April 6, 2017 … in chilly Southern parts

Prematurely, it seems to be winter. And here in Karitane where Mary and I are currently staying in a borrowed “crib” (Southern word for a small holiday home), it is especially bleak as the remnants of a tropical storm cause havoc in the Northern parts of the country.


Waiting in line at the Wellington terminal to board the ferry Kaitaki to Picton.

But let’s begin at the beginning. On Thursday last, we set out in the predawn darkness to catch the ferry from Wellington to Picton. The voyage across the strait on the Kaitaki was pleasant enough. and then we began the long, long journey through Blenheim and Murchison to get to our first stopping point at Hanmer Springs. State highway 1 from Picton to Kaikoura is still firmly closed and likely to remain so for at least another year consequent to the earthquake in November. The detour is also heavily damaged and there were dozens of places where traffic was limited to 30 km/h for road works, and often stopped entirely to permit one-way traffic to operate.


Organ Range in the Hurunui District

Unlike many, however, we had no pressing need to adhere to a schedule, so despite the mild inconveniences of the journey, we could enjoy the undoubted grandeur of the South Island’s scenery. I neglected to record exactly where this  image was taken, but I think it is somewhere in the Hurunui district a little way out of Hanmer Springs.  I think we are looking across the Hope River at the Organ Range with the Glynn Wye range to the right


New Brighton Pier with the curse of the scaffolding. Presumably this is post-earthquake remedial work

We spent two days in Hanmer Springs before resuming our journey to Christchurch. Check-in time at out next accommodation in St Alban’s was mid-afternoon, so Mary and I went to the New Brighton Pier to enjoy lunch beside the sea. I seem to cause scaffolding to be erected, and whether it’s the Washington Monument or the Castlepoint Lighthouse, I seem to put a visual curse on well known landmarks.


The horizon is actually in this picture, near the top and the sky is almost indistinguishable from the sea.

The surf at New Brighton was slight, but there were many enthusiasts out there in their wet suits enjoying various forms of their sport and waiting patiently for the right wave.

War Memorial

Citizens’ War Memorial, Christchurch

We settled in to a superb apartment (thanks Airbnb), and the following day I wandered around the CBD. Six years after the big earthquake, it is apparent that though much has been done, the damage to this still beautiful city will be visible for many years to come. Apparently a decision on the fate (replace or rebuild) of the iconic cathedral is imminent, but as of this week, it sits forlornly inside the fence with weeds growing up through its once clean and well swept paving. I liked the statue on the Northern side, and was surprised to learn that it is unrelated to the Cathedral, but is in fact, the citizens’ War Memorial, funded by public subscription after WWI.


Flooded demolition site, corner of Colombo St and Oxford Tce

As I said, the damage lingers on, and despite all the new buildings going up, there are many fenced off sites where remediation or replacement has yet to begin.  This one is on the corner of Colombo St and Oxford Terrace.


Leaving Lyttelton bound for Diamond Harbour. This was as good as the weather got

We enjoyed some time with Mary’s brother and his wife, and after a wonderful dinner with them decided to go to Diamond Harbour the next day. Sadly, the weather deteriorated, but we went anyway. A nice lunch was had in Lyttelton on our return from a grey and wet Diamond Harbour.


A lookout on the old coast road looks Northward along the coast with Karitane as the first promontory and Waikouaiti next along. I liked the drama of the clouds, if not the bleakness of the weather.

We enjoyed our few days in the garden city and have now moved South to Karitane. This is a tiny coastal village on the southern side of the Waikouaiti River where it flows into the Pacific. In normal times it is a popular weekend destination for people getting out of Dunedin, but as of this moment, with rain lashing the windows and the trees whipping about in the garden, it seems a little less attractive. However, the weather is predicted to improve. We did a small tour of the area yesterday and I got this view of Karitane from a lookout on a hill to the South of the town. More of our journey next week.


Posted in Adventure, Canterbury, Christchurch, Cook Strait, Family, Landscapes, Maritime, mountains, Picton, Retirement, Wellington | 1 Comment

March 29, 2017 … stillness in the mist

With the melancholy behind me, let me resume normal service. Thanks to those who sent kind words after the last episode.


Bright sun, calm day, clean air reminds me of why I like living here.

In the week gone by, we had a few windless days, and of course I took advantage by going to the water. Sometimes the water itself is the subject, and at other times it serves as a foreground or background. In this case, looking across the harbour from Oriental Bay to Thorndon, a long exposure provides a blue foreground for the railway station, and Victoria University’s Business School.


The new wind turbine was ticking over slowly in the light breeze.

Lunch with a friend was the usual excuse for a trip up the hill to Brooklyn where the new larger wind turbine spins merrily against a blue sky.


Clouds over the ranges behind Upper Hutt

In the last few days we have had a lot of mist. This image is a stitched panorama looking up to Mt Climie behind Upper Hutt. According to my distinguished meteorologist friend what we are seeing here is low cloud in the Wairarapa under an inversion, being pushed over the hill by an Easterly flow. The original image itself was huge (about 129 Megapixels).

Oriental Bay

Unpromising weather for camera club walkabout

Last night our camera club had planned to do a walkabout in the early evening commencing in Oriental Bay. All day the weather was dismal, low cloud, fog, some drizzle and I was unsure whether I would have to exercise presidential authority to call it off. There was a lifting of the cloud around 4 pm so I sent out the “Go” signal. As I drove into town, I was sure I had made the wrong decision because the cloud had descended again. As you can see, he setting sun was peeking under the heavy cloud cover, but at least it wasn’t raining.


Over in the Stadium, the All Whites defeated Fiji, 2-0, and we borrowed some of their spilled light

As the evening progressed, I became more and more delighted with the conditions. There was absolute stillness and a soccer game at Westpac stadium provided some excellent lighting for the rest of us.


Hikitia rarely moves these days. It is amazing to know that she travelled to Wellington from her builders in Scotland under her own steam

We meandered along the waterfront, concluding our adventure at a hostelry on Taranaki St Wharf where we enjoyed refreshments and swapped stories. When I left, the conditions were still suitable for more images so I captured the old steam-powered floating crane, Hikitia.


For me the conditions were a delight

Despite the continuing low cloud, the stillness made photography a joy.


Living aboard in Chaffers Marina

Walking back towards the car, I went past Chaffers Marina (on the Western side of the former Overseas Passenger Terminal), and was surprised at the number of vessels on which people were obviously living.

And speaking of living, Mary and I set out tomorrow for a month-long tour around the South Island, and consequently, postings to this blog may be erratic in the weeks ahead. Photography will continue.

Posted in Adventure, adversity, Camera club, Light, Machinery, Maritime, Sunset, Weather, Wellington | 3 Comments

March 22, 2017 … looking over my shoulder

I post this edition with a heavy sigh. As a judge in training myself, I must accept the verdict of the panel, but for my part, I still like these images. They were submitted as a portfolio of twelve for the PSNZ Associateship. They were unsuccessful.

The intention was to offer a set of images portraying various aspects of haven or shelter as offered by yachting marinas. The sequence is intended to progress from early morning to late night but with an underlying theme of stillness and shelter.

Protected by the wall




A place of stillness


Bon voyage

A tangle of rigging

Under a heavy sky

Washing away the salt

At the end of a lovely day

Touched by gold

Home is the sailor, home from sea

All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by

The panel said there was no flow, and the images were “too busy”. I suspect that a marina is always intrinsically busy, with masts, spars and rigging. And so I start looking for another theme for next year’s attempt.

Posted in adversity, Camera club | 9 Comments

March 20, 2017 … close to home

We had a guest speaker at camera club last week. His name is Andy Spain and his specialist expertise is in architectural photography. He was everything I hope for when I look for guest speakers … he is not only skilled at his trade, but he is able to articulate how he achieves his results in ways that allow others to share the benefit of his long experience. On top of his underlying skills, he was entertaining. Of course I had to go out and try some of the techniques he described.

Featherston St

Attempts at architectural photography with no converging verticals … downtown in Featherston St

I am not an architectural photographer, nor do I have the time, the patience or the influence to get the shots he gets, and in addition, I took my shot opportunistically, in broad daylight when I got there. For all those excuses, I liked the portrayal of Featherston Street in the morning sun.


Putting on its best face, Wellington Harbour from Maungaraki

Yesterday, Wellington was on her best behaviour. Bright sun, scattered cloud and almost flat calm is how I like it. The image above, and the ones that follow all suffer from that same opportunistic flaw. A serious photographer would wait for the golden hour, around sunset, or the blue hour, after sunset and before darkness descends.

I think this is the common Chorus cicada (Amphipsalta zelandica) … its song was certainly part of a chorus with hundreds of others in the warm morning sun

Nevertheless, there is a  certain joy in being out without wind, and able to listen to cicadas playing their seemingly endless mating call with its predictable pattern of buzz and click.


From the Puketirotiro lookout at the Korokoro end of Maungaraki Road. The ferry Strait Feronia is steaming through the heads.Below the Maungaraki shops in the foreground you can see the Petone wharf, still closed due to damage in the November earthquake.

Above Maungaraki, there are a number of knolls wich are high enough above the surrounding houses to have been designated as reserves from which walkers can enjoy the view over city and harbour. Our landscape is so creased and folded that the view from each lookout is significantly different from the others around it.


Wellington CBD from Horokiwi

From there, I headed South towards Ngauranga, where I turned North to get to Horokiwi (There is no longer an entrance for Southbound traffic). Horokiwi is a place of so-called “life-style blocks” or farmlets. It offers a few interesting viewing points of its own.

wind farm

Wind farm. Though the blades appear to be spinning that is because it was a very long exposure and they were really just ticking over

A little further up the road, there was a view to the West looking across the windfarms at West Wind and Mill Creek to the dark shape of Arapawa Island 40 km away, across the strait.

Sad to say, my marina based project was unsuccessful with the honours board of the PSNZ. Nevertheless, bloody but unbowed I might share that set with you next week.

Posted in adversity, Architecture, Camera club, harbour, Horokiwi, Landscapes, Light, Weather, Wellington | 3 Comments

March 15, 2017 … to the provinces

Our seasons of weather woe continue. An occasional redeeming day causes me to seek frantically for photographic opportunity before it evaporates.


A tiny fraction of the school kids prepare to race on Pauatahanui Inlet

On an otherwise fruitless trip to Pauatahanui, I was returning via Paremata and spotted a line-up of some thirty or more small yachts about to be launched from the beach. I assume that this was some sort of school exercise, but after a seemingly endless procession up the channel into the inlet, they were soon lined up in race-formation.

North Mole

Despite the sun glittering on the water, there was a bleak wind blowing in from the sea

Last week, I had an appointment as a trainee photographic judge in Whanganui. We combined that with Mary’s ambition to walk the Pouakai Crossing on the NorthWesterly slopes of Taranaki. We found accommodation in Whanganui on Wednesday and prior to the judging session that evening, I went down to the North Mole at the mouth of the River and enjoyed the light on the seas rolling in from the Tasman. Coincidentally, today, Wednesday 15 March is the day of the third reading in parliament  of the Te Awa Tupua bill which “makes the Whanganui River and all its tributaries a single entity with the rights of a legal person.” If you want to know more, follow the link for the text of the bill.

Light house

Cape Egmont Light house

On Thursday, we drove to New Plymouth taking the coastal road through Opunake, and diverting briefly to Cape Egmont, and the lighthouse to the West of the mountain. Don’t be fooled by the blue sky. It was intermittent at best, and totally grey again by the time we reached New Plymouth. After checking in, we drove up to the visitor centre at North Egmont where they showed us the Mountain Forecast for the next few days. It predicted heavy rain on Friday and a few light showers on Saturday. The Doc rangers recommended that we ignore Friday and make the crossing on Saturday.


Len Lye Centre

The exterior of the Len Lye Centre is almost as fascinating as the art works within

And so it was, that on Saturday, Mary visited her beloved aunt Marie at Fitzroy while her brother and I explored bits of the city.  Paul is an artist in his own right, so the Govett Brewster Gallery and the Len Lye Centre were inevitable destinations.


This huge kinetic work by Len Lye was painful without the ear defenders

Len Lye is perhaps most famous for his kinetic art and the largest of his featured works at present is called “Flip and Two Twisters”. It consists of large strips of stainless steel sheet. The two outermost strips (twisters)  are connected at one end only, to a ceiling-mounted motor that has a vertical axis. The centre piece (flip) is a longer strip, attached at both ends on either side to another motor that operates in a horizontal plane rather like a skipping rope. The motors are computer controlled and put the strips in precisely controlled motion. The surprise for visitors who turn up for one of the scheduled showings is that they are offered serious industrial quality ear defenders. When sheets of steel that big are shook and twisted the noise is calamitously loud.


The Te Rewarewa bridge at Fitzroy, in New Plymouth is photographed often. On a fine day, from the North side, Taranaki is framed in the curve of the bridge. On this day, there was no view of the Mountain so I shot from the South

Saturday came, and contrary to the forecast, was very much wetter than the previous day, on which hardly any rain fell at all. The rangers told us that our intrepid duo could possibly do the walk, but that they would be in danger of being swept away by waterfalls, and that the tracks themselves would be like rivers. Wisely, they chose not to brave the mountain and instead did the coastal walkway from Te Rewarewa bridge at Fitzroy to the port 9 km away.

Kaihihi Stream

The Kaihihi Stream at Okato was carrying far more than its usual volume

We set out for home on Sunday. and having enjoyed the emptiness of the coastal road on the way up, took the same route back.


Patea Freezing works – most of the fragile bits have been demolished and I suspect the remains will be there for many years to come

We passed through Patea on the way home and I took the opportunity to look at the solid remains of the old freezing works.  And that’s all this time.


Posted in Adventure, adversity, Architecture, Art, Camera club, Family, Industrial, Landscapes, Light, mountains, New Plymouth, Rivers, Taranaki | Leave a comment

1 March, 2017 … oh what a week it has been


Looking North along Himatangi Beach at the end of a beautiful day

Most of my week was centred on the RNZAF’s celebration of their 80th year with an airshow at Ohakea. If you have no interest in aviation skip to the end. The last shot is worth it, in my opinion.
Mary and I booked accommodation at Himatangi Beach for three days so as to avoid the peak traffic coming and going. We arrived on Friday evening and Mary persuaded me to walk to the beach to observe the sunset.


As the sun sinks towards the horizon, Taranaki is visible 155 km away to the North

The weather was most promising for a good day for the airshow the next day and Taranaki stood proud and clear in the distance.



I was caught quite unawares by a pair of RAAF F/A-18 Hornets streaking low and fast down the coast, presumably as a rehearsal for the next day. The sun was moving considerably slower and so I caught that without trouble.


Sunrise somewhere near Oroua Downs on the way to the airshow

Next morning, show day, I was up early and on the road in the dark, soon after six. During the 37 km drive, the sun made its first appearance and revealed a ground mist which I feared might disrupt things. It didn’t.


Before the crowd built up – an F-15SG from the Singapore Air Force and a Boeing KC-767J of the Japanese Self Defense Force

Despite my early start, there were several hundred cars in the park ahead of me, and a couple of hundred camper-vans on site. We lined up waiting for the gates to open. The advertised time was 7 am, but they didn’t admit us until 0740. It was good to get access to the aircraft in the static displays with the sun at a low angle and relatively few people around compared with later in the day.


Lines to get inside the big aircraft

There were fighter aircraft from Australia (F/A-18), Singapore (F-15SG) and the USA (F-16). There were transport aircraft from the UK (A400M), France (CASA 235), Australia (C-17) and New Zealand (C-130), Japan (KC-767J) and the USA (KC-135, C-17).


Inside the mighty C-17 of the RAAF

We lined up for a look inside and I was mightily impressed by the vast cavernous fuselage of the C-17, and a little surprised at the exposed ducting in the roof.


RNZAF C-130 taking off, leaving spirals behind the props.

Flying commenced at 10 am and I had missed a trick by not claiming a spot on the flightline. Nevertheless, the planes are big enough to make themselves seen.


100% of the RNZAF’s long-range VIP transport capability

Some of the earlier movements were simply logistics associated with the show. The RNZAF owns two converted Boeing 757 aircraft which are pressed into service as VIP transports. It’s relatively rare, outside of their home base, to see them both together.


An improbable but impressive formation of heavies

Among the morning’s displays were a lot of “heavies” and one such flight was a formation flight involving one B757, one Lockheed P3C Orion and two C130 Hercules. They passed over Ruapehu which was sparking clear in the morning sun and then swung in from the South at which time the two C-130s peeled off.


TBM Avenger restored in the colours of “Plonky”, the aircraft flown by NZ aviation personality, Fred Ladd

Some historic aircraft were involved, and as well as the inevitable Spitfire there was a beautifully restored Grumman TBM Avenger.


Beautifully restored DH104 Devon

One that I remember form my days in the Air Training Corps was the De Havilland DH104 Devon which was used in the RNZAF as a light transport and a Navigation trainer.


USAF F-16 creates some pressure at low altitude

In the afternoon, came the fast movers which, in reality amounted to the USAF’s F-16 and the Australian F/A-18


RAAF F/A-18 puts its wheels away before starting its show routine

The thunderous crackle of a fighter at full throttle is surely as effective as a bowl of prunes for curing certain ailments and I enjoyed the sheer power of the displays. While all this was happening, Mary , who has scant interest in airshows, walked from Himatangi Beach to Foxton Beach and back (a mere 22 km round trip). I got out before the end of the airshow because I have no real interest in formation aerobatics which was the final event.


On the sandbank in the river at Foxton Beach

Next day we spent enjoying the rural quiet apart from the distant thunder of the airshow’s second day in the distance, a mere 20 km away as the crow flies. We drove down to Foxton Beach where there was abundant birdlife on the sandbar. Oystercatchers, pied stilts, bar-tailed godwits, red-billed gulls, black-backed gulls, and lesser knots were all crowded into one small space.


Her majesty, the Queen – Asian Paper Wasp

Later in the day, Mary and I were walking and she spotted the nest of the Asian Paper Wasp, so of course I got up close and personal. I think, from the described behaviour, that this is the queen.


Tararua ranges under morning cloud near Levin

The next day, with all the airshow traffic having dissipated we made the leisurely drive back down SH1 to home, pausing for a shot of the Tararua Range near Levin.


Boat sheds at Pauatahanui

Yesterday, officially the last day of what we have laughingly called “summer”, was perfect. I went for a wander to Pauatahanui and Queen Elizabeth Park.


Dabchick with chicks

The long-sought dabchick chicks were at last visible. As you can see the parents often carry the chicks nestled deep within their own plumage, but as the youngsters get older they become more independent and often branch out on their own.


Herons reflecting

My last shot in this extended edition, is possibly my best shot of the year to date. Two white-faced herons perched on a piece of driftwood, reflected in the mirror-calm waters. I am pleased with this.


Posted in Adventure, Aviation, Birds, Landscapes, Light, Machinery, Manawatu, Ohakea, Reflections, Rivers, Seasons, sunrise, Sunset, Taranaki, Tararuas, Weather | 4 Comments

February 22, 2017 … is it here at last?

Since my last post, summer has mostly continued to elude us, even as some of you in the Northern hemisphere report signs of spring.


Mana Island as seen from above the waste water treatment plant, Porirua

Whenever there is the slightest hint of a reasonable day, I am out looking for photographic opportunities.  I still like to explore streets in unfamiliar suburbs to see if there is what town planners call a “view-shaft” – a place where there is a clear view of the surrounding landscape from the street. Sadly, they are rare, and all too often, the gap between adjacent houses is obstructed by fences or plantings designed to keep the view exclusively for the owners. This sudden wide view-shaft is in Porirua near Titahi Bay. It looks out onto the blue Tasman Sea and Mana Island. If you get the chance of a trip to the island, take it. It is much more interesting and varied than it looks from the distance.


White-fronted terns bouncing in the wind

We have had some fierce winds recently, and that often drives the white-fronted terns to seek shelter. These were huddled on the remnants of the old patent slip in Evan’s Bay. The contours of the walkway and various walls provided little relief from the wind, and you can see from their posture that the birds are rocking in the gale.

Willis St

Willis St, Wellington

Another sunny break and I went into town. I had some shopping to do on Willis St, and was attracted to the Hibernian Society’s building on the corner of Bond Street. Perhaps it was aided by the wide angle lens, but it occurred to me that this was a miniature flatiron building.


Into the blue

Then we had an impossibly perfect day. If you have been part of my journey for a while, you will know that mere sunshine is insufficient. I want flat calm, total stillness. I had just turned onto the Esplanade at Petone and I caught sight of the interisland ferry Kaitahi leaving harbour. The blue of the sky and the blue of the sea were so close as make the ship seem to be floating in space as it passed by the various lights and marker buoys on the way to Picton.

Sandra II

Sandra II preparing for a day’s fishing in the harbour

On Port Road, near the Seaview oil terminal, I found myself keeping pace with the little fishing vessel Sandra II. I have often caught her as part of a still seascape, but she was heading out to work. The pied shag skimming towards her was a bonus.


Low angle view out of the harbour at Petone Beach

A day later, I came to the beach at the Western end of Petone, and miraculously there was still calm water.

River mist

River mist at sunrise

Three consecutive still mornings has been a rarity lately. This one was accompanied by river mist. The shot is looking North from my bedroom window towards Upper Hutt. On a clear day the Boulcott golf course and the Avalon tower would form part of this view.



Four from four was a reason for celebration. I wandered around the waterfront  and made yet another attempt at the downtown architecture, choosing a wide angle, and long exposure. The long exposure softened the clouds and stilled the few ripples on the water.

Posted in Architecture, Birds, Landscapes, Maritime, Rivers, sunrise, Weather, Wellington | 7 Comments