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

July 27, 2021 … taking life as it comes

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

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

One of those days

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

New Zealand Native Wood Pigeon

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


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

Clinker built

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


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

Sacred Kingfisher

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

Royal Spoonbills

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

Ivey Bay

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

Lily parts

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

Another familiar view

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

Faithful old workhorse

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

King Alfred Daffodils

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

Magic morning

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

Naval Whaler

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

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

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

Architecture Aviation Miramar Rongotai

March 16, 2013 … occupying the high ground

New places from which to look down are always welcome.

Last week sometime, I mentioned a hill near Wellington Airport that I had not previously noticed.  Perhaps it would be more sensible to say that I had never previously seen the potential of the hill as a viewing platform. The hill is the one on the Southern side of the Miramar cutting … the one that all the fuss was bout when there was a crass and tasteless proposal to put a “Wellywood” sign on its side.  It still has a crass and tasteless sign on it, but at least it’s not as idiotic as “Wellywood”.

Anyway, this hill can be accessed by pedestrians only, from Wexford Rd in Miramar, so yesterday I climbed the forty or so metres up the grassy slopes to the summit and sat on a wooden bench with a camera and a splendid view over the airport.

As I have said several times before, when I go somewhere with a photographic purpose, I check out what can be seen in the other directions. Since there was nothing of immediate interest on the runway, I looked around the neighbourhood and saw one house that stood out from the older dwellings in the area. As they say, there can be no useful argument about taste, and I pass no judgement in that regard, but the house makes a statement. It stands out.

Housing in Miramar, adjacent to the airport runway
Bold colours

The airport was quiet, but the only medium-sized airliner on the field began its take off run. In case I haven’t mentioned it, though the sky was clear, the wind had reached the strongest I can recall in several months. It was actually difficult to stand on that hilltop and keep the camera steady. With the wind howling straight down the runway, that Boeing B737-300 went up like an express elevator. Despite my proximity to the airport, I think the ambient wind noise drowned most of the jet sound, and within a moment or two, it was gone.

Air New Zealand B737 departing
Climbing steeply into a strong headwind. The aircraft on the ground is an ancient Convair 580 belonging to Chathams Air

Looking behind me, I saw grey clouds which is quite a change, but it is a pleasant view looking up the Western side of Evans Bay with all its little twists and turns to Point Jerningham. Behind it and to the left, Mt Kaukau and the TV mast stand tall.

Evans Bay and Mt Kaukau
I love that snaky road

Away to the South, glittering lights in the far distance soon resolved themselves into the unmistakable patter of the landing lights of another B737. The wind got stronger, and I could see the struggle the crew were having to keep the wings level as it crossed the threshold and then landed, one wheel at a time. It must have been quite exciting from inside.

Air New Zealand B737 arrives
Take-offs are optional. Landings are mandatory. Some are better than others.

A quick trip to Napier tomorrow. Let’s see what that brings.

Aviation Birds Rongotai Weather Wellington

December 5, 2012 … wings and wind

Flax flowers are intoxicating …

Nectar addict… or so it would seem from watching the tui which clamber over them all day long extracting the nectar from them.

I opened the front door on my way to the car, and there, not three metres away, was a tui systematically visiting each trumpet-like flower on the nearest bush. Since I had both cameras on my harness, I quietly lifted the long lens and caught this one. After each flower had been drained (and not before) he flew off down the valley and I resumed my journey to the city.

Almost gale force Northerly winds buffeted the car on my way in, with low cloud and some nasty rain rattling on my windows. I went up over Mt Victoria and round some of the back streets of Roseneath looking down onto Evans Bay and the airport.

Steep departure

Planes were rotating and climbing out of the airport almost before they were level with the terminal. The angle of climb looked phenomenal, though I am not totally certain that it is really all that different on a calm day.

Into the wild blue yonderWith such low cloud, it took very little time indeed before the departing planes were disappearing into the murk.

Overlooking Evans Bay

Down lower on the slopes, I noticed a promontory whose residents must catch the full aural benefit of every departure to the North or arrival to the South. That sea wall at the top of the picture is the embankment adjacent to Cobham Drive at the Northern end of the runway.

Then it was back through the evening rush traffic and home.


Aviation harbour Landscapes Light Rongotai

August 17, 2012 … this is the new normal

So I have been whining too much.

OK, I’m over it. No more excuses. Lunch in town with an old friend yesterday and the chance to catch up with my younger daughter gave me a reason to stay in town for the afternoon. Of course, now that I am retired, I owe it to myself to take a siesta when the need strikes me. So I did. I parked at the Eastern end of Oriental Parade, locked the doors, laid the seat back, and dozed off for a while.

Later in the afternoon, when I came to, the sky was getting ominous out to the South, though there was still some direct sunlight. I went out through Evans Bay, where several things caught my eye. The bright green boat shed with the red door was reflecting nicely, but I have done that here before. Bold red colour made this small boat stand apart form the crowd, so this is my choice from Evans Bay.Red yacht, Evans Bay

Those odd multi-coloured blocks in the background to the right of the red boat, are a wind sculpture entitled “Urban Forest” by Leon Van Den Eijkel, in collaboration with Allan Brown. The cubes spin in the wind. It is one of several kinetic sculptures along that road.

I went from there through  Kilbirnie to Lyall Bay. There, a dramatic weather sky behind Moa Point obscured Pencarrow and made a stunning black backdrop for the aircraft landing and taking off from the South.

Airbus turning on to the runwayThere were still bright shafts of light from the sky and together with the landing lights of the aircraft it made quite a spectacle.  As always, the pictures look better if enlarged.

OK, I think I am back to normal.