Making sense of my photography hobby in retirement

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Go North Turn Left

With our pending three month journey to Europe and North America about to begin in just under two weeks, my wife Valerie and I have established an companion blog to this one called Go North Turn Left.  In this blog we will relate tales of our travels (hopefully not travails) as we venture forth on the various legs of our journey.

So, where did the blog name come from?

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We have a very dear friend who believes that everything in the world is up and to the left of New Zealand. Her view of the geography of the world dates back to primary school days when she first looked at a map of the world. On that map New Zealand was at the bottom right corner. This view of the world has always intrigued us, especially Valerie who was a former geography teacher. So, to honour this unusual view we have named the blog “Go North Turn Left”

Our travels this year start at the end of July 2013.  We trust you will enjoy the journey with us.

Posts will also continue here as time and internet connections permit.


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.


Fireflame Chillies

I love street markets, no matter where in the world they are. Its the combinations of colors, activity and people that make them so fascinating. Here is a selection of images taken at the Matakana Market, a farmers’ market held during the summer at Matakana Village, an hour’s drive north of Auckland.

Matakana Market, Northland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Fireflame, that’s on medium please!

Matakana Market, Northland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

“Now you need to understand some of the finer points about chillies”

Matakana Market, Northland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

“Which one would you like to try first?”

Matakana Market, Northland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

You’ll need to visit Puhoi to see the “Big Cheese”

Matakana Market, Northland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

“And now for a we spell to turn this into the perfect organic crepe”

Matakana Market, Northland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Why can’t I grow basil like that?

Matakana Market, Northland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

“This, Monsieur, is the perfect pastry for you”


Now Closed … Sorry for any inconvenience

Matakana Market, Northland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Well, that’s what the sign said!  Clearly this wasn’t the case on the day of our visit to the Matakana Market.  Perhaps the sign had been turned around?

Matakana Market, Northland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

How about some organic beans, or spray-free tomatoes?  This is a farmers’ market afterall, and we have t cater for all tastes.

Matakana Market, Northland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Baby Royal Gala apples as well, you know, the ones on the bike! Or is the man on the bike chasing the apple? But, I’ll take some special capsicums, please. And is that pumpkin $4, or is it Number 84?


Market Minstrels

Because I haven’t had much time lately to get out and photograph anything, because of packing our house full of belongings into a storage unit, so I have revisited my library of images to get inspiration for posts.  The next few posts will contain images taken at the Matakana Market located about an hour’s drive north of Auckland.  The farmers’ market runs on Saturdays through the summer months and attracts large numbers of visitors from Auckland and the surrounding district, especially from the holiday homes at the nearby beaches.

One of the features of the market is the small group of musicians who play there during the opening hours to entertain shoppers. Occasionally they leave their “stand” and wander through the market. Here are a couple of images of the market minstrels.

Matakana Market, Northland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Free Range Eggs

Matakana Market, Northland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013


“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).