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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.

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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.

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Adventure Bayou Birds Lakes Landscapes Light Maritime Paremata Reflections Rivers Trees Wairarapa

July 1, 2019 … celebrating the stillness

This edition appears earlier than I intended because I am scheduled for a surgical procedure on Wednesday. Nothing unusual for a man of my age, nor is it particularly sinister, but it will apparently slow me down for a few weeks. Some might ask how much slower can I go ūüôā

Since the last edition, there have been more still days than not. Yes, in Wellington! In fact every one of the images in this edition was made in conditions of flat calm. I love this, but I need to avoid slipping into a wind-dependent rut.

In fact, having been asked for a photograph of a particular topic, I did a quick skim-browse through about 100,000 images in my back catalogue. The way in which my photographic style has changed over the last decade was very noticeable. I also decided that I have a lot of very diverse images that I really like, and that would benefit from current post-processing techniques. That’s something that I might start on during my recovery period. I seem to have narrowed my range of subjects in recent times.

Pukekos
A cluster of Pukeko

My youngest son Anthony and his wife Sarah had been cycling on the Hutt River trail and drew to my attention, a park and lake that none of us previously knew. Just to the West of SH2 where the River road rejoins Fergusson Drive in Upper Hutt, is beautiful Te Haukaretu Park.

It is probably little known because it is at least 500 metres in either direction from the nearest vehicle access. The small lake is a delight and is enriched by the presence of many ducks, geese, pigeons and pukeko. The pukeko is an iridescent blue swamphen (Porphyrio melanotus) which seems to fly only as a last resort. There were a dozen or so at the lake when Mary and I visited. Look at the massive size of their feet. Perfect for walking on the weed that covers many swamps.

Trees in the lake
Some of the trees in and around Te Haukaretu Park

I am unsure what the trees are, that sit in the lake, but their wide bases reminded me of the visit Mary and I made to the Louisiana bayous back in 2012 Neither alligators nor Spanish moss here, but I had that fragmentary reminder of a very pleasant memory, with no noisy airboats or garrulous tour guides to spoil the peace.

Little blacks
Little black shags

On some calm days, I am prompted to revisit old familiar haunts. In this case I went around Port Road in Seaview where there is a substantial dead tree that has drifted downstream until it wedged in the Waiwhetu stream. It is a much used resting place for shags of all kinds. On this day, two little black shags (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris) in breeding plumage were whispering sweet nothings to each other. The green and gold reflections from the toetoe grass on the far bank helped to transform an ordinary scene into something special.

White-faced heron
White-faced heron browsing at Pauatahanui

Though I hope for the local re-appearance of the kotuku, the white heron, its smaller cousin matuku, the white-faced heron shares the same elegant form. They are numerous in the Pauatahanui Inlet. They move with grace through the shallows. One step after another, they stir the mud with the free foot and spear anything that is dislodged or is foolish enough to move. If they are provoked into flight, their slow deliberate departure is pure poetry to watch.

Unknown boat
A work boat at Paremata

Ivey Bay seems not to be a familiar name to many people. Wellingtonians drive through it often without registering its name. It is that little corner of the Pauatahanui inlet where SH58 meets SH1 at the road and rail bridges. It has some colourful boat sheds and character-filled work boats that have long since been adapted as pleasure boats. I haven’t found a name for this boat (above), but it is my current favourite for its honest workman-like simplicity.

Ivey Bay (1)
The boat sheds at Ivey Bay

Though it is less picturesque in rough weather, Ivey bay is just gorgeous when the conditions are right. It combines a beautiful natural environment with a quirky human settlement and some interesting old boats. The mudflats that appear when the tide is low do not spoil it.

Ivey Bay (2)
Some people are lucky enough to live here

The Eastern end of Ivey Bay has a Kindergarten on the beach and a number of rather nice houses along its steep banks with some of the best views in the region. Certainly their sunsets must be spectacular.

Whitby
Whitby reflections

I don’t often venture into abstraction, but the reflections of Whitby on the inlet just begged to be used. When Mary and I moved back to Wellington in 1980, Whitby was much more sparsely populated. Now it is a densely packed area of relatively upmarket dwellings. Whereas it is not an area in which I would choose to live, the houses offer some interesting patterns on the water.

Foggy lake
Lake Wairarapa in the fog

And then came the foggy day. Somehow that rarely carries to the Western side of the Haywards hill so I stayed on SH2 through Upper Hutt and over the Remutaka hill to Featherston. In the Wairarapa, the fog was a bit selective. It came down the Tauherenikau River and followed the Western side of the Lake leaving the East bathed in sunlight. I wanted the fog so I began my exploration at the Lake Reserve near Featherston. There, the only things visible from the shore were the sad rusty piles that are the sole reminder of the Wairarapa Yacht Club’s long defunct Hansell’s Jetty.

Old jetty
The jetty’s sad remains

I have made other images of the derelict jetty in other conditions, but different light makes different pictures. I have a weakness for delicate blues and greys and this one really seemed to fit. Apart from a few black swans in the hazy distance there was nothing to see beyond the end of the piles.

Trees
The old 180¬į trick

Whenever I think I have exhausted the possibilities in one direction, I need to remember to look behind me. There is often something to see in the other direction. On this occasion the trees across Barton’s Lagoon offered a ghostly appearance which I liked.

Karapoti
Karapoti in the frost

Just a little to the East of Upper Hutt on the Akatarawa road is the Karapoti forest. It is much loved by cyclists for its mountain bike trails, and disliked by the ambulance crews for the same reason. Considering how close it is to Upper Hutt City, Karapoti is a really wild and rugged area. It even seems to have its own climate.

As I drove towards the park where the trail begins it was nearing mid-dayand there was still thick frost in the shaded areas. Across a farm paddock, there was smoke rising from a small building and the unmistakable smell of frying bacon The occupant certainly knew how to ward off the cold. Luckily, Mary had made a delicious lunch to help me on my wandering. she’s a keeper.

All going well I should publish another edition in two or three weeks. See you then.

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Adventure Architecture Birds flowers harbour Lakes Landscapes Light Maritime Melbourne Museum Railway Vehicles

2 May, 2019 … back from the dead

Perhaps it’s just that I was too lazy to find out how to use it properly, or maybe it was the lack of a feedback mechanism. Whatever the reason, my venture into another platform¬† for the regular sharing of my photography and writing proved unsatisfactory.¬† I overlooked the difference between a portfolio and a blog.

So it is that the blog lives on for a while longer. I shall retain the Adobe Portfolio site (https://harmerbrian.myportfolio.com) as a receptacle for a permanent core gallery, but I have resuscitated the Wysiwygpurple site for periodic posts of recent work. Perhaps not weekly as in the past, but we shall see how it evolves.

Accordingly, in this post, you will find a collection of 18 images that I liked best in the month of April.

post
Red painted post

April in Wellington was grey. We had some long periods of rain which might be expected to slow down my photographic urges. On the other hand there is cabin fever, and I ended up hoping to make a feature of the weather. This was a puddle in the gravel road into the park at the Western end of Petone beach. It was just a puddle except for the red-painted post and its reflection which transformed it.

Geese
Canada geese in flight

Another grey day and comparative calm led me to hope for still water on Pauatahanui inlet. Sadly there were a lot of residual ripples on the water. On the other hand there was a substantial flock of Canada geese. I attempted to sneak up on them, but they have sharp senses and flew off as I got near. Shooting season starts in the coming weekend and many of them are smart enough to gather on these protected waters.

reflection
Stillness and light

A little further around the edge of the inlet, I found that a small pond was blessed with exactly the kind of stillness I was seeking and reflected the reeds beautifully. And then a break in the clouds caused the Belmont hills to light up. If I were judging, I would say I now have two separate disconnected images, one of the reflections and one of the hills.  Not a prizewinner, but interesting.

Ja1271
Parked, cold and still Ja1271

At Paekakariki, Steam Inc restore and maintain their fleet of locomotives and other rolling stock. As I was driving past I spotted Ja1271 parked on a siding between the sheds and the road. They needed the space in the shed to work on another locomotive. It’s fairly rare to get clear walk-around access to one of these splendid machines. How odd that I should have made an image from the same sort of angle that I might have done inside the shed. On the other hand I like the contribution that the tracks make to the image.

Wet
City bound traffic on a wet morning

As I said it has been a dull month, and this shot looking North up SH2 from the Normandale overbridge catches the general spirit of the day. Despite the headlights and windscreen wipers, this is 9:30 am in Lower Hutt.

orchid
“Feed me Seymour”* … detail of an orchid

No matter the weather outside, there is always colour to be had in the begonia house of Wellington’s Botanic Garden. This shot is down the throat of a lovely orchid, taken close enough to exclude all background distractions.

Water lily
Water lily in the begonia house

Also inside the begonia house there is a pond full of carp and water lilies. I always love getting close to water level for a different perspective.

Sea Lion
Sea Lion launched in 1946 and looking her age

Sea Lion is an old and well-loved work vessel with lots of character. In recent times its owner has either caused or allowed it to be painted with cartoon birds. Though I think this 73-year-old vessel deserved a more dignified treatment it makes me smile nevertheless

Lady Elizabeth
Police launch Lady Elizabeth IV engaged in inshore rescue duties

Lady Elizabeth IV is the Wellington police launch. It is seen here bouncing in choppy waters off Shelly Bay and its RIB cradle is empty because the inflatable is effecting a rescue closer inshore. I have the sad memory of watching her next but one predecessor sailing out through the heads in a gale and never returning.

Tram
The 109 tram leaving Graham St, Port Melbourne

On Good Friday, Mary and I flew to Melbourne to spend a week with our elder daughter Catherine and her husband Mark. We had a great time and enjoyed their tremendous hospitality. I love Melbourne, though I wonder if the day will ever come when there are not at least a dozen new high-rise buildings under construction, each with multiple tower-cranes. The world’s most extensive tram system and the Myki electronic ticketing make it an easy city to get around, though I don’t enjoy the rush-hour.

Beacon
One of the two navigation beacons in Beacon Cove

Port Philip Bay is a vast expanse of water and it puzzles me just how often it is glassy calm. I confess to assisting it a little in this case with a neutral density filter and an 8 second exposure. Just to the West of the Tasmania Ferry terminal is Beacon cove where this beacon and an identical one a few hundred metres inland provide a navigational aid for ships bound for the port.

Shrine
Inside the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne

We visited Melbourne in the week of ANZAC day and took the opportunity to visit the Shrine of Remembrance in the city’s stunning Royal Botanic Gardens. We went inside the main building and I was intrigued by the interior of the pyramid-like roof.

Melbourne
St Kilda Rd and Swanston St, downtown Melbourne

From the upper levels of the shrine’s roof there is a great view of the city’s downtown skyline. This view looks past the spire of the Art Centre, across the bridge over the Yarra. St Paul’s Cathedral and up the length of Swanston St. In the distance (three km away) is the Portrait building. This 32 story apartment block has the portrait of Aboriginal leader William Barak etched in the white concrete of its balcony facings.

Lake
Lake Daylesford, Victoria

The next day Mark and Catherine took us on a very pleasant road trip to Daylesford, 110 km to the North West of the city. Daylesford is a very pretty rural spa town at the foot of the Great Dividing range. With a population of about 2,500 it seems to cater for the tourists who visit the many spas nearby. We spent some time at Lake Daylesford before a pleasant lunch in a local restaurant and a leisurely  trip back to Port Melbourne.

Arcade
Shopping arcade, Melbourne

Melbourne’s CBD has a large number of shopping arcades, most of which have been restored to their original glory or better. There are some great restaurants in the various lanes, and far too many chocolate shops for the good of my waist line.

Miner
Noisy Miner on colourful shrub, Port Melbourne

I walked down to Beacon Cove again, and on the way through Port Melbourne’s Garden City Reserve, spotted this very musical bird which, as far as I can tell is a Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala), an Australian Native, not to be confused with the introduced Common Myna from India. It is a member of the honeyeater family.

Port Philip Bay
A grey wet morning in Melbourne

Several visits to Beacon Cove produced some interesting opportunities. This was a wet morning on which Port Philip Bay disappeared into the grey distance. The iron fence is on Princes Pier. It’s like one of those comic book gates with no surrounding fence. There seems to be nothing to stop people walking out to the pier itself.

Piles
The historic piles of Princes Pier

That being the case, I went around the end of the fence and stood on the edge of the restored part of the pier and attempted to capture something of its original piles. Again the neutral density filter was used to enable a 25 second exposure and provide stillness on the water’s surface. In the local ANZAC memorial service which we attended, much was made of this pier as the departure point for the Australian soldiers setting sail for the Gallipoli campaign.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them**

* Little Shop of Horrors by Frank Oz

** For the Fallen, by Laurence Binyon

Categories
Adventure Architecture Camera club History Landscapes Light Otaki Paremata Santa Rosa sunrise Sunset Weather Wellington

October 13, 2017 … around the region and further afield

Sometimes I have to work hard to find an image in otherwise drab circumstances, However, sometimes the effort pays off.

Harbour and CBD
A moody evening in Wellington

We have had a lot of grey weather recently, but even in such circumstances I love our city.

Waiwhetu
In the heart of Lower Hutt on the Waiwhetu Stream

Even in dull weather, as long as the wind is absent, I can usually find something worth a look. This is the Waiwhetu Stream on Riverside Drive, near Gracefield. Just out of view above the trees is the Wainuiomata hill with its busy traffic.

Exhibition
Hutt Camera club’s annual exhibition

Every year at about this time, the Hutt Camera club (of which I am president) holds its annual exhibition, and as I have done before, I made a panorama that includes all sixty images. Three of them are mine.

Drizzle
Early morning drizzle in the Hutt Valley

And on the subject of weather, or indeed any other obstacle to my photographic endeavours, sometimes it is an idea to photograph the obstacle itself.  This view from our house looks along High Street through morning drizzle to the Hutt Hospital.

Camborne
Towards the setting sun from the water tower at Camborne

Then the obstacle disappears, and we get what with tongue in cheek, we call “a typical Wellington day at last”. This image was a panoramic stitch made from a small hill in Camborne, looking out towards Mana Island.

Dotterel
Banded dotterel just below the swirling wind and sand

Then the wind returned and outside shooting was just plain uncomfortable. When I say wind, I mean a North Westerly blast in which standing up was actually difficult. I chose to follow the coast road from Wainuiomata to the South coast which was, in many ways a stupid idea. Wind of that strength picks up a significant portion of the sand on the beach and attempts to inject it into any opening, eyes, ears, nostrils, lenses. Nevertheless I struggled down the beach and then lay flat on my back in the lee of a small sand dune. I could hear the wind shrieking and feel the sand bouncing off the back of the hood on my jacket. I lay still and pointed the camera downwind and was lucky to catch this banded dotterel. It seemed unperturbed by the wind and may in fact have been small enough to be in a relatively calm boundary layer.

Otaki Forks
High water levels in the fast flowing Waiotauru River

A day or so later, Mary and I went to Otaki forks. It was a grey day with intermittent rain, but we arrived at Boielle flat in a period of little wind and no rain. Mary explored the beginnings of the Southern Crossing which, for the fit and well-prepared is a three-day hike across the Tararua range to Featherston in the Wairarapa. While she did that I fiddled with my camera to catch this view of the Waiotauru River.

Yachts
Good sailing days are not lost just because it rains

Later in the week we had one of those soft days. In fact it as the day on which I was¬† to lead the Wellington occurrence of Scott Kelby’s 10th annual Worldwide Photowalk through Newtown. In fact the day was more than soft, it was downright wet. But, since this is Wellington, local sailors were undeterred.

Mist
Though it’s time to go, I shall really miss this view

My last picture for this edition is from a viewpoint that must be familiar to long-term readers. We have lived here since October 1980 … our¬† five kids grew up here. There have been moments of celebration, of joy and of sadness as you would expect in any house you occupy for such a length of time. We have weathered various storms and remained shaken but not stirred through many earthquakes in the last 37 years, but now, recognising our changing circumstances, it is time to move on, and today we signed a contract with an agency to put our house on the market. We know exactly where we want to purchase, and¬† it is exactly in the middle of that river mist down in the flat part of the valley.

Santa Rosa
Santa Rosa’s famous “round barn” in July 2012 …. looking Westward in the late evening. The flat grey roof below the ridge was the Fountaingrove Inn. Both are now destroyed along with devastation to housing and lives lost. Ironically the red sky in this image was attributed to wildfires near Clearlake, CA.

Well, it was going to be the last image, but I can’t let this issue end without expressing my sympathy and grief for the people of beautiful Santa Rosa and other parts of¬† Northern California. In my past life, I spent many months on several occasions working with the New Zealand Dairy Board whose North American headquarters were in Santa Rosa. I spent a lot of time in the Fountaingrove Inn just below the historic round barn on the hill. A large part of this lovely town in the heart of the wine country is destroyed. Lives and homes have been lost and even from this great distance, I grieve with you.

 

 

 

Categories
Adventure Animals Arachnids Birds Brisbane Landscapes Waves Weather Wellington

July 23, 2017 … there and back again

Since I last wrote, Mary and I spent eleven days in Queensland with our eldest son and his lovely family. In so doing we missed most of the wildest and coldest storm Wellington has had in four or five years.

Fishing
Fishing at Tinchi Tamba Wetlands Reserve

The very first evening in Brisbane was just the opposite of hat was starting to happen already back in Wellington. It was a warm evening  with a delightful rosy sunset starting to happen on the North Pine river at Tinchi Tamba wetlands.

Kangaroos
Wild Kangaroos at Tinchi Tamba

On the way in, Mary and I had spotted the mob of feral kangaroo and I really should have taken the shot then before the sun disappeared.  I am told this is a mature female with its immature offspring.

Glass House Mountains
Glass House Mountain sunset

Rowena and David had arranged for us all to spend three days on the Sunshine Coast at Noosa. On the way there, we visited the stunning Mary Cairncross reserve. If you are in the area North of Brisbane and like nature this is not to be missed. Regrettably we arrived rather late in the day, so it was very dark inside the rainforest area. Happily, there was a lovely view out over the Glass House Mountains, before we carried on to Noosa.

Noosaville
Lagoon at Noosaville

As luck would have it, it rained on our first day at Noosa, but it didn’t prevent a nice sunset glow on the lagoon behind our accommodation.

Wattlebird
Brush Wattlebird at Noosa

On our last day there,  we went out on Noosa Sound on a rented boat, and during a brief walk ashore at the Noosa Spit Recreation Reserve, I managed a shot of this handsome Brush Wattlebird.

Orbweb
Golden Orbweb Spider

Not to everyone’s taste, but equally handsome to my eye was this Golden Orbweb spider … apparently a small one at about the size of the palm of my hand.

Pelicans
There’s always one who can’t keep the rhythm – Pelicans

The youngsters went back to school and parents back to work, so Mary and I spent some time exploring the delights of the Brisbane River on the excellent Rivercat ferries.  It was a  delight to see the formation of Pelicans flying over us against a clear blue sky.

Water Dragon
Water Dragon – Gardens Point

Back in the city, in the magnificent gardens at Gardens Point, we encountered a water dragon. In summer there are dozens of them, but since this was midwinter and the temperature a mere 22 deg C, they were harder to find.

Brisbane
Goodbye to Brisbane til next time … not bad for an iPhone shot

All to soon it was time to return to reality. Having stowed my camera in the overhead locker, I resorted to my iPhone to capture a departing shot of this lovely city.

Storm
Into the storm over the Marlborough Sounds

Categories
Adventure Architecture Art Birds Brisbane Family Light Maritime Melbourne Weather

December 7, 2016 … a happy conclusion

Now I am home. No matter how much I love being with my sons and daughters and grandchildren, there is an inevitable time when being home is the right place to be.

Brisbane
A bright day in downtown Brisbane

Last Wednesday in Brisbane started off in spectacular Queensland fashion, with bright sunshine and high temperature. I went to town to meet my son, David and the day seemed perfect. After lunch, he went back to work, and I set out to take in the sights.

Curlew
Bush Stone Curlews in Brisbane’s botanic garden

The Botanic Gardens in Brisbane are intrinsically beautiful but are also a place where you can find exotic wild life such as water dragons and lizards of various types. For me, the greatest joy was coming across a family of the somewhat rare bush stone curlew. I got down on my belly and wriggled close. These birds have as their first line of defense the habit of freezing in place when disturbed, so I was doing quite well. Then a pair of lead-footed runners came galloping through and scattered them.

storm (1)
Coming back towards the city on the River Cat, into the approaching storm

From there I used my Brisbane transport card and boarded one of the River Cat ferries and went upstream to St Lucia and then back down to the city terminal. Remember that perfect weather? It disappeared before my very eyes and the sky got dark very quickly.

Bridge
Victoria Bridge and everyone knows the rain is coming

I got off at the North Quay and looked over my shoulder across the Victoria Bridge from Queen Street. This was starting to look serious.

Rain
There are a lot of gaps in the verandahs in Brisbane. I think I found most of them

Then there was a flash and the stunning crash¬† to signify that the skies were now officially open.Oh Lord, didn’t it rain!¬† I was unwilling to stand out in the open with almost continuous lightning strikes and a calamitous downpour.¬† By the time I got back to David’s work, I was drenched.

Brisbane
Brisbane Panorama from High over Southbank

The next day, the family took me out to dinner on the city’s Southbank area where we were able to look at the brand new workplace where my daughter-in-law Rowena works. Outside another storm was threatening but I took the opportunity to compile a nine shot panoramic stitch of the the view from her floor. I like Brisbane very much.

Port Melbourne
On the beach at Port Melbourne

The next day I flew out to Melbourne to visit my elder daughter Catherine and her husband, Mark. Though still warm by Wellington standards, Melbourne was being gentle with me. Port Melbourne is a delightful suburb and gives access to some wonderful views out over the vastness of Port Phillip Bay.

Pier
Prince’s Pier, Port Melbourne

One of the great clich√© photos from Port Melbourne is Prince’s Pier which was once a busy working wharf, but is now a mixture of preserved piles and a work of art. My stay was over all too soon, and it was back home. I loved visiting the kids, but being back home with Mary and in our own house just feels right.

Categories
Adventure Architecture Art Brisbane Butterflies creativity Family Landscapes Light Museum Reflections Sunset

November 30, 2016 … on the West Island

Here I am in the big brown island next door. It’s 8:20 am and already the thermometer is telling me it’s 26 deg C, and heading for 28. I am enjoying the hospitality of my eldest son David and his wife, and loving being here with them and our two beautiful grandchildren. Apart from the weather, a slight bonus is that the earth has not moved at all while I have been here.

Sunset
Sunset at Bald Hills

I came over on Wednesday, flying into the Gold Coast airport at Coolangatta. An old friend and former colleague kindly transported me the 20 km or so from the airport to Varsity Lakes railway station, which is the southern limit of Brisbane’s commuter rail network. It was a pleasant run of about 90 minutes into Brisbane Central station where I met up with David who drove us home. Nearing Bald Hills in the heavy evening traffic, I enjoyed the magnificent sunset.

Swan plants
This was a tiny part of a vast field of swan plants

On Friday, David took me to a favourite location nearby, the Tinchi Tamba wetlands. Unlike Wellington, South East Queensland has been experiencing a prolonged dry spell, so the “wetlands” were not so fruitful as they have been in the past. However, there was a large open area full of swan plants, that favourite food of the monarch butterfly. It seems we missed the peak event but there were still a lot of butterflies flitting about.

Art
Grace’s art project

The next day, David, Grace, Isaac and I went to Kelvin Grove where Grace is a student at the Queensland Academy of Creative Industries. I can’t say I understood the assignment, but she got very high marks for the project, and she produced a piece made with cane and tissue paper … as I understood it, the mark was for the exploration in writing of the artist(s) who inspired the work and analysis of the creative process.

Scarborough
Scarborough Harbour

On Sunday, with Isaac, David and I drove North to Redcliffe. We had a great fish and chip lunch at the Scarborough harbour where you can be sure the fish in your lunch is fresh.

Brisbane Port
Brisbane is a big city and has a big port whose cranes are visible across Moreton Bay

We came back along the coastline from where there was an interesting view of the distant cranes of Brisbane’s port.

Architecture
Restoration nicely done

Yesterday, Grace and I went to Queensland’s Gallery of Modern Art (more her thing than mine, but you don’t often get an excuse to hang out with your 15 year-old granddaughter. The museum is on Southbank and has some interesting architectural neighbours.

Reflections
Reflections in a table

From the third floor of the gallery, I spotted a reflection of the city across the river. It wasn’t the river doing the trick though, but a large glass-topped table up against the window. Brisbane’s river is customary brown and silt laden, so the glass did a better job.

Art
The two islands of New Zealand? A piece by Michael Parakowhai who is also responsible for a statue of an elephant standing on its head outside the gallery.

A piece in the gallery was eye-catching. It was by New Zealand artist, Michael Parakowhai and according to the tour guide it referenced the two islands of New Zealand with all the culture in the North and all the fun bits in the South.

 

Categories
Adventure Camera club Tauranga Travel Uncategorized Weather

April 30, 2015 … wet road trip

Road trip!

Kinleith
The image can’t describe the awful stench of pulp cooking at a chemical paper mill. The distinctive chemical is methyl mercaptan.

 

With my friend Paul I set out for Tauranga, site of the 63rd annual convention of the Photographic Society of New Zealand. It was wet. Mountain? What mountain? We saw no mountain. The first scenery I saw (at a time when I was not driving) was near Tokoroa when the steam and smell of paper pulp cooking told me that Kinleith, where I spent the first five years of my working life was just over that ridge.

Trucks
Hauling up the Kaimai range passing one truck at a time

 

Following the instructions of Paul’s Navman, we went through Putaruru and over the Kaimai ranges to Tauranga. I have not been in such a traffic jam for quite a while, and it’s frustrating when the really slow truck ahead of you blocks the passing lane by pulling out to pass an even slower one.

Jaguar
XF Jaguar

 

At the Tauranga Racecourse which was our convention venue, a smart-looking car caught my eye. Whatever failings it may have, the Jaguar XF has lines of exquisite elegance.

Trade
The trade stands

 

Soon the conference was in full swing with the trade stands doing a brisk trade. Without wishing to exacerbate any stories doing the rounds about senior politicians and pony tails, the lady with the blond hair in the centre foreground is the world-famous Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop expert and evangelist, Julianne Kost. Having flown directly from the USA, she looked exhausted, but soldiered on prior to some amazing presentations the next day.

That’s all for now

 

 

Categories
Adventure Birds Melbourne Petone Waves Weather Wellington

April 16, 2015 … flight home and a new friend

I was not impressed by the Met Service’s idea of a welcome home.

Melbourne
Goodbye Melbourne. At this moment, the plane had started its take-off run and I was being pushed back in my seat.

We left Melbourne a little behind schedule at 1 am. We enjoyed every moment of our stay over there except for the previously mentioned incident, and now it was time to say goodbye. We were travelling economy, so despite an empty seat beside me, sleep was elusive. We arrived in Wellington after a three-hour flight  at about 6:15 am (you are smart enough to work it out).

Petone Wharf
Welcome home weather … Petone Wharf looking mean and green

There was a light Northerly breeze and a fine day was forecast. What lies! The wind soon went round to the South, the temperature plummeted and suddenly, people were talking massive waves on the South Coast. I was cold, tired, grumpy, and when a friend suggested I go to the South Coast, since waves were my thing, I was resistant. Of course I should have gone, but I had another excuse. My new “new camera” had just arrived. You may recall that I got all excited with a mirrorless camera back in December. Sadly it proved to have persistent problems with imbedded dust in its sensor, and despite three replacements, each with the same problem, it ended up going back to the vendor for a full refund. I now have an Olympus OM-D EM-5 Mk II (Ollie, to its friends). I rejoice to say that a photograph with a¬† lot of clear sky now has no detectable blemishes except seagulls.¬† Anyway, I had to take Ollie for a test drive.

Waves
View to the city from the car park at the Western end of Petone

Did I mention the Southerly? I stayed in the car as much as possible and shot through the briefly opened window.

Terns
The Terns hunched down getting what little shelter they could from the dips in the road surface

At the Western end of Petone Beach I found a bunch of white-fronted terns shivering in the cruel buffeting wind.

Petone Beach
This is not a welcoming shore. Petone Beach in a blustery Southerly

Looking back along the beach, I decided I should go home to a warm room and spend some time reading the manual and learning how to use the camera. There is so much to learn.

Though I loved family time on the other side, I am glad to be home.