The Minstrels Played Their Christmas Tune

Christmas In The Octagon Buy

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, 

John

PS. If you want to see all the images posted this year (excluding the one above) checkout the video below.

Dunedin Art Gallery

Dunedin Art Gallery – Buy 

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. 

The Grand Casino

The Grand Casino – Buy 

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.

Phoenix House

Phoenix House – Buy 

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!

New Zealand Insurance Co LTD

Queens Gardens Court – Buy 

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.

Cromwell Old Town

Cromwell Old TownBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

Everywhere in Cromwell was busy. It was early January and the town was full of holiday makers making the most of the long, hot summer weather that lasted from early morning till deep into the evening. Having spent a number of summers in my childhood in Central Otago, one of my lasting memories is of big, blue endless skies that seemed to stretch on forever. This was one of those days. 

Cromwell has the unique distinction of having two towns with three different names. The original town was known as ‘The Junction’, then ‘The Point’ and ‘Kawarau’ before settling on the name of Cromwell. Built high above the meeting point of the Clutha and Kawarau Rivers, one of the features as you entered the town across an historic bridge was the colours of the waters of the two rivers as they converged into one. However, in the 1980’s the Clyde Dam was built and the filling of Lake Dunstan in the early 1990s began. This resulted in the rivers being drowned, as was the old town centre. Thia meant a new town centre had to be constructed, some 2 kilometres away. Thus, giving Cromwell the distinction of having a new town and an old town. It was the old town that I was here to see. 

The old town of Cromwell is a delightful place. It really is a shame that the rest of the historic village is no longer visible. Neither is the old Chinese settlement. Both were completely drowned when the lake was formed. I can’t help but think what a pity it is that so much heritage was lost. 

Parking these thoughts to one side, what remains is a charming place that is filled with a good range of buildings that give a glimpse of the gold rush days. The Post & Telegraph Office remains, along with buildings such as the Blacksmith, the Globe Hotel, the Seed & Grain Store, the Butchery and Stumbles General Store. All of which have been turned into galleries, cafes and boutique shops surrounded by some lovely spots for a picnic. 

Having strolled around the old town for a bit, I purchased a coffee and sat by the lake. I watched families cycle alongside the water with varying degrees of skill and success. So, with that I left the lovely old town of Cromwell with my next stop being Clyde.

What to find out more about Cromwell including places to stay, places to play, places to explore and lots more information? Visit the Cromwell: https://www.cromwell.org.nz/

Blackhead Beach

Blackhead Beach Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

I had long wanted to take photographs from a helicopter. I have no idea why, it’s just always been one of those things that seem like a fun thing to do. So, having woken early full of excitement and then signing a form saying I wouldn’t touch anything, follow all the pilots instructions while ensuring my pockets were zipped up, we took off. What made this trip even more thrilling was the fact that the helicopter had no door. It had been taken off so I could get cleaner, clearer shots without any annoying windows or glass being in the way. I don’t think I have ever gripped my cameras so tightly and been so grateful to be wearing a harness in all my life. Flying through the air with nothing between myself and the Pacific Ocean 1000 feet below, it was wonderful!  It was as we reached Blackhead Beach that I hoped I would spot someone I knew, then I would be able to say ‘I just photographed the top of your head!’

Forgotten Paths

Forgotten Paths Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

The flowers at the railway station reminded me of Dunedin’s town belt and other bush areas.  I couldn’t remember the last time I had walked through some sort of bush and so I set off to discover some sort of path that zigzagged it’s way up from the city through the townbelt to the hill suburbs of Roslyn, Maori Hill and over to Kaikorai. 

Blues, Greens, Soft Pinks & Yellows

Summer Colours Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

I remembered passing the Dunedin Railway Station on one of my walks and contemplating how different a building looks when half of it is covered in scaffolding and plastic wrap. What hasn’t changed are the gardens out the front. At one point in time when it was called ANZAC Square it was a major junction point for the busy Railway Station. Now it has been transformed into a splendid garden that changes with the season. It was these gardens I had come to see and the blues, greens, soft pinks and yellows that had carefully been planted gave the whole place a cool, elegant yet understated feel. I almost forgot half the building was covered in wrapping paper

Eggs Bene & A Haircut

201 Princes Street Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

I eventually made my way along Princes Street to a line of buildings that sat near an area known as ‘The Exchange.’ In recent times there has been a substantial investment in restoring the old buildings in this area of the city and so I’d had it in mind to photograph a number of them. On this occasion it was the address of 201 Princes Street I was capturing. 

Setting up my tripod and making the two gentlemen sitting in the window feel a tad uncomfortable, I set about capturing the scene in front me. It was at some point during this time that it occurred to me that in one building I had the ability to tuck into a lovely breakfast of eggs bene accompanied with a deliciously tasty hot coffee, and then head upstairs where I could get a haircut and beard trim, all in one building! Now if that’s not convenient, I don’t know what is!

The Savoy

The Savoy Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

I pushed on up Princes Street as the light morning rain gave way to a stunning hue of pink. I passed restaurants, cafes and bars that wouldn’t yet open for many hours. There were takeaway outlets, barbers and art galleries that sat in darkness and faded blue and red dots of all shapes and sizes covered the road. I came to a stop on the corner of an intersection and watched time pass in the city. Directly across me, the Savoy Restaurant which was once considered the finest dining room in the Southern Hemisphere sat beneath a sky that continued to shift and changed in colour.

Watching The City Come Awake

Lower Stuart Street Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

I arose and enjoyed spending a few minutes watching the city come awake. The air had a fresh untouched feel to it. I watched barista’s carrying out tables and chairs happily singing away to themselves, delivery vans came and went as signatures were quickly scribbled. That’s what I love about mornings, they have a fresh, new, anything is possible feel to them. Unless of course you’re wildly hungover. Fortunately I wasn’t and so as the rain started, I savored watching the city stretch and yawn. Just then the smell of fresh coffee hit my nostrils.


Also have a look at:

The Experience of Seeing doesn’t follow set themes or ideas. Instead, it’s about seeing beauty in everyday objects and creating photographs that ask and answer the questions I have. It’s about taking a photograph in a way that reflects what I was thinking and seeing. That’s what these photograpgh’s are about, The Experience Of Seeing.

The Hoodwinker Sunfish

Hoodwinker Sunfish Street Art Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

I spent an afternoon wandering with no particular purpose. I had set out from home with really no intention other than to walk to the edge of the harbour. The sun was shining, the city was still, the temperature a lovely 21 degrees and I had no plans at all. Now, some 6 kilometers I found myself wandering past empty student hostels that were receiving some much need TLC before the yearly invasion started in a few months time. It was then that I came across this painting of a Hoodwinker Sunfish which is part of the Dunedin Street Art scene. At one point there used to be a map locating every piece of art that had been added to the city and where to find them. Now however there are so many you can walk around a corner and discover something you completely forgot about.


The Methane Gas Solution

The Music Room Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

To be honest with you, I can’t ever imagine using horse manure to light a property. However, that is exactly what William Larnach did at his house which is set in 14 hectares of grounds on Otago Peninsula. The Castle was built in 1871 by Australian banker and politician William Larnach for his family. To light the Castle, horse manure was piped underground from the stable to a purpose built chamber outside, directly behind the music room. Above this, Larnach built a privy for the use of family and staff so human manure could be added to the mix.

The brew of methane gas was then captured in a glass bubble and pumped up to the castle by a boy working a foot pump.


Urban Myths (3)

Tunnel Beach Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

According to Local legend, Tunnel Beach is the scene of a tragic drowning. The story goes that after John Cargill made the private beach for his family, one of his daughters drowned there on her sixteenth birthday at high tide. Overcome with grief, John Cargill was so heartbroken that he left New Zealand and never returned. However, there are no sources to prove this story is true.


Contrasts Of A Summer Storm

Mount Cargill Weather Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

Finding myself watching a storm roll in from Dunedin’s south coast, I decided a good vantage point to watch it from would be Mount Cargill. Mount Cargill is named after Captain William Cargill, an early leader of the Free Church Settlers to Dunedin. It is situated around 15 kilometers north of the city and gives a panoramic view of the whole city which is simply astonishing. As I stood and watched the darkening clouds engulf the harbour, I had to admire the geographic location of Dunedin. On one side of Mt Cargill a summer storm was bringing wind and rain, while the other stood in beautiful sunshine.


72 Steps

Tunnel Beach Steps Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery
Tunnel Beach (3 of 3) #tunnelbeach #lovindunners

What I have always found slightly confusing about Tunnel Beach is that it is there at all. As spectacular and interesting as Tunnel Beach is, it is hard to imagine the Cargill children getting excited by a visit. Let me explain. Tunnel Beach was commissioned to be built for John Cargill and his family in the 1870s. This was so that his family could visit a private beach, away from the ‘peeping’ eyes of the general public. To me, this is where the confusion starts to happen. To get to the beach his family would have had to go by either foot, cart or horse alongside the high, steep cliffs, which couldn’t have been a pleasant trip. The beach is shaded by the sun from the steep cliffs and is small and rocky with a small low tide window. Hardly a place you could spend all afternoon at while the kids built sandcastles! So, somehow I can’t imagine the Cargill children leaping with joy when their father would announce they are ‘going to the beach’ for the day.

Those Trolley Buses

Tiger Tea Trolley Bus Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

Upon exiting the Museum I was pleased to see that the fog had lifted and I could now see more than a meter in front of me. Unfortunately, it was still raining. So, once again I made a decision to capture an image that I had wanted to do for some time, that being the old Tiger Tea trolley bus at the Early Settlers Museum. I bundled everything into my car and drove off through as many puddles as I could.

Having arrived at the Early Settlers Museum via nearly slipping on the wet entrance floor, I then spent several minutes fumbling around to find my vaccine pass. When this was completed, I was just about to venture off to the exhibits when the lady on the front desk informed me she’d have to take my tripod.

‘I’m sorry?’ I replied
‘Your tripod, I’ll need to take it while you’re inside”
‘I’m sorry? Why is that?’ I replied again. 
‘I’ll need to take it’
‘It’s never been a problem before?’
‘Sir, it’s fairly busy this morning and it might get in the way of others trying to enjoy the exhibits.’ she explained.

Reluctantly, and nervously I handed my band item and went off to find the transport section. It wasn’t long before I noticed something rather odd. Here was I, having to hand in an item that would stay perfectly still and connected to me at all times, as it would ‘get in the way of others trying to enjoy the exhibits’, whereas parents were allowing children to freely run around the museum and climb all over objects that clear had signs on them saying, ‘please do not climb.’ For a moment I wondered if their policy of not allowing items that would ‘get in the way of others trying to enjoy the exhibits’ could be extended to families who couldn’t control their child. I made my way through the museum, admiring this newly created center for family chaos, until I found what I was looking for. Trolley Bus No 10, registration number DK3158. 

There are certain things you need to be my age or at least in Dunedin in the late 1970’s and early to mid 1980’s to appreciate about Dunedin. One is the Star Fountain that used to light up in the lower Octagon and another is the Trolley Bus service.

The trolley buses commenced operation in Dunedin in 1950, with the final route closing in July 1979, 42 years ago. At the time of their axing, Dunedin residents vigorously opposed their termination, but it happened anyway!  And so, just like the Star Fountain, the Dunedin’s Trolley buses are now a distant memory.

Also have a look at:

The Experience of Seeing doesn’t follow set themes or ideas. Instead, it’s about seeing beauty in everyday objects and creating photographs that ask and answer the questions I have. It’s about taking a photograph in a way that reflects what I was thinking and seeing. That’s what these photograpgh’s are about, The Experience Of Seeing.

Dunedin’s Attic

The Animal Attic Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

I awoke to rain! I stood at the window gazing out to a white mist, where a city used to be. Judging by the ground, it had been raining for some time and the lack of wind indicated that these conditions were settling in for a long stay. Watching the rain fall into large ponds that would probably start attracting wildlife, I stood somewhat dumbfounded in Dunedin’s summer weather. You would think after all these years it would be something I was used to, alas no. Every year when December rolls around I prepare myself for the best summer ever, hoping for long, hot, warm days lasting for weeks on end. However, usually by the end of January I’m resisting the temptation to light a fire, lamenting a summer that never really got started. On this occasion, I gave up all hope of seeing a beach, instead I opted for the museum. I had been wanting to photograph a lion display and this seemed like as good a time as any.


Urban Myths (2)

Rongo Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

I finished my walk in bright sunshine at the Rongo Stone Memorial located on a large grass verge of road connecting the city’s harbour to the Otago Peninsula. The stone named Rongo is from Taranaki which commemorates the Māori prisoners transported to Dunedin between 1869 and 1879. 

As I read the inscriptions after visiting the nearby caves, I remember the stories I had heard as a child. Growing up my understanding was that Māori prisoners were held inside at night while building the road to the harbour during the day. This was in fact not true. The caves were used for storage while the groups of men sent down from Taranaki were prisoners who had supported an uprising against the Crown over unjust land confiscation in the 1870’s. 

The 74 prisoners were originally sentenced to death for high treason, but had their sentences commuted to imprisonment and hard labour and transported to Dunedin. Over the 25 months they spent in Dunedin, 18 men died, mostly from illness caused by the damp prison conditions and the sleeping arrangements.

Ten years later at Parihaka in the Taranaki, following another confrontation between government officials and local iwi, more arrests were made and a further 200 prisoners were sent to Dunedin, sentenced to hard labour. 

The men from Taranaki ended up making significant contributions to Dunedin’s transport network as they cut through stone and hill to make a connection between Maitland Street and Princes Street and built portions of the main road from Dunedin to Port Chalmers. In the sunshine as I reflected on some of the shameful acts in New Zealand’s history, I was glad I knew the truth.

Urban Myths (1)

Caves & DoorsBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

When I was younger there were all sorts of myths surrounding what the blocked up caves on Portobello Road were used for. These I passed as my walk came near to an end. When the causeway was under construction in the 1870’s, they were used for storing explosives. I prefer to imagine they had some sort of shady link to the notorious Victorian Pleasure Gardens that once sat directly above it. 

Peninsula Cycleway

Peninsula CyclewayBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

One of the truly genius ideas of recent times has been the addition of a walking and cycling path along the peninsula road. No more are long lines of traffic held up by a slow moving cyclist holding up traffic as they battle a head wind down rocketing down the harbour. Now the locals can happily slalom their way into town in cars, using the center line as nothing more than guide, leaving walkers such as myself happy and safe to enjoy the delights of the harbour. At one point I rounded a bend to meet a slight headwind, not strong enough to spoil the day but enough to make it difficult if you were on a bike. Just then, a family on bikes appeared. Watching families on outings like these is always a curious thing. In general, the Dad is always out the front having a wonderful time while the mum is left trying to encourage an unhappy child who looks ready to give up at any moment. On this occasion there was a second child desperately trying to keep up with Dad while a third trailed the mum with a look that suggested this wasn’t the ‘fun day out’ that had been promised. As they passed, I mentioned what a great day it was to get an ice cream at Mac Bay. It didn’t seem to help matters! 

Macandrew Bay Ice Cream Cravings

Macandrew Bay StoreBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

The camp track was used as an access point to get building materials from Broad Bay, up to the castle. I tried to imagine the motivation that would have been required to transport some of the stone and timber up the hill to what was then known as “The Camp.” My attention soon quickly turned to Broad Bay. Known to local māori as Whaka Oho Rahi (meaning  ‘a place of plenty’) it was once a location where food was gathered like kaimoana. After European settlement populated the area it became a popular ‘holiday resort’ and boating location. In the early 20th century Broad Bay hosted an annual New Year’s Day Regatta where crafts sailed from Dunedin to the bay. 

Leaving Broad Bay behind my walk now took me to Macandrew Bay which is another delightful peninsula community. There’s an art gallery, a playground, a boating club, a popular family beach and a dairy which happily satisfies the ice cream cravings of many youngsters. 

The Camp Track

The Camp TrackBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

Pleased with my decision to walk down hill instead of up, it wasn’t long before I reached the beginning of the camp track. Like most tracks on the peninsula it crosses private land, something I wasn’t entirely sure would happen in other countries. I couldn’t help but reflect how fortunate I am to live in a society where landowners are happy to freely let people walk on tracks over their land, as long as the gate is kept shut. I always think it’s one of the most joyous signs to see in New Zealand, old faded signs that are partially covered in long grass that say “please shut the gate.” The next while was spent enjoying the splendid views from the Camp track that took me down to Broad Bay.


Also have a look at:

The Experience of Seeing doesn’t follow set themes or ideas. Instead, it’s about seeing beauty in everyday objects and creating photographs that ask and answer the questions I have. It’s about taking a photograph in a way that reflects what I was thinking and seeing. That’s what these photograpgh’s are about, The Experience Of Seeing.

A View You Can’t Help But Admire

Harbour Cone looking out to Taiaroa HeadBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

When Larnach’s Castle was being built in 1871 it was named “The Camp.” Today the name lives on in not only the road leading up to the castle, but the track that leads up from Broad Bay to the Castle. After leaving the castle, I continued along the road that went around the side of the expansive property and headed down hill to where the track started. Along the way I couldn’t help but stop and admire the view that took in the sweeping surrounds of Harbour Cone and out to Taiaroa Head. It truly is a majestic sight.


Also have a look at:

The Experience of Seeing doesn’t follow set themes or ideas. Instead, it’s about seeing beauty in everyday objects and creating photographs that ask and answer the questions I have. It’s about taking a photograph in a way that reflects what I was thinking and seeing. That’s what these photograpgh’s are about, The Experience Of Seeing.