Otago Harbour Pier

Otago Harbour Pier Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

It was ten minutes to 10:00 in the morning and it was misty and cold. The previous night I had continued my research into the effects on my health and well being by watching rugby and drinking beer. Then, sometime before bed, since daylight savings time was due to begin at 2:00am, I had decided to put the clocks forward so that when I awoke, I would at least be on the right time. Now in the clear, sobering light of morning it appeared that I had only half finished the job and was left with the confusing calculation of not only finding out what the right time was, but having to ensure all the clocks were correct. A task that took longer than it really should have. Sometime later after awakening the senses with coffee, bacon, eggs and a few sausages, and waiting a suitable length of time before it would be safe to drive, I set off into the day. 

Reversing my car out into the street, I decided that a visit into town would be the order of the day. It had been some time since I’d passed the time, casually strolling the inner city streets looking at nothing in particular. I manoeuvred my car into the world and disappeared into a murky, haze of cloud and fog. A drizzly rain hung in the air and it seemed to have settled in. Navigating my way through familiar streets that faded into a vast void of nothingness, occasionally a walker, jogger or cyclist would appear before mysteriously vanishing behind me. It was almost as if the Bermuda Triangle had come and settled over this very specific part of the city. I made my way down to the harbour shore line where thankfully the misty haze was just as thick. Before venturing into the city I had an idea for a photograph that I had been wanting to try and the conditions seemed ideal. 

The visibility on the harbour was just as bleak as it had been in the hills. I placed myself in front of what used to be an old boat pier. Sometime back it had been deemed unsafe and dismantled and to really emphasise the point, a large sign had been put on it that read “Danger, do not use!” Not that there was much of it left to use, but that was clearly beside the point. As I began to set-up my camera, suddenly out of the mist and drizzle a windsurfer appeared before vanishing into the white veil. When I had set off that morning, photographing the old pier had seemed like a good plan, but now standing in the rain with the waves getting higher it seemed like a serious mistake. 

Spring At Dunedin’s Railway Station

Spring Flower Beds Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

The flower beds outside Dunedin’s Railway Station in ANZAC Square are one feature of the city that I always feel are done remarkably well. Whoever plans them certainly knows their stuff. Each season you can guarantee they will be bright, crisp, fresh, full colour and interest. One this occasion the various beds were planted with an assortment of primroses, pansies, paper daisies, parsley and tulips. Everywhere I looked there was spring colour and textures glistening in the sun.

Palmeston to Ranfurly

Low cloud on the Pigroot Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

Travelling from Palmeston to Ranfurly, then on to Alexandra I decided to call in at some of the “viewing” spots that are located along the way. When at last I stopped, I gathered some gear from the back of the car and examined my surroundings. Hunched beneath the misty rain, I had a look around. As far as I could see, there were nothing but low clouds with the odd shaft of light peeking through. Later, content with what I’d seen, I went off back to the car.

St Bathans’ School Ruins

St Bathans’ School Ruins Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

On one of my travels through to Central Otago via the pigroot, I turned off State Highway 85 and took the Loop Road through St Bathans. This was a bit of a spontaneous decision but one I knew I wouldn’t regret as St Bathans is a lovely place that is as charming as it is delightful. Small, but quite wonderful. 

So, it wasn’t long before I had purchased a coffee at the local hotel and had made my way to the nearby lake where I consumed my hot beverage in the tranquillity of having the whole lake to myself. Deciding I should see something new before leaving, I recalled the ruins of the former school were closer by, so I made up my mind to go exploring for a bit. 

Having recently been advertised for sale, I wanted to explore the ruins before the new owner put up one of those annoying ‘private property, beware of the dog, trespassers will be prosecuted or shot!’ signs up. The school building was opened in April 1875 with the occasion being celebrated with a  ‘Grand Ball’ and showing just how cold St Bathans can get in the winter; the forty or so children had to occasionally scratch out their lessons using frozen ink. Like many small communities in Otago, after the gold dried up, the miners left and with it the school roll dropped until the 1930’s when only a handful of children were left. Then, the building became damaged in an earthquake in 1943 when it was turned over to the local pest destruction board before ending up in private ownership.

I must have spent a good hour wandering round the site looking at what remains of what was once a key feature in a bustling gold mining town.

Paua Shell Sculpture In Oban

Paua Shell Sculpture in Oban Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

I have no idea who made this paua shell sculpture in Oban on Stewart Island or even if it is still there. It sat right beside a large, outdoor chess set that is a popular activity for tourists who are waiting for the ferry. Wanting to find out more about this sculpture I did an online search but drew a blank. So, now I’m left with a photo of a paua shell sculpture but have no other details! Either way, it was very nice and paua shells are always a delight to look at.

Kororareka Bay In Russell

Kororareka BayBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

What strikes me about Kororareka Bay at Russell in the Bay of Islands is how idyllic it all seems. There’s an instant feeling of relaxation that sweeps over you the moment you stand on the shore of the large bay and let the sunshine engulf you. Going back many years to when the first explorers arrived in the area, it’s easy to see how after a long sea voyage the place must have felt like paradise.

Top 10 Things To Do In Queenstown

Queenstown Skyline Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

Everyone should have a semi-irrational list of suggested places to visit without having to provide a lengthy and detailed explanation of why. This is what I like to call the ‘just because list.’ That way, if you’re ever asked for advice or suggestions by a stranger, you have a ready made answer all set to go. I’d imagine the conversation would go something like this…..

“Excuse me, do you happen to know good places to visit in …. [insert destination here]?”
“Why yes I do, you should definitely checkout … [insert ‘just because list’]”
“Why should I go there?”
“Well, just because?”

Here’s mine for Queenstown:
– Drive to the end of Lake Wakatipu through the Devil’s Staircase and visit the town of Kingston.
– Drive to the end of Lake Wakatipu, spending time in Glenorchy.
– Travel past Glenorchy and visit Paradise (yes it really is called that!) as well the Routeburn Track.
– Head up to the top of Coronet Peak or the Remarkables.
– Adventure into Skippers Canyon. 
– Spend time in Arrowtown.
– Spend time in the Queenstown Gardens both during the day and in the evening. 
– Walk the tracks at Lake Hayes.
– Head up to the top of the Queenstown Skyline in the Gondolas. 
– Sit in the summer sun and have a beer on the lakefront.

The Purakaunui Falls

Purakaunui Falls Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

With international visitors now being welcomed to New Zealand without any covid restrictions, I was interested to see what visitors were told about some of New Zealand’s iconic attractions. Turning to The Lonely Planet Guide, I looked up the Purakaunui Falls and discovered that it is described as ‘ a magnificent cascade down three tiers of jet-black rock.’ 

Having discovered what visitors are told about the falls, I then turned to online reviews to discover what people thought of the falls which were featured on a postage stamp in 1976. In an exercise of pure interest, instead of turning to the reviews that were categorised as excellent, I turned to the poor and average reviews. To sum up, the feeling was that the bathroom facilities were clean, there’s a good timber deck for viewing, the forest walk is pleasant and the falls would be better in full flow. 

Deciding that these reviewers might have missed the point of reviewing the falls themselves, I turned to the excellent reviews for balance. Amongst the many comments that listed the falls as a memorable sight, once again the viewing platform being ‘well constructed’ was a common topic. This goes to show one thing, people have a healthy respect for quality outdoor construction in New Zealand.

Street Art on Portobello Road

Street Art on Portobello Road Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

Here’s a question that struck me the other day, would sharks have the reputation they do if the movie Jaws was never made? Let’s speculate for a moment that author Peter Benchley never wrote his best selling novel Jaws, and that later it was never turned into a movie. Let’s speculate that John Williams never composed his classic piece of suspense music that grinds away at you in the keys of F and F sharp. If none of this ever happened, for one thing we would have been spared all 92 minutes of the fourth Jaws film, Jaws: The Revenge and for that we should all be grateful.

Dunedin’s Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens

Vauxhall Pleasure Garden Steps Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

There really was only one way to get across to Dunedin’s Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens in the 1860’s and that was to catch the ferry “The Nugget” across the harbour. Once across, visitors found themselves with two ways to get up to the gardens. One was to get the tram which regularly ascended and descended the steep hill and the second was by using a set of stone stairs carved out of the rocky cliff face. Owing to the fact that most of the visitors to the gardens at night were highly intoxicated, it is hard not to think that the rather steep and narrow steps would have been the scene of a great many many falls. 

The Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens were a wonderful idea. The brainchild of Henry Farley, the gardens were designed to provide amusement and entertainment for the newly rich miners and families returning from the Otago gold fields. Spanning across almost 20 acres of land the gardens were a place where families could enjoy al fresco amusement while taking in the commanding and magnificent views of the surrounding country. Unfortunately, as reported in the Lyttelton Times in November, 1863, when the sober citizens, with their wives, daughters, sisters or sweethearts, returned to their houses at the end of the day, the place became overrun at night with “loose women” and “fast young men.” To help solve this problem and to encourage more patronage during the day, swings, a gymnasium, skittle and long pin alleys, quoits, a racing ground, a shooting gallery, archery for ladies, and a private picnic ground (fenced off with music) was added. Further to this, arrangements were made for pigeon shooting in a field near the gardens and new walking tracks were laid out for those that crossed the harbour and ascended the steps to the grounds. 

However, due to the fact that the ladies of easy virtue, and gentlemen without domestic ties continued to assemble in the evening, the place never really recovered from its reputation as a night time al fresco resort for the worst characters of both sexes.

Larnach’s Castle Stairs

These are the steps to the main entrance at Larnach’s Castle. I love the symmetry in this photo and the way these two trees frame the stairs and windows. It shows how well planned the design of the building and the gardens were because I’m sure if you drew a line down the centre of the image, it would be an almost perfect mirror image. I’m also glad I took this photo when I did because now the two large trees have been cut down and replaced with new plantings.

Musselburgh Rise

Crossing On Musselburgh Rise Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

This image is from a series I did earlier this year called ‘The Rise.’ All the images are based on or near Musselburgh Rise. I wanted to explore and create subject matter that was closer to home. Every place portrayed is within a short distance of my home and makes for a personal look into typical Dunedin. 

Having not ventured much into night photography, it was a lot of fun putting this collection together in the winter months after dark.

Christchurch’s Hagley Park In Spring

Hagley Park in Spring Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

I find myself reading a lot of poetry in spring. Personally, I think poetry lends itself very well to photography. There’s a closeness in the imagery that words create and what can be captured through the lens of the camera.
This week I’ve been reading several works by the bonnie scot Robbie Burns when I came across this line “Now spring has clad the grove in green.” It brought to mind this photo of Hagley Park in Christchurch. My friend and I were there to see a Bob Dylan concert and with some time to fill in the afternoon, we went exploring on foot before calling in to a local bar for a pre concert drink.

Tautuku Beach Morning

Tautuku Beach Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

At the end of Tautuku Beach is the Tautuku peninsula. Near the peninsula a whaling station was once in operation from 1839 to 1846. A port was then developed when the fishing, flax and timber industries were growing in the area. However, once the industries declined the port was closed. 

On the morning I was there I had this whole beach to myself. It was quite an airy feeling to be strolling along the beach in the darkness. I hadn’t seen another person or vehicle since I left the camp site and once reaching the beach, there certainly wasn’t a shortage of location options to see the sun coming up.

Dunedin Art Gallery

Dunedin Art GalleryBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

I spent time in the Dunedin Art Gallery on account of a heavy period of rain. Having weaved my way through traffic along George Street and dashing between raindrops I entered the gallery leaving a trail of water behind me. Judging by the footprints that led out into the rain, I wasn’t the only one shaking off the weather that morning.

Dunedin Botanic Garden Rhododendron Dell

Dunedin Botanic Garden Rhododendron Dell Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

With the change of seasons from Winter to Spring, I spent the morning searching for early season blossoms and flowers. Across the city, pollen is starting to fill the air, igniting everyone’s hay fever while pockets of daffodils are popping up all over the place. Although spring hadn’t yet  kicked into full gear, I started my search in Dunedin’s Botanic Gardens. I lingered a while on some of the many paths that wind through the varying levels of the gardens before arriving at my goal, the Rhododendron Dell.

Tunnel Beach Track

Tunnel Beach Track Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

What I have always found slightly confusing about Tunnel Beach is that it is there at all. As spectacular and interesting as Tunnel Beach is, it is hard to imagine the Cargill children getting excited by a visit. Let me explain. Tunnel Beach was commissioned to be built for John Cargill and his family in the 1870s. This was so that his family could visit a private beach, away from the ‘peeping’ eyes of the general public. To me, this is where the confusion starts to happen. To get to the beach his family would have had to go by either foot, cart or horse alongside the high, steep cliffs, which couldn’t have been a pleasant trip. The beach is shaded by the sun from the steep cliffs and is small and rocky with a small low tide window. Hardly a place you could spend all afternoon at while the kids built sandcastles! So, somehow I can’t imagine the Cargill children leaping with joy when their father would announce they are ‘going to the beach’ for the day.

According to Local legend, Tunnel Beach is the scene of a tragic drowning. The story goes that after John Cargill made the private beach for his family, one of his daughters drowned there on her sixteenth birthday at high tide. Overcome with grief, John Cargill was so heartbroken that he left New Zealand and never returned. However, there are no sources to prove this story is true.

St Clair in Spring

St Clair Beach Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

The beach and Esplanade at St Clair can be a wild place. When the wind is blowing, the swell is big and everything is just a bit moody, it can be a bitter place! However, then there are days like yesterday when it can be unbelievably still, quiet and settled. Since it was the first day of spring and the weather had been kind, I called past on my way home late in the afternoon. It was really rather lovely.

The Legend of Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

One of the legends of Lake Tekapo is that it was dug out by explorer Rākaihautū with his digging stick called Tūwhakaroria. After arriving in Nelson, Rākaihautū split his people into two groups. Rākaihautū led his group down the middle of the South Island, digging the freshwater lakes of South Island as he went. His son, Rakihouia, led the other group down the east coast of the South Island.

Lothlorien, Realm Of The Elves.

Paradise Forest, GlenorchyBeech Forest In Paradise Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

Leaving Glenorchy and heading up past the head of Lake Wakatipu, then along the Glenorchy-Paradise I eventually reached Diamond Lake. From there, I continued on a way until I passed a wonderful beech forest in the Paradise Valley. To fans of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ the forest is also known as Lothlorien, realm of the Elves.

Otago Harbour At Sealevel

Otago Harbour At SealevelBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

For reasons that can only be guessed, I was interrupted while taking this shot. It was a short but baffling interchange that left me as annoyed as I was perplexed. Photographing water at sea level requires you to be in one of two positions. Either in the water or lying flat on your stomach at the water’s edge. On this occasion I was the second when I suddenly felt a nudge on my shoulder. I looked around to see a man standing behind me. 
“You’ll not catch many fish with that,” he laughed.
“I beg your pardon,” I replied, taking my headphones out of my ears. 
“You can’t catch many fish with a camera,” he repeated before walking off.
As he walked away, I hoped it all made sense to him, because I was confused as hell!

The Shapes Of Forsyth Barr Stadium

Forsyth Barr Stadium Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

I spent some time wandering around the University which was surprisingly quiet. Spring is just around the corner, so blossoms are starting to pop up all around the city, bringing with it a touch of colour after winter. I was actually heading to a rugby game, however running ahead of time, I took the opportunity to enjoy a little walk. It was while on this walk that I found myself looking at the shapes of the roof design at Forsyth Barr Stadium that I became intrigued at the way it appears above the treeline.

… from a Small City. My daily musings from Ōtepoti to get you inspired. Read the blog, view the photos, embrace the creativity.

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