Adventure adversity Art Birds Evans Bay Landscapes Light Maritime Normandale Reflections Wellington

September 27, 2022 … changing times

Queen Elizabeth II was a remarkable women who became queen in my 9th year. Despite my distaste for the notion of monarchy in general, Queen Elizabeth has served all her peoples with grace, dignity and unswerving commitment over seventy years. I do not intend to enter into debate with anyone on these matters, but it seems appropriate to acknowledge such a span of service.

Meanwhile, life continues at the coal face. Sometimes I find the routines of life a little uninspiring, and even depressing. Still, I love the process of making images. On the other hand, if I am not seeing or finding the images that bring me joy, the mood barometer swings downward again.

Hutt Valley rainbow

Mary and I had driven up to Palmerston North in the hope of finding birds or signs of spring. While I enjoyed travelling with Mary, the day was photographically, a bust. Then, as she was serving our evening meal back at home, Mary said “look out of the front window!” I begged a slight delay in the meal and grabbed my camera and a wide angle lens and went out onto the front lawn. Ever the sign of hope, the rainbow made up for much that we had missed earlier.

Cloudscape over Pt Halswell

It’s slightly weird when I am lamenting a down mood, that I can take pleasure in heavy clouds and grim outlooks. From Balaena Bay across Evans Bay to Point Halswell and the Miramar peninsula, I was attracted to the imposing cloudscape.

Rosemary in the rain

At the back door, Mary grows various flowers and herbs. They are just so ever-present that I often fail to see them. Now and then, they catch my eye. In this case, the rosemary’s blue flowers took some time on an otherwise damp and dismal day.

Evans Bay ripples

Evans Bay is a frequently visited site that occasionally yields a nice image. The still patch of water near the shore was disrupted by a row of incoming waves. Why do these waves differ from the chop on the water further out?

Interesting art in the back alleys

As I often do, I arrived too early for an excellent yum char lunch with friends and former colleagues in Courtenay Place. I filled the time by exploring nearby laneways. This image was made in Forresters Lane and is the front of a cocktail bar called “Love Bite”. Foreign territory to me.

Old familiar territory

Although I have done it many times before, I can’t resist still water in Oriental Bay marina.

Australasian shoveller

Despite the number of trips I make to Queen Elizabeth Park wetlands, I have not been rewarded with the hoped for birdlife in recent months. The only capture on this trip was this Australasian shoveller.

Tumbling water

Wellington’s Botanic Gardens are full of little surprises. This little waterfall is perhaps only a metre high, but adds to the music of the garden.

Tulip display

It’s tulip time again. Sadly it’s all too brief , but the gardeners always manage to arrange a good display of tulips for a few weeks. I got there the week prior to the annual tulip festival, so was limited as to the available colours.

Single bloom

I find it hard not to love tulips, singly or en masse.

Kaiarahi returns to service

Here is Kaiarahi (formerly Stena Alegra) just back in Wellington after many months sitting in Picton with a broken gearbox. The required parts were finally installed and here she is ready to resume service.

Urban forest

A splash of colour at the head Evans Bay. Urban forest’ (2008) by Leon van den Eijkel and Allan Brown is a stack of cubes designed to spin in the wind, of which there is plenty at the site. Sadly it fails often and just sits. Nevertheless, it is interesting and nine metres high.

See you next time, I hope.

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harbour Landscapes Maungaraki Normandale Weather Wellington

January 8, 2016 … close to home

Curse you, Facebook!

From the lower part of Normandale Rd looking up to the lookout tower on Poto Rd. As you can see the magnificent spell of blue skies has come to an end.

You sent me a picture from four years ago, in which I was very much slimmer than I am now. Perhaps 18 kg slimmer. And so it was, that I walked the Petone waterfront on Wednesday, and up around the block here in Normandale yesterday. Snacking is also off the list (mostly). Anyway, I took my camera with me, though Mary always believes that the presence of the camera destroys the aerobic value of any enterprise.  As I trudged up Normandale Road, I got a glimpse of a new lookout tower erected by the council as a pay-off for the disposal of public reserve to private housing development.  As you can see, they have scraped the once bush-clad hill back to bare clay.

Wildflowers, or perhaps domesticated flowers scattered randomly

My walking has some rewards, since it allowed me to see some wildflowers by the side of the road.

Matiu/Somes Island from Normandale

I kept trudging and eventually arrived gasping, but virtuous at the top of the tower, from where there are great views to the South and across the harbour to its entrance.  Matiu/Somes Island seemed closer than it really is, and I enjoyed looking at tracks and buildings that I visited last year.

Water tank
Maungaraki Reservoir keeping the pressure on

Around to the right, the water reservoir at the top of Maungaraki was a dominant feature of the view.

It is not my intention to publish quite this frequently, but it’s taking me a while to adjust to my new-found freedom. New posts will appear at random intervals whenever I feel I have something to say. If I have nothing to say, then nothing will be said.


Birds Children Family Normandale Sunset Zealandia

December 24, 2015 … perhaps summer

Another visit to Zealandia yesterday.

The New Zealand kaka (Nestor meridionalis) is thriving at Zealandia. It uses its powerful beak to look for insects behind tree bark. This is a problem for nearby gardeners as it is capable of ring-barking a tree.

This time it was with our eldest son, daughter-in-law and four of our grandchildren. Though the stiff breeze persisted in the outside world, the sky was blue and the park provided shelter for us all. Bird life was plentiful and audible, with a particular abundance of tuis and shags. Further into the park, the kaka were raucous and buy. These native parrots were once prolific in the canopy of lowland forests. They are certainly thriving at Zealandia. I would not want my fingers near that fearsome beak.

The lyric soprano of the bush, the bellbird (Anthuris melanura) merges with the bush. Its lovely chiming call is a joy to the ear

My favourite place in the park is the “Discovery Centre”, and it is always worth the long trudge up the hill to get there. It is the place I am most likely to find a clear view of the saddleback (tieke), stitchbird (hihi), bellbird (korimako) and North Island Robin (toutouwai). I could sit there for hours, and do when I make a solo visit. I was pleased that, despite the presence of two animated grandsons, I caught so many birds yesterday.

The North Island Robin (Petroica longpipes) is an endearing little bird that will sit on the toes of your boots as it chases insects.

The North Island robin is a problematic subject because it comes towards humans. My son had his big 150-600 mm lens with him, but with the bird sitting almost on the toe of his shoes, he could not focus. I was further away.

We are expecting a fine and sunny Christmas so this sunset on the 23rd seems to be going in the right direction

As the day came to a beautiful end, there was a gorgeous red-gold sunset. The trouble with seeing it at this stage is that, by the time I get to a suitable lookout point, the light has gone. I dashed upstairs and hung out the bedroom window, pointing the camera towards Petone and the Eastern Bays.

Another day done.



adversity Light night Normandale

September 11, 2015 … never give up

Most of us have seen the cartoon.

Last light
Last light across the valley … from our front lawn

You know the one where a frog is in the beak of a bird, but has its hands around the throat of the bird so it can’t be swallowed. Well, I had pretty much given up yesterday and was about to let go. My free time had been consumed with duties related to the estate of my late friend Gary. I knew I was not going to get home in time to do daylight images, so I had used my iPhone to make a couple of shots of various mundane objects in case of total disaster. I got home to my long-suffering wife and  at the end of a long drab day, we were enjoying a companionable drink together. “Look!” she said. I leapt from my chair and scrambled to grab a real camera and dashed outside to capture the most spectacular burst of colour over the Eastern hills.

This was a short-lived phenomenon but while it lasted I enjoyed it

It deserved a wider look, so after debating about a lens change, just zoomed out as far as possible and then cropped for a panorama.

In the North, a partial rainbow says farewell to the day

A frantic knocking on the window from inside the house drew my attention to a touch of drama in the North so I swung the camera that way. For photographers wondering what is the most valuable accessory, it is an observant spouse.

Intense rainbow fragment

In the wider view the drama was overwhelmed so  zoom back in to the astoundingly bright rainbow. A few minutes later, the whole thing shut down as if someone had flipped a switch. And then night descended.

A note of remembrance and sympathy to those who lost loved ones in the terrorist attacks on this day fourteen years ago.




adversity harbour Kelson Landscapes Normandale Weather Wellington

August 7, 2015 … the full range

If you don’t like our climate, wait twenty minutes.

Hutt River from Normandale Rd

Heading out to the hospital this morning, I liked the gentle fading provided by the mist as I came down the hill on my way to the hospital.

The Hutt River near the Moonshine bridge … the view to the South is still grey.

My friend’s wife had been by his side overnight and needed to go home for various things so I took her out to Upper Hutt. On the way back into town, the mist and rain seemed to get heavier and the pale greys and receding planes became more interesting.

Maea and Straitsman in the mist

It was still fairly murky at Ngauranga and two ships in the harbour looked interesting. On the right is the small LPG tanker Maea which has been anchored there for a few days. and on the right, Straitsman is heading towards her berth in the city.

Eastern hills
Eastern hills still in cloud, but the improvement is rapid

After an interesting Vietnamese lunch, I headed back out to collect my friend’s wife and take her back to the hospital. The weather was clearing from the North and despite heavy clouds on the ranges, the sky behind me was blue.

Naenae from Kelson

This warranted a detour up into the heights of Kelson from where I found a new viewpoint looking down into the valley and across to Naenae.

From the top of Kelson across Lower Hutt to the harbour entrance

Near the summit of the main road through Kelson the view South was entirely different from the greyness of the morning.

That’s enough for now.

Architecture Landscapes Light Normandale Pauatahanui Pukerua Bay Wellington

May 17, 2015 … through every passion ranging*

My life was spiced with photographic variety yesterday.

Morning light
The day began with a lovely golden light diffused through the clouds on the hills

In the morning, the upper valley was bathed in soft light, diffused through low cloud. Though I have shot the same landscape many times before I just liked the light.

Sacred Heart Cathedral, Thorndon

In the afternoon, I was roaming in the Thorndon area and turned into Hill Street. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart was completed in 1901, and like the now ruined Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Christchurch, has always taken second place in the public mind to the more traditional architecture of the nearby Anglican Cathedral. The word Basilica refers to the architectural form of a nave and two aisles with windows above the aisles.  It’s a handsome building in its way, but like many older buildings in the city, is in need of earthquake strengthening.

The Terrace
Looking South along The Terrace

Across the road, looking through the Pohutukawa trees along the fence of Parliament’s precinct, there was a hitherto unnoticed view up The Terrace. There are some significant buildings along this street, but when the wind is in the North or the South, it serves as the meanest wind-tunnel I know. Nothing is sadder than a rain-soaked civil servant struggling into the wind.

Sunset at Whitby

In the evening, Mary and I set out for Waikanae to dine with friends. The sun was setting with a warm golden light and across the Pauatahanui Inlet, and the suburb of Whitby was gleaming.

Last light
Last light at Pukerua Bay

At the bottom of the hill at Pukerua Bay I got Mary to stop to catch a very attractive sunset.

That’s the day.

*”A Wand’ring Minstrel I” from the Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan


adversity Machinery Maritime Normandale Petone Weather Wellington

May 15, 2015 … five feet high and rising *

Oh Lord, didn’t it rain!

J Vee
Old familiar J Vee is surrounded by floating bark and twigs

And it blew. Yesterday was like no other day since we came to Wellington in 1980. It was almost up there with the disastrous floods of 1976, though it’s hard to compare since there have been massive improvements in flood protection measures since then. The day began with a landslide blocking road and rail traffic on the road between Paekakariki and Pukerua Bay. The Haywards Hill road was closed by flooding as was Grays Rd and then SH2 between Petone and Horokiwi. Then the Wellington Rail system was shut down. Soon the rest of New Zealand was cut off and we had to contemplate sending relief parcels to the poor souls in the outer areas of the country.  Schools were closed, and people who had got to work in the morning were faced with finding a way home in the evening, or finding somewhere to sleep.  Some hardy souls trudged beside the deserted and sometimes inundated railway line for the whole miserable wet  and windy twelve km from Wellington to Petone. For my part, being retired and at home, I made a cautious venture into the weather, careful to stay on visible roads, and to drive very slowly through surface flooding. The wind and rain were such that I was unwilling to get out of the car in most of the places I went, so it was back to Hikoikoi. The river levels combined with the tide made for a different view of an otherwise familiar scene.

High water
“How high’s the water, Mama?”*

Not only was there significant amounts of floating detritus, but familiar objects were immersed.

Having learned of the slip by reading about it on Facebook, I raced outside and looked over fence and looked down the bank to discover that remediation was already in progress


The rain just kept getting heavier, so I decided to head home before I found myself marooned. I went up over Maungaraki rather than my normal route up Normandale Rd. As I was drying and thawing, I was browsing Facebook to see who was telling what stories of the storm when a photo hit me between the eyes. It was a photograph of a large slip on Normandale Rd, and the house visible in the picture was that of my neighbour. I don’t know if the slip broke the water main or a broken water main caused the slip, but either way our water supply was cut off.

Slip and running water. I don’t know which caused the other.


To my great surprise, there were already diggers in action, heroes in high-visibility jackets and ineffectual rainwear striving to restore normality even before the disruption had stopped happening.  As you may see from the picture above water was welling up through the slumped mound of clay. Fortunately, we had wine so it wasn’t necessary to broach the casks in our Earthquake kit to quench our thirst. However, even I won’t wash my hands in red wine, so eventually we opened one. Then our heroes outside restored the water supply.

It was  a spectacular day.

*Five Feet High and Rising by Johnny Cash


adversity Butterflies flowers Lower Hutt Normandale

February 26, 2015 … pedestrian perspective.

With the car in the shop for new brakes and other issues, I was of necessity a pedestrian.

A pride of managers

Walking from the Northern end of the CBD towards home, I spotted these guys in Riddiford Gardens. The Lower Hutt City Council’s administration building is just to the left of this image, and is being extensively reconstructed to make it safer in the event of an earthquake. I guess these folks are mostly managers of the company doing the work. The business shorts tend to give them away. Ear defenders on two of the helmets suggest that these two actually work on site routinely.

Come to my arms

Halfway up the hill to home, a gorse bush demanded attention. It is wise not to ignore anything as well armed as this. Whether it is a seasonal die-back or the result of a weed killer, this plant appears to be on its last legs. Either way, a close encounter would still be an unpleasant experience. Gorse was introduced to New Zealand as a suitable hedge plant to contain stock, and in much of the country it still performs that function. However, the original importers did not foresee  the damage it would do as it thrived exceedingly well in the wild.

Monarch butterfly on a Buddleia plant

On an altogether more gentle note, it seems to be the season for Buddleia plants to bloom, and that brings lots of Monarch butterflies and small birds  to the vicinity. I was surprised to learn that the otherwise attractive Buddleia is classified as a pest plant.

On with the day.

adversity Architecture harbour Maritime Normandale Petone Weather Wellington

February 16th 2015 … pride cometh

Just as I was congratulating myself on a quick recovery!

A moist morning in the Hutt Valley

I went out yesterday, and perhaps pushed too hard too soon. Nothing terribly physical, you understand, just the strain of standing upright and staying awake got too much for me, and my energy reserves crashed back to zero.  Ah well, I got some images anyway. It was a murky day in Wellington and right from the beginning, I wanted to capture the drifting grey quality of the day.

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”*

In the afternoon, I began at Petone Beach where a couple of yachts were living the dream regardless of the weather. Again, it seemed to show the nature of the day.

The working area of Wellington’s CentrePort

In the city I paused near Centreport’s operational centre. If I had been up and about the previous day, instead of laid low, I might have had a ride on the tugs in exchange for a “gold” coin, since it was the port’s annual open day. Oddly, the sky seemed to be clearing so I made this image which is an odd mix of work boats and city architecture. The old Dominion Farmers Institute building seems to be having work done on its roof under cover of some plastic wrapping.

Brooklyn’s War Memorial

Up on Washington Avenue, I looked across the valley to the Brooklyn War Memorial. The monument is unknown to most Wellingtonians and commemorates the 48 inhabitants of the suburb who died in WWI. A marble soldier, hat in hand looks out over the harbour from which his fallen comrades sailed.

Looking to the North across the city

My last image was made as I was becoming aware that my recovery was incomplete. I hauled the tripod up to a small knoll on Prince of Wales Park and caught a different perspective on the city below. Cloud encases the Hutt Valley to the North. Mt Victoria is to the right and the green patch in the centre down below is the Basin Reserve.

And with my duty done, I now collapse back to bed.

*Rat to Mole from Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

Belmont Regional Park Forest Landscapes Light Normandale Sunset Trees Weather Wellington

January 22, 2015 … the dying of the light*

New Zealand bush is unremittingly green.

Low flow in the Wainuiomata River

Predominantly evergreen, our bush tends to be less colourful than forest in other countries. I struggle to produce images that adequately share my response to being in the bush. Over the hill in Wainuiomata, the recreation area near the water catchment the bush is leavened with some plantations of pines and gum trees. Perhaps it might offer a different opportunity. I set out to walk the Gum Tree Loop which runs beside the Wainuiomata River and involves just 1.6 km of easy walking.

Gum tree plantation in the Wainuiomata Recreational Reserve

Needless to say, on a track thus named, there are gum tees, and as a result the bush is much less dark and dense than native New Zealand bush. They are taller too, than most local trees, and are very nice to walk amongst.

The clearing

A little further along the trail, there was a clearing  or picnic area that prompted me to try the panorama feature on the new camera.

Southerly view
According to the Met Office on the radio, we were experiencing rain and thunderstorms expected to clear overnight. A few fluffy clouds is all.

Later in the evening, there was that light again. I drove to the top of Normandale Road and used the panorama feature again , this time to capture the grand sweep of the view to the South.

Folds in the landscape

My last shot of the day attempts to convey the last light caressing the folds of the valley at the foot of Belmont as the night came closer.

That’s it for today.

* I omitted to acknowledge Dylan Thomas “Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night”  thanks to my friend Cliff for picking it up