June 18, 2017 – making up for lost time

Oh my goodness. How did I let 19 days pass without posting? To be fair, I have been busy with photography, both personal and club-related.  I had never intended to be so slack.

Lowry sunset

Sunset in the Harbour as seen from Lowry Bay

It has been an extraordinary month weather-wise. A friend from long ago suggested that my posts on Facebook misrepresented the number of calm days we get in Wellington. I have lots of images that attest to the many windy days we have, but recently there has been a great deal of stillness, and when there is stillness, I try to get there.

Getting low

Getting low in Lowry Bay at the end of a calm day

A recent trend in my seascapes has been very low angle, low light and panorama style. I am sure that this too, shall pass.

Night pano

Night panorama from Pt Howard looking SouthWest towards Matiu/Somes Island and the city beyond.

However, while it is in full flight, I am tending to indulge it, even in the dark. The image above is my first attempt at a night-time panorama. This one is a stitch of eight images. It was bitterly cold and my fingers were clumsy with the chill.


Kereru in the kowhai

A change of direction(briefly) was brought about by the arrival of a New Zealand wood pigeon to nibble on the tender shoots of our miniature kowhai plant which is currently in bloom. This is a big heavy bird, almost the size of a chicken, so it sits well down inside the shrub to harvest its leaves.


Straitsman succeeds where the others failed and arrives at Wellington despite heavy swells

We had some winds and subsequently some good-sized swells. The Interisland line cancelled its ferry sailings because it was expected that the wave height would exceed safety limits. I went to the South Coast and was surprised that the Bluebridge line decided to take the gamble, and there was the Straitsman inbound from Picton.


Sunrise from our front lawn

On Thursday, the calmness resumed and the day started in glorious colour. Ignoring the warnings of folklore, I set out to visit the Southern Wairarapa district.


Shades of grey near Pirinoa

There were still some good swells at Lake Ferry, but I decided to go further Eastward, pausing on the way to capture these silhouetted trees between Lake Ferry and Pirinoa.


New Zealand Fur Seals basking in the sun at Cape Palliser

At Cape Palliser the seal colony had more seals than I have ever seen there before. Mothers and pups were scattered everywhere, and most of the paths were impassable without risk of having one of them rear up with bared fangs and hiss of fishy breath.


Looking back Westward from the colony, I rather liked the receding series of headlands becoming increasingly hazy in the airborne sea=spray. The nearest of these slopes, the one with the little spike at the top, is Nga-Ra-o-Kupe, or Kupe’s Sail. It is a large triangular sheet of sandstone that, according to Maori legend, is the sail of the great explorer, Kupe.

Boielle Flat

Rapids on the Waiotauru river at Boielle Flat

The next day was also beautiful, or at least it was in Wellington. I decided to go to Otaki Forks. This is inside Tararua Forest Park which is itself inside the foothills of the Tararua range, inland from Otaki township. The road is scenic, and increasingly narrow and winding. There are two fords to cross and after a major slip last year, the road is somewhat precarious in places. Nevertheless, it leads to a place of great beauty and if you are adventurous, experienced and well prepared, is the entrance to many superb hikes across the ranges to the Wairarapa on the other side. Many foolhardy people have died attempting it without the required skills or with inappropriate equipment. I stayed firmly on the ground at Boielle Flat which is the entry for several of the well known hikes. Sadly, the weather had clouded over to the North of Waikanae, but it was still worth the trip.






Posted in Adventure, Animals, Birds, Cook Strait, Landscapes, Light, Lowry Bay, night, Otaki, sunrise, Sunset, Waves, Weather | 3 Comments

May 31, 2017 – still but chill

Winter is almost upon us. So far it has been relatively mild, but Wellington can be deceptive in that regard. Though the thermometer may register as much as six or seven degrees, winter in the area can produce a sense of wet misery that seems much colder.


Japanese Maple – last colour of the season

The last colours of autumn linger with us. A few more days or even a windy day will see the last of the colour on our Japanese maple fall to the ground.


tiny jeweller in the centre of its universe

Despite my whining, we have had a good string of still days. On such a cool damp day, the best jewellery show in town is staged by the tiniest of crafts-people. This dew-covered web is about the size of a small plate. I think the spider at the centre is a garden orbweb, but would welcome expert advice if I am wrong.



If you are an arachnophobe, look away for a moment while I get closer. This specimen is about 5mm in size.

Lowry Bay

Lowry Bay

Continuing with the theme of calmness, I have been making a lot of images at nearly water level, and you can see just how still the harbour has been. This one is on the beach at Lowry Bay.

Day's Bay

Day’s Bay wharf

A few kilometres further South, the Days Bay wharf caught my eye as the sun headed inexorably towards night.


Loma brings her catch home

On my way home from there I paused at Pt Howard as the fishing vessel Loma returned to its berth after what the following flock of gulls obviously  regard as a successful trip.



Posted in adversity, Arachnids, Day's Bay, Day's Bay, harbour, Landscapes, Light, Lowry Bay, Plant life, Seasons, Trees, Weather | Leave a comment

May 24, 2017 … turbulent times

Fewer images this week, pursuant to a brief stay in hospital for some small remedial surgery and the subsequent recovery time. All seems well (thanks for asking). When I finally did get out and about again, I spent my time looking at weather on the Southern coast.


The weight of that water is just amazing. Pencarrow upper light in the background

There was a strong Southerly which raised the sells in the Cook Strait to somewhere well above six metres and shut down the ferries for a few days. By the time I was mobile again, the worst had passed, but there was still significant wave action.


Wild horses on the Wainuiomata coast

The next day the sun was shining and in a typical example of Wellington’s suck/blow climate, there was now a strong Northerly.  I took the long and winding road through Wainuiomata to the South Coast where the residual swell was being blown back out to sea.  For some reason, as I look at the right hand side of this image, I am hearing  Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” in my head.


Evening light in the Wainuiomata valley

On the way home from the coast (it was late afternoon), I got lucky with the light in the valley beside the Wainuiomata stream.  Beams of light over the edge of the hills to the West picked out a cluster of trees in a way that I just had to stop and photograph.

Normal service is expected to resume next week.

Posted in adversity, Cook Strait, Landscapes, Light, Maritime, South Coast, Wainuiomata, Waves, Weather, Wellington | 7 Comments

May 17, 2017 … random acts of seeing

As some of you know, landscapes are my most common form of photography. A well known photographic tutor has said “first you have to be somewhere”. To be honest, I am not entirely sure he is right, at least not in the sense he intended. Of course it helps to be somewhere that is visually spectacular, but sometimes you just have to see things in your everyday location.


Purest gold peering under the edge of a heavy cloud

For example, when a new day impinges on my brain, I pull back the curtain to see what’s happening outside. Most days I see nothing out of the ordinary. Every so often, I am forced to scramble for my camera.


Pauatahanui at Ration Point

My other photographic enthusiasm is birds. I have a number of birding friends and they do better than I because they have patience to sit and wait. They are willing to get wet and muddy and to crawl through beds of shells or reeds or flax. I tend to arrive and see what is convenient and then move on, grabbing a landscape if the gift of sight is upon me. The other day, I was at Pauatahanui and saw a sandbank where there were royal spoonbills, a white-faced heron, pied stilts, pied oystercatchers, masked lapwings, black swans, geese and ducks. To get a real birder’s image I would have had to crawl through the mudflats unseen to get close enough. I weighed my chances and settled for the landscape (an eight image panoramic stitch) .


Horokiwi stream

Sometimes I go to the mouth of the Horokiwi stream at the Western end of Petone beach, in the hope of seeing terns or other common residents. However, it is a popular dog-exercise area and the two exercises are incompatible. I would love to throw bricks at the owners who throw sticks for their dogs to retrieve, aiming deliberately to land them among the resting birds.


Up the valley from Evans Bay

Yesterday I wandered the Southern coast, and on the way looked back up the harbour to the Hutt Valley. From Evans Bay, I liked the layered landscape and the hovering mist arising from a melting frost.


Fearless climbers vanquish the monster

At Lyall Bay, there was a giant tree trunk washed ashore from who knows where. Though I was waiting patiently for them to finish, I was delighted to see a young father playing on the trunk with his three or four year-old son.


“You shall not pass!” – driftwood at Lyall Bay

I did eventually get to be alone with the tree and approached it from several angles and I rather liked this view in which it appears to be trying vainly to hold the waves in check.


Cold and dark at Petone

That evening, after dropping our grandchildren at Scouts, I went down to Petone beach. It was a beautiful still evening though the light Southerly breeze was a bone-chiller. Since the water was flat, I persisted. A thirty-second exposure reveals itself in the painted clouds, but it worked.

Pier (2)

Petone pier is still closed since the earthquake last year

From the other side of the pier there was a different image (think of it as a pier review). Again the long exposure was interesting and I debated whether to remove the light trail from an Airbus 320 coming out of the airport. I chose to keep it.

That’s all for now. I hope to get better at this seeing business, whether or not I am actually somewhere at the time.

Posted in Adventure, Birds, Evans Bay, harbour, Horokiwi, Landscapes, Light, night, Petone, sunrise | 2 Comments

May 9, 2017 … back home

After the scenic splendour of the last month, coming home and back to earth is a  bit of a come-down.


Just one little wave

Of course I still love Wellington (as do Deutsche Bank’s customers, apparently ) and of course, if there is stillness, and the harbour is on show, then I am there. Last Thursday was such a time. Mary was out collecting for charity (Motor neurone disease) at a basketball game. I mounted my camera low, at the bottom of the centre column on my tripod, and went to the water’s edge in the corner of Chaffer’s Marina. I tried a really long exposure, but preferred this which was quick enough to catch the only wave I saw.


Wellington City at night

Night had not yet fallen completely, and I was there in what photographers call “the blue hour” after the sun is below the horizon. From Clyde Quay, the glittering lights of the CBD sat like jewels along the base of Te Ahumairangi (formerly know as Tinakori Hill), and it was all reflected in the stillness of the inner harbour.


Coloured lighting on the Michael Fowler Centre

From the end of Clyde Quay, there was a  view of the Michael Fowler Centre, lit up presumably in preparation for an upcoming carnival of some sort. Silhouetted against the MFC is the old steam tug, Hikitia, and along the top edge, above the crane’s jib, are the lights of Victoria University’s library, the Rankine-Brown building.


The steel-grey balls are part of the ornamental lighting along the public parts of the Wellington waterfront

A few days later, I found myself once more near the Hikitia on Taranaki St Wharf. Getting down low is a pain in the knees, these days. That’s where that trick with the bottom of the tripod comes in handy if I need a  different viewpoint.


Streamlined but stationary

Finally this week, my attention was taken by reflections in a coffee stall. It was closed at the time, but this one is regularly on the wharf, based in an Airstream caravan. The brick building is the former home of the head office the State Coal company before it was relocated and is now the home of Circa Theatre.



Posted in Architecture, Art, harbour, Landscapes, Light, Machinery, Maritime, Reflections, Sunset, Wellington | Leave a comment

May 6, 2017 … to complete the circle

The last place I described was Harihari on ANZAC day.


Lake Kaniere

The next few days after that, we did some exploration of the Lakes to the North of our bush hideaway at Pukekura. Lake Mahinapua, Lake Kaniere and Lake Brunner all offered their own brand of magic. Moody grey weather was the norm, but vitally, there was no wind, especially in the first half of each day.


Lake Mahinapua looking Eastward

The first lake you come to North of the town of Ross is Lake Mahinapua. I have been there before, and was not much impressed, but perhaps that was because a nasty breeze spoiled the surface of the lake in its stillness. This time we got lucky and it was glassy calm, if somewhat bleak and chilly.


Lovely Lake Kaniere on a moody morning

Lake Kaniere (above) was just breathtaking in its beauty. I got lucky in that I arrived moments before someone in a power boat went racing around to ruin the tranquillity of the place. Hard to imagine that for many years this lovely place was home to a huge, noisy  and very ugly gold dredge.

Dorothy Falls

Dorothy Falls near Lake Kaniere

We travelled Eastward along the lake’s Northern shoreline to Dorothy Falls which is tucked in a lovely glade just off the narrow gravel road. It’s not  a huge fall in terms of volume, but it makes up for that with its charm and isolation.


Hokitika Gorge where the Hokitika River emerges from the Southern Alps

From there we went inland to the South a little through Kokotahi and Kowhitirangi to see the startling turquoise water in the Hokitika Gorge. Apparently a combination of South Island schist, greywacke and icy water combine to produce this intense colour.


Lake Brunner dark and brooding

Our last lake while on the West Coast was Lake Brunner. Like the others, it is magical in the right conditions and sometimes a place of dark mystery.

Buller Gorge

Buller Gorge in the rain

And then it was time to move North towards our final Airbnb accommodation on this trip, in Linkwater, on the Queen Charlotte Drive. It’s a long (6.5 hours) haul from Pukekura, made even longer by rain and road works most of the way. Nevertheless this part of the West coast has a  wild beauty no matter what the weather, so I stopped briefly in the Buller Gorge to capture a sense of the place.


Lake Rotoiti in the rain

It was still raining steadily when we paused to eat our picnic lunch (in the car) at Lake Rotoiti near St Arnauds.


Pelorus Sound from the Cullen lookout

From there, the last long haul in our trip was down the Wairau Valley to Renwick, just out of Blenheim, and then up Long Gully beside the Kaituna River to Havelock, and around the many twists of Queen Charlotte Drive to our accommodation on the Mahakipawa Arm of Pelorus Sound.


The cows return to their paddock after milking … they seem to be on autopilot, and just follow the one ahead.

We enjoyed a wonderful restful four days there with mostly fine weather. A side trip to Nelson was enjoyable and I had to sample the wares at “The Mussel Pot” in Havelock which describes itself as “The Mussel Capital of the World”. And then it was time to leave. The morning of our departure was bright and cold with a strong mist on some of the paddocks. How could I resist these cows returning from their morning milking?


A new day in Anakiwa

Just along the road, we encountered the sea again at Anakiwa on the Queen Charlotte Sound. The conditions were stunning and I knew I needed to stop somewhere with a view. A small settlement called “The Grove” provided the perfect viewing spot. I think this shot is my all time favourite.


Golden start to the day

From exactly the same spot, looking to the East, I had to catch the fire of the morning as the sun brought the new day to the Sounds.


Morning mist at the Picton Marina

After a somewhat hazardous 30 minute  journey with multiple sunstrike places on a steep and winding road, we made it to Picton in plenty of time for the ferry. Some wandering around the waterfront and a coffee and scone in a cafe, it was time to say farewell to the South.


Leaving Picton on the Aratere

Despite dire warnings from various friends and rough conditions the previous day, our journey on the Aratere was wonderful.

And so ends our circumnavigation of the South Island. It was a wonderful experience, made all the better for me by the companionship and support of Mary. Our trip was to celebrate her retirement, and though she got some of the walks she wanted, I got the better of the deal with lots of photo-opportunities. She is my greatest treasure.


Posted in Adventure, Cook Strait, Lakes, Landscapes, Light, Machinery, Maritime, mountains, sunrise, Weather | 3 Comments

April 26, 2017 … help I am drowning!

So many beautiful places to see, so many images to make and process. Of course, I am loving every minute of it, but it is a bit overwhelming.

A house by the railway line in Warrington

On Friday I went with our middle son, Andrew (Drew to his friends), from Queenstown to Dunedin. While he attended to his appointment in the city I wandered and made pictures. Then he chose to return home via “the Pigroot”  (yes, that is how it is spelled) and the stunning Ida Valley. On the way, at my request, he passed along the coast road through Warrington where there was a house that I had regretted not shooting last time.

Ida Valley

Mountains … perhaps the Raggedy Range from the Ida Valley

The Maniatoto must surely be among the most beautiful places on Earth, especially during the late afternoon on a fine day such as we had. I can’t possibly show all my images so this one was among my favourites. Emerging from the Ida Valley near Poolburn, we are looking to the South West.


Balloon descending in front of the Morven Hill near Arrowtown

Then it was time to leave Queenstown. Despite a dismal forecast, we had a fine day for travel, and as we climbed the Crown Range road towards Hawea, we enjoyed watching hot air balloons descending near the Morven Hill for a landing site close to Arrowtown.


Reeds on Lake Ianthe

Our next accommodation is in Pukekura which claims to be the smallest town in NZ with a population of two.  Our holiday home is near the Bushman’s Centre in the midst of some spectacular West Coast rain forest. Pure magic and still the weather holds for us. We retraced our steps a little to stop in at lovely Lake Ianthe, perfectly still and shrouded in mist.


Okarito Lagoon

Okarito is another contender for my favourite places and we were there sufficiently early to catch the lagoon while the water still had that lovely unruffled surface.


Past its best

Our temporary home has a gate guardian … an ancient Fordson Tractor, and as you can see the main wheels are past repair, and the flanged front wheels look to have been borrowed from a rail wagon.

Ianthe (2)

Lake Ianthe in the morning

The next day was ANZAC day, the day on which New Zealand and Australia remember their dead of various wars, and especially those who died in the disastrous Gallipoli campaign. We went to the ceremony at the tiny town of Hari Hari  (pop. 348) but left early enough to catch Lake Ianthe in all its sun-bathed glory.


ANZAC Parade in Hari Hari

The ceremony was led by a small contingent of the New Zealand Army from Burnham. They commandeered the main road through town and were quite unabashed at blocking traffic during the most sacred moments of the this remembrance.


Blocked chimney

Finally this week, I spotted this old house on the way back to Pukekura. I have a weakness for old houses but have yet to see a house more in need of a chimney sweep than this one.

Posted in Adventure, Architecture, Lakes, Landscapes, Light, Machinery, Military, mountains, Queenstown | 4 Comments