Making sense of my photography hobby in retirement

Archive for May 12, 2013

Information …

Wooden Jetty, Okarito, Westland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

The sign on the shed said Information, but none was to be found. So, instead of taking information, I took this photograph. The shed was on a jetty at the edge of the lagoon at Okarito, a small coastal settlement on the South Westland coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

Okarito Lagoon is a coastal lagoon that covers an area of about 12 square kilometers, the largest unmodified wetland in New Zealand.  The lagoon is home of many species of wading birds, notably the extremely rare (in New Zealand) Kotuku (Eastern Great Egret). Okarito is the Kotuku’s only New Zealand breeding place. Wikipedia

The jetty is at the southern end of the lagoon. Okarito was originally a gold mining township of over 1,500 people – it is now permanent home to only about 30 residents. Apart from housing the locals, the settlement also has a small number of holiday cottages.

On the day we visited, the settlement was pretty deserted. Only a small number of kayakers were evident, getting ready to paddle up the lagoon in the hope of sighting some Kotuku – possibly in vain as kayaks are not allowed into the nesting reserve established by the Department of Conservation to protect the Kotuku’s habitat. There is a possibility of sighting birds outside the reserve however, but the numbers are small and resident only between September and march.Visits to the reserve are possible only by an officially sanctioned tour.

This view rather appealed to me, The jetty had that old weather-beating look that photographers crave for. Sure, it looks like its been renovated recently (for safety reasons no doubt), but the essence of the original is still very evident. (Click on the image for a larger view).

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Receding Iceline

I was just eighteen years old when I first visited the two big glaciers on the western side of New Zealand’s Southern Alps. New Zealand scenic calendars and the covers of school stationery had depicted images of the Fox and Franz Joseph Glaciers all through my childhood.  At that time the terminal moraine of the Fox Glacier could be seen through a window behind the alter table in the village Anglican church. Sadly, that is no longer the case.

Fox Glacier, Westland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Fox Glacier

Franz Joseph Glacer, Westland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Franz Joseph Glacer – Note the size of the people

When I first visited the area in 1964 the glaciers were more than a kilometer further down their respective valleys than they are today.  Because they are susceptible to climate change and terminate close to sea level in a temperate climate, they tend to advance and recede quite rapidly.  The glaciers began receding in the 1930s but reversed their flow in 1985, since which they have been advancing at the rate of about one meter per week. Now the build-up at the face of the glaciers creates  vertical  overhanging faces which are continually collapsing, making them dangerous to approach.

The valleys down which the glaciers flow at just 25 km apart, allowing both to be easily visited in one day.