Central South Island

We decided to take advantage of some cheap flights to the South Island and have a wee roadie. Just four days. This is the sort of thing you can see on a short road trip in New Zealand.

Four easy days driving in the Central South Island. Christchurch, over Arthurs Pass to the West Coast. Night near Hokitika. South via Franz Josef and Fox Glacier, night at Fox for the Lake Matheson early morning shot. South to Haast Pass drive through Mackenzie Country for a night at Twizel. Aoraki/Mt Cook national park is only a short drive from Twizel. On to Geraldine for a night then easy drive to Christchurch and home. Basically this is a reasonably low cost long weekend away. Thursday through to Monday. We are very lucky to live here in New Zealand. Lucky As!

Arthurs Straight
Heading for Arthurs Pass
Arthurs Pass
Arthurs Pass

 

Lake Matheson Mist
Lake Matheson
Lake Matheson Mirror Lake
Probably the best morning conditions ever at Lake Matheson.
Okarito Lagoon
Okarito Lagoon
Lake Moeraki gap
Lake Moeraki
Haast Pass
Haast Pass
Mountains and Ferns
Lake Wanaka
Wanaka Reflection
Lake Wanaka
Hawea
Lake Hawea
Hawea Reflection
Lake Hawea
Hawea Lakeside
Lake Hawea
Road through Mackenzie
Mackenzie Country
Aoraki
Aoraki/Mt Cook
Roadworks
Road works!
Road trip
Aoraki/Mt Cook
Plains
Blue and Gold
Dementor
Dementors
Single Lane Bridge
Bridge
Valley
Glacial Valley
No Glacier
Distinct lack of Glacier
Look Back
Glacial Valley
Pukaki Reserve
Mirror
Pukaki Blues
Lake Pukaki

Seriously, the weather though!

Costs? About $200 for two return flights, Palmerston North to Christchurch. Rental car was about $250, Plus about $125 per night on average, motels and AirBnB. Basically about NZD $1000 plus food and drink, Pretty good I reckon.

 

 

 

 

Temporary Change Of Gear

I decided to go light, I decided I was carrying around too much heavy expensive gear for someone who isn’t a professional Photographer. I wanted to try Digital Mirrorless Technology. I’m currently enjoying the light weight, little bit hipster, retro’ish Olympus OM-D E-M5 MkII which is a hell of a mouthful for a camera name. I only have one multi purpose lens on the front which is an Olympus 14-150mm. I have to admit I’m not totally in love with this camera. I’m not as happy with the image quality as I had hoped I would be and I find it a bit small in my hands. It’s pretty much lacking in every department for what I want to achieve photographically. But it is light. I’ll be going back to a bigger DSLR set up when I can afford it. That said, here is a selection of images I’ve taken in the last couple of months with the little Olympus.

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Waikato somewhere, early.
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Cup of rosie.
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Sunset, Kapiti Coast
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On the way to French Pass.
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That’s D’Urville Island
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Remote woolshed, French Pass Road.
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Kapiti
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Mt Taranaki
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Kiwi Rail
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Lake Mangamahoe
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Cape Egmont Lighthouse
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Tasman Bay, Nelson
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Mt Doom?
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Tutukaka Coast
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Morning at Kaitoke
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Sunrise in the Waikato
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Mirror mirror
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Mouth of Queen Charlotte Sound.
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Tutukaka
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Flax
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Wellington Harbour

I don’t think it’s just a case of a poor workman blaming his tools, maybe it is though. I still want to go back to a full size DSLR, or mirrorless. This nice little camera is just too little for me.

The Lonely Mountain

I was looking at my photography blog and realised I hadn’t put a post up for a while. I was also considering the rubbish weather we have had over the past few weeks. I seem to remember the sun coming out, and staying out all day one Saturday.

For no good reason I decided to create a new post about one of our most iconic mountains. I titled this ‘The Lonely Mountain’ because Mt Taranaki occupies a place all by itself, far from other mountains. There is a Maori legend you might like to look up about how Mt Taranaki got all the way over to where it is, so far from the other large Volcanoes in the North Island. Mt Taranaki is actually a live volcano but it’s last activity was in 1860. It’s a pleasingly symmetrical mountain.

lake-view-taranaki
A nice photo of some Geese and Ducks in Lake Mangamahoe, with extra Mountain for effect.
te-rewa-rewa-bridge-sunrise
The Te Rewa Rewa Bridge is quite famous for looking like a Whale’s skeleton or something.
taranaki-distance
On a clear night you can see for miles. About 200 kilometres in this instance as this image of Mt Taranaki was taken from the Central Plateau.
taranaki-sheep
Sheep, relaxing.
taranaki-road-trip-2
Road trip, the road less travelled.
taranaki-from-himi-2
Like the earlier photo of Mt Taranaki really far away, this is farther. About 230 kilometres from Himatangi Beach.
mt-naki-triumph-cheese
They don’t make that anymore.
mt-naki-derelict
Cardiff. True story, not the Welsh Cardiff though.
mt-naki-rail-bridge
Cloudy coolness.
mt-taranaki-from-plateau
That’s also really far away. I just can’t remember where from.
odd-tree-and-taranaki
Tree weirdness.
cabbage-trees
Pastoral, volcanic.
mt-naki-african-tree
Looks like Kilimanjaro.
mt-naki-barn
I like a nice barn in my photos.
mt-naki-hay
Hey, Hay!
mt-naki-hydrandeas
Hydrangeas but not in anyones garden. Opunake side.
mt-naki-red-barn
Red barns are best.

So there you go. Epic Symmetrical live volcano, all by itself in Taranaki. Mt ‘Naki, as I like to call it, which is probably frowned upon by those who value pronouncing things properly, is mostly covered in cloud, so this lot took a while to accumulate. The mountain actually makes it’s own clouds. You’ll see that happening while you are driving around looking for a good place to take it’s picture.

 

Tourist

I spent a couple of days in Queenstown, for work. Lucky me. Much of the trip was inside but I was able to get out for a wander about. Fortunately you don’t have to walk far in Queenstown and surrounds to see the awesomeness. Herewith, a couple of snaps while I had a moment to take them. This can be a travel blog thing. For people who like to travel and read about travelling. I think it qualifies as a travel blog because I took photos of a tourist destination.

wing
The obligatory wing shot on the way into Queenstown.
remarkables
The mountain range is called ‘The Remarkables’. Can’t imagine why.
remarkable-lenticulars
Same mountains, different day. Those awesome clouds go by the name of ‘Lenticular’.
queenstown-sunset-tuesday
Sunset over Lake Wakatipu. Looking South if you are interested in that sort of thing
lake-whakatipu-1
Same view, slightly different spot, different time of day.
forest-colours
On the hills above Arrowtown. I thought the colours and textures of the trees were cool enough to Photograph. It’s my camera, I get to choose that sort of thing.
falcon-one
That’s a New Zealand Falcon, not the Swamp Harrier. The Falcon is pretty rare and even harder to photograph. This was a good day.
cottage
Because who doesn’t like a photo of an old derelict cottage?
chinese-workers-cottage-2
Chinese Gold Miners huts in Arrowtown. Small.
blossoms
I liked the juxtaposition of Spring blossoms and snowy peaks. Arty and all that.
queenstown-tree
There’s a famous tree in Lake Wanaka which everyone with a camera feels compelled to photograph. This isn’t it. This is a small Willow tree beside Lake Wakatipu which I’ve decided can be ‘That Queenstown Tree’. It looks striking early in the morning with the sun on it. Which is superfluous explanation really.

Queenstown, probably New Zealand’s most famous tourist destination. It’s nice there.

Road Trip

My happy place is in my car, on the road. I love driving around New Zealand as often as possible. If things are a bit dull around the house, I’ll go for a drive. I don’t have to go far to see epic things as luck would have it because I live in New Zealand. Epic is just around the corner. Last week I went for a slightly longer drive. Down to Christchurch, over Arthurs Pass to Franz Josef, down to Lake Matheson, up to Westport and back to Picton via the Buller Gorge and the Marlborough Sounds. This was my delayed Christmas holiday. I took a few photos along the way.

Sinclair Head
Sinclair Heads from Cook Strait. That’s the last bit of the North Island you see as you cross to the South Island.
Seal pups misbehaving
Looks like someone’s in trouble. Seals in Kaikoura.
Arthurs Pass approach
The Road into Arthurs Pass.
Arthurs Pass barren
Arthurs Pass Highway. It’s a bit barren up there. A lot of tourists though. There are only 3 roads that cross the South Island. This is the middle one.
Arthurs clouds best
Awesome clouds above Arthurs Pass
Waimakariri River Arthurs Pass
The amazing Waimakariri River Valley at Arthurs Pass. Mid summer. Bit of rain must be due?
Whataroa River
Glacial Water in the Whataroa River. It’s very cold.
Heron River Bank
That’s where the White Herons nest in New Zealand. Just there. Only that little bit of forest, nowhere else. It’s quite amazing really. When I say that bit of forest. Just that little bit there. That’s all of it, their entire nesting area.
Two Heron babies
Young pair of White Herons.
Lake Matheson purple
Lake Matheson in the pre dawn light. The clouds rolled in and covered up the mountains quite quickly. So you only get a shot in the dark on this particularly day.
Lake Matheson Reflection Island
Lake Matheson with Mt Cook visible in the gap in the clouds. Mt Cook is Aoraki, the cloud piercer. True story, see?
Moutain spotlight cool
Morning dawning near Fox Glacier
Moutain side sheep2
In that gap in the mountains is Fox Glacier. There’s probably less of it than there used to be
Punakaiki One
Punakaiki Rocks. Like stacks of pancakes
Punakaiki Rocks North East2
That’s the ‘West Coast’. Near Punakaiki Rocks. The entire West Coast of New Zealand is the West Coast, but this bit is called the West Coast.
West Coast Look North hill top
Looking north up the West Coast. It’s rugged and remote. I like it here.
Buller Gorge
Buller Gorge. You can probably fish in that.
Buller Gorge sun
The Buller Gorge. Better than the Manawatu Gorge if anyones asking.
Buller River upstream
Buller River.
Te Mahia Bay
This is Te Mahia Bay in the Marlborough Sounds. It’s nice here.
Tory Strait Exit
Crossing through the Tory Channel from Queen Charlotte Sound into Cook Strait.

So that’s just the top half of the South Island. I didn’t take any photos of the Kaikoura Coast on the way down apart from the seals as I have a load from the last time I was there and the sky was pretty gloomy on this trip. Bonus seals though.

Happy travels…Just watch out for tourists paying more attention to the scenery than the road.

Winter’s coming

It’s the first official day of Winter in New Zealand on the 1st of June. I took these in the last couple of weeks, round my way. You don’t have to go to the South Island to see snowy peaks and mountain ranges. These were all taken within an hour of my place in the Rangitikei. Southern Central North Island.

I call this one, 'Top of the Mountain road'. I'll let you puzzle over the hidden message in that title.
I call this one, ‘Top of the Mountain road’. I’ll let you puzzle over the hidden message in that title.
I call this Ruapehu Space ship clouds. Took me ages to think that up
I call this Ruapehu Space ship clouds. Took me ages to think that up
The New Zealand Main Trunk rail line, heading north towards Mt Ruapehu
The New Zealand Main Trunk rail line, heading north towards Mt Ruapehu
I call this 'Mountain Road'. Because I took it on the Mountain Road. No need to make up names when the actual name is cool enough.
I call this ‘Mountain Road’. Because I took it on the Mountain Road. No need to make up names when the actual name is cool enough.
The open road, literally. The sign says so.
The open road, literally. The sign says so.
The Ruahine Ranges again, looking across the Rangitikei River Valley. Snowy and sunny. A perfectly photogenic combination
The Ruahine Ranges again, looking across the Rangitikei River Valley. Snowy and sunny. A perfectly photogenic combination
Who doesn't love a derelict barn with a tree growing out of the window on a remote country road. Just a hint of the Ruahine Ranges in the background.
Who doesn’t love a derelict barn with a tree growing out of the window on a remote country road. Just a hint of the Ruahine Ranges in the background.
Mt Ruapehu, looking awesome on a partly cloudy crisp autumn day. For those unfamiliar with Mt Ruapehu, it’s a 10,000 foot high active Volcano in the middle of the North Island. 10,000 feet sounds more impressive that just shy of 10,000 feet which what it actually is. 9,177 feet in actual fact.
Mt Ruapehu again, from Wanganui, or Whanganui if you prefer
Mt Ruapehu again, from Wanganui, or Whanganui if you prefer
No snow here, but it's not far away. This is beside the Moawhango Valley Road, not a road you are likely to find by accident. It's up behind Taihape, in the middle of nowhere.
No snow here, but it’s not far away. This is beside the Moawhango Valley Road, not a road you are likely to find by accident. It’s up behind Taihape, in the middle of nowhere.
Take care, like the sign says
Take extra care, like the sign says. Also the Desert Road isn’t really across a desert. It’s an Alpine Environment and quite un-desert like.
This is also high in the Rangitikei Hill Country, an old woolshed looking cool ij the snowy morning sun
This is also high in the Rangitikei Hill Country, an old woolshed looking cool in the snowy morning sun
That's the mighty Rangitikei River Valley with a bit of snow on the Ruahine Ranges in the distance. Epic views across the lower North Island.
That’s the mighty Rangitikei River Valley with a bit of snow on the Ruahine Ranges in the distance. Epic views across the lower North Island.
We had a light dusting of snow in the Rangitikei hill country, I loved how the shadowed side of these hills took longer to thaw giving this cool effect on the landscape
We had a light dusting of snow in the Rangitikei hill country, I loved how the shadowed side of these hills took longer to thaw giving this cool effect on the landscape

While out driving.

I spend a lot of time in the car, by choice. It’s my happy place. When I’m out driving I have one eye on the road and one eye on the scenery, keeping a look out for any place that might offer a nice photograph. Here’s a selection of sights I’ve seen lately, while out and about.

Top Dressing plane in an attractive orange to set to off against the wilderness, like on purpose.
Top Dressing plane with attractive orange detailing to set it off against the wilderness, like on purpose.
The New Zealand Swamp Harrier. Common Raptor, hard to photograph, getting this shot only took me about two years.
The New Zealand Swamp Harrier. Common Raptor, hard to photograph, getting this shot only took me about two years.
Cows and trees, pastoral farm land in the middle of nowhere, upper Rangitikei.
Cows and trees, pastoral farm land in the middle of nowhere, upper Rangitikei.
Early snow on the Ruahine's and a fetching barn. Nice
Early snow on the Ruahine’s and a fetching barn. Nice
Low cloud on the Ruahine Ranges.
Low cloud on the Ruahine Ranges.
Early morning sun, mist, trees, fence and spiders webs combine for a this arty number. It reminds New Zealanders of when they were little, apparently grown ups don't look for dewy spiders webs.
Early morning sun, mist, trees, fence and spiders webs combine for a this arty number. It reminds New Zealanders of when they were little, apparently grown ups don’t look for dewy spiders webs.
Day Breaking in the Manawatu. Love how the sun strikes over the distant ranges. You have to get up early for this stuff.
Day breaking in the Manawatu. Love how the sun strikes over the distant ranges. You have to get up early for this stuff.
Call that a valley? This is a valley, upper Rangtikei.
Call that a valley? This is a valley, upper Rangtikei.
The Te Apiti Wind Farm early morning. I'm sure there are all sorts of interesting facts about the Te Apiti Wind Farm.
The Te Apiti Wind Farm early morning. I’m sure there are all sorts of interesting facts about the Te Apiti Wind Farm.
Rangitikei River. You can see this particular view unless you are paying attention to where the river is going. There's no official view point here.
Rangitikei River. You can’t see this particular view unless you are paying attention to where the river is going and pull over on the Vinegar Hill Road. There’s no official view point here.
Misty Morning in Hunterville. I'll give the caravanning a miss this year.
Misty Morning in Hunterville. I’ll give the caravanning a miss this year.
Look, a photo of New Zealand. Literally.
Look, a photo of New Zealand. Literally.
There's that Mt Ruapehu again. I found this lake, in the forest. As you do. OK, I had to walk about 15 minutes to get to this one.
There’s that Mt Ruapehu again. I found this lake, in the forest. As you do. OK, I had to walk about 15 minutes to get to this one.
The Rangitikei Valley at 8am. It's cool to look down on the clouds
The Rangitikei Valley at 8am. It’s cool to look down on the clouds
Mt Ruapehu, about 10,000 metres. Live Volcano. Right there behind that farm.
Mt Ruapehu, about 10,000 metres. Live Volcano. Right there behind that farm.

One hour, one evening

Apparently Pam arrives tomorrow, if she does. That’s Cyclone Pam of course. There were pretty amazing clouds developing in the North and East of where I live so I thought I’d pop out and take a few photos. These were taken in the space of an hour. Near my place.

Look North, early evening, lumpy land, cool clouds.
Look North, early evening, lumpy land, cool clouds.
Cross. This is the monument to a local man who loved the area.
Cross. This is the monument to a local man who loved the area.
What's your beef?
What’s your beef? You can also see the Te Apiti Windmill Farm away in the distance at the bottom right of the image.
Lines
Lines
Yards.
Yards.
Ducks crossing. There was a cool weather effect in the distance. Then some ducks flew through the shot which is cool.
Ducks crossing. There was a cool weather effect in the distance. Then some ducks flew through the shot which is cool.
Without the ducks, just layers of land and evening cloud, with rainbow type thing.
Without the ducks, just layers of land and evening cloud, with rainbow type thing.
Rule of thirds, New Zealand style. Looking East towards the Manawatu.
Rule of thirds, New Zealand style. Looking East towards the Manawatu.
The local high ground. Trig on Mt Curl
The local high ground. Trig on Mt Curl.
Looking north, towards Hunterville.
Looking north, towards Hunterville.
Looking up the line. The Main Trunk Line. New Zealands main rail line. From a crossing on a farmers land in the Rangitikei.
Looking up the line. The Main Trunk Line. New Zealands main rail line. From a crossing on a farmers land in the Rangitikei.

Then it got too dark so I went home…

Mountains in the middle.

Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe from the road heading for Pipiriki, past Raetihi
Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe from the road heading for Pipiriki, past Raetihi. On the way to the Wanganui River road. It’s all tar sealed now you know?
Peering through the rail underpass at Mt Ruapehu. Not much of a risk of being run over by a train in New Zealand.
Peering through the rail underpass at Mt Ruapehu. Not much of a risk of being run over by a train in New Zealand.
Taken from SH4 at dusk, Late Autumn 10x12 canvas $300
Taken from SH4 at dusk, Late Autumn, late evening. It’s a pleasingly symmetrical mountain.
Taken from National Park village at dusk. 10x12 canvas $300
Taken from National Park village at dusk. That’s Mt Ngauruhoe again. That was the actual colour of the sky.
Standing in the middle of SH1.
Just taking pictures of Mt Ngauruhoe, while Standing in the middle of SH1. You can do that in New Zealand. Take pictures in the middle of the road. Not because it’s allowed, but because you can.
Clouds, not smoke above the active volcano.
Clouds, not smoke above Mt Ruapehu. It’s a 10,000 ft, give or take, live Volcano.
Because Mt Ruapehu is so very big, you can see it from very far away. Like this from over 100 miles, or 160 kilometres distant.
Because Mt Ruapehu is so very big, you can see it from very far away. Like this from over 100 miles, or 160 kilometres distant.