The other day it felt closer to winter, rather than being seven days out from summer. There were heavy clouds rolling in from the south with southwesterly winds, rain and a high of eleven degrees. I can tell you that on top of Mount Cargill, which sits some 670 metres above sea level it was rather cold! Summer felt a long way off!
It’s been one of those stunning days here in Dunedin where all you want to do is be outside in a garden, at the beach or anywhere that you can enjoy the sunshine. I spent time at Smails Beach where people were surfing, swimming, there were Fur Seals scattered along the beach and families enjoying playing in the sand dunes. Roll on summer.
It occurred to me the other day that I might have drifted off topic a bit on my blog. My intention had been to photograph, write and blog my way around my own backyard and beyond, by chronicling my trips through words and pictures. To get back on track, I began to make plans for all the trips I could take in the upcoming weeks and months but it became too big and complicated. Then, a voice in my head said, ‘heck John, go for a walk on the Wharf!’ So that’s what I did.
If there’s one thing I enjoy in the summer months it’s spending the evenings on Dunedin’s eastern coastline. After a long hot summer’s day, it’s a lovely way to end the day, watching the sun go day over a calm sea.
I’m not completely sure how my thought process brought me to this point on the Leith but I believe it went something like this…. I started by wandering around the University of Otago looking for signs of spring. This took me down Castle Street (which was littered in glass and had a strange flight club style gathering happening outside one flat) where I came across the Leith River at the Botanical Gardens. Following the Leith which was rather full due to the recent heavy rain, I became interested in the graffiti and the surrounding colours from the gardens.
This was a late evening shot I took in summer. The swell on the shoreline and around the rockpools was one of those gentle tides that washes slowly between piles of seaweed that have been washed ashore.
Back in the summer months, I spent a day exploring near the area of Portobello on the Otago Peninsula. I timed my day with low tide, meaning I had loads of fun scrambling over the shoreline rocks near the aquarium, walking along tracks that went around the hillside and taking lots of photos from unique angles. I also spent some time sitting in the long grass enjoying the view looking back down Otago Harbour.
A long exposure shot of lights from passing cars, vans and trucks made an interesting overlay effect for this photograph of the entrance to Lan Yuan, the Dunedin Chinese Gardens and the sculpture directly in front of it..
What a difference a day makes, just 24 little hours as the song goes. Yesterday, in Dunedin there were snow flurries all day. It rained, it hailed and the wind was blowing a gale. A real winter’s day with the temperature not more than 5 degrees. Today however, the snow, hail and wind was gone, patches of rain passed through the city and the temperature almost reached double figures. By early evening it was almost pleasant along the Coastline, relatively speaking.
Late yesterday afternoon I was in the Pine Hill area of Dunedin as the snow, wind, hail and rain was passing through the city. I ventured up to one of the bridges that crosses over the Northern Motorway with the simple idea of getting a wintery traffic image. Unfortunately, my timing was a little off as I must have stood on that bridge for nearly half an hour waiting for the next snow flurries to pass through.
In the morning, my initial plan was to get a photo of the moon as it hung in the sky over the Dunedin suburb of St Clair. It was casting a lovely soft glow over the ocean, creating quite a surreal scene. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the right location and angle to get the shot I wanted. So, instead I headed towards the city when at the last minute I noticed the sunrise was creating all sorts of lovely colours over Dunedin’s streamer basin. Of course, by the time I reached the harbour I was starting to run short of time, meaning I only had time to rattle off a few shots before I had to head off again.
It almost seems impossible to believe the run of fine weather recently in Dunedin. There was a blip last Wednesday or Thursday when strong wind and heavy rain closed in around the city, however, since then it has pretty much been bright sunshine. The weekend from Friday onwards was warm and balmy and that stretched into yesterday. The conditions on Sunday were lovely for strolling to and from Dunedin Stadium to see the New Zealand Football Ferns and on Monday evening I went on a short tiki-tour along Otago Peninsula to see the sunset from the often photographed Otago Peninsula cabbage tree.
This is another Dunedin at dawn photo I took while searching the city streets in the early hours. This is a particularly busy corner as morning traffic travels down the hill from Roslyn and the other surrounding suburbs into the centre of the city. It’s a great place to take photos as it’s got a lovely old educational college on the corner along with a long, sweeping bend that captures the light trails made by the morning traffic going up and down the hill.
The sunrises had been pretty decent in the preceding days. So, with that in mind and feeling the need to spend some time wandering the city streets in the early morning hours, I went in search of interesting views. My plan was simple: find locations that featured the city and the colourful early morning sky.
Allans Beach, Hoopers Inlet, Mt Charles and inland to Harbour Cone, – Buy
Once I was back in Dunedin, I went for an exploration on the Otago Peninsula. While wandering the tracks at Sandymount, I must admit to initially being a little disappointed to find that the viewing platforms for both Lover’s Leap and the Chasm had been closed and removed. However, after spending some time on the new section of track and viewing platform which looks northeast over Allans Beach, Hoopers Inlet, Mt Charles and inland to Harbour Cone, I hadto admit, the views are even better!
I had spent the morning visiting spots on the North Coast of Dunedin. Having explored places like Long Beach, Aramoana and Deborah Bay, I briefly called in at Port Chalmers before starting my journey home. On the way back towards the city, I decided to take a few of the roads I usually pass by without giving a second thought. Most of the roads were overgrown with trees and bushes that occasionally gave way and offered views across the harbour.
There’s a wonderful feeling of semi-isolation about this hut. I say semi, due to the fact that it’s on a DOC walking trail so quite a few people end up walking past it. However, if you can look past that and concentrate on its location and connections to the environment it speaks volumes.
The day had been all together pleasant and I was finishing it with a walk along the beach. Having parked my car outside a collection of restaurants and bars on the St Clair Esplanade, I had set off along the beach. Now having reached its terminus, I enjoyed the sunset before starting the walk back. A distance of around 3.5 kilometers in the fading light.
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.
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.
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.
If you’ve ever walked down Dunedin’s Smails Beach at sunset on a warm summer’s evening you’ll know what a treat it is. If you haven’t, it’s something you must surely do, particularly when the tide is out. Trust me, it’s a wonderful way to spend a summer evening.
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.
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.
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.
… 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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