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December 21, 2016 … an island, a wedding, some volcanoes and home

Man o'war Bay
Man o’war Bay, Waiheke Island

The day before the wedding, Mary and I explored the Eastern end of Waiheke. I suppose the woeful state of the roads in what is legally part of the city of Auckland is some sort of social engineering mechanism to keep the peasants at bay. Well it got us to at least one bay – after 20 km of narrow, uneven edge-crumbling single-lane road we arrived at Man o’War Bay. There is a restaurant vineyard  and upscale accommodation, but we were just touring. The view to the East is delightful on such a day as this. Tarakihi Island and Pakatoa are in the foreground with the Coromandel Peninsula a hazy blue in the distance. We completed the loop back to the suburbanized part of the Island and had a picnic lunch on a quiet part of Onetangi Beach.

Auckland
The distant city … Auckland across the blustery Hauraki Gulf and Brown’s Island

Mary did a long walk in the afternoon while I explored some of the bays and side roads near our accommodation. Somewhere above Kauaroa Bay, there was a long view back towards Auckland City. Just above Brown’s Island the Sky Tower and Auckland’s high-rise buildings were visible through the wind-driven salt haze.

Ring
With this ring, I thee wed. Neil places the ring on Jo’s finger with the blue waters of the Hauraki Gulf as a backdrop

The day of the wedding was fine and calm. It was an absolute picture post card day, and all that any bride could wish for. Our niece, Jo married Neil in a nice lodge above Palm Beach  in a joyful ceremony combining his Indian and her Kiwi heritage. Their ceremony was a happy mix of tradition and modern elements, and the hundred or so guests from near and very far were treated to some wonderful hospitality as they celebrated with Jo and Neil.  We were privileged to be there.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
“When you come to the end of a perfect day” … looking down on Rocky Bay, Waiheke

Mary and I left younger guests to carry on and went back to our accommodation about 8 km to the East. As we get near to our Summer solstice, the sunsets happen late in the evening and this view from our balcony looking back towards Auckland brought the day to a perfect close.

Bees
Honey bees and pohutukawa – Waiheke

The next day we began the journey South and after a coffee with the happy couple, and Jo’s dad, Mary’s brother and his wife, we went to wait for the ferry at Kennedy Point. Summer comes to Auckland early and perhaps even earlier to Waiheke. Pohutukawa were in prolific flower, and I was happy to see what I believe to be many feral honey bees. Then we drove across the South Eastern suburbs of Auckland and onto SH1, all the way back as far as Tokaanu.

Tokaanu
Early morning drizzle at Tokaanu, Lake Taupo

Next morning, the last day of our round trip dawned soft and grey over the lake. There was no wind and the lightest of drizzles. The old Tokaanu wharf seemed like a place to start. The Southern end of the lake was covered with black swans grazing on the weed below. There were scaup and dabchicks, shags and swallows and in the reeds behind me I could hear bitterns booming. Spoonbills flew overhead and it was just a wonderful place to be.

scaup
Black scaup pops to the surface

Despite its somewhat rickety state, I braved the wharf and walked as quietly as I could along its ancient creaking structure. Occasionally a scaup would emerge alongside me from a long dive, take a moment to realise that there was a human very close before squawking and flapping off.

swallow
Welcome swallow on ancient wood

Another frequent flyer in the neighborhood was the Welcome Swallow. They flit about with regular changes of direction harvesting airborne insect, and then resting on the wharf. This one was as close as it could be while still in focus, but for some reason when it flew it came towards me. It would have been a great shot if it had not come inside my focus ability.

And then we drove home.

 

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Adventure Camera club Lake Taupo Lakes mountains Taupo Tauranga

May 4, 2015 … tired and happy, homeward bound

Conventions are hard work.

Break
The last tea break of the convention. Pastries were nice, though not necessarily appropriate for me.

This particular convention required a great deal of concentration since one of the major speakers was explicitly expert in a highly technical area. Many of us watched the things that could be done with no hope of remembering how to do them, but at least we learned where to look for the detailed knowledge. I imagine that the organizers of next year’s convention in Queenstown may wish to have keynote speakers who address the aesthetics of photography rather than its mechanics. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of this, but I saw many participants whose eyes were as glazed as mine.  The last morning tea break happened amongst the trade stands. Some brown powder in sachets pretended to be coffee but wasn’t. Then the last session, and with my passenger Helen, we set out for home.

Taupo
Looking to Ruapehu (with snow, on the left), Ngauruhoe (Mt Doom) and Tongariro. This is from Five Mile Bay near the North East of Lake Taupo.

At the urging of a fellow photographer, we took the route from Tauranga through Rotorua to Taupo. Contrary to the advice I received, it is not only 27 km longer than the route over the Kaimai range to Putaruru but seemed at least half an hour longer, especially given the crawl through suburban Rotorua. Never mind, I forgive her. We carried on to an entirely unmemorable lunch at Waiotapu.  After the Taupo bypass, we paused for a photo break at Five Mile Bay south of Taupo township. We could see cloud building up behind the mountain, and feel its chill despite the calm surface of the lake.

SH1
Pleasant but busy conditions on SH1

From there, it was the long haul down SH1 on the Eastern side of the lake to Turangi and up to the volcanic plateau.

Ruapehu
Ruapehu slips the cloud from its shoulder. This is an active volcano.

We caught glimpses of the mighty mountain as we followed the narrow winding approach to the plateau, but by the time we were on the high part of the road, it was mostly obscured. It disappeared entirely long before we got to Waiouru.

It’s great to be home.