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June 12, 2022 … back to normal

With the road trip behind me, my challenge now is to keep the photographic flame alive. That can be hard while living an everyday life in suburbia. Many times before, I have referred to seeing familiar things in a different way. Some of my photographic friends have the gift of “finding a different place” to stand when making pictures of things that I see every day. What I need to do in my search for something worth photographing is to pause, and to not make the picture until I have considered other ways of looking at it. This might be to go round the other side. It might be to include (or exclude) another element. Perhaps it is looking at the subject through a different lens. The wide angle offers a different picture to that made by the telephoto. Anyway, for now at least, we are at home on the Western Hills of Lower Hutt and Winter has officially begun.

Before I totally forget the road trip, many thanks to all the nice readers who sent kind words and affirmation. Your messages were greatly appreciated.


A crranberry flavoured tablet made a spectacular fizz. I tried to catch it in my lightbox. That went OK, but I wondered whether a dark box might give a better image. The illusion of a reflection is createrd by the simple trick of standing the glass on the base of an identical glass inverted.

Receding planes

One trick for seeing a view differently is to make a part of the scene substitute for the whole. Looking from Oriental Parade up the harbour, Wellingtonians are familiar with the view of the hills to the North. I have tried to present that view differently. The dark mass in the foreground is Matiu/Somes Island. Behind that are three folds in the Eastern hills of the Hutt Valley and I suspect the highest visible hill through the haze is Mt Climie behind Upper Hutt. A popular track with runners runs 6km from Tunnel gully to the summit. Masochism at its finest.

Depth charge?

Big swells on the South coast tend to attract the surfing community to Lyall Bay. It also attracts photographers. I am not sure why. Though the surfers may be different, it’s essentially the same picture each time. The only thing that rescues such an image from being the same as last time is the extent to which the light conditions or the waves are different. In this case I think the explosive burst of a big swell on the breakwater at the end of the airport runway makes a difference.

Royal spoonbills

Recently a flock of Royal spoonbills has taken to spending time on the Pauatahanui wetlands. It is often the case that, even when the rest of the inlet has a bit of a chop on the surface, the wetlands are perfectly still. These birds are still not quite the equal of the white heron, but they run a close second.

Morning glory

On Ivey Bay, there is often a variety of shore birds. In this case, a pied shag is proclaiming dominance over the bay. Across the inlet, the hills to the North of Grays Rd tower above the foreshore. I mainly liked the light.

Ivey Bay anchorage

That same morning, the water was perfect and one of the classic older wooden boats in the bay served as a focal point for my image making. I have no idea which boat it was, but as with previous captures, I have a preference for the simple old-fashioned working boats.

Swells in Owhiro Bay

We have been blessed with a relatively mild winter thus far. No deep cold, no sign yet of snow on the Tararuas. The only real symptom of winter has been a few heavy swells from the South. I like to try to catch these big waves, and hope to convey the weight of water behind each one. I am fascinated by their slow ponderous advance. I know conditions will be interesting when the gap between each wave is about ten seconds.

Lodden Lily

In the grounds of St James Church, Lower Hutt, shared by the public library except on Sundays, there is a lot of history and a great deal of horticulture, mostly carried out at the expense of the Lower Hutt City Council. I spotted these little beauties and thought they were some kind of spring flower that got confused. These Loddon lilies, however, are a winter flower so they were perfectly on schedule and it was only me that was confused.


Unilever has been part of Petone’s scenery scenery since 1919. The big factory building with its constantly steaming exhaust stacks came much later, sometime mid-century. At its peak, about 600 people worked there. Automation in the latter years apparently reduced the on-site numbers to about 30. The distinctive glass office block was built in the 1980s. In 2014, pursuant to global restructuring, Unilever transferred its New Zealand operations to Australia and the Petone factory fell silent. Some of the lesser buildings at the Eastern end of the 5 hectare property seem to have been leased or sold to small businesses. The office block remains dark and reflects the equally still factory block.

Wet feet

A long-proposed cross-harbour pipeline will improve resilience of Wellington’s water supply. The present sole pipeline runs alongside the main highway and crosses known seismic fault lines in several places. Construction began on the new line this year and is expected to be complete in 2025. A barge with some heavy machinery has been in Lowry Bay for several months now and has established some piles. I saw these two intrepid workers being lowered on a work platform to inspect one of the piles. I got the impression that they were controlling the crane themselves. If so, they were not afraid to get their feet wet.

So many still days lately

I shouldn’t tempt fate with a caption like that. We have endured some vile weather in recent days. No surprise then, that when conditions are good, I seize the day. This image is from the walkway beside the marina below Pt Howard. You can see traces of the morning mist dissipating over the Western Hills.

May I urge you to click on any image that appeals to you to see a larger version.

I don’t know why I didn’t discover it earlier, but WordPress has a feature that allows its readers to sign up to receive each new edition of a blog by email. Simply enter your email address once in the space below. Once only and not if you are already getting it by email.

Airport Aviation Cook Strait Landscapes Lyall Bay Waves Weather Wellington

November 28, 2015 … wild and woolly weather

We arrived back from Queenstown on Thursday into the teeth of a rising Northerly gale.

Oriental bay
Oriental Bay in a gale

Yesterday’s winds peaked at about 133 km/h.  In Oriental Bay, there was an odd combination of grey cloud, green water and some thin sunlight.

A wider view of the harbour. The Navy’s logistics ship, HMNZS Canterbury is tied up at Queens Wharf.

I wondered if I could get away with a multi-shot panorama, as they are remarkably fussy when it comes to getting smooth  transitions between the waves on each of the images. I seem to have got away with it, though you might have to click to see the larger image to be sure.

Second time lucky

I got some lunch at the Kilbirnie shops and ate in the car at the airport end of Lyall Bay. I should have known better than to put my camera down, because I watched an apparently normal approach by a Jetstar A320 turn pear-shaped. A vicious gust rolled it 10 or 15 degrees from horizontal which looked much more terrifying than it sounds. The pilot obviously thought so too as the throttles were slammed open and it executed a very decisive go-round. When it returned for another try about ten minutes later the landing was much less dramatic, but I suspect it was one of those flights where the relieved passengers burst into applause when the wheels touch down.

Fast and straight, and no waiting for the bags.

Smaller planes seemed to suffer less for some reason, and the ATRs and the Q300s came in quite steadily, despite the heavy gusts rocking my car. Then a smaller aircraft still came into view. The Cessna 510 Citation Mustang has the words Robert Jones Holdings Limited on its side so I win no prizes for identifying it as ZK_RJZ, the private business jet of Sir Robert Jones who no longer has to suffer the indignities of safety briefings, cockpit announcements and security checks. It came in fast and steady. Personal business jets are still a rarity in New Zealand.

That’s all today.



Airport Aviation Birds Family Lyall Bay Wellington

October 17, 2015 … low level fly-by

It’s always nice to welcome our elder daughter and son-in-law home from Melbourne.

Gull (1)
Immature black-backed gull

They are in town to celebrate a momentous birthday on Mark’s family’s side. Mary and I went to the airport to collect them, but got out there too early, so rather than incur a parking bill sat and gazed at the view across Lyall Bay. The area seems to be a nursery area for Black-backed gulls (Larus dominicanus). There were a lot of immature birds soaring and swooping around the rocks at the Western end of the bay.

A Jetstar A320 dropping in to Wellington

Of course they weren’t the only low flyers in the area, and there was a steady stream of mostly domestic flights arriving into the stiff Northerly breeze. It intrigues me that almost the entire passenger fleet of domestic jets is now the ubiquitous Airbus A320 which seems to have supplanted the once universal B737. The only Boeings arriving at Wellington now belong to Qantas, Virgin Australia or Fiji Airways.

gull (2)
Another gull

We spent a somnolent half hour in the area and the gulls kept up their wave-riding antics, sometimes coming very close to the car.

The Moai is totally unmoved by the passage of the Straitsman

There is a replica of the Easter Island Moai at the Western end of the bay, gifted by the people of Chile. It sits and watches as ships, planes, surfers and birds come and go, but it says not a word.

And that’s all I have today.

Airport Aviation Lyall Bay Waves Wellington

October 10, 2015 … waiting for waves

My day was wiped out yesterday, spent in the A&E department of Wellington Hospital with a family member.

Boiling surf in Lyall Bay

When I was released from duty I made a hasty trip further South to Lyall Bay, where solid green waves were exploding onto the airport sea wall.

An Air New Zealand Airbus A320 about to touch down. All the Boeing 737s have gone now.

The sun was shining, but that dogged Northerly persisted, making the planes coming in from the South wobble on their approach.

Potential for overlap

Down in the bay, there were twenty or thirty surfers waiting for the right wave to catch their next ride. Every so often a sequence of suitable waves would arrive and there was the usual scramble to get in the right place for what seems to be an all too short ride. With that many riders in such a short space, there were inevitably some close misses, but I saw no actual collisions.

Waiting for the moment

Now and then the waves would be green and weighty and I liked this guy on a stand-up paddle board who seemed perilously close to the rocky sea wall beside the airport runway.  I am happy to report that my daughter is recovering from her mishap.

That’s all for now.

Architecture Kilbirnie Lyall Bay Waves Weather Wellington

September 10, 2015 … Southern suburbia

I can’t remember why I went there.

Lyall Bay
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home* … I think that’s Lyall Bay School in the foreground

I was probably just following my nose, as I often do when looking for images, but whatever the reason, I found myself on Duncan Terrace which is on the Western side of Kilbirnie, just below the town belt. This narrow winding street offers some interesting views down onto central Kilbirnie and Rongotai as well as South across Lyall Bay. I suspect that Kilbirnie is undergoing a slow process of “gentrification”, but historically, it has been an unashamedly working class suburb, home to everyday people. The houses are mostly modest, well-kept and close together.  I confess that the boundaries between the suburbs of Rongotai, Lyall Bay and Kilbirnie are a mystery to me.

Swells in straight lines

The higher streets in the suburb tend to enjoy great views, but you can understand that if you can see the South, then the South can see you, and they are interesting places to be in the worst of Wellington’s Southerlies. Yesterday, though the wind was not too wild, it was nevertheless generating a good onshore swell. The lens foreshortens the image, but those waves were ten or twelve seconds apart and that suggests slow heavy waves arriving on Lyall Bay Beach. Oddly, there was just one solitary surfer visible (on the left, between the second and third waves).

Bus barns
The Kilbirnie bus barns need to be rebuilt

Looking back to Kilbirnie itself, a long-term feature on Onepu Rd has been the bus barns. When the first stage was built in 1910, they were of course, tram barns, and to this day there are lengths of tram line inside on either side of many of the inspection pits. They have reached the end of their life, and are deemed earthquake prone. As I understand it they will be demolished, with some attempt to retain some token historical brickwork. At one stage there were plans to redevelop it for housing and retail, but it seems that the present owner still needs it to be a bus depot. For now, at least, it is a vast rust-red eyesore from my viewpoint on the hill.

That’s all for today.

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.

Adventure Art Cook Strait Evans Bay Lyall Bay Maritime Waves Weather Wellington

July 19, 2015 … storm warning

A Southerly blast gusting to 120 km/h was expected.

Detail of “The Albatross” by Tanya Ashken

There were stories of swells building up on the South coast ahead of the storm. How could I resist? On my way, I was sidetracked by the fountain near the boating lagoon at Frank Kitts Park in the city. Probably the most photographed of all the public artworks in Wellington, it has been shot from every possible angle in every possible circumstance. The elegant simplicity of its lines keep drawing me back to Tanya Ashken’s “Albatross“, determined to find some original aspect.

The fountain had obviously been running recently since there were still drips from the upper parts of the sculpture.

With or without the running water, it delights me. On this occasion, the water was off with just a few drips to spoil the perfect calm of the pool in which it is set.  Wait! Wasn’t there an approaching storm? Well, yes, and that calmness in the fountain, and in the harbour should have modified my hopes for the South coast.

Syrupy calm on Evans Bay with just enough air movement to move the yachts.

Evans Bay was eerie in its stillness. A few yachts were ghosting along its Easter shore. There was just sufficient wind to move the boats and still leave the water untouched under a sullen and moody sky.

Evans Bay Marina reflections

The marina was particularly still, and I am always a sucker for reflected boats in perfect water.

Lyall Bay
A few of the forty or so surfers let this one pass by. Bluebridge’s new ferry, Strait Feronia progresses silently across the horizon bound for Wellington.

When at last I got to Lyall Bay, I was astonished at the number of surfers in wet suits, eking occasional rides out of a sea that seemed placed all the way to the horizon. Every so often a sharp-edged wave would lift itself up and the surfers would start their frantic attempts to join its race to the shore. Standing at the edge of the dunes, and twenty metres or so from the water, I got engrossed in conversation with another onlooker and was totally caught out by the silent wave that hissed across the sand and caught the two of us up to our shins.

Something was definitely coming.


Animals Architecture harbour Landscapes Light Lyall Bay night Petone

May 19, 2015 … mainly coastal wandering

A yellow object in the sky stirred ancient memories.

Lyall Bay surfing

There used to be a thing we called “summer”, but it seems so long ago. Yesterday offered a faint reminder of summer with that yellow thing in the sky. A cold Northerly breeze kept the memories under control, but still, the day looked nice enough. Lyall Bay seemed like a place to start, and sure enough there were plenty of surfers enjoying slightly larger than normal waves.I mean no insult to anyone when I say that the normally small waves mean that real experts go elsewhere. Though the surf conditions seemed good yesterday, I saw more surfers fall off than complete their rides.  One or two did all right.


Lyall Bay is popular with dog owners who can take their dogs for a good run on the beach.

Sunset colour at Normandale

Sunset was spectacular across much of the Lower North Island yesterday, judging by the number of sunset shots posted by my friends on Facebook. I was at home, and the view to the West is limited by the ridge at the top of Maungaraki, but I gave it my best shot.

Hikoikoi night

In the evening, while Mary visited a friend in hospital, I took the Olympus for a night shoot, beginning at the boat sheds at Hikoikoi Reserve. Despite the mean-spirited wind during the day, the night was calm, the water still. Some work to be done, but it’s a good start.

Night view of Wellington from Petone. Towards the upper left corner, the red brick of the Hunter Building at Victoria University stands out.

From there I went along Petone Beach, and again I saw the still water reaching 9 km across the harbour to the city with just a few ripples to provide texture in the reflections.

That’s all for now.


Evans Bay Lyall Bay Maritime Waves Weather

April 19, 2015 … a chilly wind

The apprenticeship continues.

Tow boats
Tow boats rounding the inner marker with their skiers completely obscured in the wakes. The old trawler in the background has been there for a while and I wonder if it has been arrested.

Likewise the mistakes all teach me something. Yesterday was a very bleak day in Wellington with a vicious Northerly and very low temperatures. I had noticed a lot of very large power boats at the Kilbirnie end of Evans Bay. A little snooping on Google revealed that the World Waterski Racing Championships were taking place in the harbour. I went to Oriental Bay and have to say it was very miserable for spectators and competitors alike, which is a great shame considering what a beautiful day it has been today. Of course, the skiers were in wet suits but even so, the rooster tail behind the tow-boats must have ensured a more or less continuous blast of chilly salt water. The thunderous roar of the outboards was diplomatically described by a friend with a waterfront apartment as “very loud”.

Carter Fountain on a bleak windy day

Applying the 180 degree rule, I took a shot of the Carter Fountain, and was surprised that, in such conditions it was actually playing. Normally it shuts off when the wind-speed and direction bring the spray near the road.

Back to base
Returning to base with the Lady Liz thundering up from behind, presumably to ensure compliance with the speed restrictions close to shore.

After the final race, I drove around into Evans Bay and stopped to watch the procession of tow-boats growling up the bay. In the background, the police launch, Lady Elizabeth IV was making its own substantial presence felt.

Kite-surfer in tumbling water in Lyall Bay

In Lyall Bay, kite-surfers were enjoying the conditions. Notwithstanding my remarks yesterday about the normally placid surfing environment, the right wind conditions can provide great opportunities for kite-surfers. Tumbling waters and strong winds create some exciting opportunities for them. Kite-surfing at Lyall Bay is prohibited in some wind conditions where the loss of control could conceivably blow a kite across the airport with potentially disastrous consequences.

That’s enough for the day.

flowers Lyall Bay Waves Weather Wellington

April 18, 2015 … waves and flowers

Step by step, I am finding its tricks.

Lyall Bay
By Lyall Bay standards, these are quite good waves

The catch with many new cameras is that a lot of their functions are accessible only of you press, twist or hold an improbable combination of buttons at once, and they are rarely intuitive in the way they are laid out. But, as I said, I am becoming familiar with the tricks. Yesterday’s venue was Lyall Bay where there was still a significant surf after some ugly weather in the preceding days.

Riders of all ages and stages come here regularly.

Lyall Bay will never be one of the great surf spots of the world, and most of the time, its waves are mere ripples in the eyes of genuinely competitive surfers. As I understand it, however, it is a good place to learn, and it has its share of regular visitors who would rather be on a board than at a desk. Its riders are young, old, male, female, but whoever they are they seem to have fun.

Not sure what the flower is but the leaves are mean.

Back at home, our neighbors have planted a rather vicious plant with a beautiful spike of flowers. Regrettably its leaves are also spiky and I would not wish to make contact unexpectedly.

That’s all for now.