grey and damp weather had a good time anyway. One of my shots, taken at the starting point on Abel Smith St, was of a bus that has been converted to a coffee shop.

Seating
Tables and chairs, usually more congenial when the sun is out

The customer seating inside the fence is just as quirky as the bus.

Memorial
War memorial … one of my walkers gives it scale

From there, we walked along to the national war memorial at Pukeahu Park on Buckle St. I had timed this walk to be close to sunset, knowing that this was the first weekend of Daylight Saving Time, and anticipating warm sunshine and interesting shadows. Sadly, the strongest colour came from the red stone of the Australian contribution to the memorial. It had rained before we started and again, heavily after we finished, so I suppose we should count ourselves lucky.

Marina
Seaview Marina on a grey day

The greyness continued for a few more days , and I decided to try the new adapter I had acquired to allow me to use my ND filters on my wide angle lens. As you can see, I wasn’t kidding about the grey.

Marines
US Marines memorial at Paekakarariki

A visit was made to Queen Elizabeth II Park, on the Kapiti coast, in the hope of finding dabchick chicks. I found dabchicks and a few ducklings but no chicks.I did get a slightly different view of the memorial to the United States Marines, in honour of the 15,000 or so young men who camped and trained here before setting out to fight and in many cases die,  in  the famous battles of the Pacific War. This particular memorial is n the form of profiles representing the little huts that typified the camps.

Train
Commuter train at Paekakariki

A train bound for Waikanae held up the exit from the park. The track curves, here, so be assured I was taking no foolish risks.  Look closely at the waves in the tracks. I saw a similar perspective in a shot of a high speed train in Germany recently and was struck by the absolute precision of their tracks. A fast train would go airborne  on this kind of engineering.

Categories
adversity Architecture Birds Butterflies flowers harbour insects Maritime Military Newtown Plant life Wellington

November 11, 2015 … consolation prize

For the second time I trudged up the steep tracks of Te Ahumairangi in a  fruitless search for the New Zealand falcon.

Tradescantia
This plant has some regrettable common names of which the least offensive is Wandering Willie. It’s sale is banned in New Zealand because of its invasive nature. Nevertheless, it is pretty in the right light.

I saw one in the far distance, but I obviously followed the wrong track. Nevertheless, it was a delightful walk, despite the mean inclines which encouraged me to turn frequently to admire the view unfolding below. And close at hand, nature put on quite a show. Even the Tradescantia fluminensis weeds were attractive.

Butterfly
Yellow Admiral on another invasive weed.

There were birds and butterflies, bees and flowers. Since this is the national week for butterfly survey, I include this Yellow Admiral (Vanessa itea) sitting on a purple ragwort flower.

Frigate
HMNZS Te Kaha waiting for her companion

I mentioned the unfolding view. Down in the harbour, the frigate HMNZS Te Kaha (F77) was sitting patiently while HMNZS Wellington (P55) was flying the red refuelling pennant as she took on oil near the ferry terminal. Not often we get to units of the Royal New Zealand Navy in port.

Architecture (1)
Cross the bush on the lower slopes to the houses on Bolton St, and beyond to the tower blocks on The Terrace

There are those who despise all modern architecture preferring to cling on to the perceived superiority of ages past, no matter that the buildings are unsafe and inefficient. It reminds of W.S. Gilbert’s “I’ve got a Little List” –  Then the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone, All centuries but this, and every country but his own … they’ll none of ’em be missed!  I like modern architecture unashamedly and I love the colour and contrasting textures of a cityscape.

Architecture (2)
A wide mixture of architectural eras looking South towards Newtown

There are zones within the city that have a transitional quality but I still enjoy the variety as we take the long view.

Architecture (3)
A concentration of black and white cladding on the Terrace

To be clear, I don’t dislike the old buildings, though I am glad I no longer have to work in them  I just refuse to join in the fashionable distaste for glass and concrete. I particularly enjoy the proximity these buildings with a predominance of black and white on the Northern end of the Terrace.

 

Houses
Tinakori Village

In case anyone is hankering for yesteryear, there remains plenty of it in Wellington and this collection of houses on Tinakori Rd is a fine example. I particularly love the little building with the splendid arched window towards the right and desperately hope it serves as an artist’s studio.

No falcons, but I am content.

 

Categories
Birds Landscapes Military Pauatahanui Weather

June 9, 2015 … birds and soldiers

A nasty wind stirred things up yesterday.

Oystercatchers
Pied oystercatchers at Ration Point

It’s due to get worse, too. Nevertheless I took two cameras out for their walk yesterday. The Canon with the big lens was there for birds, and the Olympus for general images. Ration Point is often a useful spot for birds and with the wind in the North, it provides a small area of shelter. Oystercatchers were the main occupants of the space yesterday with a solitary Caspian tern, and some masked lapwings nearby.

Heron
White-faced heron and masked lapwing

As I stood there, flights of shoveler ducks flew by and then a flight of pied stilts. A pair of white-faced herons made a graceful arrival.

Trucks
An unexpected military presence at Pauatahanui

At the Western end of the inlet near the water ski club, there was a splash of unusual colour. In New Zealand, our military are rarely seen outside of the reservation. People in dress uniforms may be seen near the seat of government, but soldiers in DPM work uniforms are a rarity in suburbia.  The trucks were the first thing to catch my eye. I think I have a good eye for pattern recognition and military vehicles with their distinctive high-profile big tyres just don’t fit the normal pattern.

Launching
Launching the inflatables ready for the exercise

Each military chooses a uniform that allows its soldiers to merge into the predominant landscape forms. Disruptive pattern material (DPM)  varies around the world, but I have to say that the New Zealand variant is really highly visible in the green suburban environment. It turns out that this was a group of engineers who were there to practice the “man overboard” procedures with their inflatable boats.  When the boats were eventually inflated (by old-fashioned foot pumps) and the outboards mounted, there was a briefing and they prepared  to launch. Although the officer was very crisp and direct in his briefing, I was pleased that there was none of the hectoring and screaming so prevalent in Hollywood portrayals of the military. It was all calm, efficient and matter-of-fact and not once did I hear anyone say “Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s go!”

invasion
Unarmed invasion force

They launched in the certain knowledge that each of them was going to be the person in the very chilly water at some stage. They headed in the direction of Whitby, but there were no weapons in the boats so the good citizens of Whitby did not need to repel the invaders.

I hope to find something to photograph for tomorrow.