Adventure Bees Cook Strait Horokiwi Landscapes Light Maritime Wellington

November 17, 2018 … Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow*

Day by day, time passes. Of course, there is no other way to get here. That’s how we get older, how our kids got older, and how our grandchildren are starting to graduate from high school and so on. It comes at a cost, of course. Creaking bones, uncertain balance and perhaps a bit less confidence than I used to have. But I would not change a thing. I am loving where I am and who my kids are, and who my beautiful grandchildren are.  And until the final recall notice, I shall just keep on enjoying life as it comes, day by day.

Coming through the mist, two ferries return home


Even the grey days bring their pleasures. I was standing on the Eastern end of Petone Beach when I spotted the ferries Kaitaki and Strait Feronia emerging through the mist at the harbour entrance. The sharp horizon line contrasts with the softness of the weather in the South.

I like the contrast between the sharp lines of the oil terminal and the softness of the hills beyond

If you know the children’s movie, “The Never Ending Story” in which the world is steadily being eaten by “the nothing” you get a sense of what I saw as I looked past the Point Howard oil terminal to the distant city being relentlessly swallowed by the mist.

Rock pool
Blues and greens, ebb and flow and beauty in the simple things

But a day or two later, reality was restored. I explored some rock pools in Island Bay, and put the steady surge and suck of the water on hold for a few seconds.

Prettier than many a glass fibre gin-palace

If you have read more than a few of my blog entries, you will be familiar with  my constant battle with debilitating self-doubt as I struggle to see the essential simplicity that makes for a better image. This one, at least, I like. It is a simple working dory, moored in the shelter of the breakwater at the Hikoikoi reserve in the Hutt River estuary. Warm varnish, red boot topping and blue-green  water combine nicely, I think.

Bee on flax
How doth the little busy bee Improve each shining hour, And gather honey all the day From every opening flower! (Isaac Watts)

Among my fellow bird photographers, many of us are members of “the tail feathers club” … membership is attained by pushing the shutter too late, and catching no more than a glimpse of the rear of the departing bird. I think membership could be extended to similar photographs of any life form. Here, we see the North end of a South-bound honey bee, looking for nectar among the flax flowers.

The never-ending restoration project … step one: start

This image is very similar to an image I made just a few weeks ago, but the light is so much better this time, I just had to try again.

Looking in on the city from the North

I like looking at Wellington from different angles. In this instance, I was on a narrow road high up in the semi-rural suburb of Horokiwi, looking back across Newlands to the central city, up to Kelburn  and to Brooklyn and the wind turbine and airport radar  on Hawkins Hill

Manuka flower

I was visiting a friend and saw a lovely mass of red on a shrub in his garden. He purchased  it as a Boronia. I think he should seek a refund from his garden shop. This is clearly Leptospermum scoparium … the manuka

Such short-lived beauty

Then Mary was given some roses so I had some more fun with the light box. In camera club circles you will rarely do well with simple flower images, but as William Blake wrote, “to see a heaven in a flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand” … who cares about camera club success?

Makahika Stream
Perfect peace

To the East of Levin, over the hill from the Kohitere Forest is the Makahika Stream at the edge of the Tararua Forest Park. A pleasant place where the only sound apart from the wind in the trees and the flowing river is wonderful birdsong, dominated by tui and the grey warbler.

Enough for this week. See you again soon.

* Shakespeare – Macbeth

Adventure Birds Evans Bay harbour Horokiwi Landscapes Light night Petone sunrise

May 17, 2017 … random acts of seeing

As some of you know, landscapes are my most common form of photography. A well known photographic tutor has said “first you have to be somewhere”. To be honest, I am not entirely sure he is right, at least not in the sense he intended. Of course it helps to be somewhere that is visually spectacular, but sometimes you just have to see things in your everyday location.

Purest gold peering under the edge of a heavy cloud

For example, when a new day impinges on my brain, I pull back the curtain to see what’s happening outside. Most days I see nothing out of the ordinary. Every so often, I am forced to scramble for my camera.

Pauatahanui at Ration Point

My other photographic enthusiasm is birds. I have a number of birding friends and they do better than I because they have patience to sit and wait. They are willing to get wet and muddy and to crawl through beds of shells or reeds or flax. I tend to arrive and see what is convenient and then move on, grabbing a landscape if the gift of sight is upon me. The other day, I was at Pauatahanui and saw a sandbank where there were royal spoonbills, a white-faced heron, pied stilts, pied oystercatchers, masked lapwings, black swans, geese and ducks. To get a real birder’s image I would have had to crawl through the mudflats unseen to get close enough. I weighed my chances and settled for the landscape (an eight image panoramic stitch) .

Horokiwi stream

Sometimes I go to the mouth of the Horokiwi stream at the Western end of Petone beach, in the hope of seeing terns or other common residents. However, it is a popular dog-exercise area and the two exercises are incompatible. I would love to throw bricks at the owners who throw sticks for their dogs to retrieve, aiming deliberately to land them among the resting birds.

Up the valley from Evans Bay

Yesterday I wandered the Southern coast, and on the way looked back up the harbour to the Hutt Valley. From Evans Bay, I liked the layered landscape and the hovering mist arising from a melting frost.

Fearless climbers vanquish the monster

At Lyall Bay, there was a giant tree trunk washed ashore from who knows where. Though I was waiting patiently for them to finish, I was delighted to see a young father playing on the trunk with his three or four year-old son.

“You shall not pass!” – driftwood at Lyall Bay

I did eventually get to be alone with the tree and approached it from several angles and I rather liked this view in which it appears to be trying vainly to hold the waves in check.

Cold and dark at Petone

That evening, after dropping our grandchildren at Scouts, I went down to Petone beach. It was a beautiful still evening though the light Southerly breeze was a bone-chiller. Since the water was flat, I persisted. A thirty-second exposure reveals itself in the painted clouds, but it worked.

Pier (2)
Petone pier is still closed since the earthquake last year

From the other side of the pier there was a different image (think of it as a pier review). Again the long exposure was interesting and I debated whether to remove the light trail from an Airbus 320 coming out of the airport. I chose to keep it.

That’s all for now. I hope to get better at this seeing business, whether or not I am actually somewhere at the time.

adversity Architecture Camera club harbour Horokiwi Landscapes Light Weather Wellington

March 20, 2017 … close to home

We had a guest speaker at camera club last week. His name is Andy Spain and his specialist expertise is in architectural photography. He was everything I hope for when I look for guest speakers … he is not only skilled at his trade, but he is able to articulate how he achieves his results in ways that allow others to share the benefit of his long experience. On top of his underlying skills, he was entertaining. Of course I had to go out and try some of the techniques he described.

Featherston St
Attempts at architectural photography with no converging verticals … downtown in Featherston St

I am not an architectural photographer, nor do I have the time, the patience or the influence to get the shots he gets, and in addition, I took my shot opportunistically, in broad daylight when I got there. For all those excuses, I liked the portrayal of Featherston Street in the morning sun.

Putting on its best face, Wellington Harbour from Maungaraki

Yesterday, Wellington was on her best behaviour. Bright sun, scattered cloud and almost flat calm is how I like it. The image above, and the ones that follow all suffer from that same opportunistic flaw. A serious photographer would wait for the golden hour, around sunset, or the blue hour, after sunset and before darkness descends.

I think this is the common Chorus cicada (Amphipsalta zelandica) … its song was certainly part of a chorus with hundreds of others in the warm morning sun

Nevertheless, there is a  certain joy in being out without wind, and able to listen to cicadas playing their seemingly endless mating call with its predictable pattern of buzz and click.

From the Puketirotiro lookout at the Korokoro end of Maungaraki Road. The ferry Strait Feronia is steaming through the heads.Below the Maungaraki shops in the foreground you can see the Petone wharf, still closed due to damage in the November earthquake.

Above Maungaraki, there are a number of knolls wich are high enough above the surrounding houses to have been designated as reserves from which walkers can enjoy the view over city and harbour. Our landscape is so creased and folded that the view from each lookout is significantly different from the others around it.

Wellington CBD from Horokiwi

From there, I headed South towards Ngauranga, where I turned North to get to Horokiwi (There is no longer an entrance for Southbound traffic). Horokiwi is a place of so-called “life-style blocks” or farmlets. It offers a few interesting viewing points of its own.

wind farm
Wind farm. Though the blades appear to be spinning that is because it was a very long exposure and they were really just ticking over

A little further up the road, there was a view to the West looking across the windfarms at West Wind and Mill Creek to the dark shape of Arapawa Island 40 km away, across the strait.

Sad to say, my marina based project was unsuccessful with the honours board of the PSNZ. Nevertheless, bloody but unbowed I might share that set with you next week.

adversity Airport Cook Strait harbour Horokiwi Maritime Weather Wellington

November 4, 2015 … seek the solace of the sea

When I am photographically lost, I tend to seek the sea.

Aratere starts to apply power as she leaves the entrance to Wellington Harbour

Yesterday I was struggling a bit so ended up in the familiar haunts, in this case, Palmer Head. I had seen the Aratere leaving her berth as I came through Oriental Bay so I thought if I ge there before her, and the sea conditions are interesting, I might have something. Sadly the sea was not cooperating, but I liked the drama of the contrast between the white of the ship and the dark green  shades of the Eastern Hills.

Successive planes

Coming back through Evans Bay I liked the layered effect of the Eastern Hills across the harbour. Most Wellingtonians refer to those hills as the Orongorongo hills, but as far as I have ever been able to establish that is not an officially gazetted name. Whatever they are called, I love them in sunshine or in mist.

Wellington Harbour from the Horokiwi Quarry

Nearing the Hutt Valley, I caught a glimpse in my rear view mirror of an interesting light on the far side of the harbour. I diverted up the hill at Horokiwi and parked near the quarry entrance, and walked back to where I had a clear view to the South. A band of sun-streaked water lined the harbour entrance and Evans Bay on either side of the Miramar Peninsula. If you click to enlarge, have a look at the end of the airport runway, just to the right of the peninsula and you will see the Bluebridge ferry, Strait Feronia passing offshore from Lyall Bay.

That’s the day.


Horokiwi Landscapes Machinery Maritime Weather Wellington

September 4, 2015 … high wind in high places

I started at sea level.

ANL Elanora
ANL Elanora bound for Nelson

From Port Road, Seaview, there is a view straight down the harbour entrance.  The container ship, ANL Elanora was just passing Barrett’s Reef on its way to Nelson. According to Google Earth the ship is about 12 km from where I stood.

Not pretty, but vivid.

In the marina at Seaview, there were patches of calm water but for the most part, the surface was ruffled and uninteresting. At the stern of the fishing vessel Aquilla, the red buoys were ugly but eye-catching.

Wind farm
Wind farm on Wellington’s West Coast as seen from Horokiwi

From there I followed the narrow winding road up into the wilds of Horokiwi. The roads up there follow the contours of the land, or perhaps the trail of a particularly demented goat, so there are no views of the suburb itself. There are however, spots where there is a view window out to other places.  In this instance the view is across Tawa towards the Mill Creek wind farm.  If I haven’t yet mentioned it, the wind had picked up, or perhaps it was present already at this higher altitude. Either way, it was difficult to stand still against the strong blast of the wind.

Seaview Marina as seen from Horokiwi

Another twenty or thirty ridiculous tight turns later there was a view in the other direction, back towards the Seaview Marina from where I had just come. If I look closely at the big version of this file, I can see the red buoys at the stern of the Aquilla (it is above and slightly to the left of the last building on Port Road).

See you tomorrow.



Horokiwi Light Maritime Seasons Trees

June 6, 2015 … seasonal transition

That seasonal thing is still happening.

Autumn lingers on in the Riddiford Gardens, Lower Hutt

I met my youngest son for coffee yesterday at “The Little Cafe” situated in the foyer of Lower Hutt’s Little Theatre. I recommend it.  While I as there, I noticed that there were some remnants of Autumn colour gleaming brightly after recent rain. Unlike our little maple, these trees are sheltered so that the leaves may delay the inevitable drop a little longer.

Layered landscape … looking behind Tawa from Horokiwi

In the late afternoon, I went up the hill to Horokiwi, guessing correctly that some of its views across the hills would be interesting in such moist and misty conditions. The kinds of image that I hoped for were there, but in tiny fragments of the landscape.

From Horokiwi looking South across the Westwind wind farm

A hilly landscape such as ours offers an almost infinite variety opportunities as the light and cloud vary.

Aratere comes home ahead of the weather

On my way down to sea level again, I was at the entrance to the Horokiwi quarry when I spotted a nice aspect of the harbour entrance, Under a heavy sky the ferry Aratere was coming into port.

That’s another day done.

adversity Cook Strait Horokiwi Landscapes Lyall Bay Maritime Wellington

July 28, 2014 … a slow news day

Bronze propeller from F69 in a roadside park near Island Bay

Back to earth again today.

The images I managed yesterday are not as pleasing to me as those from the day before. I spent some time on the South Coast not seeing anything that inspired me. I used to counsel my students that the best way to overcome writers’ block was to put your fingers on the keyboard and type something. Perhaps it has an application in photography. In that spirit, my first image is one of the propellers of HMNZS Wellington, F69, which was scuttled as a dive reef off the coast near here. The propeller itself is a marvel of mathematical precision capable of pushing that 2,500 Tonne vessel at 50 km/h.

Island Bay
Island bay and cloudscape

Having mounted the wide angle lens for the previous image, I stayed with it nd had a look back towards Island Bay. Taputeranga Island is in the centre and the hills near Baring Head in the background.

Rocky teeth near Palmer head

Closer to Lyall Bay, I saw these sinister black rocks and liked the contrast.

From Horokiwi
Welling harbour and the Eastern Bays

My last shot was taken from up the Horokiwi road near the quarry, looking across the harbour.

That’s the end of the day.


harbour Horokiwi Lower Hutt Maritime Weather Wellington

December 14, 2013 … lots of energy, modest results

Marking time.

Walking on the spot, lifting your legs up and down, but not going forward. That has been my sense of the last few days. As far as I know, only the military (and perhaps those treading grapes and also display marching teams) had a genuine use for it. It certainly adds little to my photography.

South along the harbour's edge to Wellington
The traffic was crawling Northward. but doing better in the other direction

My first shot from yesterday was taken from the Horokiwi road, just downhill and round the first corner from the quarry entrance. In the South the city was still as grey as it has been for the last few days. Traffic winding its weary way along SH2 towards the Hutt Valley somehow conveys the weariness of the drivers who have had enough of this year and are just eager for the Christmas break to begin.

A very soft afternoon in the valley
A light drizzle on the hills is interesting

Looking in the other direction, low cloud shrouds the Eastern hills of the Hutt Valley. If you look carefully just above those trees on the right hand side of the road, you can see the cluster of “gypsy” caravans gathering for one of their periodic visits to Petone Beach where they will no doubt sell all manner of arts and crafts over the weekend.

Reflecting on the Maree K
Six months after she was wrecked in the storm, the Maree K is still wedged on the breakwater

Coming back to sea level I checked to see what was happening at Hikoikoi. The short answer was, not much. Almost six months after the storm, the poor old Maree K is still wedged firmly on the breakwater.  This is reprehensible, in my opinion, and the owner should remove it or be sent the bill for its demolition.

That’s all for today

Architecture Cook Strait Eastbourne Horokiwi Maritime Wellington

October 3, 2012 … four faces of the city

Wellington is a city of many faces.

There are so many ways in which to see it, and so many places from which to view it. Today’s images are all taken from various spots in the isolated suburb of Horokiwi (last exit on the left before the Petone off ramp on SH2 heading North).  Despite its proximity to the Hutt Valley, Horokiwi is part of Wellington City. I have the strong impression that it is the nearest thing that Wellington has to Auckland’s Waiheke Island. Its residents regard themselves as being a community unto themselves, a part of neither of the adjacent cities. They want to be left alone.

Its roads are narrow and ill-maintained. They wind their way around the various folds in the landscape, offering tantalising glimpses of the city and harbour, but rarely offering a place on which to stop safely to enjoy the view.

Nevertheless, by dint of parking in some strange places, I gained a variety of views of the city, cropped them to a 3:1 letterbox format  and see what you think.

The first image is probably consistent with the international view of what New Zealand’s Capital City is like, with sheep and grass and windswept hills. Pastoral capital

For orientation purposes the pimple on the highest point in this image is the airport radar atop Wright’s Hill. For most of us, however, the reality is different. Wellington is a small but modern capital concentrated in a narrow piece of relatively flat land surrounded by hills.

Capital intensive

Suburban Wellington is different again, with each suburb having a character and appearance of its own. One of these is Seatoun, which is separated from the rest of the city by the spine of the Miramar peninsula. Like Eastbourne on the opposite side of the harbour, Seatoun is regarded as a desirable (thus, expensive) suburb. It is perceived to have a microclimate of its own, and spring always comes to Eastbourne and Seatoun a few weeks earlier than in the rest of the city. This view was from the entrance road to Horokiwi, just below the gate of the quarry.Capital suburbs

On a benign day such as this, it is easy to forget that  the reef to the left of the image dealt the fatal blow to the ferry Wahine  in a howling storm on the 10th April, 1968.

Capital LandmarksThese days, I think that the ferries are more powerful, and governed by more regulations so that the likelihood of a recurrence is small.  Here the Bluebridge Ferry “Santa Regina” passes below the old Cistercian Monastery, as the Oriental Bay fountain plays. The downwind drift of the water suggests it was not flat calm.

I think this is not only a livable, but also a very lovable city.