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.

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.

Somewhere in the Silverstream Pinehaven area

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

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.

Architecture Landscapes Moonshine Valley

October 13, 2015 … pioneering spirit

To borrow from an old show business line, “round and round he goes, where he stops, nobody knows”.

Wool shed
Wool shed, Moonshine Road

I can’t begin to explain how I ended up in Moonshine Valley yesterday, but that’s where I went. There are a number of small farms up the very narrow winding road, and most of them seem to have buildings dating from pioneering days. Such buildings seem to have been built on an ad hoc basis with no plans and no adherence to rules. The only real rule was make do, and incorporate any materials at hand. I am guessing this old building is a wool shed, based on the row of low height exit  chutes from which the newly shorn sheep would have tumbled to the grass below. The sheet of roofing iron peeled back on the roof suggests it hasn’t been used for a while.

The Pauatahanui Stream runs down through the Moonshine Valley

Further North, the road passes through a gorge, where there is no room to stop and nothing but bush-lined cliffs on either side of the road and stream. Happily there was a space just before the narrow part where I could see the stream more clearly.

Farm building
Yet another character-filled farm utility building

On the other side of the gorge, there are more old sheds and almost without exception, they are a testament to the pioneering ethos of re-using every scrap of material. I can’t imagine any such structure being erected today in this bureaucratic and rule-bound environment.

Corrugated iron
Corrugated iron has been the basic material 0f most farm buildings up this road

It always amazes me how different a road is when you traverse it in the other direction. I always find that I see things that I missed on the way up. Most of the old buildings that catch my eye seem to be disused, and in some cases barely capable of allowing entry. What a shame it would be for picture makers if they were to be demolished.

That’s all for now.



adversity Birds Landscapes Moonshine Valley Pauatahanui

June 27, 2015 … seize the day

Another day of flat calm and mostly blue sky.

Sacred kingfisher keeps its feet dry while waiting for the next crab off the rank.

These are opportunities not to be missed. Miffed by my failure with the kingfishers the previous day, I went back to the inlet to try with the Canon. Wrong tide and the birds were  far away, so this image is a significant crop.

White-faced heron

A little further round the point, I found a pair of white-faced herons perched on adjacent rocks. I love the colour in their plumage.

Moonshine Valley

From there I went home via Moonshine valley and the insanely narrow and twisting road down to the Moonshine Bridge. A landscape on the way was worth a look.

Not an exciting day, but tomorrow will be a different story.

Animals Moonshine Valley Weather

September 18, 2014 … land of the golden fleece

Privileged access is very helpful.

Moonshine valley
Moonshine valley farmland

Yesterday a friend of my brother-in-law allowed me to wander over his farm at the back of Moonshine Hill Road. This is a sheep farm within a few minutes of the Hutt Valley and yet somehow as wild and remote as many places in the middle of the island. At first sight, the landscape is green and gentle, and worthy of study as a landscape.

Curious lamb
Somehow, when there are triplets, one is always more interested in the distractions while the other two carry on feeding

I forgot to ask how many sheep were on the farm, but it was lambing time so there were sheep and tiny sheep everywhere. Interestingly, the farmers had scanned their pregnant ewes, and those bearing twins and triplets were on the lower slopes. Those bearing a single lamb were in the paddocks at the top of the hill. There were an extraordinary number of triplets.

On the skyline

The higher I climbed up the farm tracks, the more interesting the photographic encounters I had with the stock.

The technique used by the lambs must be tough on the ewe, especially where twins or triplets are concerned

One aspect that I noticed was that the lambs are quite brutal in getting access to the ewe’s udder, head-butting it vigorously to get the milk flowing. It was also clear that the mother’s first instinct was to flee as a human approached. The lambs on the other hand always wanted a feed before they were ready to run.


As I got higher, the weather cleared and the views out to the South got more spectacular. It was possible to look out beyond Mana Island to the South Island in the far distance.


The land-forms in this area are quite striking, and I have often made pictures of the hillside on the other side of the road. This was the best view yet of the folded hillside.

Another change of scene tomorrow.


Animals Birds Moonshine Valley Pauatahanui

August 20, 2013 … substitute subjects

Somehow, there are always new corners to discover, and surprises to find.

I prefer to set up an image or at least to go out with the intention of making specific kinds of image. When the starts of the show don’t turn up (kingfishers), I am forced to look for other things.

Moonshine valley is picturesque, but it runs in a North/South direction between very steep hills so much of it is in deep shadow, and where it does open out, there is little opportunity to park.  Anyway, I followed the road, seeing opportunities and storing them for a different time and different light, and then I came to the intersection of Bulls Run Road. I met this delightful group. There were about eight donkeys grazing in a small paddock beside a creek. I got out hoping for some “character” shots. I hadn’t reckoned on their curiosity, or perhaps they were hoping to be fed something more interesting. I had a long lens and they kept coming well within my minimum focusing distance. In the end I had to walk off up the road, and then turn to see them from further away. This quartet was so nicely lined up I could scarcely pass them by.

Donkeys in Moonshine Valley
They were intensely interested in my activities

Back at the inlet, despite the lovely conditions, my preferred targets were still absent, so I was on the verge of leaving when I saw a flock of Royal spoonbills grazing, silhouetted against the sun.

Near sunset, Royal spoonbills grazing
They look much more elegant in the air


They can be skittish, so I lay on my belly in the reeds and shot from a low angle. It was a delight to get so close to them.

Getting closer and lower
I haven’t often seen them in that part of the inlet

I have high hopes for tomorrow.