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
Lake Hawea
Hawea Reflection
Lake Hawea
Hawea Lakeside
Lake Hawea
Road through Mackenzie
Mackenzie Country
Aoraki/Mt Cook
Road works!
Road trip
Aoraki/Mt Cook
Blue and Gold
Single Lane Bridge
Glacial Valley
No Glacier
Distinct lack of Glacier
Look Back
Glacial Valley
Pukaki Reserve
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.

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

On The Road

I’m not even going to pad this out with words, well not many words. If you come here a bit you’ll know I spend a lot of time on the road. I’m lucky that I live in New Zealand which is the worlds greatest road trip. People travel from all over the world to see this stuff  and I just have to leave the house. These images are some that I have captured since my previous Dolphins post, which was just over a month ago. As far as a travel experience goes, it’s truly epic out there in New Zealand. I almost couldn’t believe I’d covered this much territory in under a month. I should get out more…

Bush Rays
Near Pipiriki, Whanganui Region.
Fence Light
Raetihi, Central Plateau
Ratana Side
Ratana Church, Raetihi, Central Plateau
Ruapehu Reflection
Waitonga Falls Walkway, Mt Ruapehu, Central Plateau.
Ruapehu Sunrise
Sunrise near Raetihi, Mt Ruapehu, Central Plateau
Green Boat House
Otago Harbour
Eglington Valley-3
Eglignton Valley, Fiordland National Park
Portobello Sunset
Portobello, Otago Peninsula
Lake Benmore Blue
Lake Benmore, Mackenzie Country. Canterbury
Lake Benmore Road trip
Mackenzie Country, Canterbury
Pukaki shore road
Lake Pukaki and the Southern Alps, Mackenzie Country.
Taiaroa Head
Taiaroa Head, Otago.
Te Anau Autumn Dawn
Te Anau, Southland
Nelson Marina-3
Nelson Marina, Nelson.
Pelorus Sound light show
Pelorus Sound from Queen Charlotte Drive, Marlborough Sounds.
Mt Taranaki Print
Mount Taranaki from Lake Mangamahoe, New Plymouth, Taranaki.
Island Bay Brew'd front on
The Pub in my local village. End of the trip. That’s not my car though.

So, where too next?


I also photograph our beautiful native birds, there will be a bias towards the Tui, because it’s my favourite New Zealand bird. Enough words, now the birds…

Robin, yes we have our own Robin, a couple of different kinds.
Kereru, or New Zealand Pigeon.
Reef Heron, quite rare.
Royal Spoonbill and Pied Stilt
Tui leaving.
Tui, leaving again.
New Zealand Falcon.
Giant Petrel.
Royal Spoonbill.
Kotuku, or White Heron.

Before the sun comes up

Once upon a time. I spent a lot of time out and about before and during the sunrise. I should do that more often.

State Highway One in the Rangitikei, from Leedstown Road. Most people don’t know where that is.
Halcombe cows don’t care about the sun coming up.
Shed, early.
Road to nowhere, literally.
June the 6th.
Same place, different day.
I love Kawau Bay.
Once again, Kawau Bay, different day. Place of contrasts and all that
You know the phrase ‘red sky in the morning’? Well this is an epic warning.
The sunrise was so awesome, even the seagull stopped to watch
Low fog, or mist, or whatever. Creeping over a farm fence. Manawatu.

Get up early. Sunrise is often way cooler than sunset.

New Gear

IMG_0126I’m going to try to create at least one blog post a month. I’ve been slack, well only in writing blog posts. I’ve been out and about an awful lot and taking a lot of photos. But have been neglecting this bit.

The big news is that I finally have my dream gear. Anyone who takes photography reasonably seriously will know that the right gear is important, they also like to have a lot of gear. The ability to ‘see’ a photograph is actually more important, all important. But you need the good gear to be as awesome as possible.

So camera gear is really important to keen Photographers. I actually don’t have much though. My thing as you should know by now is ‘minimum gear, maximum impact’. I still need a tripod. As an observation, the WordPress Blog Website sucks a bit of the awesomeness out of the shots, you really do need to click on each photo to see the best quality.

Back to the gear. My needs/wants were quite specific. I needed the ultimate multi-purpose but best quality lens for the landscape and shooting on the move stuff. I also wanted a good quality telephoto lens for wildlife and sports. Finally I really wanted a Full Frame camera. I now have all three. I should still get a tripod though, I have my eye on one. The details on the Camera and lenses if you are interested are:

Camera – Canon 6D

Telephoto Lens – Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM

General Purpose lens – Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS

So…What can one do with the good gear? Let’s have a look.

Kaka colour
That’s a Kaka. A New Zealand Parrot. It’s a cool characterful bird less well known than our most famous Parrot, the Kea. But look at the clarity and colour.
Saint Gerards
Saint Gerards Monastery above Oriental Bay in Wellington. I don’t think there are any monks there anymore.
Ships bow
The Blue bow of a boat. The boat is a cafe, Wellington has a lot of cafe’s.
South Island dusk
Looking across the sea to the Kaikoura Ranges in the South Island from Island Bay in Wellington. About 230 kilometres away. You’re supposed to also notice the calm reflective rock pools in the foreground.
Jetty mirror
Derelict Piers at Miramar in Wellington. Mostly used by Seagulls.
Plateau Bend
State Highway One approaching Waiouru at 8:00am on a Sunday Morning. I was just passing through. That’s frost on the ground, not snow.
Barn, Wairarapa. Needs work.
Railway Escarpment
I don’t think the Railway Escarpment Nature Reserve is out there. I could be wrong. I might have been standing on it.
Ruapehu Mirror
Mt Ruapehu, reflected in a puddle to add a little something to a hard mountain to photograph.
Saddleback foraging
That’s a Saddleback foraging, shot in quite dark woodland. fast moving bird, in the dark forest. Looks like daytime.
Titahi Bay bright Boat Sheds
I didn’t really want the pink polar fleece clad local in the shot, but it’s her shed. Boat Sheds at Titahi Bay.
Wrights Hill Awesome cloud
That’s what the classic Nor’Wester looks like. Just like that.
City ship
Handheld shot of Wellington from the Interislander Ferry. Taken in the dark, without a tripod. Tripods are useless on the ferry.
Tory Channel fishing
You should have seen what happened about 5 minutes before I took this photo. Put it this way, this was almost a news story rather than a photograph.
Box Bridge
Bridge. That’s all you need.
That building on the left is a Cafe, in Nelson. This is Tahunanui.
Early in Marlborough. There are 5 Alpaca’s just out of shot to the right. They are cute, they are not locals as a general rule so I excluded them as they made the simple photo require too much description. Alpaca’s would not have enhanced this photo.
City half light
Wellington waterfront. from the ferry. I like lights on the water.
High Tide
This is a boat called Click in Nelson. With snowy mountains over there.
Spoonbill wading
The Royal Spoonbill. You don’t see a lot of those about.
Wellington evening long exposure
This is from the top of my street at night. Well early evening to be precise. Had I mentioned I have moved to Wellington?
Heath Goal strike
Finally, I did mention sport, this is my nephew, scoring a goal for his soccer team.

I’m in love with my new camera gear. I still need a tripod though

From The Side Of The Road

One of the great things about New Zealand is all the awesomeness, everywhere. In many countries you have to travel to see cool stuff. Get in a vehicle and make a special trip. We have that awesomeness everywhere. Right there beside the road. Part of my photographic ‘thing’, is that none of the photographs I take require any special equipment or even robust footwear. All the photos on this blog were taken near the side of the road except the one where I went for a bit of a walk. Theoretically you could take any of these photos with your phone camera while wearing a pair of jandals. All I did for each one of these shots, is pull over as I was driving past. We see this stuff on the way to the shop.

Charolais Cattle
Charolais Cattle first thing in the morning. I do like a nice cow. You may have more photos of cows to follow. Manawatu.
Cottage on a hill
Old cottage and Macrocarpa trees, we have a lot of derelict cottages about the place. Horowhenua.
Hawkes Bay from Te Mata shadow
Clean green New Zealand, get’s a bit dry in the summer sometimes. This is Hawkes Bay. Looking South from Te Mata Peak. You can drive up there.
Almost good enough to eat, but I think they make beer with this lot. Manawatu.
Clydesdale War Memorial Hall
The Clydesdale War Memorial Hall, Manawatu. I don’t think it sees too many parties anymore. Manawatu.
Sheep know a shady spot when they see one. Well most of them do. Manawatu.
Ohau River
Rail bridge over the Ohau River looking towards the Tararua Ranges. This is a common sight in NZ. Rail bridges of this type that is. The Tararua Ranges aren’t a common sight unless you are in the vicinity. Horowhenua.
Central Hawkes Bay
That’s where Hawkes Bay starts. Looking North from a prominent view spot.
Misty Mountains
Misty Mountains, that’s not their name though, they just are sometimes. Manawatu.
Whanganui River Valley
Whanganui River Valley. One of the best drives in New Zealand. Almost nobody goes up there.
Estaury stumps
Bit of driftwood in the Foxton Estuary. Looks a bit moody. Horowhenua.
High country shack
I like an old corrugated iron shack as well. This is at the end of Heights Road. Nobody goes up here either. You can walk into the Tararua Ranges from the end of this road. Horowhenua.
Himi Rays
Remember I mentioned being on the way to the shop? This was on the way to the shop. Horowhenua.
Mountain Cows2
Cows and mountains. Perfect photographic combination. Well one mountain. That’s Mt Ruapehu. Manawatu.
Himi Red sky 1
Down on the beach, Himatangi Beach. This is about 200 metres from my front door. It can be quite scenic in the evening. Manawatu.
This was a while ago, bit of snow there on the Ruahines. Manawatu.
Manawatu Rail line
This scene appealed to me. That’s the main New Zealand rail line. Just there. Manawatu.
Pastoral, this is also on the way to the shop. Clothes shop rather than food shop, but a shop nonetheless. Horowhenua.
Tararua manawatu morning
Taken a couple of paddocks down a few days earlier than the last photo. The one below. I like a fetching paddock scene. Manawatu.
Cows dawn
Dairy cows in Manawatu. Making milk. Looks a bit like a painting this one. It isn’t though.

Most New Zealanders simply pass by this stuff everyday, taking it for granted. I am constantly amazed at the natural beauty, wilderness and amazing pastoral imagery all around me. Maybe you have to go away for a while to appreciate it here. I know I view New Zealand differently since I’ve been back after so long away.

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.

Summer Sunsets, At The Beach

Luckily for me, I live 200 metres from the sea front on the Western Coast of the North Island of New Zealand. I can wander down to watch the sunset any day of the week. These are a selection from just three nights. Three nights from the last week. It’s mid summer here. So these were taken between 8:30 and 9pm. That short window when the sky really kicks off. Often the best light is after the sun has set. As you can see.

Himi Inlet sunset
Heading down to the beach, this is a little rivulet which empties into the sea a few metres to the left of this shot.

Beach driftwood stack
People make piles and structures out of driftwood, it helps me take a photo straight at the sun.

Himi beach people
I don’t usually have people in my photographs, but since I referenced people in the last photo, there are some. They’ll be making a driftwood sculpture later no doubt.

Evolution of a cloud bank 1
That’s a cloud bank developing, about to block out the sun.

Himi Beach sunset

Himi beach light

Himi beach tree two
Almost gone…

Himi Beach post sunset
Gone, now the good stuff really kicks off…

Long Beach one
See? Lavender? Lilac? Pink? You choose. looking down the beach to the South. That’s Kapiti Island way off in the distance. You can also see the South Island from here, just not in this shot.

Hard to believe that’s the same evening as the previous shot, but it is. That’s Kapiti Island.

Beach fort
More cool stuff assembled from driftwood. Helping me take photos.

Sea, see
You could stand and look at this all day, except you can’t as it’s nearly night time.

Thursday Night Himatangi
Saving the best till last? Quite possibly. I do like this. Low tide, post sunset. Awesome New Zealand.

So there you go. Hope you enjoyed my evenings.

A Walk in the ‘Woods’

There were two things that weren’t going to happen today, but both did. I wasn’t going to go for a walk in the rainforest and I wasn’t going to create this blog post. One thing pretty much lead to the other. I’m putting this post up though, because it is kind of amazing and I’m quite pleased with how some very hard photos to take turned out.

First things first. How did I end up in the rainforest? Well it’s not really a rainforest, this is simply a decent sized piece of New Zealand native forest, or ‘bush’ as we call it. The bush is a stand of coastal swamp forest not far from where I live by the sea.

The thing here is that I was simply on my way to the shops, a small supermarket in the next town on a Saturday morning and thought I’d go for short walk beforehand. This is one of the many reasons I love New Zealand. The distance from my house to the shops is just 10 minutes by car. I parked up at the Omarupapako Scenic Reserve which I hadn’t even noticed before despite driving past the signs several times a week.

Then I walked in….It was like walking into Jurassic Park. It’s very hard to take photos of the forest when you are inside it. The darkness means having to have the ISO setting up to as high as 800 at times with a shutter speed as low as 60 and the aperture down at 5.6 or lower. I spent about 2 hours walking through this extraordinary forest. Only a few hundred metres from the sea. I live by the sea remember?

The bird in the photos is a Fantail. A fast moving, small and characterful New Zealand native species which rarely sits still. Almost impossible to photograph in the deep forest on the settings required to cast any light into the camera. So I was thrilled with how these turned out. Enough words.

Path 1
There is a path through, easy to follow

Jurassic path
The way is clear, and easy to follow….

Jurassic path2
Well when I say easy to follow….

Jurassic path3
It’s a bit of a Jurassic path

Light on the floor
Light does get in, sometimes

Fantail light
Very young Fantail, about to fly off

Fantail closer
See, they do occasionally sit still, but not for long, moments only. You can also make out a strand of spider web behind the young Fantail

Baby Fantail song
Fantail, fanned and singing a little Fantail song

If you live in New Zealand, go for a walk in the ‘bush’. If you are going to visit New Zealand, make sure you do. It’s like a spiritual place, a land time forgot, like walking in the footsteps of dinosaurs which is actually what you are doing, without the dinosaurs. Except we had one and it’s still here, living in our remote forests and offshore Islands. The Tuatara, look it up. We actually have the oldest forests in the world. They look like something from Jurassic times, or older