It was a sunny May day, yet at this time of year in Central Otago, the warmth that the sun brings can be fleeting. Winter was just around the corner and in the small town of Arrowtown, pockets of autumn colour were still visible. Fairly shortly the area would start to take on a distinctly winter feel however, for now I decided to enjoy the last of the autumn leaves.
What a tranquil place Lake Hayes is. For the life of me, I can’t recall ever seeing it anything but placid and serene. Even when the weather has been miserable, all around the lake manages to remain reposeful. I’ve seen it when it’s windy, when it’s raining, when it’s hailing and snowing. I’ve seen it in the morning and the evening, at dawn and at dusk yet it really is quite remarkable how untroubled it always seems. I wonder why that is!
Isn’t it hard not to like autumn? There are so many reasons why it is just a wonderful season, the least of which is seeing the colour change on the trees throughout the month. There’s something lovely about walking through a city or town as leaves full of colour fall all around you. It’s a very poetic feeling, particularly when it’s one of those still, slightly overcast autumnal days.
I had lunch just as the day in Arrowtown was starting to collect itself. The morning had started with subzero temperatures creating a thick layer of frost over the town and virtually everything in it. Now, several hours later with the sky a clear and brilliant blue and the sun being a welcome source of warmth, I found myself in a delightful cafe having brunch. Actually, I wasn’t as much in the cafe as I was outside in the garden, which was equally as delightful and rather splendid as the sun took hold.
Earlier that morning having been for a walk in the cool morning air, I decided to see what Trip Advisor was advising regarding the local eating establishments while the town defrosted. So, after some toing and froing and a rather lengthy period of indecisiveness, I decided to make my way to a place called Provisions of Arrowtown. There, I found my way to a table in the lovely garden and enjoyed a splendid brunch surrounded by a wonderfully restored cottage that dated back to the 1870’s and the Arrowtown goldrush era.
Having no immediate plans for the rest of the day, apart from vacating my table which was clearly wanted by a number of hungry visitors, I decided to ponder what to do next as I walked the town streets
At first glance it seemed rather windy, which turned out to be wrong. It was actually extremely windy and for the life of me I could work out why I was there! The only reason I stayed in my position among the long grass, sheltering from the wind, was because having walked there it seemed a bit pointless to leave without taking a photo.
I returned to Matanaka for no reason other than curiosity got the better of me. I had been driving through the township of Waikouaiti, when I suddenly found myself turning off the main highway and passing by farm fields, a golf course, a horse racing track and a beach before arriving at the Matanaka visitors car park. After a short stroll along a fence line, through a group of eucalyptus trees and passing some very unfriendly looking sheep my destination appeared in front of me. That being a group of farm buildings that is thought to be New Zealand’s oldest surviving farm.
The oddest thing about the farm buildings that remain at the Matanaka farm is that they are there at all. Considering original owner Johnny Jones could have chosen anyway for his farm in 1838, it’s curious that he chose such an isolated and exposed place.
I often find myself at Hotere Garden Oputae when I’m in Port Chalmers. I think it’s a delightful place. Not only is it an award-winning native garden but it features four impressive sculptures including this piece by Shona Rapira Davies titled They do cut down the poles that hold up the sky (1989).
If ever there was a person in Otago history who was both legendary yet controversial, then pioneer Johnny Jones must be a strong candidate. First coming to the Otago shores for whaling in the 1820’s and by the time the Scottish settlers arrived in the 1840’s he had already built himself a miniature colony at Waikouaiti. The hills and valleys were dotted with sheep and cattle; orchards were planted and crops of vegetables and grain were harvested. When the first settlers from Scotland arrived in Port Chalmers in March, 1848, he was able to provide them with much of their foodstuffs.
However, controversially after negotiations with tangata whenua such as notable South Island chief Tuhawaiki, the paramount chief of the Kai Tahu tribe, Jones purchased the entire South Island. However, this ambitious land purchase was halted by the British Crown following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.
‘The Cliffs’ or Cargill’s Castle as it is otherwise known was built between 1875 and 1877 costing approximately £14,000. The original building had 21 rooms and was one of the first buildings in New Zealand of the Italianate architectural style. Despite claims that the concrete construction would make the building fireproof, a large fire gutted the interior of the house. The fire started in an outhouse and spread to the main building through a connecting wooden beam and destroyed the original lavish interior woodwork.
I had decided that a stroll around Whare Flat and the Silver Stream walking tracks was in order before autumn gave way to winter. The afternoon was spent wandering through bush that was quiet, peaceful and warm in the sun. However, by the time I arrived back to the carpark, the sun had dropped and long, cool, shadows from the surrounding hills were starting to take over.
I took this photo on a June evening while heading home and the thing that I remember was that it was cold. Really cold! I mean toe curling, slap me across the face cold. The type of winter evening where the still night air simply goes right through you. Maybe that’s why the evening was so calm.
The thing about this photo is that I took it several years ago at the Dunedin Farmers Market and I’m not sure I’ve been back since! A few days back, I posted a photo of a busker with the thought that I should get more photos of people, which in turn reminded me of this image. It might be time I revisited the Market to see if I can find any interesting faces.
Consider the Taieri River. In a land littered with scenic beauty it sits somewhat forgotten, yet as far as rivers go, only three in Aotearoa are longer! It starts from seemingly nowhere in the Lammerlaw Range and flows north, then east, then south-east on its 288 kilometre journey to the sea. It passes through at least six towns, two gorges, it links with two lakes, the fish are plentiful, there are some lovely picnic spots along its banks and it is part of the fabric of the farming community.
As I was standing outside the Otago Museum, my attention was drawn upwards. This was due to the large number of birds that had been circling. Scientifically, birds circle to take advantage of weather thermals. However, I had suspicions. I have long held the belief that one day the birds will secretly forming a mass gathering which will eventually dive bomb me, leaving me pecked to death like the Australian lady from Adelaide who was attacked by a rooster several years ago.
The attack occurred while the 76 year old lady she was out collecting the eggs on her rural property when suddenly an overly aggressive rooster launched at her leg. The agressive pecking from the rooster accidently punctured a varicose vein causing a hemorrhage which eventually lead her to collapsing and later dying. Ever since I read about the poor lady from Adelaide I have been cautious about birds forming protest rallies in the skies above me. Fortunately, the gathering mob of beak and feathers didn’t view me as a target, instead they moved off as quickly as they arrived, leaving me to enjoy the autumn colours in relative safety.
Whenever I have a bit of spare time on my hands, I find myself wandering the city streets of Dunedin. At the moment they are filled with leaves as the autumn transformation has gone from a city filled with colour, to the trees starting to look a little bare. A common location for these strolls is the Warehouse Precinct and Queens Garden’s, which is where you’ll find this major urban mural by Dunedin artist Jon Thom.
I don’t have many shots of Dunedin at night as I would like and I always think I should get more but I never seem to. I always think I should put some time aside to get more images like this which is more of a cityscape than a landscape. It had just stopped raining which made the city lights glow, shine and bounce off all the wet surfaces .
Below both the St Clair Shark Bell and Heated Salt Water Pool is the St Clair seawall. It stretches from the Surfing Living club along to the point where the heated pool is. In between you’ll find a surf club, park, restaurants, shops and numerous bars. In front of these sits the seawall, a barrier stopping the power and ferocity of the ocean reaching the suburbs behind. If there’s one consistency with the sea wall, it’s that coastal erosion and damage caused by the sea have long been a problem, dating back to the early 1870’s when the first wall was constructed. Since then, the constructions that the seawall has undergone have been almost countless yet the only consistency has been the rhythmic coming and going of the tide.
Further along the Esplanade from the Shark Bell is the St Clair Salt Water Pool. First dug out by the Caversham Council in 1883, the baths proved so popular with school children and families, the pool was enlarged and officially opened by the mayor the following year. As the pool continued to grow in popularity, a few years later a petition was presented to have the baths enlarged and to provide better facilities for females. Following this petition a discussion group was formed, and after looking into the requirements for men and women (who had to bathe separately) two options were suggested. One, restricting women’s bathing hours, or two, ladies bathing in a different place. The ladies of course weren’t forced to move to a different location, however decency laws meant that men and women had to use the baths at separate times. Over the next 100 years, the pool was lengthened, deepened, concrete was added, it was repaired, facilities added, facilities were upgraded, heating was added and men, women and children were all allowed to use the pool at the same time. Today the pool is an iconic feature of Dunedin and the Esplanade which is opened yearly from October to March.
To think, it all started from a hole in the ground.
Sometimes it’s a good thing if an item goes unused. St Clair has a shark bell and I would be very happy if I went my entire life and never heard it rung! This is a big change from the mid 1960’s where in the space of seven years, there were five great white attacks, three fatal, off the Dunedin coast.The attacks resulted in the deaths of Les Jordan at St Clair in 1964, Bill Black at St Kilda in 1967 and Graham Hitt at Aramoana in 1968. These attacks gave the city the unenviable record of having the worst shark attack fatality record in the country. I would imagine that for some residents of Dunedin, Steven Spielberg’s 1975 hit movie Jaws would have been incredibly hard to watch given the devastation, trauma, and hysteria that surrounded the attacks. Which brings me back to St Clair’s shark bell. I shall be very happy if I never hear it rung!
This year’s Octagonal Day contest was cancelled because of Covid which is unfortunate all those involved as it’s a very popular event. Last year I came across the event which featured 15 pipe bands completely by accident. Personally, my favorite performer was the lone freestyler that accompanied each band. I was also informed by one of the judges that he was apparently being a “true” Scotsman and was reminded that young child were present!
I didn’t have any particular reason to be at the Otago Museum apart from it was a good place to shelter from the passing rain. Some hours earlier I had left home, foolishly thinking the distant clouds that looked a tad ominous out at sea would continue their meander up the coast, thus avoiding my location. Well, I was wrong! The rain passed directly over the city, forcing me to take some shelter inisde. Fortunately I was near the Otago Museum and leaving a line of wet foot prints across the foyer as I entered. I then happily enjoyed looking at nothing in particular, including the hull of a waka taua. The war canoe which measured nearly 40 metres in length was made in about 1840 in the Whanganui River valley for Paturomu, a chief based at Koroniti.
Autumn Bridge – Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery
Autumn keeps drawing me back to the University for some reason, maybe it’s because I don’t spend a lot of time there or maybe it’s just a curiosity to see what’s going on. Either way there are pockets of colour all over the place like this view looking back to the botanical gardens.
Sitting on Smith and Tennyson Street, I always thought that this building was a little bit foreboding, cheerless or even glum. I always imagined that walking the halls in the middle of the night would be a spooky as hell. The kind of place where noises would play mind games. The offical style of the building is referred to as “stripped Gothic” or Gothic architecture bare of the ornamentation. Apparently when it was opened it was praised for being aesthetically striking.
The early morning light was just starting to hit the tree tops. It was a cold, chilly morning with frost covering everything at ground level. Pools of water looked like glass, leaves frozen in place where they had fallen the day before. My breath appeared infront of me in great clouds of mist as I watched the light creep across the hillside, revealing the autumn colours that had be hidden by night.
One of the attractions of Arrowtown during autumn is the wonderful colour that comes out throughout the town. However, the Wilding Pines that surround the hills have created a dilemma. Either lose a large section of the autumnal background or face an ecological disaster.
When I started walking down the beach, I hadn’t realised just how windy it was. The beach was long, scattered with sand dunes that had taken a beating over the years as the southerly swells hit them. However I saw very little of them. I had left the car, full of optimism and excitement with a long walk along the beach but now that the wind had picked up, my face was full of sand, there was spray coming off the sea and staying upright was a battle in itself. As I looked along the coast, there was something more absorbing than before. It struck me that sometimes when the beach is at i’s most interesting, noone one is there.
I walked through the University looking for autumn in the city. I wanted to see warm yellows, mixed with oranges, reds, ochre and olive colours. I wanted textures offset with iconic images that could only be distinctively Dunedin. My wants were few as I walked past the many buildings of various ages that make up Otago University. I went over a bridge and through a gate. My eye was caught by the particularly handsome gothic style clocktower, constructed from bluestone with Oamaru stone facings and slate roofs. I crossed the square, turned and found the view I was looking for.
… 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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