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adversity Landscapes Machinery Mangaroa Valley Moonshine Valley Silverstream Weather

October 23, 2015 … low cloud and drizzle

The last few days have been freaky, weather-wise.

Haywards
At the top of Haywards Hill, the land to the North of the road is being clear-felled. The log hauler is on the knob to the right of the picture.

We have had strong winds alternating with low cloud, mist and rain. Normally I would suggest that these are incompatible, but that’s what we have had.  Low cloud is not necessarily bad and wreaths around the hills off interesting opportunities. In the hope that the conditions at Pauatahanui would be special, I went over the hill. Alas, it was merely grey over there with ruffled water. I cam back and paused at the top of the Haywards Hill for a view of the clear-felling logging operation that has been taking place there. As you v=can see there is little left standing.

Mist
Somewhere in the Silverstream Pinehaven area

From there I went North and saw a misty landscape near the Moonshine bridge.

Mangaroa
Remote small farm in Mangaroa Valley

At Upper Hutt, I carried on to the Plateau road and from there into the Mangaroa Valley which was also buried in the mist. On days like this there is a silence in the valley and a sense of being isolated from the rest of the world.

That will do for today.

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Animals Birds flowers Landscapes Mangaroa Valley mountains The Plateau Whiteman's Valley

September 12, 2015 … in a quiet valley

Business issues took me to the upper valley yesterday.

Gambol
I wonder what prompts the gambolling … is it joie de vivre, and if so what causes them to lose it? Or perhaps something is biting them in sensitive areas.

Rather than going straight home, I went first to the Plateau a little to the North of Upper Hutt. Though some images were made there, nothing really ignited the creative flame for me, so I went round the back road to the Mangaroa Valley and from there South into Whiteman’s Valley. Both of these valleys are home to a mixture of small farms and so-called “lifestyle blocks”. Since they are not on the road to anywhere they are quiet places with lots of greenery and steep wooded hills to East and West. Here in the Southern hemisphere, spring is well and truly with us in everything but weather.  Bouncing lambs and lots of flowering trees tell us it is so.

Lapwings
Lapwings against the Tararuas

To the North end of the Valley, the great South Wall of the Tararua ranges dominates. Some late snow chills the view and makes the peaks more impressive than their benign summer face. I am not absolutely certain but I think the passing birds are masked lapwings (formerly spur-winged plovers) .

Old Man's Beard
Seed heads on the Old Man’s Beard

As I drove across a creek in the valley, I was a bit shocked to see an infestation of “Old Man’s Beard” (Clematis vitalba) choking up the less aggressive foliage.  In the 1980s, famed botanist David Bellamy was the front man for a nation-wide campaign with the catch-phrase “Old man’s Beard must go”. Clearly the message has been forgotten, and though this member of the clematis family is beautiful when in flower, it is an invasive pest plant. In this picture the seeds look a lot like cotton balls.

Springtime
Springtime

It is part of the picturesque charm of these valleys that generations of farmers have planted daffodil bulbs along the roadside and occasionally in random patches on the farm. At this time of year, their golden trumpets nod and bow in a lively dance as the spring breezes blow.

More tomorrow, I hope.

 

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adversity Mangaroa Valley Rivers The Plateau Weather

July 11, 20i5 … what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger*

There was supposed to be snow.

Eucalypts
Eucalypts near Tunnel Gully

North of Upper Hutt there is an area called the Plateau, and it can usually be relied upon to be a few degrees colder than other parts of the Hutt Valley, especially in Winter conditions such as we have had for the last few days. Sadly, though I drove into the reserve to the Tunnel Gully area, there was no snow except up near the summit of Mt Climie. I was left trying to eke a photograph  from the contrast between the eucalypts and the drifting Southerly drizzle.

Mangaroa River
The Mangaroa River flowing faster than usual

On Plateau Rd, the sound of the Mangaroa Road was audible inside the car so a brief stop was made to see what was possible with that. It was well above its normal flow.

Climie
Mt Climie from the Mangaroa Valley

A detour through the Mangaroa Valley gave me a distant view of the residual snow on the tops beyond the pleasant pastoral scenery down on the flat. Frustration all round, but I suppose that trying to present the ordinary in the best way possible is a challenge.

That’s all for now.

* Friedrich Nietzsche

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Birds Mangaroa Valley Railway The Plateau Trees Whiteman's Valley

December 29, 2014 … bush at the edge of the city

We seem to have developed a new tradition.

Rata
Rata in bloom on the Plateau near Upper Hutt

 

Mary makes a picnic lunch and then I drive us to a surprise location. Yesterday’s trip was a bit constrained by fears of holiday congestion on the main roads. I went over the hill to Whiteman’s Valley, up through the Mangaroa Valley and up Plateau Rd to Tunnel Gully. Tall bush at the foot of the road up to Mt Climie was spectacularly lush. Several magnificent Rata were in bloom, a burst of dusky red against a sea of green.

Tunnel
Emerging from the Mangaroa tunnel on the downhill side

 

Our destination was chosen because, despite the number of time I had been up to the Plateau area, I had never seen the Mangaroa tunnel. We followed a well-formed path from the picnic area into the bush and within a minute or two were at the mouth of the old railway tunnel. Though we could see the other end quite clearly, the 221 metre tunnel is long enough that it is very dark inside. The tiny light on my key ring is designed to illuminate keyholes and was quite useless against the unrelenting blackness. A young woman running behind us with her two dogs told as she passed that the biggest hazard in the tunnel were the horse droppings. We emerged blinking at the other end.

Pines
Dense stand of mature pines

 

Birdsong was all around us and I could hear tui, bellbird, fantail, blackbird and grey warblers at least. Unfortunately the bush was so dense that the birds were able to be heard, but rarely seen. The trail led relentlessly downhill towards Maymorn, and I always think that downhill tracks have to be repaid if you want to get back to where you left the car. The path passes through a dense stand of pines and Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” came to mind.

Bush
A random bush shot on the ridge

 

At Maymorn station, we turned back and instead of passing through the tunnel chose the track up over the very ridge that the tunnel is designed to avoid. The quality of the bush os outstanding and we count ourselves fortunate to have such easy access to such a treasure.

That’s all for today

 

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adversity Architecture Art flowers Mangaroa Valley Railway Upper Hutt

October 15, 2014 … wandering without a map

I know I am in trouble when I set out to take a picture but have no idea where, or of what.

IMG_4097

The technique of following your nose can lead to mediocrity. Nevertheless I set out in the direction that the front of my car was pointing. That took me through the Mangaroa Valley and over the hill into Upper Hutt. An old military storage establishment is quietly decaying in the midst of the rural lifestyle blocks.

IMG_4099

Over the ridge to Upper Hutt, and below me, the train from Masterton is bound for Wellington, having just passed through Maymorn.

IMG_4102

Mindful of the dictum to look around, I spotted a small blue flower which I take to be a bluebell.

IMG_4117

In Upper Hutt township, there is a traffic roundabout at the Northern end of the main street. In the centre of the island there is a large bronze sculpture, a stylised representation of a kereru sitting on a ring. The symbolism eludes me, but the sculpture is surrounded by tulips, poppies  and other perennials nearing the end of their flowering season.

That’s all for now

 

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adversity Birds Hutt River Mangaroa Valley Silverstream Weather

August 15, 2014 … le jour où la pluie viendra*

As the old joke has it, if you don’t like our climate, wait twenty minutes.

Stilts
The sun is shining, but that wind was bone-chilling. Nevertheless the stilts seemed to be having a good time.

It began well enough, though I would have preferred that the wind was not ruffling the water like that. There were a large number of pied stilts at the inlet in the morning, but for most of my purposes, the tide was wrong and the wind was wrong.

Rosellas
Eastern rosellas … probably the most colourful bird in New Zealand. Introduced from Australia, they are a pest in the North but are relatively rare in Wellington

I had lunch with a former colleague in Upper Hutt, then went over the hill to Mangaroa. A little way up the valley a flash of red caught my eye, and there were a pair of Eastern Rosellas (Platycercus eximius). They were flying free but judging by the fence on which they perched and the man-made birdhouses, I am guessing that someone is feeding them so they are not going far.

Rain
A distinct surfeit of weather … fortunately, most of it was outside.

I moved up the valley further to the plateau behind Maymorn, and then the climate changed.  It happened suddenly, and drastically. A thunderous hailstorm made life distinctly unpleasant, and rendered photography much more difficult.  I waited until the hail gave way to mere rain, then set out towards home.  I went down beside the Hutt River just South of the Moonshine bridge in the hope of getting some atmospheric shots.  The rain was coming in with some force from the South, so I did my best to shoot from inside the car. I had a storm jacket for the camera, but not one for myself, so I was reluctant to get out.

More rain
Near the Hutt River at Silverstream … I love the inky silhouettes of the bare trees against the grey background

In a few places I could angle the car so that I could briefly lower the passenger side window and get the shot without too much rain getting on the lens.

So ends another day.

* “The day that the rains came down” a song by Gilbert Becaud, made famous by Jane Morgan

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Hutt River Landscapes Light Mangaroa Valley Rivers Weather

June 1, 2014 … oh what a perfect day*

After a week or two of indifferent weather, we suddenly got lucky.

Near Manor Park
Cool clear morning decorated with a river mist

This is a long weekend in in New Zealand, on which we observe the sovereign’s birthday. Her real birthday is April 21, but in New Zealand, it is always observed on the Monday nearest June 2. And to go with the long, and the start of the calendar winter, we have a forecast that says we shall have bright clear weather from Saturday through Thursday.  I looked from my window and saw a cloudless sky and a touch of river mist. This first image is taken near manor Park, looking North towards the Tararuas.

Morning in the valley
Days like this will soon be a memory to be treasured as winter comes closer

I took the side road (Hebden Crescent)  because it got me off the busy main highway and allowed me to get shots in safety. The morning looked warm enough, but the thermometer on my car’s dashboard was telling me that the outside temperature was 4°C.

Running water
The creek at the entrance to the plateau reserve

Following my nose, I went to he Plateau at the foot of Mt Climie where my dashboard was now panicking and telling me that the outside temperature was now 2°C. Perhaps it was, but the atmosphere and scenery distracted me from any discomfort.

Maple
Better late than never … Maple in Autumn colours

From there I went into Mangaroa Valley where one small Maple was putting on a belated Autumn spectacular all on its own.

River
River in Mangaroa Valley

My last shot for the day was near the hill that crosses back over the ridge to Upper Hutt. I had to perch with my tripod on a very narrow concrete ledge  at the edge of the bridge. Fortunately few cars passed.

That’s all, time for bed.

 

*Perfect Day, by Lou Reed

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Evans Bay harbour Industrial insects Machinery Mangaroa Valley Maritime Upper Hutt Weather

January 5, 2014 … random voyages

We rarely shop in the Southern suburbs.

On the other hand, we will go to great lengths to avoid the crowds in our local mall, especially during holiday season and in bad weather. There was a shop we wanted at Rongotai, so off we went. As we came around one of the many corners on Evans Bay, I spotted this colourful tanker berthed at the Miramar wharf.

Stena Polaris at Miramar, NZ
Almost certainly unloading jet fuel

 

As far as I know, the main purpose of the Miramar terminal is jet fuel, so I presume that the Stena Polaris was delivering that. Since she is leased by Stena Bulk, a division of the Swedish company that is providing our temporary interisland ferry (the Stena Alegra), I was more than usually interested. The Stena Polaris is a very modern vessel specially reinforced for ice, with dual separate engine rooms. It recently completed a voyage from the Gulf of Finland to South Korea via the Northern Sea Route (the North East passage). In the few months of the year when ice permits, she can save about 12 days and 400 tonnes of fuel, carrying 44,000 tonnes of naphtha or other petroleum products. We shall overlook the fact that she was accompanied on her voyage by a Russian nuclear powered icebreaker ‘just in case’.

Radiance of the Seas
I always feel for the tourists if their one day in port is we and windy.

On our return we drove down Aotea Quay which was dominated by the impressive 90,000 Tonne bulk of the Radiance of the Seas. This ship is capable of carrying 2,500 units of self-loading cargo, and according to Wikipedia, is further distinguished as the first ship to have gyro-stabilized pool tables that remain horizontal no matter what. Amazing how we can find solutions to first-world problems (though I suspect that there is no solution to the inertia problems that may arise if the ship rolls a lot, or surges into waves).

Speaking of matters maritime, it dawns on me that it is sixty years ago to the day that with my parents and brother, we sailed down the Clyde on the TSS Captain Cook to emigrate from the UK to New Zealand.

Bark processor
Ear-defenders are probably essential

In the afternoon I went out again and wandered the industrial area at the back of Upper Hutt. I found little of interest at street level so went up the Mangaroa Hill road and looked back towards the city below. The first thing that caught my eye was a log bark processing machine that grinds and sorts log bark into various landscaping products. It’s amazing what lies behind the bland street frontages.

An industrial rooftop
A mushroom farm, perhaps?

From the same vantage point, and with my textures theme in mind, I spotted an interesting roof top.

Bumble bee on thistle flower
This was a very large thistle, and hence a very large bee

And then, mindful of the check-behind-you rule, I saw this bumble bee Bombus terrestris)  up to its neck in gathering pollen from this large thistle.

Wallaceville cemetery
Of course they don’t care, but the occupants have chosen a pretty place to lie

My last discovery of the day was the Wallaceville cemetery, tucked onto a wind-swept hillside overlooking the Mangaroa Valley. I referred to the “wild goose grasses” just a few days ago, but here the grasses were really blowing across graves just as the old Weavers’ song suggested.

More wind and rain today.

Categories
Landscapes Mangaroa Valley Rivers Whiteman's Valley

August 14, 2013 … spring approaches stealthily

Today is another edition of somewhat muted colours.

Spring is upon us, daffodils and lambs are beginning to appear, though the weather as experienced, tends to remain grey and chilly.

My photo shoot began at “the Plateau” near Maymorn, Upper Hutt. The last time I was there, it was a warm and pleasant evening with fantails flitting about gathering a plentiful harvest of sandflies. Yesterday it was just plain cold, but the same little creek gurgled just as merrily and passed under the road. I wanted a slow exposure to get that veiled look on the flowing water, so inevitably the bitter breeze added some movement of its own as it waved the foliage about.

Today is another edition of muted colours.  Spring is upon us, daffodils and lambs are starting to appear, though the weather as experienced tends to remain grey and chilly. My photo shoot began at “the Plateau” near Maymorn, Upper Hutt. The last time I was there, it was a pleasant evening with fantails flitting about gathering a plentiful harvest of sandflies. Yesterday it was just cold, but the same little creek gurgled just as merrily and passed under the road. I wanted a slow exposure to get that veiled look on the flowing water, so inevitably the bitter breeze added some movement of its own as it waved the foliage about.  Progressing up the valley I was about to pass this buy and then liked the incongruity of the Camellia in flower as a hedge plant beside a p which addock containing cows. Daisy there, sat chewing, but I had to get my picture in quickly before her sisters came over to see what was happening.  In Whiteman’s Valley, there was more running water and rolling landscape though the light was regrettably flat.  And just as I was leaving the Valley on Blue Mountains Road, this old army vehicle caught my attention. It is a Bedford RL, the backbone medium truck for several armies including Britain and New Zealand in the 1950s and 1960s. In its heyday it was much smarter than it is now (see this link borrowed from Andy Fowler on British Military Vehicle photo forum). And that is the day’s work from yesterday.
Near the Plateau, Upper Hutt

Progressing up the valley I was about to pass this by and then liked the incongruity of the camellia in flower as a hedge plant beside a paddock containing cows. Daisy sat there, chewing, but I had to take my picture quickly before her curious sisters came over to see what was happening.

Incongruous juxtapostiion
Camellia and “Daisy”

In Whiteman’s Valley, there was more running water and rolling landscape though the light was regrettably flat.

More running water
I am fairly sure I have photographed this in a different season

And just as I was leaving the Valley on Blue Mountains Road, this old army vehicle caught my attention. It is a Bedford RL, the backbone medium truck for several armies including Britain and New Zealand in the 1950s and 1960s. In its heyday it was much smarter than it is now (see this link borrowed from Andy Fowler on British Military Vehicle photo forum).

Derelict Bedford RL 4x4 Truck
Her best days are behind her

And that is the day’s work from yesterday.

 

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Architecture Landscapes Light Mangaroa Valley

July 19, 2013 … and now for something completely different*

True to my word, I stayed away from the inlet yesterday.

Instead, the rural landscape of Whiteman’s Valley called to me. Heavy cloud in the East and a setting sun behind me offered some possibilities. My first shot is a farm driveway at the Mangaroa end of the valley. It became something of a trick to line up he view I wanted while ensuring that no shadow of me or my camera appeared in the foreground.

Nice light in Whteman's Valley
Farm driveways are often quite picturesque

An old shed which I have used before was still intriguing, so I knocked somewhat tentatively at the farmhouse door. The lady of the house gave her consent for me to wander about, but was worried that her husband might come back and wonder “who the hell you are”. She went off to intercept her husband and he indicated by long distance sign language that it was OK.

Farm shed near Mangaroa
The old barn will stand a few years yet

The old shed is in a sad state of disrepair, but will probably continue to serve the needs of the owners for the rest of their days. It seems to serve as a shelter and storage place for various items that may one day be useful.

A useful storage space
I can sympathise with the need to keep stuff in case it comes in useful one day.

That’s it for the day, and still no birds tomorrow either. 

acknowledgment to Monty python’s Flying Circus