December 31, 2017 … closing the curtains on another year

I hope the year has been kind to you, as it mostly has for Mary and me.


From the lagoon – Wellington offers interesting views even n grey days

Since I last wrote, photographic opportunities have been variable, and there have been times when I have had to make my own luck. I prefer it if any water in the picture is not too ruffled. On this occasion the day was a bit drab so I went under the edge of the walkway bridge at the edge of the lagoon at Frank Kitts Park.


Defense HQ Demolition

Later in the day I had a coffee with our younger daughter Lena (long time readers will remember her as Helen) . Across the road from her place of work, the headquarters building for the Ministry of Defence is being demolished. It was supposedly strong enough to withstand a hit from a cruise missile. A Wellington earthquake was stronger so now, a year later, it is being reduced to rubble.


On Dry Creek Road – near Martinborough

Then there were days of such perfection that a road trip was needed. Over the Rimutaka Hill near Martinborough, conditions were very dry.


Royal spoonbills in mating plumage – Wairio Wetlands

A little further down the road from there, are the Wairio wetlands on the Eastern shore of Lake Wairarapa. There were a lot of Royal spoonbills browsing the ponds and they were wearing their breeding plumage.


Feliz navidad – the national flower of Christmas – the pohutukawa

Early in December, someone threw the switch that initiated the pohutukawa flowering season. Almost overnight, there were crimson blooms everywhere. I tried for a different take.


Ferries crossing – mid-strait

Another lovely evening with a golden sunset prompted me to go to Moa Point above the airport. The ferries Aratere and Kaitaki passed each other in the middle of the Cook Strait, and the Kaikoura ranges can be seen in the haze at the rear.


Hare’s Tail grass

Sometimes the simple things appeal. Backlit hare’s tail grass always catches my eye.


Unto us a child is born

Then it was Christmas. Mary and I like to attend the children’s Mass on Christmas eve, and this image is of our parish priest, Fr Michael carrying the statue of the Christ child to be installed in the crib. The sculptor was obviously unfamiliar with the actual dimensions and character of a newborn.



Passing through the city I caught a glimpse of the newly revealed  sculpture in the Pukeahu National War memorial. It is a gift from the people of Britain to the people of New Zealand, and is intended to represent the shelter formed as the royal oak and pohutukawa intertwine. It has had a mixed reception from the artistic community, but I quite like it.


Hutt River

And then another fine day in that lost period between Christmas and New Year. The Hutt River has a few interesting spots. This one is just on the corner near Totara Park in Upper Hutt.

slow and easy

Gladstone rush-hour

From there I went back over the hill to Gladstone, to begin with, where I encountered rush-hour traffic. This image is taken through the windscreen of my car which needed a clean.


Ripe Grain

I went from Gladstone via the back road to Masterton and was again attracted to a dry-looking field of ripe grain.

Sir Peter

BE-2C taking care not to run over the boss, Sir Peter Jackson – Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit … love the bare feet

As I was setting up my tripod for the grain, I saw some biplanes overhead and instantly knew that there was activity at the Vintage Aviator Limited, on Hood Aerodrome, Masterton. I drove there in all cautious haste and managed to wheedle my way onto the apron outside their hangar. It was apparently a private event for “friends of friends” so I was fortunate to be allowed inside the barriers. I got some shots I liked. This one captured the spirit of the event. A BE-2c taxiing slowly behind the boss, Sir Peter Jackson. He is the ultimate aviation nut and those of us who live near enough are grateful for the opportunities to see the magnificent work done by the Vintage Aviator Limited (TVAL).


Lake Wairarapa in a rare calm moment

From there I drove south via Boggy Pond and across the East-West link and then back up the Western Lake road where I caught this panorama of Te Moana Wairarapa (Lake Wairarapa). It was a stunning day.


Everything here has a sharp point … bee and thistle both

My last image for 2017 was captured at the Catchpool Valley in the Rimutaka Forest Park. We had to vacate the house while our real estate agent showed a potential buyer through. We think an offer may follow. Meanwhile, I saw a honey bee enjoying a Scotch Thistle.

And so the year is ended. Thanks to all who follow my somewhat self-indulgent rambling. Thanks to everyone who has offered supportive comments. Thanks for your company. Warmest wishes for a safe and happy new year in 2018. May it be your best year yet.



Posted in Adventure, Animals, Art, Aviation, Bees, Birds, Boggy Pond, Children, Cook Strait, Festivals and fairs, insects, Lakes, Landscapes, Light, Maritime, Martinborough, Masterton, Masterton, Rimutaka Forest park, Rivers, Sunset, Upper Hutt, Wairarapa, Wellington | 4 Comments

December 17, 2017 … another year runs its course

Even though I have been retired for six years now, the end of the year still brings with it that sense of a burden lifting. Of course, a few weeks after that and the circus begins again. Mary and I are in housing Limbo, with no offers on our present place as yet. On the other hand, we have no external impetus to move, so we need not look for a replacement until we have a sale. In the meantime, we live in a somewhat Spartan state of semi-preparedness to move.


Purple Tansy

Photography has had to step back a little despite the stunning burst of early Summer. Now and then I take the camera for a walk on a short leash, and found these little flowers in the rockery. I think they are Phacelia tanacetifolia commonly known as purple tansy. The whole cluster is just 25mm or one inch across. We think they have propagated from the wild bird seed Mary likes to have for the local birds.


South Wellington looking across the airport


It seems only a short time ago that I was complaining week after week about wet and windy weather. Astonishingly we have now had a string of warm sunny days with the temperature reaching 30 degrees C on occasion. We have had no significant rain for almost two months and there are restrictions on water usage. Still a bit of wind , but some beautiful days.


Christmas lights on Oriental Bay

Some of the nights were warm and clear too. This shot was on Oriental Bay with the ornamental Christmas lights reflecting on the parked cars.

Mt Vic

Wellington from Mt Victoria

Last week I went to the summit of Mt Victoria and looked down on our picture-postcard city. It’s hard to be original up here, but worth doing anyway.


CBD variety

There are those who dislike cityscapes, but I always love the contrasting colours and textures of an unregimented architectural environment.



Posted in Airport, Architecture, Cars, flowers, Landscapes, Light, night, Weather, Wellington | 1 Comment

December 8, 2017 …

Just a few short months ago, I was complaining about our weather and its constant wind and rain. Over the last week or so, we have enjoyed some genuine summer, warm, calm, and yesterday the temperature in Lower Hutt reached 31 deg C. Unheard of. And now we are hearing concerns about drought on the farms, normally expected in February.


A still but misty day on Wellington Harbour from Petone beach.

Since I last wrote, things started slowly, but at least the sea was calm.


Hutt River Estuary at Dawn

Gradually as the days passed, things got better and better. Something woke me early one morning and this view from my bedroom catches the morning light on the Hutt River estuary.


Standard class railcar RM30 Aotea

Last weekend, the Silverstream Railway Museum had an open day with trains offering rides. When Mary and I were first engaged, she was a theatre nurse in New Plymouth and I was a computer geek in Wellington. Since I didn’t own a car, the only way to see her was to catch the train. In those days (1969) NZR used their Standard or “Canoe” class railcars for the Wellington to New Plymouth service. Each bore the name of one of the canoes of the great Maori migration. Last weekend, the museum was running RM 30 “Aotea”. Nostalgia required that I take the ride.

Steam locomotive

Getting along nicely after 140 years of service

They also had a train hauled by the 140 year old steam locomotive. How could I resist?


Supermoon on 4 December from my bedroom window looking in the direction of the Rimutaka summit

Then there was the so-called “super moon”  which I caught rising over the Tararuas  from my bedroom window.


Hutt River Estuary looking South to the harbour mouth

And still the weather kept getting better.

Wainuiomata Hill

Wainuiomata Hill Panorama

The evenings have been fine, warm and still, and I have been tempted to wander far and wide at night. This panorama is a three-image stitch from the top of the Wainuiomata hill taking in the view from the city on the left to Lower Hutt CBD on the right. If you click for the larger version, you will see the high peaks of the Kaikoura ranges in the red glow of the setting sun.

No significant movement on the house as yet. We are lucky that we have no external imperative to move, so we are quite relaxed and can wait for a suitable offer. There is just the mild inconvenience of living with many of life’s comforts packed away. On the positive side, we did get rid of another three tonnes of hoarded rubbish in a hired 7.5 cubic metre skip.


Posted in harbour, Landscapes, Light, Moon, mountains, night, Railway, Weather, Wellington | 2 Comments

November 25, 2017 … it has been a crazy busy month

As you might have noticed, my busy-ness did not extend to keeping up with the blog for quite a while. Both Mary and I have had dealings with the heath system (good outcomes all round, we think). And then there is the business of selling the house. We have been packing, discarding, giving away, and all the while, trying to retain a semblance of tidiness for the recurring “open homes” that our real estate agent has been running. This too, shall pass. Christmas is looming with just one month to go. But every now and then, I have managed to get out and make images.


This is Mokopuna, the small island at the North end of Matiu/Somes in Wellington harbour. It was on this island that a Chinese immigrant who was wrongly suspected of having leprosy was quarantined, and where he died.

I like stillness. When the sun comes through the curtains in the morning, my heart lifts. When I draw the curtains back and see that the leaves on the flax bush are perfectly still, my heart soars and I know that I must go. Sadly there have been few such days in the last month, though some days were better than others.


The Western sky near Wellington Airport

During the month we have had some spectacular colour in the evening sky, though I suspect that is often attributable to the amount of wind-blown sea salt in the air.


Heroes, firefighters, extreme walkers arrive at the Westpac Stadium after walking 170 km from Palmerston North to raise funds for MND

Annually, the Motor Neuron Disease Association (US = Lou Gehrig’s Disease or ALS) conducts fund-raising activities. Mary is involved on the local committee so I got roped in to make images of the proceedings. Most striking event of the day for me were the five extreme walkers of the New Zealand Fire Service who had walked the entire distance from Palmerston North , 170 km, in full fire-fighting gear with breathing apparatus in return for sponsorship.


Commuter trains get little usage in the weekends

While I was at the stadium, I was struck by the patterns on the roof lines of rows of electric commuter trains at rest over the weekend.


Kapiti Island as seen from Pukerua Bay

And then we had some real Wellington weather, of the kind on which Wellington can’t be beaten. This shot was made at Pukerua Bay, and yes, that is the stormy Tasman sea at its benign best. Kapiti is the island in the distance.


Pied shag drying its wings at Pukerua Bay

If you look closely at the rock in front of the right hand (Northern) end of the island you will notice a shag drying its wings.  I decided to look more closely.


Jeremiah was a bullfrog …

From there I went to Queen Elizabeth Park just North of Paekakariki, and there, the wetland area was just alive with the call of frogs who have not yet discovered Tinder. I’d like you to meet Jeremiah. He’s a very good friend of mine


Posted in Airport, Animals, Birds, Kapiti Island, Landscapes, Light, Pukerua Bay, Railway, Sunset, Weather | 1 Comment

October 27, 2017 … creeps in this petty pace from day to day*

Once you commit to shifting house, nothing is the same again. Though we have yet to sell, or to place a bid in our hoped-for new home, we have begun packing. And now the silly decisions of 37 years and 27 days of hoarding come back to bite me. How often have I said, I won’t throw that away, I might need it?


Wild water at Rongotai

Anyway, suffice it to say that I have had little time to get out and make images recently, even on those few days that have been conducive to it. Rarely in recent weeks have we had both clear sky and no wind. This image was made on a sunny day with the wind howling in from the North  and ripping the crest off the big swells on the breakwater beside the airport.


Bahá’í children wishing peace to the world

A friend who is a member of the Bahá’í  faith asked me to record part of the children’s celebration of the 200th birthday of the founder, Bahá’u’lláh. The wind was dying away as night fell and the youngsters launched candle-lit “lotus blossoms” across the lake at a local golf club.


Carnival of Lights in Lower Hutt as seen from our lounge window. The fireworks are launched from the roof of the library.

In Lower Hutt, last weekend, there was a “Carnival of Lights”, coinciding with, but apparently not connected with the Hindu festival of Diwali. It concluded on each of its three nights with a modest display of fireworks. On each night, the wind was cold and vicious. Nevertheless the fireworks seem to go straight up.


Randwick Archery Club members at the range … note the flying arrow

This week was camera club, but because our real estate agent was holding an open home at our place, I set out early. As I was driving somewhat aimlessly, I spotted the Randwick Archery club at play. With their permission, and while they went down range to retrieve their previously shot arrows, I set up my camera on its tripod, in front of their firing line, then retreated behind the line  to trigger the camera remotely and safely as they shot again. I was delighted that at least one of the hundred or so images caught an arrow in flight.

Black Falcons

The Black Falcons against a dramatically dark sky

My last shot this week is of a rare appearance in Wellington of the RNZAF’s aerobatic display team, the Black Falcons. A flight of five Beechcraft T6 Texan II trainers was supposed to fly down over various Wairarapa towns and then from Featherston to the Royal Wellington Golf Club’s course at Heretaunga. With a friend, I waited on yet another chilly open space for them to appear over the hills in the East. They came in from the North. Due to extreme upper-air turbulence in the Wairarapa, the came due South from their base at Ohakea. What’s more, due to a last minute illness, there were just four aircraft in the flight.

Back to the packing.

  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Posted in adversity, Airport, Aviation, Children, Cook Strait, Festivals and fairs, flowers, hobbies, Landscapes, Light, Military, night, Upper Hutt, Weather, Wellington | 2 Comments

October 13, 2017 … around the region and further afield

Sometimes I have to work hard to find an image in otherwise drab circumstances, However, sometimes the effort pays off.

Harbour and CBD

A moody evening in Wellington

We have had a lot of grey weather recently, but even in such circumstances I love our city.


In the heart of Lower Hutt on the Waiwhetu Stream

Even in dull weather, as long as the wind is absent, I can usually find something worth a look. This is the Waiwhetu Stream on Riverside Drive, near Gracefield. Just out of view above the trees is the Wainuiomata hill with its busy traffic.


Hutt Camera club’s annual exhibition

Every year at about this time, the Hutt Camera club (of which I am president) holds its annual exhibition, and as I have done before, I made a panorama that includes all sixty images. Three of them are mine.


Early morning drizzle in the Hutt Valley

And on the subject of weather, or indeed any other obstacle to my photographic endeavours, sometimes it is an idea to photograph the obstacle itself.  This view from our house looks along High Street through morning drizzle to the Hutt Hospital.


Towards the setting sun from the water tower at Camborne

Then the obstacle disappears, and we get what with tongue in cheek, we call “a typical Wellington day at last”. This image was a panoramic stitch made from a small hill in Camborne, looking out towards Mana Island.


Banded dotterel just below the swirling wind and sand

Then the wind returned and outside shooting was just plain uncomfortable. When I say wind, I mean a North Westerly blast in which standing up was actually difficult. I chose to follow the coast road from Wainuiomata to the South coast which was, in many ways a stupid idea. Wind of that strength picks up a significant portion of the sand on the beach and attempts to inject it into any opening, eyes, ears, nostrils, lenses. Nevertheless I struggled down the beach and then lay flat on my back in the lee of a small sand dune. I could hear the wind shrieking and feel the sand bouncing off the back of the hood on my jacket. I lay still and pointed the camera downwind and was lucky to catch this banded dotterel. It seemed unperturbed by the wind and may in fact have been small enough to be in a relatively calm boundary layer.

Otaki Forks

High water levels in the fast flowing Waiotauru River

A day or so later, Mary and I went to Otaki forks. It was a grey day with intermittent rain, but we arrived at Boielle flat in a period of little wind and no rain. Mary explored the beginnings of the Southern Crossing which, for the fit and well-prepared is a three-day hike across the Tararua range to Featherston in the Wairarapa. While she did that I fiddled with my camera to catch this view of the Waiotauru River.


Good sailing days are not lost just because it rains

Later in the week we had one of those soft days. In fact it as the day on which I was  to lead the Wellington occurrence of Scott Kelby’s 10th annual Worldwide Photowalk through Newtown. In fact the day was more than soft, it was downright wet. But, since this is Wellington, local sailors were undeterred.


Though it’s time to go, I shall really miss this view

My last picture for this edition is from a viewpoint that must be familiar to long-term readers. We have lived here since October 1980 … our  five kids grew up here. There have been moments of celebration, of joy and of sadness as you would expect in any house you occupy for such a length of time. We have weathered various storms and remained shaken but not stirred through many earthquakes in the last 37 years, but now, recognising our changing circumstances, it is time to move on, and today we signed a contract with an agency to put our house on the market. We know exactly where we want to purchase, and  it is exactly in the middle of that river mist down in the flat part of the valley.

Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa’s famous “round barn” in July 2012 …. looking Westward in the late evening. The flat grey roof below the ridge was the Fountaingrove Inn. Both are now destroyed along with devastation to housing and lives lost. Ironically the red sky in this image was attributed to wildfires near Clearlake, CA.

Well, it was going to be the last image, but I can’t let this issue end without expressing my sympathy and grief for the people of beautiful Santa Rosa and other parts of  Northern California. In my past life, I spent many months on several occasions working with the New Zealand Dairy Board whose North American headquarters were in Santa Rosa. I spent a lot of time in the Fountaingrove Inn just below the historic round barn on the hill. A large part of this lovely town in the heart of the wine country is destroyed. Lives and homes have been lost and even from this great distance, I grieve with you.




Posted in Adventure, Architecture, Camera club, History, Landscapes, Light, Otaki, Paremata, Santa Rosa, sunrise, Sunset, Weather, Wellington | 4 Comments

September 22, 2017 … in catch up mode … again

When I quit doing this blog daily, it was because I didn’t want it to become a burden, of for guilt to take away the pleasure. I seem to have fallen into that hole in a big way, and now I am feeling guilty again. Anyway, here we are at the beginning of spring … the vernal equinox is tomorrow. I hope it will bring with it a break from seemingly endless rain over the last two months. There have been some good days, and when I could, I got out.


Grey warbler (Gerygone igata) in song

A little North of Otaki is Forest Lakes, a beautiful camping and conference centre. The owners were kind enough to allow me to wander about making pictures. I got some nice landscapes, but my favourite shot of the day was a clear image of the elusive grey warbler. The cascading notes (click on the link to hear it) of this tiny bird  are often heard but the bird itself is rarely seen.


The bush at Lake Papaitonga Reserve

A little further North is Lake Papaitonga. It is in a DoC reserve and offers a pleasant bush walk on well-formed paths. The bush itself is a delight with lots of bird song  and some nice views near the lake.


The coastal tanker Matuku bringing fuel from Marsden Point

As I have said, the merest hint of a reasonable day gets me out and about, and I keep looking for new angles, This coastal tanker was being escorted in to Point Howard with the aid of the port’s two tugs holding it form against a stiff breeze.

Ruch hour

Rush hour on Petone foreshore

With such a strong breeze, as the sun gets near the horizon, the salt-laden air gets a pink tinge. This shot was made from Seaview as the evening rush traffic attempted vainly to rush along the Esplanade towards Wainuiomata and the Eastern Bays. The sun glittering off the glass made the slow-moving vehicles look quite spectacular.

Daffodil Express

The Daffodil Express with all its moving parts in motion

The following weekend was the running of the annual Daffodil express, so I waited for it coming back in the afternoon as it crossed the Silverstream Bridge.


Kaiarahi at Sinclair Head

Some moment of madness, combined with a  brief window of fine weather inspired me to walk he 11 km return journey from Owhiro Bay to the seal colony at Red Rocks. As I was nearing the seals, I saw the ferry Kaiarahi emerge from behind Sinclair Head on its way to Wellington. Even allowing for the foreshortening effect of the long lens, it seemed perilously close to the breaking waves and the viciously sharp red rocks.


Lake Wairarapa as seen from the trig station at Rimutaka summit

A few days later, I was turned loose to undertake a photographic wander, and as I reached the Rimutaka summit, thought I had better attempt the walk up to the Trig station while my health still permits. The sign at the start of the track says “do not attempt in windy weather”. It was fine and warm at the bottom so no worries. Unfortunately, the wind speed increased with altitude, so when I finely arrived a sweating gasping grease-ball at the trig, I was hanging on to any bush and scrub to avoid being blown over the edge. Nevertheless, the sky was clear so with the heavy tripod that I had lugged up, made this multi-image panoramic stitch. That’s Lake Wairarapa in the distance.

Hau Nui

Hau Nui Wind farm in Southern Wairarapa

A few hours later, with my knees still wobbling from my hill-climb, I got to the Hau Nui (big wind)  wind farm to the South East of Martinborough. Some of the fifteen turbines in the complex can be seen here.

Ivey Bay

Ivey Bay on a dark still night

A day or so later, as I was coming home for a meeting at around 11pm, I realised that though it was dark, the weather was still, so I went down to Ivey Bay at Paremata . As I said, it was dark, so I walked up to my ankles in tidal mud before I realised what was happening. A hasty withdrawal and a long exposure followed, with this result.


Wellington Harbour from Khandallah

Then a few days ago, we finally got a typical Wellington day (in joke). The harbour was perfect and I went up to Homebush Rd in Khandallah for this view.


Tulips in the Botanic Garden

Later the same day, I came by the Wellington Botanic Gardens. Spring tulips are my favourite of all their displays. With that, I am up to date, and have a clear conscience once more.






Posted in Adventure, Birds, Cook Strait, flowers, Lakes, Landscapes, Light, Machinery, Maritime, Railway, Wairarapa | 2 Comments