Making sense of my photography hobby in retirement

Buildings

Piebald Skies

If ever I am called to go to another town or city for pleasure of for business I try to get out for an early morning walk.  For me, it’s the best time of the day.  It’s the time before most people begin to move, and the time when the light is clear, the sun is still low, and the air is fresh.

It was on such a morning that I took my morning walk along the coastal walkway at New Plymouth in the Taranaki region of New Zealand.  Taranaki occupies that area of the large western cape of the North Island of New Zealand.  Its central feature is Mt Taranaki, a Fuji look-alike that dominates the landscape throughout the region.  The coastal walkway stretches 11 km from the Port Taranaki, past the New Plymouth CBD, then on around the cliffs and beaches in a northerly direction. It’s popular with walkers, runners and cyclists.

New Plymouth Coastal Walkway, Taranaki, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Fitzroy Beach from the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway

New Plymouth Coastal Walkway, Taranaki, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Resting and viewing area beneath the cliffs just north of the New Plymouth CBD

New Plymouth Coastal Walkway, Taranaki, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Port Taranaki and New Plymouth CBD. The “wand” on the foreshore next to the rectangular white building is an installation art piece designed by artist Len Lye.

On this particular morning there was a lovely piebald sky that added to the enjoyment of the walk.

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“King Bill’s” Hall

Just south of Rarawa Beach is the small settlement of Houhora.  When I first visited Houhora in my youth I was able to visit  the Wagener Museum, which housed an eclectic collection of artifacts relating to the early settlement of the district  in an old stables building.   Sadly the museum burned down In the 1980s and some of the collection was lost. The remainder of the museum closed in 2003, but a down-sized version has since reopened.  The old museum was a great place to visit and was known to many Kiwis of my age (that’s telling you a bit!).

Not far from the old museum, and next to the Houhora Pub, are several old buildings that have fallen into disrepair but have a strong local historical interest.

King Bill's Hall, Houhora, Northland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

One of them is the old hall which was owned by “King Bill”. “King Bill” Evans was a trader, publican, land owner and general entrepreneur in the 1890s.  The local hall was a centre of activity in those days and was variously used for meetings, dances, weddings and church services. Today it is slowly rusting away in the field near the pub.

Air Conditioned, King Bill's Hall, Houhora, Northland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

“Air conditioned, with views of the sky”

These images were taken in the late afternoon as the sun was sinking towards the horizon in the west.  Click on images for a larger view.


Boom Town

It is hard to envisage in 2013 that the Westland town of Hokitika was once one of the most important towns in New Zealand.  Today its economy relies on the surrounding dairy farms that feed the Westland Cooperative Dairy Factory, and tourism-based ventures. In 1866 however, Hokitika was the second biggest town in New Zealand after Auckland.  Gold had been discovered on the West Coast in 1864 and the town grew rapidly as people flooded into the area to seek their fortunes.  On one day in 1867 it was reported that 41 vessels were tied up at the Hokitika wharf, with more waiting off shore.  How times have changed.

Clock Tower, Hokitika, Westland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Ever since my first visit to the town way back in the 1960s I have been fascinated by the connection of the town with Andrew Carnegie.  How could this rich American philanthropist have become aware of and have an interest in this far-flung isolated town in a distant corner of the southern Pacific Ocean?  On a corner, one block away from the main street of Hokitika, is a grand building with “Free Public Library” emblazoned across the frieze above the columns at the entrance.  It’s in that sign that the connection is made.

Andrew Carnegie made his fortune in the iron and steel business.  While still a boy working in his father’s cotton milling business, he and other boys working in the mill were granted free access the library of a local businessman. Carnegie became an avid reader devoured most of the 400 books in the collection.  After he sold his steel milling business to banker J P Morgan in 1901 for $200 million, he set out on his philanthropic endeavors.  In recognition of the help received from free access to books in his youth, Carnegie established a grant system to assist towns and cities in the English-speaking world to build library buildings on condition that access to and lending of books was free.  Eighteen such libraries were built in New Zealand, including the one in Hokitika which was opened in 1908.

West Coast Memorial Museum, Hokitika, Westland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

The building ceased to be a library in April 1975. It was later restored and reopened in May 1998 as home to the West Coast Historical Museum. So that’s how Andrew Carnegie came to be connected to the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand.

In researching for this post I discovered another interesting fact about Hokitika.  It has a digital 3D cinema, in a town with a  population of  just 3,078 (2006 census), plus another 828 people in the surrounding district.  The Art-Deco Regent Cinema was built in 1936 and has served the town ever since.  When in 1975 it was threatened with demolition due to its state of repair and lack of patronage, a group of concerned citizens lobbied for its retention and formed a trust for its preservation.  Funds were raised to refurbish the building back to its Art-Deco heritage style and it has been turned into a successfully functioning cinema again – a digital 3D cinema to boot.

Regent Theatre, Hokitika, Westland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

So there you have it, a boom town of the 19th century is booming again in the 21st century (albeit in a much different way).


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).


Danseys Pass

Crossing the Danseys Pass between the Waitaki Valley in North Otago and the Maniatoto Basin in Central Otago has been on our list of things to do again since we last made the crossing in the early 1980s.  That time we crossed from west to east.  It was memorable for several reasons, one being the nature of the road, and the other being the accommodation we used (more about that later).

Our east-west journey over Danseys Pass in February began at the small village of Duntroon in the Waitaki Valley.  For the first 12 km the road was sealed, but from that point onwards it turned to gravel for the rest of the journey over the Kakanui Mountains all the way to Naseby some 30 km further on.

At about 6 km into the journey, on a side road, are the Elephant Rocks.

Elephant Rocks, Duntroon, Canterbury, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Over 24 million years ago this whole area was under the sea. Whales and other marine life sunk into the soft sand which then rose to the surface during the last few million years. The result is an area of fossils and dramatic limestone outcrops which have been weathered into unusual shapes. This area is favored by climbers and is taken as a side-visit by people touring in the area.

On the day we journeyed over the Danseys Pass road it was raining.  In order to get the above image I had to crouch behind a small umbrella to prevent the driving rain from soaking my camera.  The rain persisted until we reached the summit and began our descent.

Danseys Pass Road narrows to almost a single lane not long after leaving the seal.  For a while it follows the valley before rising on a twisting road through steep tussock covered hills.

Danseys Pass, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Danseys Pass, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Close to the summit at 935 metres the rain became heavier …

Danseys Pass, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

… and so too did our encounters with free-roaming sheep that often blocked our way.

Danseys Pass, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

The summit is reached at the 23 km mark and the road then descends steeply through Upper Kyeburn to the Maniatoto Basin.

Not far from Upper Kyeburn and the Danseys Pass Coaching Inn, still surrounded by steep hills is a lavender farm and gift shop.  It was a surprising find in the middle of a high country sheep farming area, well off the normal tourist route.

Lavender Farm, Danseys Pass, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Lavender Farm, Danseys Pass, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Our destination for the day was the old coaching inn at Upper Kyburn. We had last stayed at the Danseys Pass Coaching Inn some 30 years ago.  On that occasion it was also cold and raining.  At that time one could fairly describe the inn as eclectic and in need of some TLC (tender loving care).  One of the more unusual features then was that the road took a sharpish turn right at the corner of the inn.  If one had a bedroom on that corner (as two of our sons did), it was rather disconcerting at night as felt as if cars approaching from up the hill would crash into the room before passing the front of the hotel to continue down the hill.  Fortunately that feature has now been corrected.

Danseys Pass Coaching Inn, Otago, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Danseys Pass Inn has had a major makeover since we last stayed and it now operates as a boutique get-away hotel and a place to hold small conferences and functions.  One of the nice things is that it has all been done in keeping with old character of the place and it makes for a pleasant overnight experience.  A feature of the large lounge is a big open fireplace.  This was very welcome as it was cold and wet outside, with the temperature dropping to 4 degrees C overnight (in the middle of summer!). The lawn you see in the foreground is where the road used to be.

Danseys Pass – the settlement – is located approximately halfway between the pass and Duntroon on the eastern side. Confusingly, however, the historic Danseys Pass Coaching Inn is located on the western side, at the locality known as Upper Kyeburn.

The next day we traveled on to Naseby, and then Wanaka.


Harbour Street

Harbour Street in Oamau, after years of decline, has become a magnet for tourists and locals because of its transformation in recent times. To provide some context, a bit of history about Oamaru and its old port area might be useful.

Harbour Street, Oamaru, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

In European  historical terms New Zealand is a very young country, being settled well after North America, Southern Africa and Australia. New Zealand’s founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, some 50 years after the first European settlent in Australa. The first European to settle in the Oamaru district  arrived some time in the late 1840s. In 1859 the town of Oamaru was first surveyed, and the Otago Provincial government declared “hundreds” there on 30 November 1860. The town grew as a regional service-centre for the agricultural/pastoral hinterland and rapidly became a major port. As pastoral farming developed, so too did the frozen meat industry which had its historical origins in this part of New Zealand.  Oamaru flourished during this period and many of the significant buildings in the town were built using the locally plentiful limestone (Oamaru stone), which lent itself to carving. As a result Oamaru has a distinctive and “solid” feel to it which reflects it importance in the historical development of the surrounding Waitaki District . According to Wikipedia,  By the time of the depression of the 1880s Oamaru had become the “best built and most mortgaged town in Australasia”.

Oamaru, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Tyne Street, Oamaru

When the New Zealand economy stalled in the 1970s the port was closed and Oamaru found itself hard hit. In response it started to re-invent itself to become one of the first New Zealand towns to realise that its built heritage was an asset.  in 1987 the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust was formed, and work began restoring the historic precinct beside the port to become one of the most atmospheric urban areas in New Zealand.

Harbour Street, Oamaru, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Harbour Street, much as it looked in its heyday

On the weekends the old harbour area of the town comes alive as tourists and local visitors fill the area and explore the old warehouse buildings that now house craft workshops, cafes, small museums, curio shops, and the “Slightly Foxed Bookshop” dealing in quality secondhand books on exploration and other topics near the Harbour Street Market and Birdlands Wine Company. During our visit in February we spent time exploring the nooks and crannies along the street.

Harbour Street, Oamaru, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Harbour Street with bunting and weekend visitors

SONY DSC

Signs, Harbour Street, Oamaru, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Bakery

signs, Harbour Street, Oamaru, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Birdlands

Harbour Street, Oamaru, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013


Training Ground

When New Zealand’s famous mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay made the first successful ascent of Mt Everest on 29 May 1953, and thus unlocked the gateway for hundreds of others since, Hillary could attribute a large part of his success to many days climbing the peaks of the Southern Alps that form the backbone of the South Island.  A bronze statue of Hillary gazing towards a distant Mt Cook, to commemorate his many achievements, is found at the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre attached to the Hermitage Hotel at Mt Cook Village.

Sir Edmund Hillary, Aoraki Mt Cook, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Sir Edmund Hillary looking towards Aoraki Mt Cook with Mt Sefton and the Mueller Glacier in the background

Alpinists of the 1950s were in some ways a different breed from their modern counterparts. Their clothing and equipment were very basic when compared with that in use today. Under garments were made of  either wool or silk, outer garments, socks, hats and gloves also of wool, rain and windproof jackets, over-trousers and outer mittens of oiled Japara cotton. Climbing packs were not of the highly technical designs seen today, but were made of canvas with steel or wooden frames, leather straps with metal buckles and corded cotton adjustment cords. Keeping the contents dry was a major problem.  Climbing boots often had leather soles with hob-nails and metal cleats, and canvas gaiters or cotton-knit “puttees” kept the stones or snow from getting inside. Finally, climbing ropes were made of hemp and tents of light cotton canvas with wooden poles.  The statue of Sir Edmund Hillary shows him holding a wooden-shafted ice axe.  It was with clothing such as this that I first ventured into the mountains in the 1960s as a high school student. What a change there has been in the intervening fifty years.

On the way to the summit of Mt Cook Hillary would have over-nighted in huts similar to the old Empress Hut that is displayed in the precinct of the Department of Conservation Information Centre in the Mt Cook Village. These corrugated iron shelters were often placed in the mountains by volunteers from mountain clubs and provided basic bedspace, cooking space and, maybe, an emergency radio for picking up weather information or reporting emergencies.

Empress Hut, Aoraki Mt Cook, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Empress Hut

Inside Empress Hut, Aoraki Mt Cook, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Inside Empress Hut with modern and old mountaineering equipment

Inside Empress Hut, Aoraki Mt Cook, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Inside Empress Hut with emergency radio and gas cooker

Thus it was that successive generations of New Zealand mountaineers ventured into the mountains of the Southern Alps to learn their craft and prepare for other cold remote areas such as the Himalayas or the South Pole.


Dog and Church

I have somewhat irreverently called this post “Dog and Church”.  It sounds like a British pub, but its not.  On the shores of Lake Tekapo in the area known as “Mackenzie Country” in South Canterbury are two key attractions on every tourist coach journey through the South Island of New Zealand.  Apart from early morning and late afternoon there is a steady stream to tour coaches, campervans, rental cars and other miscellaneous vehicles which arrive at the lake shore to visit the Church of the Good Shepherd and a bronze statue of a sheepdog. If one arrives during the tourist period in the day it is almost impossible to capture images of the church, especially, without people filing into and out of the building and wandering around it’s perimeter.

Dog and Church, Tekapo, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Church of the Good Sheperd, Tekapo, New Zealand

In this image there is only one coach.  When we arrived there were three others and twice as many cars.

The little stone church is a gem.  Some twenty five years ago we had the privilege of attending a Christmas Day service there with our three boys while on a camping holiday in the South Island.  It was a very local service, with families from the town and surrounding farming community gathering together to celebrate the Christmas story.  There were tourists and tour coaches then also, but not in the numbers you see today.  One of the unique features of the church is the window behind the alter that gives a view of Aoraki Mt Cook in the distance at the farthest end of Lake Tekapo.  Despite the many thousands of travelers who visit the church every year, it is still used for active worship and is a focal point for the Mackenzie Country families.

Dog and Church, Tekapo, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

View without people

Dog and Church, Tekapo, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Quiet Space

Outside the church is a bronze statue of a border collie sheepdog. Quoting from the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, “In the 19th century, Scottish shepherds came to work on the pastoral runs of the eastern South Island. The high country could not have been farmed successfully without the border collies they brought with them. To honour these ‘canine Scots’, a statue of a collie has been raised at Lake Tekapo.”  The statue is a much loved attraction, and many a honeymooner and visitor has a photograph of themselves with the dog.

Dog and Church, Tekapo, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Settler’s Dog Memorial – Border Collie

The Mackenzie Basin was named in the 1850s by and after James Mackenzie (or in his native Scottish Gaelic: Seumas MacCoinneach), a shepherd and sheep thief of Scottish origin, who herded his stolen flocks in what was then an area almost totally empty of any human habitation, though Māori previously lived there intermittently.  After his capture, the area was soon divided up amongst new sheep pasture stations in 1857 (Wikipedia).  The Mackenzie story is one that captured the imagination of many a young school child when I was small and we were closer to the living history of European settlement than we are today.


A Word A Week Photo Challenge: Round

All images for this post are from Turkey and represent art through history in various forms, but all in the round.

Blue Plate, Capadoccia, Turkey, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Isnik Pattern Plate

Cappadocia in Eastern Turkey is steeped in history and tradition.  One of these traditions is pottery and ceramics.   Tiles and plates decorated with the patterns of Isnik and other areas are made here for the flocks of tourists that pass through the region. These are the patterns favoured by the Ottoman emperors of old. Here at Firca Ceramik in Avenos a current day artisan decorates an ancient Hittite pattern ceramic jug in an underground studio.

Vase Painter, Capadoccia, Turkey, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

For me the best image for “round” comes from the Chora Church in Istanbul. The Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora is considered to be one of the most beautiful surviving examples of a Byzantine church. In the 16th century, during the Ottoman era, the church was converted into a mosque and, finally, it became a museum in 1948. The interior of the building is covered with fine mosaics and frescoes. One of the best of these is in the  painted dome of the parecclesion (side chapel) of the church.

Chora Dome-1

The Virgin and child, painted dome of the parecclesion of Chora Church

It is a truly wonderful fresco.  The Chora Church is worth going out of your way to visit if every you have the good fortune to visit the wonderful city of Istanbul.


Old Style Co-operation

Okato Puniho Co-operative Dairy Co Limited Factory, Taranaki, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Okato Puniho Co-operative Dairy Co Limited factory at Puniho, Taranaki

Dotted around the country roads of the Taranaki region on the western cape of New Zealand’s North Island are relics of farmer co-operation in the form of old dairy factories.  In the early dairy farming history of New Zealand farmers banded together to start co-operative dairy companies to process their milk into butter and cheese to supply the more populated towns and cities, and export customers in the United Kingdom.  At that time colonial New Zealand was seen as a food basket for the growing UK population, and was still under a heavy British influence.

The first dairy co-operative was established in Otago in 1871. By 1920 there were 600 dairy processing factories, of which about 85% were owned by co-operatives. In the 1930s there were around 500 co-operatives, but after World War II improved transportation, processing technologies and energy systems led to a trend of consolidation where the co-operatives merged and became larger and fewer in number. By the late 1990s, there were only four co-operatives left. Today, Fonterra is the largest processor of milk in New Zealand. It processes 94.8 percent of all milk solids from dairy farms throughout the country. (Wikipedia).

The small dairy factory shown above is at Puniho on State Highway 45 in the hinterland of Mt Taranaki, the dominant feature of the surrounding landscape. State Highway 45 forms part of the “Round Mt Taranaki Bike Ride” circuit. Like others of its type it now sits looking forlorn and unloved, although many others have been turned to different uses.


Hong Kong – Selected Views and Thoughts

Over the years Hong Kong has been the territory (now part of China) that I have visited most in all my world travel. My first visit was in 1985 with my wife and three young sons (4,6 and 8 years) at the end of a round the world trip.  For my wife it was a second visit as she had been there twenty years earlier as a student. The total number of visits now stands a six, the most recent in 2008. As one can imagine, Hong Kong has changed immensely since 1965. One of the things that fascinates me every time I visit Hong Kong and its “fragrant harbour” is that there is always something new being built and yet another part of the harbour edge reclaimed from the sea.

Hong Kong Street 2, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Nathan Road, Kowloon

Our visit to Hong Kong in 2008 was during the annual typhoon season.  It rained almost for the whole three day visit, heavily at times. The above view of Nathan Road was taken from the upper deck of the bus from the airport. As we alighted from the bus the skies opened, leaving our party of five with all our luggage stranded on the pavement and somewhat bewildered.  Finally in the pouring rain we bundled ourselves into a taxi and were driven to our hotel.

Central at Night from Kowloon, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

One of the key attractions in the evening is to watch the nightly sound and light show on the buildings of the Wan Chai and Central districts on Hong Kong Island from in front of the Culture Centre at Kowloon. At the same time as the music and lights started, so did the rain.  It came quickly and sent locals and tourists alike scurrying for whatever shelter they could find.  This image was captured just as the rain began. Our hotel, the Salisbury (YWCA), overlooked the Culture Centre towards the island and we were able to see the end of the display through sheets of rain powered in by the rising high winds.

Ferry leaving Star Ferry Pier at Kowloon, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

A favourite part of any Hong Kong visit for me is to cross the harbour on a Star ferry.  These old-style ferries have been running for decades and are an iconic part of the HK landscape.  A ride on a Star ferry provides views of both sides of the harbour and the volume of shipping that makes this one of the busiest entrepôts in the world. The ride starts at the Star Ferry Pier in Kowloon and ends at Central Pier on Hong Kong Island.

Star Ferry Pier and Hong Kong Culture Centre, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Kowloon Star Ferry Pier and Hong Kong Culture Centre

Morning Star crossing from Central, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

"Virgo" and Star Ferry, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

"Northern Star" Star Ferry, Central, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Night Star leaving Star Ferry Pier, Central, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Night Star leaving Star Ferry Pier, Central

Central is the banking and commercial district of Hong Kong and is just as bustling as the as the more retail oriented Kowloon.  Some of HK’s tallest buildings are in Central, which sits at the harbour edge below Victoria Peak.

Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Gloucester Road, Wan Chai

Wan Chai is one of the older areas of Hong Kong Island and was made famous to many English and American moviegoers of the 1960s  by the film “The World of Susie Wong”.  Its a fascinating area to wander around as many of the older buildings nestled among the newer skyscrapers show distinct signs of decay.

Hong Kong Fine Arts School, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Abutting Wan Chai is the Admiralty District which is home to the Bank of China Tower (abbreviated BOC Tower).  It houses the headquarters for the Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited. Designed by I. M. Pei, the building is (including the two masts) 367.4 m (1,205.4 ft) high. It was the tallest building in Hong Kong and Asia from 1989 to 1992, and it was the first building outside the United States to break the 305 m (1,000 ft) mark. It is now the fourth tallest skyscraper in Hong Kong, after International Commerce Centre, Two International Finance Centre and Central Plaza (Wikipedia).

Bank of China Tower, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Bank of China Tower

Two International Finance Centre, Central, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Two International Finance Centre, Central

One of the best vantage points from which to appreciate Hong Kong is Victoria Peak (552 m).  The public viewing area at the Peak Lookout and Galleria presents views over exclusive housing and towers of Central, Wan Chai, Admiralty and across Victoria Harbour to Kowloon and surrounding districts.

View from The Peak, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

View of Hong Kong from the Peak Lookout

It was great to revisit Hong Kong in 2008, even if it rained for most of the time.  This is one of my favourite Asian (even world) cities. It is a dynamic place, ever changing but still quintessentially Asian.  It is modern, and old. Its a splendid mixture of international commerce and finance, and ordinary people going about their ordinary lives. Its a place of hustle and bustle, and hidden pockets where you can find peace and tranquility. Its a place of exclusive designer everything, and fake knock-offs of everything. I couldn’t live there for any great period of time, but love to revisit it as often as allows.


For Shearing No More, But Sharing

The St James Station was once one of the largest operating cattle and sheep stations in New Zealand, dating back to 1862. It was purchased by the Government in 2008 for public conservation land to protect its natural, physical and cultural values and open it up to outdoor recreation and tourism. Surrounding the site of the old St James Station homestead is a collection of historic farm buildings that have been left in the park as a reminder of the area’s farming heritage.  The largest of the buildings is the shearing shed.  It is a reminder that wool was once a major contributor to the New Zealand economy, and to a lesser extent still is.

Old Shearing Shed, St James Station, North Canterbury, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Old Shearing Shed, St James Station, North Canterbury

Old Shearing Shed, St James Station, North Canterbury, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Way In, Old Shearing Shed, St James Station, North Canterbury

Old Shearing Shed, St James Station, North Canterbury, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Open Door, Old Shearing Shed, St James Station, North Canterbury

Old Shearing Shed, St James Station, North Canterbury, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Shaft of Light, Old Shearing Shed, St James Station, North Canterbury

Old Shearing Shed, St James Station, North Canterbury, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Sherer’s Station, Old Shearing Shed, St James Station, North Canterbury

Old Shearing Shed, St James Station, North Canterbury, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Wool Press, Old Shearing Shed, St James Station, North Canterbury

The St James Conservation area is reached by a winding unsealed road climbing into the St James Range from Hanmer Springs in North Canterbury.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Green

St James Station, St James Conservation Area, Hanmer Springs, Canterbury, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Historic Farm Buildings, St James Conservation Area, Canterbury, New Zealand

This oasis of green is at the site of the old St James Station homestead beside the Clarence River in the St James Range in North Canterbury. The original St James Homestead built around 1880 burned down in 1947 but the out buildings that remain are considered of special importance and worthy of restoration by the Department of Conservation. The area is reached by car by following a winding narrow unsealed road out of Hanmer Springs leading to the Molesworth Station. At a “T” junction the road to the left leads to the site of the old St James Homestead. In summer this area is very dry but the area immediately around the homestead site is green and sheltered by trees.


Country Pub

Country Pub, Martinborough, Wairarapa, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Country Pub, Martinborough

Martinborough is a small rural town in the Wairarapa District north of Wellington.  Its a popular short break destination for Wellingtonians and hosts a very popular annual wine and food festival.  The Martinborough Hotel is the dominant building on Centennial Square at the centre of the town.

Quoting from the Hotels’ webpage “Taking pride of place at the entrance to the square is The Martinborough Hotel. Developer Edmund Buckeridge described it in 1882 as ‘one of the finest hostelries ever erected in any inland town in New Zealand.’ A way station for prosperous travellers to and from the South Wairarapa’s huge, isolated sheep stations, its grand façade has been a focal point for the town right from the early days.

This country pub is a pleasant place to stop for a quiet glass of wine and a light meal.


Petit Hotel

Petit Hotel, Martinborough, Wairarapa, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Petit Hotel – Martinborough, Wairarapa, New Zealand

Just the place for a quiet weekend get-away from the hustle and bustle of Wellington?


Private Boxes

Private Boxes, Martinborough, Wairarapa, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Private Boxes

Its 7.30 am and the sun is rising over rural Martinborough.  The local postmen (“Posties”) are in the sorting room next to the postbox lobby bundling letters to put into the bags on their bikes to start their rounds. The streets are still quiet but traffic is beginning to move as people head off to work in the town, or further afield to Wellington over the Rimutaka Hill. Newspapers lie on the ground waiting to be inserted into postboxes for townspeople to collect on the way to work.


Still Abandoned in Venice Street

Abandoned in Venice Street, Martinborough, Wairarapa, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Abandoned in Venice Street

Here is a monochrome variation of the post Abandoned in Venice Street. I have been playing with the techniques of producing B&W images for a while and have added Perfect Effects 7 to my kitset of tools. Some images develop a whole different life when given the monochrome treatment. The original colour image is shown below for you to judge for yourself.

Abandoned in Venice Street, Martinborough, Wairarapa, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Abandoned in Venice Street – Original


Abandoned in Venice Street

Venice Street, Wairarapa, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Venice Street

Found in the small Wairarapa town of Martinborough, some 80 km north east of Wellington on New Zealand’s North Island.  Martinborough is famous for its Pinot Noir wines, however this scene was in one of the residential streets near the town centre.  Everything here looks as though it has seen better days, unlike the rest of the town which is thriving on its farming and wine economies.


Abandoned Tobacco Dryers

Tobacco Dryers, Myrtleford, Victoria, Australia, Copyright Chris Gregory 2009

Tobacco Drying Sheds

Until 2006 Tobacco was the major industry in the area surrounding Myrtleford in the Ovens River valley, Victoria, Australia.  Scattered throughout the are disused tobacco drying sheds  like this which was photographed through the early morning mist in 2009. Farming is now the  important industry in the region, including wine grapes, walnuts and chestnuts, berries, fruit, olives, vegetables, hops and beef and dairy cattle.


Nugget Point Light

Nugget Point Light, Catlins, Southland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2010

One of the most popular places to visit in the Catlins region between Dunedin and Invercargill in New Zealand’s South Island is Nugget Point. A walk to the lighthouse which was constructed here in 1870  from rock quarried nearby yields spectacular views of the rugged coast that caused a number of shipwrecks in this country’s early settler days.  In 1989, along with all other lighthouses around the New Zealand coast, it was automated.


A Bit of China

Gateway, Chinese Garden, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Although Dunedin was founded by settlers who were predominantly Scottish in origin and is known as the “Edinburgh of the South”, another ethnic group that played a significant part in Otago history was the Chinese.  As in most settler countries that experienced big “gold rushes” in the nineteenth century, people from China were part of the ethnic mix of people chasing the allure of the yellow metal. It was also common at that time for European settlers to have a deep suspicion, even hatred, of the Chinese migrants, who were segregated, taxed excessively, denied status in the community, and consigned to menial work.  But these people were resourceful.  They came from a place where they knew real hunger and hardship and were looking for the better life that a fortune in gold could provide.  The gold was, as usual, harder to find that everyone had hoped and many of the gold-seekers moved on the the next big find to try their luck there. Like others in the gold rush communities, some of the Chinese settlers saw opportunities to grow and sell food, provide laundry facilities and trade in other goods  needed by the miners. As time moved on attitudes changed and the Chinese settlers gained more rights and became integrated into the community, but still retained their cultural roots.

As a fitting, permanent, recognition of the Chinese people who first came to Otago during the 1860s gold rush and stayed to establish some of the city’s businesses, the Dunedin Chinese Garden Trust developed a yuanlin style garden in Dunedin which was opened in 2008. The garden has become an important attraction in Dunedin.

Framed, Chinese Garden, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Tea House, Chinese Garden, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Tea House

Red, Chinese Garden, Dunedin, Otago. New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Red

Courtyard, Chinese Garden, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Courtyard
Pavilion and Pond, Chinese Garden, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Pavilion and Pond


Still a Winery

In a previous post about a historic winery mention was made of an old and now unused still and its associated boiler.  I have now had an opportunity to tour the winery and can show a few images of the oldest part of the complex.  The winery started its life as a wine research station operated by the New Zealand Government Ministry of Agriculture.  Fortified wines were part of the experimental work carried out here, thus the requirement for a still to produce the alcohol to fortify the ports and sherries.

Old Still, TK Vintners, Te Kauwhata, Waikato, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Although the still is no longer used, it makes an impressive sight.  It used to be a centrepiece in the wine tasting room under a previous ownership and is sure to have raised a lot of questions.  The maker’s plate bolted to the side leaves no doubt where it was manufactured.

In a room next door is the old steam boiler that used to feed the still.  It now looks quite derelict and covered with bird droppings but it still makes a statement  about the technology in use at the beginning of the twentieth century.  The steam also provided power for other machinery in the winery.

Old Boiler, TK Vintners, Te Kauwhata, Waikato, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Old Boiler, TK Vintners, Te Kauwhata, Waikato, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

In the barrel room next to the tasting area is a banner which shows the wine making process to help visitors understand the work flow in the winery. It’s a bit tatty now and quite simplistic, but it served the purpose.

How to Make Wine, TK Vintners, Te Kauwhata, Waikato, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

A shelf in the old tasting room displays some of the wine styles that were being produced by the Ministry of Agriculture.  The labels bear the New Zealand Government crest.  In those days New Zealand was trying to copy the wine styles of France and Germany, a practice that has long since ceased.  Wine makers throughout the country now produce distinctively New Zealand character wines from both classic and newer grape varieties.

Historic Wine Labels, TK Vintners, Te Kauwhata, Waikato, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012


Small Boy in Ghost City

Ghost City, Fengdu, Yangtze River, China, Ming Mountain, Copyright Chris Gregory 2008

Ghost City, Fengdu, Yangtze River, China

I was sorting through photographs of our 2008 trip to China a few days ago when I came across this image of a small boy squatting in a plant border next to a temple at Ghost City on the Yangtze River.  It was only later when my wife pointed it out that I realised what he was doing.

For the whole of our four day cruise on the Yangtze the weather was overcast and the atmosphere smoggy.  This added more than a little atmosphere during the stop at Fengdu to visit the Ghost City.

Fengdu is modelled after the Chinese Hell in Taoist mythology, built over 1800 years ago. The Ghost Town has become an island since the Three Gorges Dam project was completed, and  part of the ghost town of Fengdu has become submerged. Scenery above the “Door of Hell” has remained however.


No Peeking

No Peeking, Early Settlers Museum, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

No Peeking

What do you do when there’s a sign that says “Keep off the Grass”?  You don’t see many of them these days, but human nature (such as it is) causes many to take a quick look around, and then proceed to “walk  ….”.  That’s what made this sign so interesting.  The Otago Settlers Museum is currently undergoing a major renovation and management clearly understands human nature.  Characters depicted in the sign reflect the changing face of Dunedin, and its Scottish heritage.

The museum is housed in an Art Deco era building, formerly the Dunedin terminus for NZR Road Services buses which used to connect main city railway stations to the scattered small towns and settlements throughout the region.  There was also an inter-city service that could be used as an alternative to travel by train.  As passenger train services became less frequent, the bus services became more important.  The terminal building was built in 1939 at the height of the period when NZRRS provided a vital link to small town and rural New Zealand.  At that time car ownership was limited and roads were more primitive than they are today. That was  the world of my childhood.

Today NZRRS has morphed into Intercity Coachlines which still continues some of the original services, as well as newer ones designed to meet modern requirements.