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.

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.

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.

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.

St Bathans Blue Lake

St Bathans Blue LakeBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

The Blue Lake of St Bathans doesn’t seem quite as blue as it once was. While it is very blue  indeed, it is possibly slightly less blue than it once was. Maybe it was just the light, however the lake’s distinctive blue colour seems to have significantly faded if you ask me. If anything, it’s more green than anything. Unless of course it just happened to be the day I was there, in which case I’m totally wrong! 

I had arrived in St Bathans by way of State Highway 85. Following the Manuherikia River I passed through the small settlements of Chatto Creek, Omakau and Becks before taking the St Bathans Loop Road, eventually bringing me into the small town where I purchased a drink at the hotel and parked by the lake. Looking around the lake, it’s hard not to be impressed by the man-made water feature. 

Once known as Kildare Hill that stood 120 metres high, gold-sluicing transformed it into a 168  metre deep pit. When it was abandoned and filled with water, remaining minerals in the soil gave the lake a distinctive emerald colour. I explored the lake surroundings and tried to imagine Kildare Hill in its place. It was hard to do. 

The Genesis At Irishman Creek

Irishman CreekBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

Leaving the perplexing and somewhat curious yet enjoyable Tekapo Sculpture Walk behind, it was on the way to Cromwell that I came across an equally interesting and intriguing sight. The famous Irishman Creek Station sign. Impressively coming to an abrupt halt on the gravel on the side of the road, I spent the next short while photographing the famous sign location as passing cars whizzed by. For those that aren’t knowledgeable about the history of marine propulsion systems, the Irishman Creek Station was the location where Sir William Hamilton invented his famous jet boat engine. The engine revolutionised the boating world in the 1950’s by allowing boats to skim across the top of the water in the shallow rivers. Which is just what Sir William wanted to be able to do. 

All this I was quite unaware of at the time. While I knew the history of Sir William Hamilton, I hadn’t linked the famous invention to the famous Irishman Creek location. 

Therein lies another of the wonderful curiosities of Aotearoa. There are small pockets of fascinating history all over the place. Unlike America or Great Britain that would have road signs every 5 km saying, ‘next stop’ birthplace of the Hamilton Jet,”where upon arrival you find a massive parking lot, an overpriced ticketing system and a small museum that made you wonder why you bothered. Attached to which you will also find the compulsary McDonalds or Taco Bell. However, here in Aotearoa, you’ll find nothing of the sort. Just a simple sign saying “Irishman’s Creek.” Thus giving you the understated beauty of travelling in Aotearoa. 

With time quickly passing and the road traffic seemingly unhappy at both the location of my car and my tripod, I decided it was best I get to Cromwell and then further on to Clyde.

Tekapo Sculpture Walk

Orbit 2 by Rebecca RoseBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

One of the most joyous and recent developments in Aotearoa (and by recent I mean in the last 20 years) is the creative movement of putting artwork in random places. For instance in Wellington there is a 16-foot sculpture of hand in Civic Square, Christchurch has an aluminium stairway in the middle of a pond and in Tokoroa you will find massive ‘talking’ wooden poles throughout the town. That’s just the start of it, throughout the country there are collections of giant fruit, vegetables and animals from Cape Reinga to Stewart Island. So, when I was at Tekapo, enjoying the peaceful surroundings of a town that was tourist free, it was no surprise to find a collection of giant sculptures. 

However, unlike most other town’s that put up objects like giant carrots or gumboots because someone in the area owns a farm, Tekapo had done it rather tastefully. As part of the Mackenzie Book & Art Festival they were holding an open air sculpture exhibition which included an iron globe made out of iron wedges, cast iron birds in an array of colours, blocks of carved stone and a work called Orbit 2 done in Corten Steel. 

I was to find out later that the sculpture walk is all part of a create festival celebrating literature, arts, the spectacular Mackenzie landscape and the community who live here. As I was heading to my car, I discovered the next festival is going to be held next in 2023, ‘by then there might even be some tourists around to see it’ I thought to myself. Then, with that thought I head off in the direction of Clyde.

Gothic Water Tower Of Zealandia

Gothic water tower of ZealandiaBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

This is the valve tower of Wellington’s first public water supply which has been in place at a height of 21 metres for nearly 150 years. The original dam was constructed on the Kaiwharawhara Stream in 1874 and lasted until 1997 when it was decommissioned. Now, it is part of Zealandia, a wildlife sanctuary which can be found in the Karori Valley.

Thunderbirds Are Go

Savaged By The WindSavaged By The Wind Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

Here on my blog … from a Small City, I publish a photo everyday from my journey’s, trips and travels. I view it as a loving photographed and written jaunt around Ōtepoti and around Aotearoa. During the week (Monday to Friday/Saturday) I try to maintain a single writing style for consistency. However, on at least one day during the weekend I break that style. That’s for two reasons, firstly for variety and secondly because there are other things I want to say. So, that brings me around to today’s post. 

The other day I got a message from Invercargill based photographer Rick Harvey. He left a very complimentary comment here on my blog, and after replying to him I visited his website (you can view it yourself here). There, I found the niche genre of Black n White trees. This then got me thinking about my own tree photos and what images might be hiding in my own galleries.

This one I took back in either 2010 or 2011 for a series called A Rugged Paradise and is titled Savaged By The Wind. So, thanks Rick, I’d forgotten about this image and make sure you visit his website.

As I wanted to post a new photo today this is Virgil Tracy from Thunderbird 2 at Weta Workshops in Wellington.

Virgil Tracy, Thunderbird 2 is goBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

Otago & Dunedin House

Otago & Dunedin HouseBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

Not long before taking this photo I’d been exploring Lower Moray Place. Photographing things like the Regent Theatre and the First Church of Otago signs. Then, I noticed these two buildings. I liked the different shapes that were contained within the overlapping of the two structures. It also made me wonder if it’s possible to get on the roof of these buildings. I might need to investigate that one.

Te Rau Aroha Museum

Te Rau Aroha MuseumBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

While walking at Waitangi ……
I found my way back to Te Rau Aroha Museum, which is located inside the treaty grounds itself. I had walked past it earlier, however with a culture show about to start, which I didn’t want to miss, I had made the decision to visit the museum on my return.

Te Rau Aroha Museum is a stunning and sobering experience. Divided into three galleries, the first gallery tells the story of the Māori commitment to the armed forces including the New Zealand Wars,  the Boer War, and a focus on the Pioneer Battalion of World War I and the 28 (Māori) Battalion of World War II. The second gallery tells the personal stories of the soldiers and their whānau from the 28 (Māori) Battalion’s while the third gallery is a contemplative Whare Maumahara (house of memories) for visitors, descendants and whānau. 

Morning Silence In The Hakataramea Valley

Within silence and open spacesMorning silence in the Hakataramea Valley Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

I stopped by these pine trees and farm gate while driving through the Hakararamea Valley. The morning was unbelievably cold until the sun started to rise over the Campbell Hills. Tucked away in the Waimate District, the Hakataramea Valley sits at the foot Kirkliston range in the South Island of New Zealand.

A Dunedin Must Do – Dodging Seaspray at St Clair.

St Clair Seaspray Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

I arrived at the Esplanade to find waves pounding into the seawall before ricocheting into the air to the delight of onlookers. Clearly this had been happening for some time as the footpath was littered with all types of seaweed, shells and driftwood. For a few moments I joined the growing crowd to watch the spectacle, hoping that to catch a glimpse of maybe a seal, penguin or even an octopus being catapulted into the air. I must admit, it was quite impressive being washed with seaspray and every so often having to dodge low flying seaweed. It then occurred to me that this should be an activity listed in one of those ‘must do’s in Dunedin.’ It could be called, dodge the seaspray at high on the Esplanade during a winter storm.

A Walk In Arrowtown

Spring at St Paul’s Church in ArrowtownBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

The morning air was once again cool with a light layer of frost covering the ground, although not as thick as when I had first arrived. After several injections of caffeine, I began the 280km trek back to Dunedin but first I wanted to call in to see St Paul’s Church in Arrowtown. A building dating back to 1871, making it the oldest church of any denomination in the Arrowtown area.

Like most things in Arrowtown, the church sits on a lovely tree lined street, set back into the property to allow a grassy area out front where presumably the congregation would gather both before and after the services. As I looked around the church gardens, which were small yet lovely, I became aware that the morning was already pushing on and the traffic on the road behind me was steadily building. Yet despite the occasional passerby on foot, I seemed to have the place to myself. 

Afterwards, fancying a bite to eat, I found a few tasty treats to eat in the car at a nearby shop and followed the Arrow River into the Gibbston Valley, through the Kawarau Gorge and beyond to Cromwell, Clyde and Alexandra. I passed familiar places like Fruitlands, Roxburgh and Millers Flat while pondering that one day I should leave enough time to stop and wander around these towns rather than simply driving through them.

Several hours later I found myself happily in the familiar surrounds of Dunedin as the city came into view from over Lookout Point. The light was beginning to fade and I still had a number of jobs at home that needed attending to before the day was done. At some point while driving along the southern motorway I glanced over towards the coastline that was becoming a sea of lights. For a moment I considered taking a detour out to the beach (not that I would see much), it would only be 10 minutes out of my way I reasoned. I thought about the beach and then the jobs that still required my attention at home, ‘well, why not!’ I thought.

A Walk In Queenstown

TSS EarnslawBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

I arrived in Queenstown and immediately began the battle to find a parking space. It wasn’t long before I realised this was a futile exercise I was never going to win. Reluctantly, I opted for a parking building. This in itself was a curious adventure as mathematically it wasn’t possible for the people at Wilsons to fit so many parking spaces into such a small area, but somehow they managed it. To make the problem more complex, all the spaces seemed to be occupied by large 4 wheel drives, making it almost impossible to manoeuvre between them, an achievement I was quietly proud of. 

I spent some time wandering the various streets that make up the town’s centre, I walked along the lakefront and took in the splendid scenery that surrounds the town. When I was younger, I remember Queenstown being a place with spectacular scenery, full of wonder and excitement. As you approached there was always an air of eagerness in the backseat of the vehicle my Dad was driving. Firstly you’d drive through Frankton, then the housing developments would become less frequent and almost non-existent until we passed the bottle house which was a marvel in itself. The famed Bottle House was always a clear sign that the magical place of Queenstown wasn’t too far away, until we rounded a bend and caught sight of the gondolas making their way up through the trees to the Skyline Restaurant. This was always the cue to look in amazement out the car window at the most mysterious of towns. Although it always did seem to be packed with people, rather expensive (so my parents told me) and full of construction everywhere we went. 

Nowadays, while the scenery remains undoubtedly spectacular and completely breathtaking, the town has long since reached capacity. The Bottle House (which was actually a lodge) was demolished in 2005 and every conceivable space is now filled with shops, bars, restaurants, souvenir shops and places to book activities like skydiving and bungy jumping.

So, here’s the thing about Queenstown: it has long been looked at as the goose that laid the golden egg in the tourism industry. However thanks to Covid-19 and the country’s international borders being shut, the goose has stopped laying. It’s a perfect example of what happens to a tourist destination when you take away all the tourists, it just feels a little bit ho hum, like something is missing. The streets felt a wee bit unkempt and a general malaise hung in the air. It’s almost as if without a heaving mass of tourists to keep the party going, everyone suddenly noticed that the balloon had burst, and when that happens the only thing left to say is ‘oh poop!’.

I can’t say I wasn’t pleased to leave Queenstown because I was, but I knew I’d be back. I’m just not sure why.

Autumnal Wallpaper

Autumnal Wallpaper Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

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.

Ōtākou Marae

Ōtākou MaraeBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

Leaving Ralph Hotere’s former studio and hoping that one day I’ll return to find it more than just an empty building slowly eroding away, I decided to do something completely illogical. On a whim, I decided to visit the Ōtākou Marae on the Otago Peninsula. My thinking was simply based on the reasoning that if I went to Port Chamlers because that’s where the settlers landed, then I should go to Ōtākou because the Marae and Pā sites have been in existence a lot longer. I must admit, this did feel somewhat like a token gesture, but I reasoned that it was better than complete ignorance and so off I set to a location some 30km away. 

Sometime later, parking the car by the bay at Ōtākou, it was a short walk to where the marae is located. I then spent the next wee while taking in all the different views that looked out on the water. The harbour was still and it seemed an ideal place to waste away the hours and reflect on the fact that long before any European came to these shores, local Māori had named every mountain, hill, lake, river, stream and other smaller natural features. Names, often given as a reminder of people or events connected with them. 

For instance, Dunedin’s highest peak was known as Kapukataumahaka and there are two stories which explain its features. The first is about three young women who were travelling home to Ōtākou when they had to spend the night sleeping on the mountain.  However, while they were sleeping they were turned into the 3 main peaks we can now see.

The second is about an old wise man who climbed the hill and lay down to rest and became transformed into the peaks that can be seen today. According to the legend, it is believed that he is lying on his back, his head to the west with the summit being his stomach. We however, know it as Mount Cargill, named after the co-founder of the Otago settlement which landed on the 23rd March 1848. I think I prefer Kapukataumahaka.

Tomahawk Lagoon Reflection

Lagoon ReflectionBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

Eventually I arrived at Tomahawk Lagoon where a number of families were happily enjoying their day. They were playing fun games like, try and stop the kids from getting in the pond and let the McDonalds wrappers blow everywhere and hope someone else picks them up. I left the lagoon and headed for the suburban streets. It wasn’t long before my attention was drawn to an old community hall. I walked through the carpark and discovered out the back an area of serene tranquility. The day had cleared to be warm, sunny and still. Here I found myself, not more than 1500m from home, facing a lagoon with mirror-like reflections, my only company being some swans and a few ducks. The place seemed altogether very untroubled, and that made me smile.

Kapiti Sunset

There Are Reasons You Should Stay.Kapiti SunsetBuy

The whole reason for the crop on this image of Kapiti Island is to get that wee patch of orange/red cloud and it’s reflection in. Initially I cropped it with a 12:5 ratio (or close to it) but the more I looked at it, the more I realised that I really liked what that wee patch of cloud added to the final image.


#morning_light #beachlife

Surfing Walk at Blackhead

Surfing Walk at Blackhead Buy

One of the fantastic aspects of summer in New Zealand is that no matter where you are, you are never to far away from a lake or the beach. Summer means all the surfers can leave the hoodies, boots and gloves at home and enjoy some warmer conditions. The average sea temperature for December and January in Dunedin is around 16degC however Niwa are predicting a marine heatwave for the coming months with sea temperatures possibly reaching into the 20’s degC.


#peak_directions #beachlife