The TSS Earnslaw

The TSS Earnslaw in Queenstown

As I stood on the dock, the crisp morning air filled my lungs and the beauty of Queenstown surrounded me. The TSS Earnslaw, an iconic steamship affectionately known as the “Lady of the Lake,” was moored majestically against the tranquil waters of Lake Wakatipu. Its vintage charm, accentuated by the bright red funnel and classic white hull, transported me back in time.

The surrounding mountains were nothing short of breathtaking. Snow-capped peaks of the Remarkables range loomed in the distance, their rugged beauty softened by light morning mist. The sun, still low in the sky, cast a golden glow, creating a picturesque contrast with the deep blue waters of the lake.

It was then that I realised that I had never actually been on the historic ship, maybe this is something I should change I thought to myself as I moved along the dock.

Storm Over Lake Wakatipu

Storm over Lake Wakatipu

While driving to Glenorchy, I stopped at one of the lookouts overlooking Lake Wakatipu. The surrounding mountains were partially shrouded in dark, stormy clouds, creating a moody and atmospheric scene. The wind from a passing distant storm whipped up over the deep blue-green hues of the lake. The interplay between the stormy sky and the rugged mountain terrain added to the sense of drama and natural beauty in the image. For the life of me, I couldn’t decide if I was happy I was driving into it or not!

Glenorchy Lagoon

Glenorchy Lagoon & Boardwalk

Isn’t this an outstanding spot for a place to sit and watch the world go by? It’s part of the Glenorchy Lagoon/Boardwalk which crosses wetlands that are full of bird life and surrounded by stunning mountain ranges. The track twists, turns and loops around with multiple starting and finishing points. In addition, it’s completely flat and a really easy walk which makes it perfect for a family outing. In the summer the lagoon is still, warm and full of colour whereas in the winter the mountain ranges are covered in snow and the air has a bracing chill, making it equally delightful.        

The Head of Lake Wakatipu

The Head of Lake Wakatipu – Buy 

This is one of those fabulous locations and views of Lake Wakatipu where everyone stops for a photo. However, there’s a very good reason for that, and that’s because it is a simply wonderful spot. The lookout, which can be very exposed if you are travelling on a day when a weather front of wind and rain is passing overhead, provides a glorious vista of Lake Wakatipu in the Queenstown Lakes District. Looking up to the head of Lake Wakatipu you get an outstanding view of Big Geordie Peak, Major Peak, Minor Peak, Mount Earnslaw and Cosmos Peak. While, further round is the Routeburn Valley, Mount Bonpland and the Greenstone Valley.

Glenorchy and Mt Bonpland

Mt Bonpland  – Buy 

The town of Glenorchy at the head of Lake Wakatipu is an amazing place. If you’re keen to get up early you’ll see some outstanding sunrises and in the evenings the sunsets are just as good. Add to that, in the warm summer months the dusks are long and the lake is splendid. It’s also a great access point for the Routeburn Track and the Paradise Valley.

The Glenorchy Pier

The Glenorchy Pier – Buy 

A few years back now, 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 over the lake and the surrounding mountains. I made my way down to the pier at the lakefront as heavy clouds started to clear over the mountains and sunlight started to hit the hills high above the lake. 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 when you’re the only one around.


Makarora – Buy 

Earlier this year I spent a few days in Makarora. While I was there, I planned on going to visit the famous Blue Pools. Unfortunately, when I arrived at the car park I found a large sign saying the two swing bridges that lead to the Blue Pools were closed due to the bridges having reached the end of their life. It also went on to advise that while the track was open, access to the Blue Pools wasn’t possible. Not wanting to waste a good bush walk, the best I could figure was that a walk through the forest would still be nice and rivers are always pleasant to watch, so I happily set off following the track into the bush.

The Red Glenorchy Shed

Store Shed At Day BreakThe Red Glenorchy Shed – Buy 

Like most towns in Otago and the Lake’s District, Glenorchy was born out of the gold rush that occurred in the 1860’s. Once Glenorchy was settled and populated by prospectors, the only real access to it was via steamers that carried people and cargo up and down the lake from Queenstown. At Glenorchy, the goods and cargo going to and from steamers on the lake was stored and sorted in a goods shed that also operated as the local station. 

As the steamers were owned by NZ Railways, Glenorchy was officially a railway station and the rails that ran from the end of the wharf to the shed were technically railway. Thus, at the time, the track that ran from the shed to the end of the wharf was the shortest piece of railway in the country.

Lake Wanaka Evening

Lake Wanaka in the evening – Buy 

Last week I shared with you an image I took of the popular ‘That Wanaka Tree’ in Wanaka. This is a different view of it showing some of the crowd that gathers every night. On this occasion the crowd was fairly small with only around two dozen people gathering near it at dusk. That’s a fairly small crowd as the numbers some nights can get extremely large. 

The One About Matakauri, Manata & Matau.

Lake Wakatipu – Buy 

Here’s an interesting fact for you, Lake Wakatipu is so deep that while the surface of the lake is 310 meters above sea level, at its deepest point it is below sea level with a maximum depth of 380 meters. 

Local Māori tell a legend about the lake involving two star-crossed lovers called Matakauri and Manata. One night, Manata was kidnapped by a giant and cruel taniwha named Matau. Manata’s father was so distraught about losing his daughter, he declared that any warrior that was able to rescue her, could have her hand in marriage.  Matakauri decided to accept the challenge and successfully rescued Manata as the taniwha lay sleeping. 

After the wedding, Matakauri feared the taniwha would return and decided to deal with Matau once and for all. So, one night he crept out and set fire to Matau to ensure he would never steal Manata again. As Matau’s body melted it created a deep ‘S’ trough in the ground which then filled with rainwater and created Lake Wakatipu.

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.

Paraparaumu Beach on the Kapiti Coast

Paraparaumu Beach on the Kapiti CoastBuy

Paraparaumu Beach on the Kapiti Coast is an awesome place to get some wicked sunsets. The fact that Kapiti Island is directly off shore means that there is a different element to play with in the composition if nothing is very interesting on the beach. However, don’t you love these tyre tracks!

If photography isn’t your thing, it’s also a great walking beach and goes on for miles meaning you can have an evening stroll while watching the sunset and the sand between your toes.


#peak_directions #surfing

Keep 2 Metre’s Away From This Blog – It Need’s Safety Too!

The Socially Distant Shopper

It’s not often I’m allowed to go grocery shopping for our household these days, you see, I have history with Supermarkets. It’s not that I’ve been completely banned by my family from stepping foot on the premises, it’s just that it’s better for all concerned if I don’t go. To be clear, I am entrusted to pick-up small amounts of items that are essential to the evening’s meal, and beer. But nothing more beyond that. 

Kiwi chef Simon Gault often speaks about adding 5% magic to dishes to really elevate it and give it WOW factor. My banishment from the weekly shop started with this very premise, adding 5% magic. Originally, some years back during the regular weekly shop I added a few extra, carefully chosen items to the trolley to add that 5% magic to one of the weekly meals. I then repeated this the next time I went grocery shopping, once again adding a few extra, carefully chosen items to the trundler to elevate one of the nightly dishes. This process then continued for some time, with me adjusting the list accordingly as I went and occasionally coming home with more items that weren’t on the list than were. 

The second to last straw came one day when I arrived home and started unpacking the grocery bags out of the car.
“Where are the rest?” my wife said.
To which I responded “what do you mean? This is it”. 

The next short while was spent with myself having to explain how in fact it is humanly possible to spend such a large amount on so few items and still manage to forget essentials like toilet paper, bread, milk or 95% of the other items I went out to get.

The final straw in my banishment from the weekly shop came after my invention of the sport ‘grocery item tower-building’. After a lengthy absence from the shop floor, I was once again entrusted with the food gathering task. Off I went, list in hand, my wife accompanying me and acting as chaperone to ensure I brought something that was edible for all and stuck somewhat closely to a budget. Having successfully negotiated all the aisles, I added a few last minute items (that would definitely add 5% magic) before proceeding to the checkout. Upon arrival at the checkout, I then proceeded to build a tower with our grocery items on the conveyor belt. The object here being to build the highest possible tower without it falling over when the conveyor belt is moved.  My tower, having reached ten items high, unfortunately proceeded to crash to the ground and all over the counter when forward movement was applied. The imploding tower resulted in two things. Firstly, my grocery item tower-building personal best of nine items still stood, and my banishment from the weekly grocery shop. 

Here, many years later on a windy Saturday morning, my first trip anywhere in a week, I found myself standing in line outside Countdown. List in hand, once again being entrusted with the weekly shop. I can thank PM Jacinda Ardern for this turn of events. “Shop normally,” she said.” I was also told that it would do my mental health the world of good to venture out. So off I was sent with the mission of doing the weekly shop. 

The line to gain access to Countdown stretched all the way through the carpark and almost out to the footpath. Maybe it was it an early morning for us all, maybe it was the cold wind, maybe there was a sign saying ‘no talking or smiling while in line’ that I had missed or maybe everyone else wasn’t as excited as me. Upon joining the end of the queue, I copied what was clearly the expected protocol and stood in silence. The hushed stillness was deafening. Once and a while we’d all take two steps forward, inching closer to the main door yet keeping a good 2 metre gap. The somber and bleak line continued to inch forward at regular 2 metre intervals with the occasional break in silence coming from the sound of a car heading past or someone questioning if we were allowed to bring our own bags, if we had to wear face masks or if they were handling cash? For the greatest time, I couldn’t put my finger on what the mournful feeling reminded me of when the answer suddenly appeared in the wind. It was like being back at school. Everyone lined up waiting to be told off by the principal. I found myself imagining an irate Cabinet Minister stomping up and down the line, telling everyone off for not shopping properly and stating that this is what it’s going to be like until we prove we could shop properly. Again we stepped forward, one person entering as one person exited, eagerly waiting our turn, list tightly gripped. 

The next 40 minutes was one of the most unique shopping experiences I will encounter. Everyone walked around in silence, some with gloves and mask, some taking their time soaking up every ounce of time allowed out, others racing around the aisles like Lewis Hamilton through the chicanes at Monte Carlo. My second stop, after the beer, was the fruit and vegetable section. It seems that the 2 metre rule doesn’t apply when you’re choosing your capsicums, lettuce, cauliflower or beans! My first listed item was cauliflower. Having scanned the surrounding area and establishing a healthy 2 metre gap between myself and one other person, I went for it. With only four left I was quite delighted to be able to add one to my trolley when suddenly a hand appeared. Out of nowhere my trolley collected a heavy bump, shifting me sideways a bit and a wrinkled old hand, covered in rings and bracelets suddenly grabbed two of the four and disappeared. Before I could gather my senses, another one disappeared, from my left hand side this time. I quickly grabbed the single remaining cauliflower and retreated. What I proceeded to watch was people applying the ‘dive in out out quickly’ method to grab their chilled vegetables. No patience, no 2 metre gap, similar to a six kid lolly scramble that had got slightly out of control.

Fortunately, the rest of the shop was calmer. Casually being able to amble through the isles adjusting the list accordingly as I went. The empty shelves meaning my family didn’t have to worry about extra items being added for that 5% magic. The biscuit aisle seemed to be another hotspot where large groups of people had obviously decided to risk it and break the 2 metre rule. Fortunately my list didn’t have them on it and on I went to the baking aisle where a barren shelf greeted me, only an empty space left where the High Grade Flour used to be. With that being the only item on my list not to be crossed off, I paid and headed out the door. 
Feeling very impressed with my ability to stick to a list and stick to a budget without adding extra items, my mind turned towards packing. I was suddenly drawn to a halt by the lady in front. In one motion she had instantly frozen and clicked her fingers.
“Oh shoot” she said, the jingling sound of her bracelets catching my ear and eye as her wrinkled old hand covered in rings clicked her fingers.
“I forgot high grade flour” she added to no-one in particular. I smiled to myself, recognising her from the Cauliflower invasion. I paused, thought for a second, looked at my Cauliflower then watched her join the end of the queue via a detour to her car. It seems being kind and patient has its rewards I thought, my shopping trip having been made a little better.

Song of the Autumn LightQueens Drive, The Town Belt, Dunedin (2013).

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