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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.

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September 5, 2019 … road trip

Mary and I are just back from a South Island road trip. We decided that our youngest grandson, Otis’s ninth birthday was a good reason to go, and so we did.

Kaiarahi
Kaiarahi was standing in for the larger Kaitaki which was in Australia for an overhaul

After several weeks of ugly weather, the day we crossed the strait dawned clear and still. How lucky is that? We arrived nice and early but to this day I have never figured whether there is science or merely mysticism in how the crew decide the loading sequence. Of course it doesn’t really matter, the ship never leaves until the doors close behind the last person with a ticket. Nevertheless, I hate it when they let all the &@#$%@# motorhomes out onto the highway ahead of me.

We spent two pleasant nights at an AirBnB in Greymouth. I was disappointed that recent weather patterns and some dire forecasts prevented fishing vessels from crossing the notorious Greymouth Bar as they present a spectacular sight when they do so in big swells. Likewise, the weather was not conducive to birdwatching on Cobden Lagoon. But our accommodation was warm and dry and sufficient for our needs.

Magical Lake Ianthe

Our next destination was Tarras, just a little out of Wanaka so that meant a long drive from Greymouth with rest breaks here and there for photographic purposes. One of my favourite lakes in the South Island is Lake Ianthe about 55 km South of Hokitika. It is a smallish lake with few access points, but when it is still, it is just perfect. There are others such as Brunner, Mapourika, Mahinapoua, Kaniere, and each is beautiful in its own way.

Roadside wetlands as we neared Haast

It’s a long and seemingly endless 480 km from Greymouth to Tarras, and as the signs say, New Zealand roads are different and you should expect to take longer. The road has its charms, and where it was possible to stop safely we did. I rather liked the various wetlands on the road between Fox Glacier and Haast.

Towards Hawea from Tarras

Our accommodation in Tarras was a modern cottage with all of the usual facilities and to Mary’s delight, a log burner for warmth. The next morning, looking back towards Lake Hawea, the rising sun lit up the snow capped peaks. I am unsure which range this might be, but is is a spectacular view to wake up to.

Sunset at Lake Hayes Estate

We got to our son’s house in Lake Hayes Estate without incident and settled in. A spectacular sunset was experienced on our first night. This view is to the South West. I am guessing that those peaks are Ben Lomond and Bowen Peak in the range behind Queenstown township.

Opposing forces

I rather liked Andrew’s chess set which is apparently modelled on the one used in a Harry Potter movie. I don’t play the game myself, so my interest was purely aesthetic.

Murky weather on the Remarkables

As the ski season winds to its close, most of the schools in the region seem to spend some time up on the ski fields. Both grandchildren had two full days up there in each of the last two weeks. Otis spent his school day up there on this particular day, but in conditions like these, it was apparently not very pleasant. I suppose that is a good lesson to learn in itself.

Lake Wanaka

I was turned loose with the car and my cameras so I spent the day going over the Crown Range to Wanaka, then along Lake Dunstan to Clyde and then back through Cromwell to Queenstown. I came within a few hundred metres of “the tree” at Wanaka but chose to ignore it. The lake was still, so I spent some time there. I was a little sad to see the intensive development happening to the town since I last looked.

Look the other way

I have mentioned before, the 180˚ rule … if there is something interesting in front of you, don’t leave without checking behind you. A spectacular sunset over Queenstown was nicely reflected in the clouds over the Crown Range to the North East.

Near Glenorchy

The kids were at school, Andrew was at work, so Mary and I went along the Glenorchy road. We did a bit of a walk along the track towards Bob’s Cove and then carried on to Glenorchy itself. The spectacular mist in the far corner of the lake behind Pig and Pigeon Islands would appear to be sand from the Dart River delta being picked up by a vicious wind. In fact I struggled to open my car door against the wind to make this image.

At Lindis Summit

All too soon, it was time to leave Queenstown, so we set out early in the morning to our next booked accommodation in a farm stay near Rangiora. We took the route through the Kawarau Gorge and Cromwell, across the river to Tarras and over the beautiful Lindis Pass. I had been anxious that conditions might require snow chains. Happily that didn’t happen.

Across Lake Pukaki to Aoraki/Mt Cook

It was great weather for travelling and the view across Lake Pukaki to Mt Cook was irresistible even if the image has been made a million times before by almost every tourist who passed this way. Aoraki/Mt Cook is New Zealand’s highest peak at 3,724 metres (12,218 ft)

On the road from Fairlie to Geraldine

South Canterbury’s lovely landscape was nicely displayed on the road from Fairlie across to Geraldine. We paused there for lunch and resumed the journey to Rangiora.

Terra Cotta and Rust

We enjoyed two nights at the farm stay before completing the journey home from Picton. Regrettably I seem to have acquired an outbreak of pre-patellar bursitis which happens from time to time and is uncomfortable rather than dangerous. It tends to limit my mobility but “this too shall pass”

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May 2, 2018 … A South Island Ramble

For the last two weeks, more or less, Mary and I spent time in the South Island. We visited the family in Queenstown, though I also had the ulterior motive of the Photographic Society of New Zealand’s  annual convention in Dunedin. The weather forecast was gloomy but somewhat ambiguous as we set out.

Kaiarahi
The Kaiarahi comes in to berth in the place our own ferry has just vacated.

I am always baffled by the loading process on the Interislander ferries. I imagine that they attempt to distribute vehicles fore and aft, port and starboard so that the vessel is properly balanced. However, the selections of who goes next and who goes where is seemingly quite random.

Swan
An elegant white swan at Liffey wetlands near Lincoln

We stopped on the way South at a nice AirBnB in the Lincoln district, near Christchurch. It was a lovely rural location that I might never have found without the aid of a GPS. As we left there on our way to Dunedin, we passed Liffey Springs, a spring-fed creek that flows into the Lincoln wetlands where there are a lot of waterfowl of one sort or another.

Alps
The broad flat lands of South Canterbury bump into the distant Southern Alps

Despite the forecast there was a clear view Westward to the snow-capped Southern Alps, seen here from somewhere near Dunsandel. Our travels took us to Musselburgh in Dunedin where we spent the night before I loaded Mary onto a bus bound for Queenstown the next day.

Harbour
The harbour in Otago looking out towards Port Chalmers and the Taiaroa Heads

Prior to the opening of the convention, I took the road out to Port Chalmers and marvelled that the Otago harbour is more often than not, very calm when I meet it.

Albatross
A white-capped or shy albatross cruises past the boat

The convention was well enough, offering a number of pre-booked field trips, each suited to one of the many genres of photography. My first such adventure was on the charter-vessel Monarch which took us down the placid harbour , offering some nice landscape opportunities, and then past Taiaroa Head to the open sea. There, as expected, we encountered a variety of the great pelagic seabirds including various petrels and gulls, as well as the Buller’s Mollymawk, the White-capped or Shy Albatross, and the greatest of the all, the Southern Royal albatross with its wings spreading over three metres.  Despite my notoriously queasy stomach, my only difficulty on the voyage was maintaining my balance as the vessel pitched and rolled in a swell that seemed to be around two metres. One hand for the ship and one for yourself is the ancient maritime wisdom, which leaves little for the camera.

Steam
A stationary steam engine spinning almost noiselessly at the Gasworks Museum

The trip I chose for the following day was to the Gasworks Museum in South Dunedin. The host club had laid on a local group of steam punk enthusiasts to liven up the trip. To my engineering-oriented mind, they simply got in the way and obstructed my view of the wonderful old steam machinery.

Millers Flat
From the bridge at Millers Flat looking North up the Clutha River

The convention came to its conclusion at lunchtime on Sunday and I set out to rejoin Mary and the family in Queenstown. I took the Southern route in the belief that the weather was going to be miserable. I couldn’t have been more wrong, and the Autumn colours at Millers Flat and Clyde were just magical.

Lake Hayes
Lake Hayes in Autumn

A few days in Queenstown with the family were a delight. I also managed a few side trips to Lake Hayes and even managed some times when the lake was flat calm. All to quickly, it was over and we began the journey homeward.

Balloon
Hot Air balloon near Arrowtown

First we crossed the Crown Range, pausing as we climbed the hill to admire the hot air balloon settling into a paddock near Arrowtown and then it was around Lake Hawea and over the Haast Pass and up the West Coast.

Paringa
Lake Paringa, with another 230 km to Hokitika

A lunch break at lonely lovely Lake Paringa was well worth the hassle of the flying pests. We paused for a travel break spending two nights in Hokitika.

Near Reefton
Near Reefton

As we set out on the long last leg, there was mist and rain, and as day broke, we were near Reefton. The road from there to St Arnaud is narrow and winding and having a logging truck ahead of you is no fun. You just have to wait patiently for a “slow vehicle bay” and you are past, only to find another one ahead of you.

selfie
Gulls leave their signature

Soon enough, we were at Picton where I discovered the ultimate in primitive art, or as I prefer to think of it, a seagull selfie. And then we were home, sad to leave the family behind, but glad to be in our own environment.

dandelion
Seed head

Photography took a very brief rest, and then a little still life took place. Who knows what will follow from there.

 

 

 

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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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April 14, 2017 … now where was I?

Karitane was a delight, both as a place to stay, and as a place from which to visit other places. I got a year older since I last wrote, and to celebrate, Mary took me to the famous “Fleur’s Place” restaurant at Moeraki. It was brilliant, and lived up to the very best of my expectations, and we got to chat with Fleur herself, a delightfully extroverted character. While at Moeraki, we visited Mary’s cousin Rosalie who runs a hospital for sick and distressed sea life at Katiki Point where the endangered yellow-eyed penguins come ashore.

River
Waikouaiti River – stillness

On the way home, I asked Mary to pause as we crossed the Waikouaiti river. I suppose it was flowing towards the sea, but from the road above, it was mirror-calm  and made interesting patterns with the bridge supports.

First Church
First Church, Dunedin

Next day with continued fine weather, we drove to Dunedin for a bit of shopping. A pause at the lights on Stuart Street reminded me of my long-held opinion that First Church is one of the most beautiful of the traditional churches in New Zealand.

estuary
Waikouaiti estuary

The next day, still in Karitane was just perfect and I was out of bed uncharacteristically early.

Wetlands
Wetlands at Karitane

As the day wore on, the stillness and the sunshine continued. By now most of you know I am a sucker for reflections.

Waihola
Lake Waihola looking its best, but currently toxic

Then it was time to move on. Due to accommodation complications, we changed our original plan, and instead of going to Riverton near Invercargill, we went instead to Owaka in the Catlins. This took us down SH1 towards Balclutha, passing Lake Waihola on the way. This is a lovely lake to look at but due to an infestation of algal bloom, is currently unsafe to swim in.

Ducks
Ducks seem immune to the algae

Nevertheless, in company with many other tourists, I went to the water’s edge and was delighted to be “photobombed” by a flock of ducks.

Nugget Point
Lighthouse at Nugget Point on the Catlins Coast

Check-in time at our accommodation was 2 pm so we diverted to Nugget Point on the Catlins coast.

Bridge
Hinahina bridge on the “Catlins Lake”

By the time we arrived in Owaka, we were catching the edge effects of tropical cyclone Cook. Next morning, skies were grey and rain and wind were promised. I wanted to visit the “Catlins Lake” which is in reality the estuary of the Catlins River. My luck held out and despite the grey sky, the water was perfectly still except for the occasional splash of jumping fish. This is the Hinahina bridge.

Falls
Purakaunui falls in reduced circumstances

From there, since the weather was still reasonable, we drove up to the park for the Purakaunui falls and walked through the magnificent bush to see them. What a let down! Scarcely any rain had fallen, it seems and the usually splendid falls were a mere trickle.

rain
Old house in the rain

Next day, the weather arrived. It is impossible to be in the Catlins and just sit inside, so I went out looking for scenes and character. If you click on this image you will see the rain belting down. Our accommodation had a log burner and plentiful firewood, so we stayed warm and dry for the rest of the stay.

Dragonfly
De Havilland Dragonfly at Mandeville

Yesterday (Thursday) we drove from Owaka to Queenstown, but on the way I was able to fulfil a long-held wish to visit the Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre at Mandeville, just a little out of Gore.

Mandeville
De Havilland Fox Moth and others of the breed at Mandeville

This is both a museum and a working aviation restoration facility. Almost everything on display is flight-worthy. They have a strong history with aircraft from the de Havilland stable but do other aircraft as well. Thoroughly recommended to my fellow aviation nuts.

 

 

 

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April 28, 2016 – Autumn in Central Otago

To the best of my knowledge, I have never posted sixteen images in one post before. On the other hand, this edition covers a whole week in a photographer’s paradise. It began on Wednesday 20th April when I flew from Wellington to Queenstown to attend the 64th annual convention of the Photographic Society of New Zealand. My son and daughter-in-law very kindly offered me accommodation for the week I would be in Queenstown, even though they are yet to finish unpacking after their move to their brand new house.

Hayes
At the Bendermeer reserve on Lake Hayes before the sun has fully risen

On my first morning there, I woke to a lovely still morning that hinted at a golden day ahead. I borrowed a car and drove the 5 km to my favourite spot on Lake Hayes.

Queenstown
Even in the commercial centre of the town there is Autumn colour

Later in the day, I went into town to meet my son, and enjoyed some excellent tacos in the restaurant which, with his wife, he owns. I am more than a little cynical about tourist towns, but the stunning natural beauty of the place, even downtown, makes it hard not to walk about with a smile on your face.

Remarkables Rd
Lake Hayes mirrors the sky perfectly. This was taken from very high up the Remarkables Road. The back-end of Lake Hayes Estate is at bottom left, and Arrowtown is at top right.

In the afternoon, with my grandchildren Billie and Otis, he drove me up the Remarkables Road. The amazing vistas before me were just breathtaking. I made many images up there, but I particularly enjoyed the view of Lake Hayes from up there.

Kawarau
Kawarau jet races upstream on the Kawarau River

Far below us, the Kawarau Jet was carrying a boatload of tourists down the Shotover River and then up the Kawarau, under the bridge onto Lake Wakatipu and back to Queenstown.

Kenwood.
My beautiful Queenstown grandchildren, Otis and Billie supervising the mixing of the cookie dough.

The next morning was Friday and before the registration for the convention opened, I watched Billie making biscuits (US = cookies) for a fundraising activity for her guide troop. Of course, Otis had to help (he licked the excess dough from the beater).

Gardens
At the lake in the Queenstown gardens

Then it was time for the convention itself. We had some fantastic, world-class guest speakers of whom the most memorable for me were Andris Apse, Jackie Ranken, and Mike Langford. They gave some wonderful talks and led superb field trips. On Sunday Morning, Jackie and Mike led a field trip into the magnificence of the Queenstown Gardens, offering help and guidance to all who asked for it.

Trees
Tree worship?

Autumn leaves were a particular focal point, and at one stage, my fellow conventioneers looked like some new cult of tree-worshippers offering their cameras in sacrifice.

Skippers
“Then sings my soul …”

In the afternoon, I went into the grandeur of Skippers Canyon on a trip led by Andris Apse. In such surroundings it would be impossible for any landscape enthusiast to not have a good time, though my well-known fear of heights gave me a few interesting moments as our driver took us within inches of some very long drops to the river far below. I gritted my teeth and kept shooting.

Pines
Dead wilding pines. The tiny patch of beech on the lower part of the picture is indicative of how the pines overwhelm everything else.

At the end of the road, near the old Skippers School, a stand of wilding pines caught my eye. Like so many in the area, they have been poisoned, and left standing. Apparently the cost of extracting the timber is greater than any value in the trees. If the poisoning is not carried out, Central Otago would lose its magnificent beech and poplar trees, and the fast-growing pines would overwhelm everything else. The policy is controversial.

Shotover
If you get to Queenstown, do not miss a ride on the Shotover Jet. It is expensive but worth it.

After the convention had run its course, I still had a day and a half in Queenstown, so while Andrew was at work in the restaurant, I borrowed his truck and went looking for shots.

Fountain
Back in the gardens … the bright tree across the lake is the same one that was surrounded by all those photographers earlier

Queenstown gardens, this time without all the other photographers seemed like a good idea.

Earnslaw
Earnslaw has been plodding backwards and forwards to Walter Peak for 103 years

Near the harbour, that grand old queen of the lake, the Earnslaw was making her smokey way back to the wharf.

Hydro attack
Hydro Attack in action

From a different era entirely, came the little high speed “Hydro Attack” shark was taking a customer out for a fifteen minute high-speed thrill ride. This thing is capable of 80 km/h and can submerge, and leap into the air. I can feel myself going green thinking about it.

Panorama
Panorama from Crown Range to the Remarkables

Before we went out for dinner that night, Andrew took me up the road towards Coronet Peak from where I compiled this panorama looking towards the Remarkables, and the Crown Range in the last light of a lovely day.

Ahuriri
The Ahuriri River, a little South of Lake Ohau

And then it was time to go home. Having cunningly booked a seat on the Western (left) side of the aircraft, I got some spectacular views. The sun glittering in the sinuous course of the Ahuriri River gave me a lot of pleasure.

Sounds
Over the Marlborough Sounds

As we neared Blenheim and aircraft begin its turn towards Wellington across the strait, I enjoyed a splendid “receding planes” view of the  hills behind the Marlborough Sounds. And just like that the adventure is over. What a week.

 

 

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November 27, 2015 … clicking my heels together*

We flew home yesterday.

Lake Hayes
Lake Hayes on its best behaviour, and there was a clear view across the top of Deer Heights Park to Cecil Peak. The mountain slopes to the left is the Northern face of the Remarkable range.

Andrew and Abbey are wonderful hosts, and I miss our grandchildren already, but after a while there is an insistent call summoning us home. Our flight was at 2 pm, so the morning was free. For the first time since we arrived, there was no wind at all. With the aid of Abbey’s little car, I went round to Lake Hayes, to see if my hopes were realised. Lake Hayes has been shot a million times, but when it sets up that mirror, I can’t resist it.

Queenstown
Looking down the Frankton Arm towards Queenstown township at the right, with Kelvin Heights on the left.

In due course, after an airport lunch, we were airborne, looking down the lake towards Queenstown.

Treble Cone
The road to Treble Cone skifield. It is much harder to see in Winter.

We had a chatty cockpit crew and they warned us that there would be a lot of turbulence as we climbed to cruising altitude. I think the persistently winding road below runs from the Cardrona Valley to the Treble Cone skifield.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Lake Hawea in the foreground. I have camped on its foreshore, and almost been abducted to an alien spaceship by gangs of sand-flies working in unison. Lake Wanaka is at the back.

It’s fun picking out places you have been by road. The next image is “The Neck” where Lake Hawea is closest to Lake Wanaka. That road along the lakeshore in the foreground, passes over the neck and then clings to the Northern shore of Wanaka until it heads West over the wild road to Haast and the West Coast.

Mountains
Aoraki Mt Cook (Left), Mt Tasman (Right) with the Hochstetter ice flow in front of Mt Tasman.

Before long, our loquacious first officer was back and being informative about the mountains to the left. Aoraki Mt Cook and Mt Tasman were pointed out, as  was the amazing Hochstetter Ice Flow pouring down the mountain towards the Tasman Glacier at a rate of up to 10 metres a day.

Grassmere
Lake Grassmere salt ponds

Nearer to home, we crossed the coast just South of Lake Grassmere which is New Zealand’s principal source of table salt.  I am fascinated by the pink hue of the evaporating pans.

Island bay
Almost home, with Island bay visible from a different angle.

And then, after crossing an obviously wild and  windy Strait it was a bouncing and slightly uncomfortable descent into Wellington. Tapu Teranga Island sitting out there guarding Island bay was a welcome sight.

Normal service should resume tomorrow.

  • a vague reference to the Wizard of Oz
Categories
Adventure Bees flowers Glenorchy Lakes Landscapes mountains Queenstown

November 26, 2015 … Westward into the mist

Andrew and Abbey were both working yesterday, but were kind enough to lend us a car.

Wakatipu
Looking Westward on Lake Wakatipu towards Glenorchy. Pig and Pigeon Islands are to the left.

Mary and I took some lunch and set out along the shore of Lake Wakatipu in the direction of Glenorchy. It was a grey and moody day that intensified as we went Westward. I am not entirely sure it wasn’t snowing on those ranges to the South beyond Kinloch.

Clover
Honey bee on clover in the Glenorchy wetlands

After a coffee at one of the local hostelries, we went out on the walkway through the Glenorchy lagoon. This is a swampy area with extensive boardwalks, lots of birdsong, and a delightful range of local flora.  I believe that as yet the pestilential Varroa mite has not yet reached this far South so it was a joy to see honey bees in good numbers.

Lupin
Honey bee on lupin

Also plentiful were the lupins which officialdom regard as a pest weed. The bees don’t care.

Wetland
This is wild bleak country when the weather is rough

Regardless of the imminent rain, it was a very pleasant hour=long walk around the lagoon, followed by lunch in the car at the lakeside near Glenorchy jetty. I was amused to watch an elaborately staged wedding shoot taking place with three still photographers and one videographer. It was certainly a dramatic backdrop. I am told that many couples come here to have their wedding photographs done weeks or months after the actual wedding back in China.

Now we are home in Wellington  and I am tired so that’s all for now.

Categories
Adventure Aviation Landscapes Museum Queenstown

November 23, 2015 … over the range

Billie was at a camp for guides at Lake Hawea.

Truck
One of the few vehicles that gave a clear view

The family set out to retrieve her at the end of the camp, and dropped me in Wanaka at a transport and toy museum. This place has an amazing collection, but is hugely frustrating because they have so many items they have insufficient space to display anything well. Nevertheless, some items can be seen in part, if not in whole.

displays
Trucking back in time

If they have attempted to organize the collection in any way, their plan eludes me. Trucks facing a glass cabinet full of clocks were a surprise but allowed for a little whimsy.

Bikes
Mary Poppins?

A random collection of bicycles hung in the rafters made an interesting opportunity to make some passing reference to ET and/or Mary Poppins.

Hangar
The C60A Lodestar

In another hangar, a beautiful Lockheed C60A Lodestar was backed up so tightly that its tailfin was actually in contact with the fuselage of a de Havilland DH104 Devon. Every space was filled with vehicles, spare parts, armoured fighting vehicles.

F27
Fokker Friendship … flaps lying atop the wing

In the adjacent hangar, the centre piece was a Fokker F27 Friendship complete except for the tailfin. Parking vehicles between the fuselage and the undercarriage legs was an act of bravery. Don’t be put off. It’s a fantastic collection.

Cardrona
Through the Dry Cardrona*

We took the road over the Crown Range to get home, and I tried a slow exposure through the windscreen.

Runway
Looking down the Queenstown runway from the top of the Crown Range

At the top of the hill, looking down on Queenstown is a splendid reward for the long trip through the winding road of the Cardrona valley.

That’s all for now.

 

By the Dry Cardrona by James K Baxter and D. Tomms

 

Categories
Adventure Arrowtown Children Family Queenstown

November 22, 2015 … a stranger in a strange land

Queenstown was inundated yesterday with people in Lycra.

Arrow
The Arrow River in Arrowtown

It was the running of the annual marathon, and there were over 9,000 participants in the various stages from 10 km, half and full marathons. I am told that 80% of the competitors were from out of town, so the sudden influx of visitors with their companions put a huge strain on everything. The race itself required significant closures of various roads and tracks, so I looked in the other direction for my images. I went to Arrowtown, where the race started, since they had all long since gone South, and went to the Arrow River and Tobin’s Track.

Tobin's
Looking down Tobin’s Track through unremitting greenery towards the Arrow River

In April, the area is ablaze with Autumn colour, but for now, everything is still a luscious green.

flower
Pretty flower that soon becomes a pest

I am unsure what the tree is with the little white flowers, but it seems to release what seems like puffs of snow or cotton wool. The roadsides gutters are full of the white remains.

Matagouri
The mean-spirited matagouri in blossom

Later in the day, Mary persuaded me to come out for a walk with Otis to see another flowering tree she had found, with vicious spikes. I was baffled, but my Internet friends soon enlightened me. Any Southerner is probably familiar with the matagouri (Discaria toumatou) or “Wild Irishman”. It is reputedly the only native plant with thorns. And what thorns they are.

Otis
Otis with all the joy that a five year old boy has on a wild ride down a gravel track

This bush was growing on a popular path leading from Lake Hayes Estate towards the lake itself. Otis was scooting along with us on his bicycle, and he really enjoyed the hairy downhill ride from the shrubs back to the valley floor.

And that is enough for this edition.