Speight’s

Speight’s Brewery on Rattray Street

Nearly 150 years ago, a man named James Speight, while feeling a little thirsty, decided to see what would happen if he mixed a few malt and hops together. Encouraged by friends Charles Greenslade and William Dawson, his newly created beverage was given the name of Speight’s and a brewery setup on Dunedin’s Rattray Street. A location that has been home to the popular draught amber ale ever since.

The Monarch Wildlife Tours

The Monarch Wildlife Tours

It was one of those idle afternoons where while there was plenty I should probably be doing, I’d put it all to one side and went off for an adventure instead. I’d been exploring the Harington Point gun emplacements on Otago Peninsula. A site that was first constructed in response to the threat of a Russian invasion in 1885. Following this, I had made my way down to the shoreline where I had a lovely time trying not to trip over! At some point in between swells, The Monarch came chugging along on one of its wildlife tours. I don’t think they were hoping for someone looking a little unbalanced, trying not to slip into the water but then every trip has a highlight!

The Town Belt At Night

City & Silgo Walkway

It’s fair to say that at the moment, here in Dunedin the mornings aren’t exactly tropical! In fact, they’re simply cold! Fortunately the rain passed through overnight, however the wind that has been present since Friday remains. On this occasion, for some silly reason I decided to go for a walk, I left my car near Sligo Terrace in the Town Belt and made my way in the wind along Scarba Street before turning on Leven and Ross Streets. From there and with the wind at my back, it was a short downhill canter before joining the walkway heading back up City Road to Sligo Terrace. Along the way I took several photos, one of which is featured today. Note to self, wear gloves next time!

In The Depths Of Morning

Braid Road

There’s a strange time of morning at the end of autumn and the beginning of winter when it’s not quite light, yet not completely dark. It’s a curious time of day, the depths of morning. This is a time where shadows creep and the night lingers on paths that seem twisted with form. The wind whispers, dark corners betray our thoughts yet light seems to have a friendly, welcoming glow.

Aramoana

Aramoana view.

To get to this vantage point its a bit of a hike. Not difficult, just awkward more than anything else. That’s because I had to slog my way uphill through dense sand dunes that were heavily overgrown. The problem that created was that I couldn’t always see where I was stepping. However, the uphill struggle was worth the effort because the views from the small rocky ledge were very rewarding.

Otago Harbour At Dawn

Otago Harbour – Buy 

How I like still, clear and undisturbed water on a tranquil morning. There’s something rather soothing about looking out across a lake, harbour or ocean that is as calm as a mill pond. It’s a very positive feeling. It makes me think that today everything is going to be ok, the sun will shine and it’ll only get better from this point. 

The Rongomai Track

The Waihema

As the track continued, a thought suddenly crossed my mind. Maybe the reason I’ve never heard of this place is because no one ever ventures out alive? Such are the dangers of the New Zealand bush or walking tracks for that matter. You not only have to survive the traffic just to get there, but when you do, there’s water obstacles, hunters and wild animals to elude. What a glorious country this is!

Return To Lan Yuan

Lan Yuan Dunedin Chinese Garden

Strolling through the enchanting pathways of Dunedin’s Chinese Garden, I marveled at the serene beauty and cultural richness that surrounded me. With every step, I was astonished at the meticulous craftsmanship of the traditional architecture, ornate pavilions and graceful bridges that seemed to whisper tales of ancient wisdom. As I walked, my eye caught the intricate details of the garden’s, from the delicate arrangement of rocks to the harmonious balance of flora and water. Immersed in an oasis of calm, I couldn’t help but reflect on the timeless connection between nature and humanity.

The Captain Cook Hotel

The Captain Cook Hotel

One of my autumn strolls around the North Dunedin area took me past the famous Captain Cook Tavern which sits on the corner of Albany and Great King Streets. In recent years it’s been open, shut, reopened, rebranded and sold, forever changing the hotel from being what made it famous. Which was, being one of the most famous student bars in the country. In the 1980’s when the Dunedin music scene became famous for the development of ‘The Dunedin Sound’ The Captain Cook Hotel was an important location where bands played. These days the upstairs is an event space with the downstairs being the site of Sal’s Pizza restaurant.

Street Art On Sullivan Street.

Street Art by Mahalski ’17’

I haven’t been for a good, spontaneous ramble around the local streets in a while. In fact, when I think about it, it always seems to be around this time of year that I get the urge to simply go wandering without a set purpose. So it was, on a decidedly chilly morning in May I found myself roaming the streets of South Dunedin looking for nothing particularly yet knowing what I was looking for, when I found it.

The University of Otago

The University of Otago

There are times when I feel like the University of Otago has become one giant machine that is set on city wide domination. However, at its heart is a wonderful institution that dates right back to the early days of the original European early settlers. In fact, if we should thank anyone for  the University of Otago, it should probably be Thomas Burns and James Macandrew. It was them that urged the Otago Provincial Council during the 1860s to set aside land in the region for an institute of higher education.

The Dunedin Gasworks Museum

Condenser Tower

On a different occasion, I visited the Dunedin Gasworks Museum. A place that still has a bit of rustic charm! The only drawback being that if you’re not interested in the manufacturing, treatment, pumping and storage of gas then you’re going to find it a little boring. Actually, very boring! Yet, it’s a very significant heritage site as it’s one of only three known preserved gaswork museums in the world. For my visit to the Gasworks Museum I had anticipated a good hour would give me enough time to take everything in. However, after 30 minutes I decided I just wasn’t that interested in gas!

Olveston – The Ballroom

Olveston – Ballroom.

Having spent the time rambling around the museum, I ventured up into the Dunedin hill suburbs to the stately home of Olveston. Spread over 1 acre of land, an original eight-room villa was purchased by the Theomin family on the Royal Terrace site in 1881. Twenty years later they bought an adjacent property and in 1904 they acquired another. This allowed the family to plan the building of a new house and garden over the three properties. Once the new home was completed in 1907, the four storey building featured reception rooms, a library, a kitchen, downstairs guest rooms, a galleried hall rising from the ground and to the upper floors which also served as a ballroom. There was a billiard room, a card room, numerous bedrooms, with the top floor being servants’ quarters and the basement serving as a large laundary. When I arrived, I was a little early for the next tour. So, I filled the time wandering around the lovely gardens which at one stage featured a substantial rose garden.

The ‘Tiger Tea’ Bus

The ‘Tiger Tea’ Bus

The trouble with modern museums is that they are beautifully presented with only selected exhibits on display that get rotated occasionally. Usually the exhibits are placed with a detailed information board with lots of space and around the item for the eye to take everything in. Personally, I prefer museums that are presented like a hall cupboard. Stuffed full of things that you have to spend hours sorting through before finding what you’re looking for. The fun part is generally on the way to the back of the cupboard you get a pleasant surprise by finding something you lost years ago. I wish museums took on this philosophy.

Josephine

Josephine at Toitu Early Settlers Museum

The first thing that greets you at Toitu Early Settlers Museum is a steam train called Josephine. One of two Double Fairlie locomotives that were imported from England, Josephine started life on the Dunedin-Port Chalmers Railway in 1872. She went on to serve on trainway lines all over the country. Until around the time of 1917 when she was sent to the scrap heap. After spending several years outside rusting away, she was eventually restored, moved indoors and now sits proudly on display in the foyer of Toitu Early Settlers Museum for all to see.

Lower Stuart Street

Traffic Lights on Lower Stuart Street

Leaving the Octagon, having completed everything I wanted to do for the day by 7am, I rewarded myself by going in search of breakfast. For no other reason than for my own amusement, I found a cafe where I could sit in the window and watch cars drive through red lights at an intersection.

Sitting and watching the world go by from my window seat, it really was quite astonishing and somewhat scary how complacent some drivers were. It was almost as if stopping at red lights had become optional! On one occasion I watched a car stop at a red light, pause while a bus went through and then simply carry on through the intersection without a care in the world. The behaviour of drivers was simply mind boggling, yet unfortunately not unexpected. A few years ago a study was conducted around Christchurch at 15 intersections across the city. What they found was that drivers ignored red lights 8170 times in a 24 hour period. That averages out to a staggering 340 times per hour that red lights were being disregarded, and that’s only at 15 intersections in Christchurch. Extend that out across the country and it becomes of pandemic proportions! To combat this a Regional Red Light Running campaign was launched whose main message was “Good drivers stop at red traffic lights”. Which in itself is just as mind boggling as I thought stopping at red lights was the law! Not just something that “good drivers” do! What is even more interesting is that failing to stop at a red light incurs a $150 fine. Compare that to the local Dunedin bylaw where failure to remove your dog droppings carries a $300 fine. Now it might just be me, but something seems out of balance there!

All of this occupied me in my window seat for some time. Long enough in fact for me to finish several cups of coffee and a fully cooked breakfast. All while observing the poor driving behaviour of my fellow citizens and a few ill-tempered and hostile Sea Gulls that were very angry at each other for one reason or another. Not fully aware of what the time was, I checked my watch and noticed to my surprise that a few local museums would be opening in the not too distant future. So, on that happy note I paid, thanked my hosts and headed off in the direction of Toitu Museum.

The Octagon

The Octagon 

On one occasion, I ventured into the city centre early one morning before everything became ‘used’ for the day. My altera motive was to see the Octagon, the scene of a recent unexpected set of circumstances.  An out-of-control truck and trailer had taken a scenic detour down Stuart Street and through the central Octagon several days earlier, narrowly avoiding the famed Robbie Burns statue before crashing through a covered walkway and decorating the whole area with a lovely assortment of wood chips. In celebration, a wide variety of orange road cones had been placed all around the unplanned route the truck had taken through the city centre, giving the whole place a scattered look.

Archibald Baxter Peace Garden

Archibald Baxter Peace Garden

So each day, without much planning I did things I hadn’t done in a long time. I strolled through parks and public gardens. I explored alleyways and lanes that detoured off empty back streets. I went to museums, exhibitions, and art galleries that I saw advertised on flyers hanging to lamp posts. I sat in Maggie’s cafe drinking coffee while watching people walk past. I went on self-guided heritage walks and admired forgotten pieces of architecture. I ambled around looking approvingly at pieces of street-art on the side of buildings. I sat in the Archibald Baxter Peace Garden that honours all New Zealand’s conscientious and quietly watched the world go by. I took the time to read plaques on footpaths that mark spots of historical significance. I even read all the plaques in the upper Octagon that make up the Dunedin Writers’ Walk as part of the UNESCO City of Literature.

Jubilee Park

Jubilee Park

Thanks to a mostly empty calendar, I had several weeks at my disposal, in a fictitious kind of way. The only thing I really had to do was stay close to home in Dunedin, so as long as I didn’t go on any long overnight expeditions the time was my own. I could do anything I liked, within reason.

I decided, quite randomly, to start with a walk through Jubilee Park in the city’s town belt. This was something I had been meaning to do for a while. I’d also been wondering for some time if Queen Victoria knew she had a park named after her in Dunedin? Further to this, I wondered if there’s an official royal list that identifies every world park, estate, playground, garden and forest that is named after a royal? I’m sure that if Queen Victoria knew that Jubilee Park was named after her, she would have been quite delighted. Anyway, Dunedin’s Jubilee Park was once known as Tomlinson’s Paddock before it was renamed Jubilee Park after Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887. It was here that I spent a lovely morning happily wandering the various paths that twisted and turned through the bush that makes up a section of the city’s town belt. 

The route I took made its way from the car park, through a dense line of trees that circumferenced a football ground. The bank on one side was high and steep with a heavy line of trees that sloped up to the sports field, while the other side quickly slipped down to a nearby road. As the path led further into the bush, the canopy of trees widened and grew thick. Occasionally it would split, leaving me with a choice of going left or right. Sometimes the light would drop, hidden by the thick foliage. Other times the sunlight would stream through the trees and bounce off the autumn vegetation. 

The path drew to a junction where three of four different paths met and the fallen leaves had overtaken the forest floor. Surveying my options, I could either head down the hill toward a path I hadn’t yet explored, or follow the path I was on to the top of the hill, back to the sports ground and eventually my car. I stood and looked at my surroundings, from time to time leaves would fall and land both on me and near me. At this moment, I realised I wasn’t quite ready to be back at my car just yet, so I headed down hill. The next hour or so was spent in this manner. Walking paths I hadn’t walked in a very long time, criss-crossing my way around Jubilee Park and the nearby town belt in the glistening afternoon sun.

The Chingford Stables

The Chingford Stables

If we could bring Percival Clay Neill back to life, I’m sure he would be mighty impressed with how his stables now look in autumn. Having died in 1936 at the age of 94, he might wonder what happened to some of the buildings on his once extensive estate which included a homestead, stables, dairy, and coach house. However, I’m confident any disappointment over the loss of some of the buildings on his estate would be overshadowed by the lovely autumnal scenes that now encompass the grounds. 

Autumn On The Otago Peninsula

The Otago Peninsula 

As I was standing looking out to the South Pacific Ocean, it occurred to me that autumn was most definitely taking hold. The warm evenings of summer had disappeared, only to be replaced by changeable weather patterns that not only brought with it cooler temperatures but also more frequent spells of wind and rain. I continued along the track, pausing for a moment to look out over a farm field that stretched down a slope and eventually stopped where the horizon met the ocean. I had the place all to myself and it was threatening to rain.

St Clair Sea Wall In Orange & Teal

St Clair Esplanade

Feeling in a bit of a creative mood, I decided to have a little bit of fun with this photo I took of the sea wall at the St Clair Esplanade. Starting in Lightroom, I gave it an orange and teal feel before exporting it to photoshop. At that point I hit it with a kind of black and white-bleach effect that I washed over the top before finishing it with some old school scratches for a bit of texture. Of course, it took a lot longer to do than I’m making it sound but you get the idea. I hope!

The Meridian Mall

The Meridian’s glass dome.

To get this angle of the glass dome in the Meridian Mall in Dunedin I had to shoot while on the escalator. It took several attempts to get one I was happy with and by the third time I had been up and down the escalators the security guards were starting to show some interest in what I was doing. It was at that point that I decided it was best to leave. The thing I love about this angle is the way all the different shapes interplay with the circular domes; however to be under the dead centre you need to be in a certain spot on the escalator.

The Solar Eclipse

Solar Eclipse In Dallas Texas

There are some very cool video’s floating around of yesterday’s Solar Eclipse. Check out this awesome video of the the crowd at Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, Taxas as they react to the moon passing between the earth and the sun.

Daily Photo: South Dunedin

South Dunedin

This is a shot I took on a helicopter ride over Dunedin a few years ago. It’s not a view of Dunedin I often see, so it’s nice to be reminded how different things can look if you can your perspective. It also reminds me how much the whole area of South Dunedin has changed in 200 years. 

Over two hundred years ago the area wasn’t solid land. There were lots of tidal inlets with wide spread marshy swamp land covered with tussock, rushes and flax. It was also home to a wide variety of bird life. Out towards the coast near the suburbs of St Clair and St Kilda, there were low lying sand dunes and a large lagoon that stretched towards Lawyer Head. From that point the land was covered in a much higher series of sand dunes. 

In the mid-1800’s when Dunedin began to be settled as a city, dry level land was in high demand. So, much of the wet, low areas were filled with any material available including a section near the beach being used as a tip. A tip right next to a beach, what could possibly go wrong!

Channeling Ansel Adams

Blackhead Beach in black and white.

A few weeks ago I spent the afternoon at Blackhead Beach. While most of my time was taken up with stumbling over stones and splashing through rock pools, I did find time to admire the local Sea Lions that were playing close by. I also spent time photographing the scenery, which is when I felt the inspiration to take a black and white photo or two. So, channelling the great American landscape photographer Ansel Adams, I switched modes on my trusty camera to black and white and set to work attempting to control the contrast between highlights and shadows.