Dwan In Glenorchy

Glenorchy Mountain Peaks – Buy 

A few years back, I stayed a few nights in the tiny South Island town of Glenorchy. One morning, waking up early I snuck out for a walk as dawn was starting to break. I made my way down to the pier at the lakefront and savoured the splendor of the colours that surrounded me. If there’s one thing that is guaranteed to make you feel insignificant, it’s watching the earth wake-up while being encircled in mountain peaks. Only gradually did dawn on me that I was the only one around.

The Boundary Fence

The Boundary Fence – Buy 

There’s something quite revealing about standing in an isolated field amongst the tussock with rain clouds passing overhead and snow on the ranges in front of you. It’s either a place you want to leave as quickly as possible, or unpack and stay a little longer. As a cool wind blew my hat off my head, I decided to sit by a boundary fence and hang around for a bit. Besides, I had a flat tyre and needed to unpack the boot!

Harrold Bay On Stewart Island

Lewis Acker’s House – Buy 

If you ever go to Stewart Island, here’s a tip. Leave Oban by walking along the coast road of Elgin Terrace and continue into Leask Bay Road until you reach the very end. There you will find the Ackers Point Track Trailhead which takes you down into the remote Harrold Bay. In the Bay you’ll find the earliest stone house on the island, a small cottage that was built by former American whaler Captain Lewis Acker in 1834-5. It really is a delightful place and well worth a visit. I liked it very much.

The Remarkables From Queenstown

The Remarkables From Queenstown – Buy 

By the time I reached the end of the Queenstown Wharf the sun was already starting to disappear. The afternoon was moving towards early evening and the last patches of sunlight lit up The Remarkables mountain range that dominated the skyline across the bay. The bay itself was already in shadows as were the trees that lined the distant shoreline and it wouldn’t be long before the last of the sunlight was gone. A cool wind started to whip across the lake. It was time to find a place to eat.

Lee Bay In Stewart Island

Lee Bay In Stewart Island – Buy 

On the beach at Lee Bay in Stewart Island, after considerable thought, I came to a single conclusion. I like Stewart Island, and here’s the reason why. Stewart Island has a sum total of around 20 kilometers of roading compared to 245 kilometers of walking tracks. Now, there aren’t many places in the world where you can say that!  

The Hokitika Gorge Walk

The Hokitika Gorge Walk Buy 

Fortunately for me, I had a good friend acting as a tour guide. Our last stop was the wonderful Hokitika Gorge that is tucked away in the Hokitika Scenic Reserve. After a short walk that crossed 2 suspension bridges, we were presented with the most astounding aqua blue water, hidden in the most amazing forest.

Tautuku Bay

Tautuku Bay Buy 

At the end of Tautuku Bay is a peninsula that’s full of wildlife and history. It’s a wonderful walk and a great way to explore a section of The Catlins coastline. Near the neck of the peninsula a whaling station ran for 7 years from 1839 and when the timber industry grew a port was developed as well. I’m pretty sure William Larnach was a major investor in the timber industry and used timber from this area on part of his castle in Dunedin.

Cook Strait

Cook Strait Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

On the ferry from Wellington to Picton they were showing the movie Frozen. I have some questions. 

1. In the movie, is the way the snowflakes fall in the wind scientifically accurate?
2. What about hypothermia?
3. What about climate change?
4. Wouldn’t Elsa’s ice castle be amazingly boring?
5. Just how close can a snowman get to a fire without melting?

I wanted to address these questions with the other passengers. These were questions that needed answers and so I looked around to see who I could converse with. The dad’s were mostly asleep, the children were engrossed in the TV while the mum’s had that disturb me at your peril look. Deciding that I was the only one questioning what was being shown, I left these ponderings and I went for a walk outside before returning to my seat and settling back into my book until arriving in Picton.

The Wellington to Picton Ferry

Bluebridge Ferry Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

I slept wonderfully. Apart from between 12:00am and 2:00am when three large gangs of middle aged women who had attended the World of WearableArt Show arrived back at the hotel. The first group treated the rest of the building to renditions of songs from Grease and Abba at obnoxiously high volumes. A second group got a trifle confused with what floor their room was on. This they solved by phoning a friend who was clearly deaf! While a third group in fits of giggling and laughter bounced their way off doors and walls down the corridor to the end of the hall. To show my appreciation, the next morning I replied in kind with several long blasts of my car horn as I departed for the Ferry at 6:00am! ‘I hope the show was terrible’ I muttered as I went in search of coffee!

That morning the Wellington waterfront and harbour was a true sight to behold. The day was breaking still and calm. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, nor a ripple on the water. It was so nice I didn’t even mind the ferry to Picton was 45 minutes late, this was Wellington on a good day.

Late Autumn At Lake Hayes

Late Autumn At Lake Hayes Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

If you find yourself travelling on State Highway 6 through the Kawarau Gorge and on past the Gibbston Valley, passing by the insanely wonderful Bungy Jumping site at the Kawarau suspension bridge and avoid the lure of heading over the Crown Range, you’ll come across Lake Hayes. 
A popular spot for swimming and kayaking, the lake is one of New Zealand’s most photographed lakes with the surrounding mountains reflecting on the water’s surface all year round. For those that like data, the lake has a depth of 33 metres and a surface area of 2.76 kilometres meaning as far as lakes go, it is relatively small yet extremely splendid and altogether charming.

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.