As it turns out, it’s possible to hurt yourself while walking, which is a rather silly thing to do, given all my walking experience! Having been exploring some bush tracks, I was about to finish my downhill descent, when I decided that it would be a good idea to step on a smallish rock that as it turns out wasn’t altogether stable. This resulted in my left leg moving involuntarily forward, my right leg stayed where it was while my right knee traveled in a completely different direction. Spending the next week complaining about the pain coming from my knee, I had the good sense to listen to my wife (and for her sanity) and seek treatment.
After a short walk I stopped and looked. A small army of tourists seemed to be gathering in front of the Dunedin Railway Station. As far as the eye could see, the party of several hundred had broken up into groups of twos and threes and were carefully studying maps of their planned invasion of the city. This is what I love about seeing cruise ship passengers around New Zealand cities once again, they organise their time with military precision.
Then I Always Asked Why? Hampden Crossing, Hampden (2017).
The Expereince of Seeing (2021)
I began becoming more aware of the space and shape between objects in a photograph some time ago. It was born out of a desire to think about my photographs in a new way, partially out of questions I had about what I was seeing and partially out of wanting to view something differently.
I had been looking at the vernacular uses of photography from the 1960’s and 1970’s and there was something in what I saw that simply made sense. I’ve found that by thinking and looking in terms of snapshots capturing everyday life and subjects that I’ve become much more conscious about the experience of seeing.
It took me a week to get this photo. Originally, I was going to take it last Thursday or Friday however, low, misty clouds rolled in and with it all the lovely blue sky disappeared. Unfortunately it then hung around for a week and as I wanted the image to be bright, full of colour with a wonderful blue sky I decided to wait. I was about to give up on the whole idea as it was beginning to feel like the dull, overcast sky would never leave when suddenly yesterday morning the clouds broke and the world was filled with colour once again! In the end, I’m happy I waited as the final image is really pleasing, however, it did test my patience.
Back in January, I set myself the goal of publishing a different photo everyday on my photoblog until the 23rd December. At the time, I didn’t have any idea how I would do it and even if I could be consistent or dedicated enough to keep it up for that length of time. It definitely felt like I had bitten off more than I could chew. However, 340 days later I’m really chuffed to be able to say ….. mission accomplished! In fact, I can say that I’ve really enjoyed myself, it’s been my little bit of escapism everyday as I photograph and write about the places I’ve been both in my own backyard and beyond it.
The only problem is, I’ve got lots of images I still haven’t shared on my photoblog so I’ve decided to keep it running. While I take a break over summer, I’ve got a load of content set to go that’s going to be posted everyday at 6am until mid January when I get back online.
So, thank you to everyone who takes a second in their day to check out my blog and the social media streams. Thank you for the lovely messages and comments that are left, they really do help, support and inspire.
Have a great Christmas and New Years,
PS. If you want to see all the images posted this year (excluding the one above) checkout the video below.
I emerged from the Cathedral and looked out at what once must have been a commanding view of the harbour and distant peninsula. As I was standing on the Cathedral steps, the neighbouring Art Gallery caught my eye. I strolled over and went from gallery to gallery enjoying all the exhibitions on display. It included two, large scale site-specific exhibits by Australia artist Rebecca Baumann called Light Interference (Refracted Field). I stood in the atrium and looked out across the gallery, happy to be in a world of colour.
Leaving the mall, I made my way down George Street to St Paul’s Cathedral. Having been recently redeveloped due to a fire in the Cathedral’s roof, I recalled reading that the scaffolding had been taken down and the Cathedral was fully open once more. With a bit of time to spare, I thought I’d take a look.
I came across an empty alleyway with a ramp for cars that traversed two buildings. I’d been past it thousands of times before and never thought much of it, however on this occasion it caught my eye. It was filled with shapes and lines that went in all sorts of directions. On one side a singular brick wall created a tessellating pattern while on the other wall it appeared to be the exact opposite. Everywhere I looked there appeared lines and shapes. It was even free of pointless graffiti and rubbish. The mathematician in me was delighted!
When I awoke, the first thing I did was to listen. I couldn’t hear any wind, nor rain. The next thing I noticed was a lack of morning sunshine streaming in through the windows. It was another, still day in Dunedin with low clouds blanketing the city. The surrounding hillsides were partially obscured by a silent haze and the city itself appeared to have been taken away in the night. There was nothing but dead sea and a kind of tumbling fog that ships in the Bermuda Triangle disappear into. It had been like this for four days and it was starting to feel like groundhog day. It was then that I made a brave and bold decision. I would headout on foot in search of colour!
It was a summer’s day that had started off still and warm which had continued into the late afternoon. Since the calendar had ticked over to the start of summer, the weather so far had been somewhat fickle. A fine day with temperatures reaching into the 20’s would be followed with scattered showers and wind. Suspecting that this pattern might continue, I decided it would be a shame to not visit the beach on the way home.
On a random impulse, I went for a wander in the Wall Street mall. Something I was a little apprehensive about, having reached an age in life where I don’t fully understand the trends that are evolving around me. Fortunately, I had a large Christmas Tree and a glass reflection to keep me entertained.
It’s hard to comprehend just how long ago 13 to 16 millions years really is. That’s a mind boggling length of time. I mention this because that’s how long it’s been since the Otago Harbour was active as a volcano. The highest point of the extinct volcano was around 1000m with the area between Port Chalmers and Portobello being the vent while the surrounding hills Mt Cargill, Flagstaff, Saddle Hill, Signal Hill and Harbour Cone are remnants of the volcanic crater. Then, over the next 11 million years the volcanic mountain was shaped by extensive erosion and fault activity, into valleys and hills that included the forming of harbour which was eventually filled in by the sea.
The small town of Outram sprang to life as miners headed towards the Otago Goldfields after the rush began in May, 1861. Australian prospector Gabriel Read found gold in a creek bed near Lawrence and seven months later, 14,000 prospectors were found on the Tuapeka and Waipori fields. To get to the gold fields, a majority of the miners went through the small town of Outram. The settlement sprang up on the banks of the Taieri River where travellers were ferried across for a small fee. Later, a bridge and toll house were built but unfortunately a flood in 1863 swept these away. The response was to move the town to higher ground and into its current location.
Flying across the Otago Peninsula we started tracking Portobello Road which runs the length of Otago Peninsula to the small village of Portobello. The bays and inlets looked stunning with long views down to the blue sea, with shades of green, separated only by a road that snaked its way along the base of the land by the sea shore. Perhaps it was the time of day, the weather or the sense of experiencing the world from a different view but it seemed perfect. The land rolling down to the water in splendid hues of colour. I could have looked at it for hours.
I wasn’t quite sure why I had the beach to myself, I began to wonder if people knew something I didn’t. The day had been a complete contrast to the forecast. We were told to expect wind, strong around on the coast with a chance of light showers in the evening. The high being 12 degrees (53 for those of you that work in fahrenheit). However, the rain never arrived and neither did the wind. So, what we were left with was a still, clear day with high clouds and the temperature hitting the late teens. With the light, and heat lingering into the evening, I decided to enjoy the beach.
It had been raining for some time and having gone insearch of an indoor location to dry off I found myself at Olveston. A stately home built between 1904 and 1907 for wealthy merchant English David Theomin who wanted to create an English country house in the city for his family.
This is the Taieri River. Isn’t it amazing! It starts in the Lammerlaw Range and ambles, meanders and drifts its way from Central Otago, across the Taieri Plains out to Henley before meeting up with the Waipori River and heading out to the South Pacific Ocean.
I ended up standing on an Italianate terrace in the Mediterranean Garden at the Dunedin Botanical Gardens. Looking beyond the water feature out towards Leith Valley the wind began to pick up and the clouds threatened rain. Maybe it was the weather, however feeling a bit uninspired by everything and unsure what I wanted to see next, I decided to leave the gardens for another day.
I ended with one last look at the spiral of First Church that was reaching into the sky and could be seen through the gaps in the trees. Then, since it was late afternoon and feeling I had done enough walking for one day, I went in search of beer and a bite to eat.
Leaving Burlington Street, I headed along Moray Place before turning left into Princes Street and shortly thereafter I came to Dowling Street. To my left, the street quickly headed down hill to more or less where I had just come from, whereas on my right, I found the Dowling Street steps which gave access to the streets on the hill above. This was to be my next stop on my unplanned, self guided tour of the inner city.
I remember once reading a description of the Dowling Street steps that said ‘the area can attract less desirable attention at night.’ This is code for; if you want to get wasted on cheap liquor in the chilly Dunedin night air, this is the place to be. During the day, it’s a wonderful spot to look into the backyards of buildings along Princes Street. It also provides a view of the tops of people’s heads as they stroll purposefully to meetings, appointments and other places of importance.
My main reason for waiting to visit these steps was to see the spot where a disarmed World War 1 field gun once stood. It was placed there after the steps were built in 1927 and stayed in place until World War II. Then, people started to fear that the gun might attract the attention of the Japanese Military on a bombing raid so it was taken down in 1943.
Back in 1927 when the original steps were built to provide a pedestrian thoroughfare, they were also used as an outdoor arena for public addresses. After all, there really is nothing better when you’re giving a rousing public speech than having a WW1 German field gun as a visual aid!
My unscheduled and unplanned tiki-tour of Dunedin buildings led me up Burlington Street which I ascended now. I recently read that Burlington Street is listed in the New Zealand Historical Places list due to its historical significance. At the top of Burlington Street I came across Burns Hall, an impressive multi-story community building that is available for hire. I looked it up and found that among the features listed are trestle tables and cushioned bench seats which would certainly seal the deal for me if I was in the market to hire a community hall.
I took a detour along the Otago Peninsula. The wind was fairly gusting its way across the harbour and a large bank of dark, ominous clouds hung overhead. However, to my astonishment it didn’t rain, it just threatened to rain all afternoon. The other thought I found somewhat bewildering was the wonderful blue colour of the harbour.
Here’s an interesting comparison for you. New Zealand has a population of 5.1 million and has a total of 6 casinos whereas Las Vegas has a population of 653 533 and a massive 60 casinos for visitors to enjoy. The first casino opened in Las Vegas opened in 1906 compared to New Zealand’s first casino which opened in Christchurch in 1994. However, if you really want to go back in time, the oldest casino in the world is the Casino di Venezia that sits on the Grand Canal in Venice which opened in 1638. Originally a theatre called the Theatre Saint Moses, it contained a wing for gambling during the intermissions of plays.
How I like the building that is right next door to the former New Zealand Insurance Co building in Queens Garden called Phoenix House. Although, it was originally called the Equitable Insurance Association Building when it was originally constructed back in 1885. Of all the buildings in the warehouse precinct that have yet to be restored, this one’s my favourite. Yet I have know idea why!
Not more than a stone’s throw away from the Imperial Building, and just across the square is another impressive building, Queens Garden Court. However, to be fair, there are many impressive buildings around this part of the city. A vast majority of them are being brought back to life with a fresh coat of paint and some TLC. One that has recently had the scaffolding taken down to reveal its new facade is the building that I now found myself standing in front of, The New Zealand Insurance Co building which started life in 1888 thanks to the designs of Nathaniel Wales from architects Mason & Wales.
A few blocks from Fable/Wains Hotel on the corner of Dowling Street and Lower High Street is the Imperial Building. The building was originally built for brothers James and Henry Stokes in 1906 who operated a local tailoring business. It’s easy to spot. It’s shaped like a wedge and is constructed of red brick and concrete. Apparently it’s also an outstanding example of Queen Ann Revival design, whatever that is!
I strolled further along Princes Street which was surprisingly busier than I’d expected. Presently, ‘The Exchange’ came into view and the buildings that lined the street grew into increasingly noble and opulent pre1900 examples of the building industry.
Once this section of road was one of the grandest in the country, and standing along the busy street was (and still is) the elegant Wains Hotel. The hotel began life not as one building but several that were eventually all purchased by Englishmen John Wain. Then, in 1878 he contracted to have a new building constructed on the Princes Street site at the cost of £14,000. For good measure he even named it after himself, put his name on the front of the building and had a golden, wing-spread eagle placed above the front door.
I continued around the corner to Princes Street which was developed during the 1860’s in the time of the Central Otago gold rush. Dunedin had climbed to be the largest and wealthiest cities in the country thanks to the economic boom created by the thousands of miners who flocked to the city before heading off in search of gold. Consequently that makes Princes Street one of New Zealand’s most historic streets. Although there are many fine, historic buildings along the stretch of road, I took the opportunity to stroll past a few of the less than picturesque buildings.
I emerged from the museum to find the rain had ceased. I can’t say the sky had cleared at all as it remained grey, overcast and gloomy yet brighter at the same time. I decided to venture through town and take a wander around the Warehouse Precinct. Before long I came across No Name Alley which features a splash of street art on the wall, a restored building and a new working brewery that serves both pizza and beer which is always a winning combination.
While I was in the Animal Attic at the Otago Museum it also gave me the opportunity to view the single greatest exhibit on display in the building. The Museum has many fascinating sights including the skeleton of a 17 metre long fin whale which has been hanging from specially designed and built iron girders since 1883. Before going on display, the whale was owned by Captain William Barry, an ex-whaler who made a living from lecturing throughout New Zealand. After exhibiting the skeleton at a store in Nelson, he toured the country with the whale and at one point held a dinner party in its jaws. However, as impressive as the fin whale is, it doesn’t beat ‘The Rat King.’
A Rat King is formed when the tails of a group of rats become tied together in a way that they cannot escape. Usually the tails are knotted and entangled with straw, hay, hair or other material found close to their nests. Whenever I’m at the Otago Museum, I make a point of visiting the Rat King. It consists of eight Black rats whose tails are tangled together with horse hair. The rats had fallen from a nest that was located in a local shipping company shed in the 1930’s. I’d like to own it. I’d put it on display on the mantelpiece in our living room. I think it would really tie the room together however my wife disagrees.
… 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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