Making sense of my photography hobby in retirement


Photographer’s Assistant

Photographer's Assistant, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

It is not often that we see our eldest son David as he has lived in Canada for the past ten years.  This year he and his wife have come “home” to Auckland for Christmas.  As has been the case in previous visits, we try to take some family photographs with as many of our family as are able to gather together for Christmas Day.  Like others in our family, David is a keen photographer.  So too it seems is the youngest family member, three and a half year old Frances.  Here she receives instructions on which button to press to release the self-timer and get herself into the picture.

I trust that everyone has been able to have as happy a Christmas celebration with family and friends as we have had here in New Zealand.


Rainbow Connection

Red Granite, Blue Sky, Catlins Coast, Southland. New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Red Granite, Blue Sky

The colours in this image taken in the Catlins on the Southland coast of New Zealand’s South Island were what caught my eye.  Red granite rock formations protrude into the sea to cause reefs which claimed their share of shipwrecks during the early history of the area.  On the day of our visit the weather was changeable, as it often is autumn, but a break in cloud cover let the sun catch a distant rain shower and allowed a show of rainbow.

Mount Doom, Mordor

Mt Doom

“Mt Doom”

Mt Ruapehu in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand is a mountain I was introduced to in my teens.  Prior to that I had driven past it on the Desert Road, which forms part of State Highway 1.  It was from the Desert Road that this image was taken.  Over the years I have hiked, skied, climbed and stayed on the mountain in all of the seasons of the year. Our family of three boys learned to ski here.

In 1953 the Crater Lake at the top of the mountain broke through a ice plug in the side of the crater and flowed rapidly down the Whangaehu River, washing out the railway bridge at Tangiwai on the Main Trunk Line just before the express train from Wellington to Auckland was due to pass over it.  At 10.21 pm on 24 December the train ploughed into the river killing 151 crew and passengers.  This tragic accident happened during the first visit to New Zealand of the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II.

The volcano is still active and from time to time it erupts into life, the last time in 2007.

Mt Ruapehu and the surrounding area proved ideal as the dark and savage realm of ‘Mordor’ and ‘Mount Doom’ in the “Lord of the Rings” films. Whakapapa Ski Field, on the slopes of Ruapehu, supplied Middle Earth’s snowy slopes and the opening battlefield on the slopes of ‘Mount Doom’, where an alliance of men and elves defeats the armies of ‘Mordor’.

The mountain often has a gloomy feel to it when viewed across the desert-like foreground of the Central North Island Plateau, across which the Desert Road runs.

Shining Mountain

Shining Mountain, Taranaki, Mt Egmont, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Shining Mountain, Taranaki

The dominant feature of the Taranaki landscape in the western part of the North Island of New Zealand is this conical dormant volcano which last erupted in the mid nineteenth century.  Prior to European discovery by Captain Cook in the late 18th century the mountain was known to the Maori as Taranaki, thought to be derived from two words Tara (mountain) and ngaki (shining).  When Captain Cook discovered New Zealand he named the mountain after John Perceval, 2nd Earl of Egmont, the First Lord of the Admiralty who promoted Cook’s first voyage.  In 1986 the Government ruled that there would be two alternative and equal official names, “Mount Taranaki” or “Mount Egmont”.

The flat land that surrounds Taranaki is very fertile and ideal for dairy farming and the region is one of the three major milk producing areas in the country.  The other key economic driver in Taranaki is oil and natural gas which was discovered in 1865 but only exploited on a large commercial scale after 1959.

On the day this image was taken the weather was changeable, but clearing.  We were hoping for a clear view of the mountain but the lingering clouds from a westerly front that had passed over the region in the previous day still hung about.  Taranaki is the first place on the North Island to cop incoming south-westerly fronts which ensure that the grass is always lush to produce the “white gold” of the dairy industry. On a clear winter day the mountain is magnificent with its crown of snow glistening in the sunlight.

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.

A colourful display for the Christmas Season

Pohutukawa, New Zealand Christmas Tree, Christmas, Taranaki, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Pohutukawa – the New Zealand Christmas Tree

A sure sign that Christmas is near in New Zealand is when the Pohutukawa tree bursts into bloom.  This distinctive gnarly native coastal tree commences flowering towards the end of November when the season turns from spring into summer.

Pohutukawa,Flower, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

The distinctive red spiky flowers present a colourful display for almost a month before the stamens drop to form a red carpet on the surrounding ground, that’s if the early summer storms don’t blow them away sooner.

Morning Papers

Newspaper Man, Star Ferry Pier, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Here is another image of my visit to Hong Kong in 2009.  As is usual during any visit to a new area I tend to wake early and go for a walk with my camera.  After a night of high winds and pouring rain the morning dawned fine and the area sparked in its newly washed state.  The Star Ferry Pier was any easy walk from our hotel.  People poured onto and off the ferries as they plied the  routes across the harbour.  At the entrance to the terminal building newspaper vendors set out the morning editions of English and Chinese language newspapers ready to catch the passing trade.  As this man and his papers were in a patch of morning sun he caught my attention.  It is one of my favourite Hong Kong images because for me it captured a bit of Hong Kong life at my favourite time of the day.

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.

Lake Hayes

Lake Hayes, Central Otago

Its a four hour drive from Queenstown in the Southern Lakes District of Central Otago to Dunedin.  The road from Queenstown passes Lake Hayes on the way to the Cromwell Gorge and Lake Dunstan.  After the events of the day before (see yesterday’s post) it was necessary to leave the lakes and mountains to travel to Dunedin Hospital to visit my wife and plan the journey home to Auckland.

The morning was beautiful, just like the one the previous day.  Lake Hayes was unruffled by any breezes and I just had to stop to take some photographs.  I was uncertain as to when we would visit the area again. After nearly four months of rest and physiotherapy since the accident Valerie is now walking – albeit slowly – and we plan to travel back to Wanaka and Queenstown in early February to complete our holiday,  and hopefully see reflections like this again.

Morning View

Roys Peak, Wanaka, Central Otago, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Morning View – Roys Peak, Wanaka, Central Otago

The morning that lead to the events described in the post Life can change in a split second  began with this view from our motel of Roys Peak across Lake Wanaka. It was a lovely crisp morning with a clear blue sky which remained that way all through the day.  What had started as a promising season for snow was ruined by rain after the initial dump, and no really cold southerly fronts had arrived to replenish the Southern Lakes ski fields.  Only light falls of 1-5 cm had maintained the relatively thin snow covering.  There was enough snow to ski on, but not as much as one would normally expect in a good snow year.  In good years the snow would have been well down on Roys Peak (1,578 metres).  Little did we know that morning how the day would unfold.

Red Sky at Night

Red Sky at Night, Tarris Otago, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Red Sky at Night – From the road to Wanaka

It was nearly dark.  As the sun set in the west a bright orange glow lit the clouds over the mountains. A chilly wind blew across the freshly plowed stony land.  Out of the car to quickly capture the image and then retreat once again to the warmth inside. Head on back to Wanaka to takeaway dinner and a bottle of wine with friends.

Threatening Clouds

Pisa Range at Sundown, Tarris, Otago, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Pisa Range at Sundown

A westerly front had been building all day and storm clouds had been building over the mountains.  The ominous nature of the weather to come was reflected in the clouds as the sun settled in the west.  Skiers hoped that the threatened weather change would come to nothing, and so it was as the next day brought only periods of thin high cloud over the southern ski fields and only moderate winds.

Tenuous Grip

Tenuous Grip, Castle Hill, Canterbury, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Tenuous Grip

These images are the last in the Castle Hill Series.  Here we have groups of rock climbers practicing their moves on low limestone outcrops with the assistance of friends and the protection of padded mats.

Helping Hand, Castle Hill, Canterbury, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Helping Hands

Castle Hill

Castle Hill Tors

Castle Hill Tors

Some of the limestone tors at Castle Hill in Canterbury.  These outcrops are distinctly different from the surrounding countryside in the Waimakariri Basin that is surrounded by the  high alpine mountains of  the Torlesse and Craigieburn Ranges.

Living Tenaciously

Living Tenaciously, Flowers at Castle Hill, Canterbury, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory2012

Living Tenaciously

On the main highway between Christchurch and Arthurs Pass on New Zealand’s South Island are the grand limestone rock battlements of Kura Tawhiti, which early European travellers named Castle Hill. The area attracts climbers, families, students and tourists who are drawn to this spectacular place to explore its natural beauty.

This lone flower was found clinging tenaciously to a limestone tor, much like the climbers who were scaling the rocky outcrops nearby.  On the day of our visit there were at least six climbing groups practicing their skills.

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.

Husband Parking

Husband Parking, Martinborough, Wairarapa, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Husband Parking

Just the space for husbands bored with shopping and sightseeing! Reload Bar & Brasserie, Martinborough, New Zealand.

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?


Silhouette, Martinborough, Wairarapa, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012


Memorial Square, Martinborough in the Wairarapa District near Wellington. The early morning sun casting shadows across the square.


A new phenomenon hit Auckland last week.  It was so unusual that it featured on the evening TV news as a feature product at the “Big Boys’ Toys” expo held at the Auckland Showgrounds.

Apparently this device is known as a “Flyboard” and is powered by a jetski. According to the product’s website “The Flyboard is a water jet powered machine which allows propulsion underwater and in the air. The position of two nozzles under your feet ensure 90% of the propulsion and allow for movement controlled by tilting one’s feet. The nozzles on the hands are used to ensure stabilization, just as ski poles would.”

These images were captured from Takapuna Beach yesterday afternoon.  It seems that buyers need deep pockets as the Flyboard is priced from NZ$13995.00 (plus the required jetski, of course)!

Click on each image for a larger view.

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