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.
A colourful display for the Christmas Season
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Just the space for husbands bored with shopping and sightseeing! Reload Bar & Brasserie, Martinborough, New Zealand.
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.
Just the place for a quiet weekend get-away from the hustle and bustle of Wellington?
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.
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
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
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.
Anyone who knows about elite yachting knows that to enter a yacht into the Americas Cup contest requires lots (that’s LOTS) of money. That obviously limits entrants to millionaires (maybe billionaires) who can fund the development and testing required to produce two very technical craft for the challenger series, followed by the main Americas Cup event itself. The next Cup series will be sailed in 72 foot catamarans with wing sails and a crew of about a dozen sailors. And these craft literally fly on their winged dagger boards.
This image was taken at the limits of my 18-200 mm zoom telephoto lens. From camera position to the Emirates Team New Zealand cat is approximately 4 km, with the lens zoomed right out. The image has been cropped to give an even “closer” view. Although there was only a light breeze the yacht still had one hull lifted completely out of the water. Already when testing their yacht in San Francisco Bay, Team Oracle have managed to nosedive and flip their boat, spilling all the crew into the water. Its expensive having an accident in these yachts!
This is another image in my series taken at dusk of the sand control poles at St Clair Beach, Dunedin. A previous image in the series can be seen here.
A Bit of China
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.