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September 13, 2018 … getting out and about

Uncharacteristically, I have been feeling good about some of my recent images. Of course, this bubble can easily be burst by submitting them to the tender mercies of a photographic judge. However, in the cycle of my moods I seem to be on the upswing at present. Or at least, I think that my images are improving compared with where they were a while ago.

The Aratere is on her way to Picton via the Tory Channel, The Kaitaki and Strait Feronia have just come from there on their way to Wellington

For the second time in just over a month, I scored a ride with the Wellington Cross Country Vehicle Club. This time the route was around the South West coast of the North Island as far as Cave Bay beyond the Karori Rock Lighthouse. This is almost as close as you can get to the South Island while still being in the North Island. Looking across the strait, I saw that three ferries were all going to be in the same area, so I waited until the Aratere, Kaitaki and Strait Feronia were close but evenly spread.

The boom of solid water smashing into an immovable rock is felt all the way through your being


The sea is fairly turbulent in this area, so I enjoyed watching the swells bursting on the red rocks characteristic of the area.

I liked the light as the sun squeezed through the low cloud base

Technically it is Spring in New Zealand now, though winter seems reluctant to let go. Grey days have been plentiful and from Oriental Bay, a few days later, I caught this view of the Kaitaki leaving port. On a clear day, the Tararuas would be visible behind the ship, but as you can see, low cloud obscures the mountains.

The rocks at the end of Island Bay, awash withe the spray from incoming waves

Experimenting with long slow exposures has been fun, aided by a neutral density filter. This ten second exposure flattens the surf and makes a mystical fog where the bursting spray would be. People seem to love or hate these things. I am going through a phase of enjoying the technique.

Pauatahanui Inlet … a fantastic morning

A few days later and Spring peered through the clouds. I wandered around the Camborne walkway on the North West corner of the Pauatahanui Inlet. One of my favourite places in the Wellington Region.

Lake Ferry
The thick brown flow of the Ruamahanga heading into the Sea

Earlier this week, I went over the hill to the Southern Wairarapa area, and went first to Lake Ferry. This is where the Ruamahanga River passes through Lake Onoke and out into Palliser Bay and the Eastern Cook Strait. The Southern edge of the Lake is the Onoke Spit, and depending on the way in which the gravel is deposited, it alters the way in which the water gets to the sea. Since I was last here, the spit had extended by a few hundred metres and the fast flowing water was scouring the beach as it flowed to the bay. You can see the colour difference between the pale green water of the bay and the thick brown silt-laden flow of the river.

Seal pups in the nursery pool

Being this close, I chose to drive from Lake Ferry past Putangirua and Ngawi to Cape Palliser where there is a rocky area used by the NZ fur seals as a nursery. There is a sheltered pool in which the pups gain water skills before they face the violence of the waves off the open sea. I could not get as close as I have in recent years. There were just too many basking adult seals blocking access. They look cute and soulful with their big brown eyes, but if you get too close, they rear up and their teeth turn to fangs and the halitosis would stun an ox. They will chase you and they will bite.  So I stayed my distance.

Cape Palliser
This is the absolute cliché postcard shot of the lighthouse, but since I walked up and back, I had to do it.

A kilometre further on, is Cape Palliser itself. The lighthouse has stood there since 1897, and I read that the keepers rejoiced mightily when the staircase was finally installed , eliminating a dangerous and slippery climb up the rocky hillside. Since I was alone, and not holding anyone else up, I trudged slowly up the 252 steps to the platform and enjoyed the views in all directions. When my pulse returned to normal, I came down again.

Tulips in the Wellington Botanic Gardens

I may have mentioned it before, but it is spring, and that means tulip time in the Botanic gardens.

Breaker Bay
A derelict boat shed in Breaker Bay and some wild flowers

Yesterday, I went around the Miramar Peninsula and paused in Breaker Bay. I used that ND filter again to flatten the sea, but enjoyed the juxtaposition of wildflowers and the pebble beach. ]

See you next time.

adversity Animals Birds Botanic gardens flowers Hastings Hawkes Bay Landscapes Weather Wellington

February 13, 2017 … our missing summer

The wind outside my window has averaged somewhere over 100 km/h today according to a report I heard on the radio. It has carried rain with it for much of the day, and no hint of summer. There are reports that this has been our worst summer for over three decades.

Evening in the Takarau gorge

Such summer as we have had seems to have been doled out with a fine day here, a fine day there and several days of foul weather in between. We take them when we can get them.

Something of an agricultural crime these days is letting farm animals into the waterways. These two sheep marched in musical unison across the water and clambered up the steep hill beyond.

And then we wait for the next one.

I find the dabchicks intriguing,. They look so severe.

It seems I missed the part of the dabchick life cycle where the new chicks are carried about on the parents back. The youngsters are already too big for that.

Dry hills
The dry hills to the South of Hastings

This seems to be a localised phenomenon. With a couple of friends I drove to Havelock North and back for the funeral of a good friend and former colleague. It seems that the Hawkes Bay region has been as dry as Wellington has been wet. The hills and most pf the paddocks are parched and often it is hard to see a flock of sheep since their wool is almost the same colour as the sun-bleached grass.

Begonias in all their glory

Back home, some days just didn’t offer any hope of outside action, so I chose to visit the Begonia House in the Lady Norwood garden in Wellington.  No matter what the time of year, they always have some wonderful specimens in bloom.

Water lily … I couldn’t find where the battery was hidden

On this visit, I enjoyed the proliferation of water lilies.  The heart of the flower seemed to be on fire.


Architecture Botanic gardens flowers Light Lower Hutt Weather Wellington

September 21, 2016 … here and there, this and that

It has been an ordinary week, mostly characterized by drab, chilly and often drizzly weather.

Misty morning at Petone

I don’t mind such soft grey weather as it often presents attractive views. At Petone wharf, for example, the view across the almost flat harbour is quite different with the Miramar Peninsula disappearing in the cloud.

On the inner city bypass

Later in the week, I went into the city to walk the route of the World Wide Photowalk which I shall be leading again on Saturday October 1. I need to take into account that some walkers may be even less fit than I am so I must make sure that my chosen route is unlikely to kill anyone. We are walking in Te Aro and the first thing that caught my eye was the renovated houses near the cross-town bypass. I had to wait a few moments to avoid traffic in the way.

Cuba St
Strait down Cuba Street to the Michael Fowler Centre

Some fairly ordinary streets look different when seen from a place where I don’t always go. Cuba Street is always interesting to my eye.

Pukeahu War Memorial

A little further across the town, I came to  the Pukeahu war memorial park, and from the base of the Carillon, got a slightly different view to ones I have used before.The Australian installation is attractive in an odd way.

Tulips in full bloom

On Monday, I was in town looking to see if the tulips were in flower. They were, but before I got there, I paused for a coffee to ward off the damp chill. Tulips of another kind made an attractive image as they hung on their rack.

Jervois Quay
Angles and textures

Across Jervois Quay, the shapes and angles of buildings  caught my eye. The two  hexagonal towers in the foreground hold a special place for me, since way back in 1980, I was the first occupant of a space with a splendid view across the harbour.

White camellia

Yesterday, I went looking for other flowers and though it was a bit early for the Rhododendrons at the Belmont domain, there were some nice Camellias in the Riddiford Gardens. The new system whereby my computer reminds me that the blog is due seems to be walking.




Architecture Botanic gardens flowers Machinery Petone

October 18, 2015 … here today, gone tomorrow

Wandering yesterday, I passed the botanic gardens.

Despite the wind, most of the tulip beds are still putting on a splendid display.

Despite a boisterous wind, the tulip beds were in remarkably good shape and attracted many visitors. Two young Vietnamese women  wearing traditional ao dai were posing for photographs, and they brought back memories of my first ill-fated foray into university in the early 1960s when there were many young Vietnamese students in Auckland University and I recall the then very exotic presence of the young women who wore their ao dai with such grace. This was before the escalation of the war with America in 1964.

Big fleas have lesser fleas upon their backs to bite ’em, land little fleas have lesser fleas, and so, ad infinitum.

Meanwhile, back in the gardens, there were many photographers all seeking their own angle on the floral beauty before them. I have no idea who this photographer is, but he was one of several serious practitioners present at the time.


From there I went up Glenmore Street, over the bridge onto Upland Road, down Kelburn Parade, then Salamanca Rd and Bolton St. From the Bolton St overbridge I saw and liked the architectural  textures and contrasts of buildings on or near The Terrace.

History vanished almost overnight

Homeward bound, I was on SH2 and noticed that the former car assembly plant where Austin and Morris cars were assembled for years is no more. A friend alerted me to the fact that this was about to happen but I hadn’t grasped the speed with which it would disappear.  Nothing is left but a set of diggers sitting triumphantly on a few bricks and twisted beams that are all that remain of their prey.

Something else tomorrow.


Botanic gardens flowers Light Maungaraki Moon

September 29, 2015 … moonset and tulips

When I think of moon photographs, I usually think of moonrise.

Moonset over Maungaraki

Yesterday morning while it was still dark, I emerged from my bedroom and saw the “super moon” approaching the Western horizon. Of course the camera was nearby and ready for action. There was cloud, and in the other direction the sky was getting lighter as dawn approached. I don’t bother with shots of moon against a dark sky as there is nothing to distinguish a good moon shot from a million other identical moon shots by other people.  Up on the skyline, lights were starting to appear  as the day began.

Tulips (1)
Tulips at home

My brother-in-law has been with us for a few days and he bought his sister a nice bunch of tulips down at the market on Saturday. Mary suggested I have a look at them before they past their best.

Tulips (2)
Tulips in the botanic gardens

There is a difference between florists’ tulips and those on display in the garden. Or perhaps it’s just the better light outside. These were taken in the Botanic Gardens where we took the grandchildren yesterday.

Poppies and pensioners

Spring festival in the botanic gardens was in full swing and there were many vans from retirement villages creeping through the paths normally the exclusive preserve of pedestrians. Some of the occupants enjoyed getting out for a talk with the gardeners. We took the youngsters up the hill to the playground, had a picnic lunch and came home.

That’s all for now.

Art Botanic gardens flowers Lyall Bay Weather Wellington

September 3, 2015 … the load is lightened

Forming an intention is a huge step towards action.

No tulips, but the waving poppies offered brightness and movement.

I like making images and I like blogging. However, as I mentioned yesterday, the daily obligation has been leading me down wrong paths. I had a long talk with my good friend Tony yesterday and he gave me some very useful insights about ways to make progress towards a new and more satisfying way of indulging in my love of making images. But even before I begin that transition, the very act of making a decision to change has helped me greatly.  Wellington’s Botanic gardens have an annual display of tulips, and since I have photos of them at about this time from previous years, I decided to check on them. They seem to be a few weeks later than I recall from previous seasons, and though there was the odd rebel out of time with its bed-mates, they seemed for the most part to be a week or two away from blooming. Never mind, in the midst of the grey morning, there was a wind-swept bed of bright Iceland poppies waving at me.

Underneath the magnolia

Magnolias were putting on a great show, so a closer inspection was warranted. What attracted my attention most, however, was the convoluted structure of the trunk and branches. Amazing that such a grotesque tree should produce such stunning flowers.

Discarded party dresses float on the duck pond

Up in the garden’s slightly disreputable duck pond, the usually sullen water was decorated with fallen leaves from camellia and magnolia petals.

Movement in the bush, waving fronds and running water

A few steps back from there,  is a view of a small waterfall on the creek emerging from the bush and flowing into the duck pond. The Ponga fronds were thrashing about in the often strong wind gusts and I needed to catch the movement of wind and water.

The long exposure stills the surging waves and lets us focus on the distant Moai

My last shot for today was at the Western end of Lyall Bay. There is a Moai … a 3.5 tonne replica of one of the famous Easter Island statues gifted to New Zealand by the President of Chile to commemorate the connections of the Polynesian peoples of Rapanui and Aotearoa. It sits on the sharp red rocks of our South Coast and stares sightlessly Eastward towards Chile, unmoved by the surging water below.

That’s all until tomorrow.

adversity Botanic gardens flowers

September 1, 2015 … allegedly, the beginning of spring

Today’s reality, spring or not, is an Easterly gale with lot’s of rain.

two orchids
I didn’t obtain the technical details of any of the orchids but I did spend a lot of time focus stacking to ensure that the blooms were sharp front to back.

I had to go into town yesterday to buy a new external hard drive. I enjoyed a coffee with my younger daughter while I was there and then went up to the botanical gardens. In the Lady Norwood Rose Gardens, the roses had all been savagely pruned, and the reward will no doubt come in its due season. But black earth and sharp thorns were not an attractive proposition, so I went into the warmth and shelter of the Begonia House. Though begonias have always been a significant feature in the temperate wing, the orchids were putting on a magnificent display.

one orchid
An orchid, or perhaps a triffid

These are tropical orchids, since the native ones are shy and retiring, mostly green, quite small and blend in with the bush where they live. Orchids always seem to present themselves in the form oaf a ravenous alien invader from space.

An orchid cluster

Individually or in clusters they brought beauty and colour to the drab day outside.

Water lilies. There are floating signs that prohibit touching the goldfish in the pond. I had to wait for it to drift out of view.

Along in the warm and steamy tropical wing, water lilies attracted me.

And the rain is heavy at my window.


Art Botanic gardens flowers Weather Wellington

June 24, 2015 … getting bloomin’ close

More rain yesterday had an influence on my choices.

Begonia clean and simple

I decided to take my new macro lens for a walk and went to the Begonia House in Wellington’s splendid Botanic Gardens. I should note that yesterday’s exercise came nowhere near the capabilities of this lens, but the flowers on display there are situated in particular places, and it is forbidden to touch them. Since I needed to use my tripod, I simply could not get close enough to test the lens to the fullest. My first shot is, appropriately, a simple begonia.

bromeliad (1)
A bromeliad

More spectacular, are the various bromeliads  blooming in the warmth of the structure.

bromeliad (2)
Another bromeliad

There seemed to be many different bromeliads in bloom and I was surprised that, with few exceptions there were no insects or pests to be seen.

Orchid or an alien

I think my next image is an orchid, but on the other hand, are those eyes peering at the camera? If so, what is this creature?

Water lily
Water lily

There is an ornamental pool at one end of the Begonia hose which presumably helps maintain humidity. It also provides a home for the carp swimming in its green murk, as well a place for the water lilies. Sadly just one water-lily was in flower, and even that was pointing the wrong way. I extended my tripod to its limits to get the best possible view.

Fountain in the rose garden

A cup of coffee in the very nice cafe attached to the begonia house set me up to face the cold Southerly drizzle outside. On my way back to the car, the fountain at the centre of the Lady Norwood Rose Gardens  was adding even more water to the already saturated environment.

That’s all for now.


Art Birds Botanic gardens Festivals and fairs flowers night

January 14, 2015 … from pond to park

I am sure I shall tire of the stilts soon.

Stilt on sentry duty near a bed of New Zealand Musk

However, yesterday began there again. And as for the previous day, my visit began with raucous alarm calls from a parent. It’s a fairly ordinary shot of the adult bird, but my attention was caught by the blue flowers in the background, bearing in mind that this is a salt marsh environment. Various friends on the Internet were able to identify it as Mimulus repens, or New Zealand musk.

The new brood of stilt chicks

Anyway, not only was there a sturdy chick from the pre-Christmas brood, but there were also four more much younger chicks, which I guess to be under a week old.

The mysterious blowedifino flower

As I walked along the Grays Road side of the pond I saw this flower which seems to have the form of a dandelion, but the plant itself is much bigger and more akin to a thistle, so perhaps any botanists out there can enlighten me. Look at those prickles.

Indie pop concert in the park

In the evening, Mary and I went to the Botanical gardens. Our intention was to visit the art works in the form of various illuminations. Unfortunately, our visit coincided with one of the “Summer in the City” concerts apparently called “Indie pop” (whatever that is). No parking nearby, far too many people in the park, and some loud, and to my ears unmelodious music. The crowd seemed to enjoy it so we wandered off around the various tracks, looking at the illuminations and reaching the areas up near the Met Office.

Electric art
One of the lighting exhibits

The various exhibits consisted of whimsical displays of light tucked into the many nooks and crannies of the gardens.

Nature put on its own show

Some of the illuminations were very clever, but the shot I preferred most was of a bed of poppies, well past its best, but still vivid against the dying light.

Goodnight all.


Botanic gardens Children flowers Museum Weather Wellington

October 6, 2014 … fossils and flora

Billie’s visit came to an end yesterday.

A lesser carnivore, about half the size of a T. Rex.

Before we parted company though, we took her to the National Museum, Te Papa where there was an exhibition about dinosaurs. I presumed that, as in most other paying exhibitions, cameras would be prohibited, so I left mine in the car. The first words the attendant said as we arrived were “photography is permitted”.  Though I rarely use my Galaxy S3 as a camera, I had no choice. As phone cameras go, the S3 is pretty capable, but I prefer a viewfinder and a good solid camera.

Red tulips
Sunlit tulips

After some morning tea in the coffee lounge at Te Papa we drove up to the Botanic gardens. Billie apparently likes flowers and despite a severe hail storm the previous day, the tulips were at the peak of their display. What’s more, the sun was shining.

More tulips
Splendid display

As I mentioned earlier, some of the displays had to be uprooted because of a fungal infection, but the beds still in place were spectacular.

Billie didn’t seem to buy into old-fashioned notions about activities after meals.

After a suitable period of exploration, we enjoyed a picnic in the Dell and afterwards, watched Billie perform endless effortless cartwheels across the lawn. She is quite an accomplished gymnast. Then we had to return her to her aunt in Seatoun.

That’s all for now.