Categories
Adventure Cars Family Forest Lakes Landscapes Mangakino Rotorua Travel Weather Whanganui

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advertisement
Categories
Adventure adversity Birds Forest Lakes Landscapes Light Mangakino Maungatautari Military mountains Rotorua Seasons Travel Vehicles Volcanic Plateau Waikato

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.

Categories
Adventure Animals Architecture Birds Cook Strait Forest Landscapes Machinery Maritime Masterton mountains Rivers Wairarapa Waves Weather Wellington

August 8, 2020 … strange weather, but I’ll take it

For almost two weeks now, we have had consecutive days of calm fine weather. In that period, I count some still grey days in which the harbours were still. Wellington has a reputation for its mean winters. According to the calendar, this one has plenty yet to come, but so far it has been a delight.

Centre of bureaucracy
Down to the centre

High in the suburb of Northland is the Te Ahumairangi Hill lookout which affords a view over the bureaucratic centre of New Zealand. The tower block with the green top is the Business School of Victoria University of Wellington. The flat building in front is the high court and then the grey roof of parliament and the “beehive” which houses parliamentary offices. To the right of the beehive is the law school in the old wooden building and behind that the IRD. On the extreme right is Bowen House which contains the overflow for all our pariamentarian’s offices. Oh, and the brick building behind the business school is Wellington railway station.

rapids
Tumbling down the gorge

The Ngaio Gorge carries the Kaiwharawhara stream through lovely Trelissick Park from Ngaio at the top of the hill down to the harbour. It’s a modest stream but I liked the little rapids seen here.

Kayak
Sustained stillness.

A lovely morning at Pauatahanui Inlet and I decided to follow the Camborne walkway around its North West corner. The water was glassy and a bright red kayak entered the frame. As I lined up for my shot, the kayaker put his paddle across the cockpit and became a photographer himself.

Demolition

A long delayed casualty of the Kaikoura Earthquake (14 November 2016), the almost new BNZ building on Centreport’s land near the railway station is finally being demolished. Unlike most demolition work in the city, they recovered as much of the building materials as possible. Now it is down to the sadly compromised concrete skeleton, and the big crane is nibbling away at the remnants.

Kereru

We’ve been here before. The kereru is perched in the small kowhai shrub on our front lawn and was nibbling new shoots as efficiently as a motor trimmer. Somehow the shrub always recovers

Seaview Marina

Seaview Marina is a favourite place when the water is still. I was down at water level with the camera hanging inverted on the tripod centre-post just above the water to get this view. I heard my name called and there was Mary taking her lunch break between volunteer roles. We enjoyed our lunch together on a lovely mid-winter day.

Tapuae-o-Uenuku

If you have read my blog for any length of time, you will have seen Tapuae-o-Uenuku many times before. I always love to see it clear and proud across the strait. It’s weird to know that distant Kaikoura is just near the foot of Manakau, the mountain on the left. In case you were unaware, Manakau is the highest peak in the Seaward Kaikoura range while Tapuae-o-Uenuku is the highest in the Inland Kaikoura range. Despite the apparent calm, waves were slapping against the rocks with some force.

Waingawa River

Mary and I went over the hill into the Wairarapa and up the road to Holdsworth lodge. A lot of people had the same idea and the beautifully formed tracks in the lower parts were quite busy. The Waingawa river was tumbling down the hill to join the Ruamahanga river and thence via Lake Onoke to the sea.

Pied shag

Zealandia wildlife reserve gives the visitor access to a great variety of birdlife as well as providing opportunities for close encounters with Tuatara and various other lizards. This pied shag is enjoying the calm of the nest but keeping a wary eye on the tourists

North Island robin

Also in Zealandia is this lovely little North Island robin. They enjoy the insects stirred up as people walk by, and come very close, even to the extent of perching on the toe of your shoes to get the best harvest. They seem quite unafraid.

Lowry Bay

It has been an extraordinary run of weather, with two weeks in mid-winter with almost no wind, and mostly sunny days. In Lowry Bay, the usual fleet of moored yachts is down to just one at present.

Little black shag

Inside the breakwater of the Seaview Marina there are a few rocks that serve as a resting place for shags. This Little Black shag is airing its laundry .

Seaview Marina (2)

And still, day after day the eerie calm continues. Overcast weather I can live with but I do prefer conditions such as these that give reflections.

Jetski

As I write this edition, the weather has broken with rain and wind. It would be churlish to complain after so long. This image was made a few days earlier as a jet-ski rider was heading out to make noise and spray in the open water of the harbour.

That will do for now. See you next time.

Categories
Aviation Birds Boggy Pond Camera club creativity flowers Forest Lakes Landscapes Light Manawatu Maritime mountains Museum Rimutaka Forest park sunrise Weather

18 March, 2020 … interesting times

Interesting times are upon us. As far as I know, I and all my loved ones are well. I hope the same goes for you and all who you hold dear.

Today I offer fifteen random images with no apparent connection between them except that they were all made in the last few weeks. Mindful of all the world’s current woes, I am feeling grateful for living in a peaceful and politically stable country with so much beauty on offer. .

Remutaka Forest Park – Catchpool Valley

New Zealand’s bush typically seems much more dense, twisted and tangled than the ancient forests of the Northern hemisphere. Most of it lacks the grandeur of tall parallel tree trunks. So be it. I still love being in the bush, enjoying the shelter it gives from the wind and the pleasure I take in so many shades of green. This short track in the entrance to the Catchpool valley surprised me for the amount of dead leaves on the ground amongst what I thought were predominantly evergreen trees.

Mana Island on a beautiful day in Plimmerton

This picture of Mana Island was made by getting down low, or at least by getting the camera low, hanging inverted off the tripod centre post. Because the water was almost flat calm, it was almost touching the surface.

If you click to enlarge, and look at the gap between the furthest incoming wave and the island, you will see the neck and beak of a shag which popped up as I pressed the shutter. It’s as if it knew I was here, and was checking to see whether I was a threat.

We have had a string of beautiful calm Autumn days. They go some small way towards compensating for the miserable wet windy summer we had in Wellington this year.

Another lovely day in Plimmerton

The local yacht club was racing at Plimmerton despite the apparent lack of wind. As you can see in the picture, some of the yachts are heeling despite the light breeze. They certainly progressed around the course at a reasonable pace, and I liked the metallic effect given by the translucent sailcloth.

Ferry berth

Anyone who understands the term “depth of field” instantly knows that this picture could not have been made with just one exposure. Loosely, depth of field is the distance between the nearest “in focus” point, and the furthest. Most lenses have a relatively shallow depth of field so either the ship or the flower would be sharp, but not both. Many photographers delight in a usually expensive lens with a shallow depth of field and the artistic effects it produces. Others, like me, seek more extreme depth and achieve this by “focus stacking”. In its simplest form, and in this example, that means taking a photo in which the flower is sharp and another in which the ship is sharp. Then the two images are merged and the sharp bits from each are retained. This was possible back in the days of the darkroom, but is much easier now that we have PhotoShop.

If you think this is somehow “cheating”, then avert your eyes now because I don’t care.

I have consistently said that the art is in the final image, no matter how it was achieved.

Sacred Kingfisher

If you have been a WYSIWYG reader for any length of time, you will know that birds are among my favourite subjects. Nevertheless, I lack the patience and skill to stalk and capture the fastest and sneakiest of birds. Some of my friends make superb images, bordering on the impossible. I lack the patience and the willingness to get down in the mud and make the images they do. Now and then, I get lucky. Kingfishers typically fly at about 45 km/h.

From home

I have often presented this viewpoint, from my bedroom window and I justify it on this occasion for the special early morning light. I am grateful every day for the splendour of this view.

From the control bar

Mary and I went to Whitireia Park in Porirua where we intended to have a picnic lunch. While I looked for images, Mary walked the Onepoto Loop Track. As I wandered, a man in a wet suit was setting up to go kite-surfing. He got the kite airborne while he was still on the beach and I cheekily got down near his feet and caught his view of the canvas.

A stranger in a strange land

On one of my many trips through Evans Bay and around into Oriental Bay, I was astonished to encounter this old Seagrave fire appliance. As per the signage, it once belonged to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Made in 1960, it was retired in 1990 and gifted by the City of Los Angeles to the City of Auckland in recognition of their sister-city relationship. Since then it has been on display at Auckland’s Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT). This is an articulated 100 foot ladder machine that has a driver in the front, and another at the rear steering the trailer wheels. As you can see it is designed for the Los Angeles climate. The well wrapped crew drove this down from Auckland to Wellington in cool Autumn weather and were on their way to Invercargill for a charity fundraising event. They are going to have to raise quite some funds as it goes through $500 to $600 of fuel a day plus the ferry fares in each direction.

Sisters

Another of those days when, despite the overcast, the glittering sea was relatively still. East-West ferries have two catamarans with which they operate a commuter service that runs from downtown Wellington across the harbour to Days Bay, with stops at Matiu / Somes Island and occasionally at Seatoun. It is marginally quicker than the trip around the harbour by bus, but infinitely more pleasant. They even have a bar on board. Anyway, there I Was as Cobar Cat came in from the right after refuelling at Chaffers Marina, and City Cat approached from across the harbour.

Lavender blue

Simple things sometimes need complex treatment. This little cluster of lavender, growing in a pot at our back door, is captured with another focus stack. You can see that the background trees are well beyond focus as I intended them to be. However there are four different images of the lavender stalks. This only works in windless conditions because if the plants are in different positions as they wave, they can’t be merged.

Abstraction

I was having a coffee with my youngest son, Anthony (Ants) at the Seaview Marina. It was a beautiful morning with the sun smiling on the yachts and lovely reflections in the water. Then a ripple from elsewhere in the marina did interesting things with the reflected masts and rigging.

We had a guest speaker in the camera club about a week ago, and she explained very well how she went about making a wide variety of abstract images. I grasped the “how” well enough, but remain mystified by the “why?” Anyway, here I am offering an abstraction. This is a single shot, as seen by the camera

A rare selfie

I almost never take selfies. Usually I would prefer to make an image of the place or thing that I saw, rather than a picture of myself in the place or with the thing I saw. This image is an unintentional selfie. I saw a trailer which was a bitumen tanker. It had an engine chugging away underneath, presumably powering the burner that keeps the bitumen in its liquid state while the tractor was elsewhere. What caught my eye was the polished stainless steel cladding and I liked the grassy reflections therein. Regrettably I could find no way to exclude myself from the reflection. Though I am substantially built, I am nowhere near the proportions in that distorted reflection.

My favourite kind of day

Among my favourite places in the region are various spots around the shores of Lake Wairarapa, especially on those days when the lake is glassy calm. Whenever I come over the hill to Featherston, I usually start at the Lake Domain Reserve and see whether there is a new image to be had. The rusty steel piles of the yacht club’s old jetty make a nice feature.

Wairio Wetlands

Some thirty km to the South on the Eastern side of the lake, are two sets of wetlands beloved of many of my photographic for their prolific bird life and for the intrinsic beauty of the places. I chose the Wairio Wetlands rather than Boggy Pond on this occasion. Whereas Wellington has had a wet summer, the Wairarapa is officially in drought. This wetland still has water, but the level is lower than I have ever seen it before. There were plenty of birds there, though they were cautiously placed some distance from the walking tracks. If you click on this image to enlarge, and have a close look at the most distant of the birds, at about one third in from the right, there is a white heron (kotuku).

Low and fast over the road

As I came back up the Western side of the lake, I heard a whistle and a roar and saw a top-dressing plane shoot over the road and into the hills to the West. I was ready for it as it came round a second time and was pleased that it was a venerable Fletcher FU-24 950. The basic FU-24 design has served New Zealand agriculture since 1954. No fewer than 297 of them were built and in the later years many were fitted with powerful turbine engines. Sadly many bold Fletcher pilots didn’t get to be old Fletcher pilots because they over-estimated their skill at avoiding high-speed contact with the ground.

That is sufficient for this edition.

I am going to borrow my farewell from Radio New Zealand’s Suzie Fergusson who said at the end of a session the other day, “Wash your hands, keep calm and carry on. Ka kite anō au i a koutou (see you all again).

Categories
Adventure Airport Birds Cars Cook Strait Evans Bay Forest Landscapes Machinery Maritime Waves Weather Wellington

January 10, 2020 … happy new year

Hello! Happy new year to all who read this. I hope 2020 will be your best year yet. I also hope that it will see an improvement in the images and stories that I offer you. So, let’s begin this new year.

When shall we three meet again, in thunder lightning or in rain?

New Year’ day produced no images. The second of January dawned fair and blue, so I went to the Hikoikoi reserve with the ever-present hope of seeing a white heron. Sadly, none were found. On my way out, my attention was caught by the row of pohutukawa trees along the ridge that protects the sport field from the encroaching dunes on the beach. Their precise spacing and similar sizes suggest that they were deliberately planted, perhaps as a part of Project Crimson. This was a project commenced in 1990 to reverse the loss of coastal pohutukawa. I selected three of the thirty or so trees, and liked the fact that the middle tree was at the peak of its flowering season.

Trans-Tasman haze

At the other end of the Petone foreshore the next day, I attempted to capture the very visible haze blown across the Tasman Sea from the Australian bushfires. We have experienced this many times in the past though never as intensely or for so long as now. The prevailing winds carry the smoke from the fires approximately to the South East where it makes landfall on the West Coast of the South Island. The intensity of the smoke and the ash that it carried was such that it discoloured our alpine glaciers, leaving them coated with a thick orange layer of ash rather than the expected pristine white snow. Here in Wellington, local winds diverted the cloud our way, and we are occasionally experiencing quite intense haze. This shot from Petone Beach shows the Wellington hills obscured by it. Our hearts go out to our Australian cousins.

Kereru … the native Wood Pegeon

There have been stories of fewer kereru (native wood pigeon) around Wellington this year. I have to say that I have not noticed this around home, despite the presence of two pairs of nesting New Zealand falcons nearby. Despite being twice the size of the falcon, the kereru just explodes in a shower of feathers when caught mid air by the deadly little raptor. On a very warm day, this kereru was obviously thirsty so it perched on Mary’s birdbath which was obviously designed with smaller birds in mind.

Demolitions on hold

Much of New Zealand goes on summer vacation from just before Christmas to about mid or late January. This is often exaggerated and scorned by the media, but the line of idle demolition machines tends to reinforce the notion. I was unable to get inside the wire fence but the neat row of hydraulic diggers was worth a shot. I often wonder what is the capital value of all the agricultural and engineering machines that are sitting idle at any given time.

Crossing at the horizon

On one of those days when the blue of the sea and the sky to the South are almost the same, I caught a shot of the ferry Kaiarahi inbound, and the Kaitaki outbound. They were far enough away for there to be optical distortions at the waterline.

Airport

On some days, the conditions tempt me to seek high viewpoints, On this occasion, I went up to Newlands from where there are great views to the South and East. There are many opinions among landscape photographers as to which lenses are most appropriate. Most often, conventional opinion suggests a fairly wide angle. Several of the people whose work I most admire will often go the other way and choose a long lens. In this case, I used my 300 mm zoom which, because of the micro four thirds crop factor, gives the same angle of view as would a 600 mm lens on a full frame camera. So here, from 9km across the harbour is a close view of Wellington airport. To the left, moored near the Miramar cutting, is the research vessel, Tangaroa. On the runway is an Air New Zealand Link Bombardier Q300 just touching down from Napier. To the South, nothing until Antarctia.

Long green

Five days into the new year, and the weather is already variable. Mary decided she wanted to walk the Eastern Walkway from the Pass of Branda in Seatoun, down to Tarakena Bay. I dropped her off at the pass, and went to Tarakena bay to await her arrival, and watched the waves rolling in. I love it when the waves are long and slow with a period of 10 seconds or more between each crest. They may look slow, but their power is undeniable. Even better when they are backlit, and the deep green looks like the stained glass of a cathedral. The spray ripped off the tops by the offshore wind adds to the spectacle.

Shabby Chic

I was wandering around behind our national museum, Te Papa, when I spotted this sad old lady. She is a 1974 Citroen Super D. I remember when these beauties first appeared and they were the wonder of the age. The complexity of their systems was such that one reviewer warned potential owners not to suffer a breakdown in Taranaki because “you might as well ask the mechanic for a valve-grind on a flying saucer”. If the car had been in showroom condition, I might still have made the picture, but the rust and the mis-matched panels made this especially interesting to me. A fellow photographer coined the phrase “shabby chic”. In many jurisdictions this car would not be allowed on the road, but it seems to have a current warrant of fitness.

Defying the laws of physics

Walking around Chaffers Marina with a friend, I came across this young man who was practicing some derivative of the Afro-Brazilian martial art of Capoeira. It seems to involve repealing the law of gravity. From a standing start on the grass he seemed to simply levitate. Of course that fanciful description is nothing like the reality. It involved a violent flick of one or more limbs and using the momentum to carry the rest of him into the air. The landings were as amazing as the lift off and flowed into an astonishing sequence of routines. I hope to see him again at some time and use different settings to get better results .

The day does not begin until after my first coffee

With the same friend, I went Staglands on the Akatarawa Rd. Sadly (for us) the place was filled, indeed over-filled, with hundreds of small children, and this would not result in the photographic opportunities we hoped for. So we abandoned the tour of the park and settled for a pleasant lunch in the cafe. We then spotted this rooster picking over the leftovers on the tables. I was surprised at what it deemed appropriate food. It explored every opportunity.

Leaf contrast

From Staglands, we carried on to the West across the narrow winding Akatarawa road towards Waikanae and as we neared the coast, out of the corner of my eye, I saw this little tree.On its own, it was not spectacular, but in contrast with the dark pines I liked it very much.

So ends the first post of 2020. I hope to have your company as the year goes on.

Categories
Adventure Art Birds Cars Forest Lakes Landscapes Light Manawatu Museum Reflections Rimutaka Forest park

November 14, 2019 … time slides by

Somehow, though it seems just yesterday that 2018 ended, another year is coming to an end right before our eyes. Despite all my grand intentions, I have achieved very few of my photographic aspirations. There have been a few images that I liked, but far too many that were merely mediocre. I suppose I have left it far too late in life to begin the search for mastery, but I believe it is never too late to begin the search for improvement. So that is my intention for the year ahead. I want to combine improvement with the maximum of enjoyment. It has to be fun.

Pine trees at Cross Hills
Cross Hills, Kimbolton

Last week, Mary and I drove up SH1 and then through Feilding to Kimbolton to visit the wonderful Cross Hills Gardens. This expansive garden park in the Manawatu has a vast collection of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias, and somehow the spectacle is overwhelming. I find it difficult to extract a pleasing image from such a vast expanse of colour. I chose this image in a stand of pines instead.

Kinetic art work
Stainless wind sculpture

We ate our picnic lunch in the park near a rather odd art work. It took some while to realise that it was a kinetic work, but a puff of wind started it spinning and it changed shapes and colours. I discovered that it is called “Stainless wind art” and is created by Charlie Jaine from Ashburton and is yours for only NZD$3,500.

Rolls Royce
Classic perfection

A few days later, I drove to Southwards Car museum near Paraparaumu. Their collection of more than 400 cars is superb and, just as with the gardens, it is necessary to focus on parts in order to avoid being overwhelmed by the whole.

The unmistakeable “Spirit of Ecstasy” hood ornament atop the classic radiator of the Rolls Royce Phantom was worth a close look. I did have to polish some grubby tourist fingerprints off the chrome surfaces.

Red sports cars
Red is for go fast

I have mixed feelings about the role of curators in museums. The ways in which they group and display the artefacts can often seem at odds with the the items on display. In this case, a line-up of red sports cars works very well, and illustrates nicely the old joke that all sports cars are red, no matter what colour they are painted.

Automotive grandeur
Grandeur from a bygone age

Across the aisle from the sports cars is a display of conspicuous wealth. I love the superb engineering and the elegant styling, though I recoil from the ostentatious consumerism. This group of British cars speaks of class distinction on a grand scale. The Mercedes cars further on are no better.

Beech trees in the Remutaka park
In the Remutaka State Forest

After a few days of grey cloud and increasing rain, there was a break in the weather . For some reason, I thought there might be some opportunities in the Remutaka State Forest Park. I parked my car in the Catchpool valley car park and it was the only vehicle there. I decided it would be unwise to go very far or to leave the main trail since there was no one else about. Happily, the forest presented an attractive face quite early on the track.

Reflections in a puddle
Stillness

A few metres further along the trail, I found what I hoped for … some puddles. As I have observed before, if I get my lens close enough to the surface, almost touching it in fact, then a very small puddle will provide some nice effects.

Yellowhammer
Sitting back, he thinks I can’t see him

A day or so later, I was at the Marines Memorial Wetlands in Queen Elizabeth Park near Paraparaumu, hoping to see some dabchicks on the water. I didn’t. On the track towards the ponds, I got lucky with some colourful passerines. For some reason they are very shy in this area, but this little yellowhammer thought he was invisible while sitting in the tree.

Scaup
Scaup

Once I got to the water, I was disappointed at the small number of birds there. I didn’t see a single dabchick. There was a solitary scaup or black teal. The yellow eyes suggest it was a drake. I am always taken by the intense green reflections on these ponds.

Goldfinch
Goldfinch

One way to find and photograph a bird is to come across another photographer with a long lens and see what they are pointing it at. I acknowledge Carol for having this goldfinch in her sights. I hope she forgives me for stealing it.

So ends another edition. I look forward to talking to you again soon.

Categories
Adventure Birds Cook Strait Forest insects Landscapes Light Maritime Reflections Rivers Rotorua sunrise Wellington

June 20, 2019 … an odd variety

Thank you to those who pointed out to me that I had lost the ability for readers to click on images and see a larger copy. I believe I have now restored that. The images give a better account of themselves in their larger versions. Just click on each image.

Since the last edition I have made several hundred new pictures, of which I now present the fourteen that most appeal to me. Other than that they are all outdoor shots, I seem to have no consistent theme. Perhaps I am the photographic equivalent of a general practitioner rather than a specialist.

The weather played a role as always, and there were a number of days which were so bleak and unpleasant that I didn’t venture out at all.

Tararua sunrrise
A somewhat surly sunrise – from home

Assuming that I have indeed overcome the technical issue, have a look at the large version of the image above. There was no wind and plenty of cloud but this sunrise had a real presence. It is a tribute to the stabilization capability of the modern camera that this low-light shot was made hand-held at 1/8 second.

Otoroa
Otoroa sets out on its journey home

For many years the Otago Harbour Board’s former pilot vessel has been an elegant and sturdy presence in Chaffers Marina. Built in Port Chalmers in 1965 by the well-known builders Miller and Tunnage, this double-ender looks very seaworthy to my inexpert eye and has been converted to a very fine private yacht. Anyway, she has been sold again and is seen here leaving Wellington on her way back to Otago harbour. I was in Oriental Bay when she cruised past on a somewhat hazy day. I liked the separation between the vessel and the Tararua ranges in the background.

Weta
Wellington tree weta – Male

The weta is a creature that you love or hate. This specimen was found guilty of adopting a threatening posture while Mary was hanging out the washing. It was sentenced to being photographed and relocated. It was about 50 mm long (about 2″). That’s a good sized adult though they can be up to 70 mm long. I got down as near as possible to eye level and took a series of images at different focal points and then stacked them to ensure that the result was entirely in focus.

Incoming wave
Heavy onshore swell – South Coast

A strong Nor’Westerly breeze ripped the crests off the waves coming in from the South. This image was caught at Island Bay. Apart from the flying foam, my attention was caught by the light on the face of the incoming wave. I got other images without the gulls but decided they gave a sense of scale.

Turbulence
Agitation

On the same day, at a place just below Palmer head in Tarakena Bay near the harbour entrance, the washing-machine like turbulence near the rocky shore was just amazing.

Running Water
A tumbling forest stream

A day or two later, the wind persisted, and I sought out a place that was sheltered. Quite some time had elapsed since my last venture onto the Cannon’s Point walkway near Upper Hutt. Almost as soon as you leave the car park you are in the shelter of the bush and all you can hear is the rush of the wind overhead and the sound of the running water coming down the hills. Like forest streams everywhere, these are naturally chaotic, full of water-borne debris and it is a challenge to find a clear view of the water.

Green
Dense greenery

Many of the landscape photographers whose work I admire and follow on YouTube make their images in the wide open forests of the Europe. You could ride a horse through them. New Zealand bush is a different kettle of fish entirely. The moment you leave the path you encounter a nearly impenetrable wall of damp green foliage. It has its own beauty but you have to work hard to choose a subject in all the chaos.

Pauatahanui
Breathless moment at the Pauatahanui Inlet

I was driving home after a largely fruitless exploration of the Kapiti area and I became aware that something special was forming in my rear-view mirror. The inlet itself was beautifully still, but the scene was made special by the vast arc of cloud above. I have a fondness for delicate greys and this scene delivers them in plenty. The image needs to be viewed as large as possible so click for the larger version.

Estuary
Hutt Estuary from Waione Street Bridge

Walking over the Waione Street Bridge in search of a view back towards the Hikoikoi reserve I came across these reflections. The gentle waves coming into the mouth of the river made attractive patters in the reflections of the industrial area on Port Rd. You take what you can when it is offered.

Old man and the sea
A Hemingway moment

We have been here so very many times before. However, the tight clustering of the boats and above all, the presence of the man in the dinghy made it irresistible to me. I believe the man is the owner of the Sandra, and he often takes it out fishing. I am sure that Ernest Hemingway would have loved to meet him.

Weir
The weir at Silverstream

Yet another scene that I have used before. This was never intended to be a weir, but rather the place where the main sewer pipe from the upper valley crosses the river. The underlying geology allowed the turbulence of the water after crossing the pipe to undercut the river bed and thus form the waterfall. It seems to be a little different each time I visit. This is a long (13 second) exposure hence the creamy area around the rocks.

Silverstream
Morning moisture

Misty mornings almost always tempt me Northwards. This scene is just above and to the East of Silverstream. It was the row of straggly pines against the swirling mist that grabbed my attention. Once I saw it on the computer screen I realised that the strong contrasting light had misled me, and the trees are closer than I thought. I like it anyway.

Falcon
The New Zealand Falcon (Karearea)

As Mary and I pulled up outside our church in Waiwhetu last Sunday, she saw a bird eating something and drew it to my attention. I realised it was a karearea … our beautiful and regrettably rare native falcon. Because of its rarity we jealously guard the kiwi (of which there may be as few as 65,000 left). Estimates put the karearea’s population at between 6.000 and 8,000 so it is much rarer. As I reached for my camera (always in the car when I drive), it picked up its breakfast and flew a few metres to the entrance of the church. I had the wrong lens and the wrong settings but in these circumstances you grab a few shots before you risk changing anything. As I straightened up for a clearer view, she picked up that pigeon and flew away with it. I am advised by Debbie Stewart, the executive director of Wingspan, the bird-of-prey centre in Rotorua, that this is a female of about one year old. The fact that the pigeon has a leaf trapped under its wing suggests to me that it was in the tree when the falcon crashed through the branches and killed it with that wicked hooked beak. 1/15 sec at f6.3 are not the settings I would have chosen if I had time to change things.

Garden
Market garden at Kuku near Otaki

A road trip to Levin yielded little, but as I was getting near to Otaki on the way home, the meticulous rows of what I think are lettuce attracted my attention. The tree in its winter nakedness added to the image as did the lovely green/brown contrast in the field.

That’s all this time. See you when I have some more images.

Categories
Eastbourne Evans Bay Forest harbour Maritime Uncategorized Weather

March 16, 2019 … a time of grief

Our time of innocence is ended. For a very long time, New Zealand has been blessed to be  largely free of hate crimes. Yesterday, Friday 15 March, a deluded white supremacist burst into a mosque during Friday prayers. In an act of supreme cowardice, he opened fire with an automatic weapon aiming at men women and children. When he and his cowardly accomplices were done, there were 49 dead and 48 seriously wounded. Our collective heart is broken. We want no part of his so-called racial purity. He awaits trial, and I hope a very long time in prison.

Trees
Dead trees in the mist above Eastbourne

I have relatively few images to offer this week, but let’s begin with this shot taken from the main street of Eastbourne on a wet and misty day. There are tracks up through the bush to the ridge, and over to Butterfly Creek. This might not have been the best day for it, but I always like misty conditions.

Tapuhi
Tapuhi bustling to keep an appointment

A day or so later, we got one of those “blue-on-blue” days, and I got lucky as one of Centreport’s bright red tugs scooted across the horizon on its way to assist a tanker about to leave the oil terminal. The red against the blue is quite striking I think

Shelly Bay
Shelly Bay fading into obscurity

A grey day later, I was at Shelly Bay, a one-time flying boat base of the RNZAF. The city has dithered over the future of the base for as long as I can remember, and all the while, the old jetties are slowly collapsing.

Crane
A mighty Liebherr 1400 crane makes easy work of a concrete beam placement

Out at Pauatahanui, the works associated with the Transmission Gully motorway are becoming increasingly visible. This crane has a 400 Tonne lift capacity and is seen here placing bridge beams in place. The moody sky adds to the image.

Lowry Bay
Across the harbour from the Eastern bays

One of the on-line photographic tutorials that I watched this week referred to magic light. It classified this as when the light picks out the subject of your image and leaves everything else in the shade. This view of downtown Wellington as seen from Lowry Bay comes close to that light.

Golden Princess
Golden Princess … available by the kilometre

The cruise season is almost at an end with perhaps  just a few weeks more to run until next spring. Today, we had Golden Princess in port. Though I yearn for the grace of ships from an earlier era, I was impressed by the sheer grandeur of this vessel.

That’s all from me this week as I join my country in mourning the disgusting act of violence.

 

Categories
Art Aviation creativity Forest Lakes Light Machinery Maritime Rivers Weather Whanganui

March 10, 2019 … out into the provinces

Restlessness is not a good sign. I find myself wanting to do something, but not sure exactly what. Perhaps it is a signal or trigger that I should change directions for a while, or do something different.  Sometimes I follow the signs, and sometimes not. I can feel a change in the images I make, and to some degree, in the images I choose to show.

Hutt
The Hutt River, drifting down towards the Melling Bridge

My week began at home, with a mild dose of cabin fever. The weather has been somewhat dismal, neither fully fair nor fully foul. Sooner or later, something snaps and I have to get out looking for images. At the beginning of the week I went as far as Waikanae, but returned empty-handed . Then just as I pulled into Block Road at the entrance to Normandale, the state of the Hutt River caught my eye. Not a masterpiece, but it rescued my trip from being a total loss. That’s the Melling Bridge just downstream.  Then Mary decided we needed to spend a few days away, so we booked an Airbnb in Whanganui.

Turakina
Lovely land forms near Turakina in the Manawatu/Whanganui district

I have always loved the gentle undulating landscape between Bulls and Whanganui. These trees just North of Turakina and South of Ratana  invited my attention. I really must revisit that area at dawn or sunset to catch those long shadows and distant mountains in the golden hours.

Sunset (1)
Spectacular sunset off the beach at Castlecliff

We reached Whanganui and found our quirky Airbnb accommodation in the far reaches of Castlecliff. I mean no offence when I say the Castlecliff is perhaps the last bastion of the 1950s working-class houses. Many of them have that home-constructed look, but they always assert their identity as someone’s home. Anyway, working-class or not, it is but a few minutes’ walk to a sea view that anyone would be glad to see.

Paddle steamer
Waimarie – Whanganui

The next day, Mary and I went on the two-hour return cruise up the river to Upokongaro aboard the paddle steamer Waimarie. As we were waiting for time to board, I caught the swirling exhaust and some wisps of steam from her funnel.

Firebox
The whole engine room is run by one man, and all commands from the wheelhouse are just yelled down through the opening above the boiler. That’s a very good fire.

If you are sufficiently agile, and willing to take the risk upon yourself, the Waimarie’s engineer will let you climb down the vertical steel ladder to the engine-room floor. The chief engineer is also the stoker and cleaner and he does a superb job of keeping an evenly spread fire in the firebox. His deft flicks of the shovel scatter the coal where it most needs to be.

DC#
This 74 year-old beauty ZK-AWP belonging to Air Chathams still snarls as the throttles are opened, Isn’t she a beauty?

While we were aboard Waimarie, we discovered that there was a party of twelve Australians participating in a luxury tour of the North Island by DC3, stopping at various places for side-trips of interest. Their immediate side-trip was the Waimarie. Mine instantly switched out to the North end of Whanganui airport to enjoy a picnic lunch, and to watch their fabulous old plane depart. There was a  time when  they were the common-place air transport. Now the snarl of those two R1830 Twin Wasps is increasingly  a memory to be treasured.

Sunset (2)
Another sunset, this time from beside the North Mole at the river mouth. The young lady walked into my field of view so I waited until she was in the sun’s path

Later that night, there was another sunset. Who knew? It wasn’t as spectacular as the one the previous night, but I sat on a piece of driftwood at the North Mole and enjoyed the changing light.

Kowhai Park
Kowhai Park is one of the jewels in Whanganui’s crown

The next day reminded me of Jane Morgan (1958) singing “Le jour où la pluie viendra” … or perhaps in the words of Sister Rosetta Thorpe, “Oh didn’t it rain“. Eventually it eased, and so I went wandering into Kowhai Park. All five of our kids knew and loved the park for its playground, but on this trip, I was staying in the arboretum.

Cabinet
I have no idea whether the decor is officially sanctioned on this utility cabinet, but I like it

Whanganui has the same graffiti and vandalism issues as most other towns. but I liked the way they approached utility cabinets, covering them with whimsical art. At the very least, it seems to discourage the mindless tagging.

Sky
Eastern sky after the rain has passed

As the day cleared up after its many downpours, I enjoyed the view to the North East, and knowing that if I went over to that ridge I would probably get a good view of Ruapehu.

Lake
In Virginia Lake, or Rotokawau, is the Higginbottom fountain, gift of a local philanthropist. At night it is illuminated as it plays.

On our last morning in the river city, I went up St John’s Hill to Virginia Lake. The water was not quite flat calm, nor yet fully ruffled. It’s a very pretty spot.

Te Anau
The hulk of the Te Anau sitting on the sandbar.

My final shot this week stirs me. I have said before that I have a passion for ships and the sea. As we were leaving Castlecliff, I noticed a side road down to the river and poked my nose in. There was a boat ramp and a view of the commercial wharf, but most interestingly, a rusting hulk on the sandbar in the middle of the stream. I asked some local boaties about its history and was told it was just some old barge of no particular significance, just dumped there to straighten the river flow. I did some searching and found that she was the Te Anau, once a proud express liner of the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand Ltd. She was launched in 1879, and carried passengers across the Tasman 204 at a time. She served 45 years until 1924 when she was sold to serve as a breakwater. It is amazing to me how such an old ship in such a hostile environment still keeps the form of her hull after 140 years.

Back to normal next week.

Categories
Adventure Forest harbour Light Maritime Weather Wellington

January 03, 2019 … the road goes ever on and on*

Happy New Year to all my readers, and especially to those who have been with me for so long. The WYSIWYG identity has gone through a number of evolutions since I first used it in 1993. I hope to make another step forward today.  I still intended to provide a selection of images with associated comments, but I want to tighten up the connection between what I see, how I interpret it and how I describe it. You may or may not notice the difference, but you are welcome, as always to share your thoughts in the comments.

Port
A busy corner of Wellington’s port

The interisland ferry Kaiarahi approaches its berth in Wellington with great care. In the background, the small black vessel which is the unlikely neighbour to the cruise liner, celebrity Solstice is the LPG tanker, Bougainville, carrying 5,000 cubic metres of liquefied petroleum gas.

I made the picture because I liked the colours, and the shapes being formed as Kaiarahi moved slowly towards the loading ramp. A clear blue sky is not usually a good thing for photographers, an in this case there are some wisps of high cloud to break up the blue expanse. I am ambivalent about the lifeboat lowered for inspection, and the work boat being exercised beside Celebrity Solstice. Are they a distraction, or do they serve to break a large block of white paint?

5mile
Five-mile track in Catchpool valley

I offer this image as a representative patch of the bush on the five-mile track in the Catchpool Valley in the Remutaka Forest Park. I always enjoy this park visually, despite the struggle I have to make images that show it in a pleasing way.

As you see the track is well-formed, and the bush really is that green. Whatever the weather outside, the ridges to North and South and the trees themselves seem to shelter the walker  from whatever wind there might be.

I think this would be a better image if I had stepped off the path to the left and thus not made the path quite so central. On the other hand, there was a steep drop to the left.

beechs
A fine stand of beech trees

I made mention of a representative patch of bush. A few hundred metres further, and the character of the bush is entirely different. Instead of the dense low bush, I found myself in a stand of magnificent beech trees.

I made this image for the beautiful soft light I found there, and I hope WordPress does it justice. Take note of the leaf carpet.

Bush pictures, including this one, struggle to reconcile the contrast between earth and sky. Perhaps it might have worked better as a panoramic shot without the glittering sky.

Roots
Tree root ladder …. the steps are much taller than they might look

And another hundred metres brought me to this “root ladder”. There was a time when I would have bounded up over this without a thought. Sadly I struggle to get my knees high enough for each step now. I did get over it, but not as easily as I used to.

About here, I realised I had lost a small but important plastic moulded piece from the bottom of the centre column of my tripod. Where might I have lost it? I went back to the beech grove where I had last set it up and started looking around among all that leaf mold that I referred to earlier. Great glory, I found it!

The main virtue of this picture is that it illustrates the typical way in which tree roots are incorporated into the walkways. Sadly, nature doesn’t provide for wheelchair access.

Pt Howard
Pt Howard oil wharf and Ward Island on a perfectly blue New Year’s day

New Year’s day in Lowry Bay on the Eastern side of Wellington Harbour,. The residents of this up-market suburb have to tolerate the unsightly Pt Howard oil terminal. On this spectacular morning, the harbour was still and on this moment, I am prepared to make an exception for the blue sky. Truth to tell, I like those “blue-on-blue” days when the horizon gets lost somewhere out there where sea and sky come together.

The clarity of the air was such that Ward Island in the harbour entrance, and the leading light just to its left were sparklingly clear.

I liked this picture as a start to making pictures in a new year. I like it for its simplicity, as well as for the fact that some of my photographic friends couldn’t figure out where I had taken it from. A conservative judge might complain that it is very centrally placed.

Kaitoke (1)
Tumbling clear water at Kaitoke

Yesterday, Mary and I went to the regional park at the Kaitoke waterworks, a little North of Upper Hutt in the foothills of the Tararua ranges. I should have known better. It was a public holiday and a fine day and there must have been thousands of people camping, hiking, swimming and picnicking in the park. As you may have noticed, Landscape is my usual photographic preference and I tend to avoid people.

This picture is at surface level in one of the creeks in the park and if you click to enlarge, you will see the many colours in the stones that caught my eye. On the far side of the creek, the dead trees are the remnants of a landslide. If you look closely at the fern fronds on the far bank you can tell that the day was not as calm as the day before.

The milky effect on the water under the far bank, and the hazy effect around the near stones give away the fact that I used a neutral density filter to make a 20 second exposure here.

River
A lovely river landscape in Kaitoke

My last image for this week was also made at Kaitoke. I clambered down a steep path and down a root ladder, past an unbelievably discarded used baby diaper, onto a part of the stream where there were very few people. I sat on a stream-side boulder and set up my tripod to catch another long exposure.

Though I could fiddle a bit with this image, I quite like it. I might crop a little off the bottom to eliminate the distracting light grey boulders in the lower right hand corner.

And that’s all for this week.

*J.R.R. Tolkien used the Road goes ever on and on in a few places … I like the one in the Lord of the Rings:

The road goes ever on and on,
down from the door where it began.