Lake Wanaka

Lake Wanaka

This is the shores of Lake Wanaka on a stunning summer’s day. Doesn’t it look amazing? It’s not hard to tell why it’s one of the country’s top holiday spots in the summer months. In fact, each year between Christmas and New Years the town becomes so busy that the town’s infrastructure struggles to cope with the number of tourists and holidaymakers enjoying the sunshine and the lake. Maybe that’s why so many developments have started up in the area.

Dusk Over The Wakatipu Basin

Dusk over the Wakatipu Basin

It’s amazing how lazy you can feel after sitting by a river all day. Having done just that, by the time evening hit the Central Otago town of Arrowtown, I started to feel like some exercise might be needed. So, as dusk approached I decided to stretch my legs with a walk up Tobins Track to see the sunset over the Wakatipu Basin. Set high above the hills of Arrowtown, Tobin’s track was originally built by Irishman Thomas Tobin who won the roading contract to link the Wakatipu Basin to the Cardrona Valley in the 1870’s.

Fleur’s Place For Naturally Good Food

Fleur’s Place in Moeraki

While I was in the seaside village of Moeraki I called past Fleur’s Place, a rustic style restaurant that specialises in fresh seafood. Unfortunately, it closed during the Covid 19 pandemic when the whole hospitality industry struggled to stay open. In fact, I don’t know if it ever reopened? 

Fleur’s Place gained a great reputation for fantastic sea food and regularly received rave reviews by visitors from all over the world, including Britain’s own popular TV chef Rick Stein. In fact, when British newspaper the Daily Mail offered to fly him anywhere in the world to eat, he chose Fleur’s Place! That’s impressive.

Steampunk HQ

Steampunk HQ

Welcome to Steampunk HQ in Oamaru which is a fun place to visit. This train outside also lights up at night which is quite spectacular. Unfortunately, whenever I go past it’s always daylight. I really must go up for a night trip to photograph the lights in the evening. Also, a fun fact I read stated that not only is Oamaru the Steampunk capital of New Zealand but of the entire world. Is that true?

Akatore Creek Road at Taieri Mouth

Akatore Creek Road

I thought I should warn you that over the next few days I’m going to be skipping around the place a fair bit as I share photos with you from towns, points of interest and random curiosities I’ve discovered. So, having said that, I’ve headed just over the hill from Taieri Mouth to Akatore Creek Road which provides access to nearby farms. I actually thought this was one long driveway as it didn’t initially look like a public road. Also, a fun fact is that the nearby Akatore Creek is home to the Fernbird which is listed as an ‘at risk and declining’ species.

Visiting Olveston

The stately home of Olveston

This is the upstairs of the grand, stately home of Olveston here in Dunedin. It was built between 1904 and 1907 for wealthy English merchant David Theomin who wanted to create an English country house in the city for his wife Marie and their two children Edward and Dorothy. Olveston was a family home from the time it was built in 1906 until 1966 when Dorothy, the last remaining member of the family, passed away. It was then bequeathed to the City of Dunedin and opened to the public the following year.

Aramoana Panorama

Aramoana Panorama

This is a large scale panorama of Aramoana Beach. It’s actually made up of 17 photos that shows the entire length of the beach, the mole, Taiaroa Head and part of the harbour. To get this, I had to climb up to the top of a very large dune and then up a few rocks to a point that provided clear views in either direction. Yet, somehow coming down seemed trickier than getting up there!

Return To Harington Point Gun Emplacements

Harington Point Gun Emplacements 

The other month when I was out on the Otago Peninsula I spent a day exploring the Harington Point Battery gun emplacements on the Otago Peninsula. Originally built in response to the threat of a Russian invasion in the 1880’s, the site was added to when World War 1, then World War 2 broke out. It’s a fun place to wander around, even if it does require a little scrambling up and down banks, pushing through overgrown gorse bushes and stepping over empty spray cans.

Stunning Views From The Highcliff Track

Boulder Beach from the Highcliff Track

I do love the Highcliff Track on the Otago Peninsula. It’s a glorious place that leads to so many other tracks and that you can be spoilt for choice. My favourite route is to make my way down McMeeking Road before linking up with the Highcliff Track and continuing on down to Boulder Beach and returning via the Paradise Road Track, up to Highcliff Road. Of course, if you’re feeling adventurous and energetic, instead of going up the Paradise Track there is always the option of heading over to Sandfly Bay. If you find yourself heading that way, make sure you allow yourself some time to take in the view from the Highcliff Track looking down to Boulder Beach and out over the Peninsula. It really is stunning.

De Molen Foxton

De Molen Foxton

While driving through the North Island town of Foxton, it’s hard not to notice the very large Windmill. It’s also very hard to not be enticed to stop and visit it. Even if it’s only to look at it from the outside. After all, New Zealand doesn’t have many genuine Windmills and this is the real thing. Built to traditional Dutch plans, it is an authentic replica of a 17th-century flour mill that is totally operational. Not only that, it looks great too.

The Little Fiddle In Christchurch

The Little Fiddle In Christchurch

I made my way through streets that looked vaguely familiar. Not having a great knowledge of Christchurch’s CBD, anything past the Avon River was really a mystery to me. Yet, occasionally I found a street or location that seemed recognisable. Colombo Street was one, Manchester Street was another and then of course there was Cathedral Square. The rest looked nothing like I remember it.  But, that’s to be expected when you’re rebuilding a city! 

I made my way along streets, down passage-ways and through alleys with a simply delightful gaze in my eye. It was like discovering a whole new city and I was very much enjoying myself. I walked past new buildings that seemed to feature a style of architecture called ‘jigsaw puzzle pieces that don’t fit’ and shops that either had a minimalist vibe or were still under construction. 

Eventually, I came across a junction point for three laneways. Clearly I was approaching the food and beverage sector of the CBD as nearby there was an Italian Restaurant, a Mexican Bar, A place called ‘The Craft Embassy’ and one known as ‘The Little Fiddle’. It was this last one that caught my eye, for no other reason that it was bright red. It was covered in signs that read “Stout & Porter”, “Pedlers of fine Irish Whiskey, Beer and Wine” and “Try our hot and tasty fare.” It did look very enticing, but unfortunately I still had to navigate my way back to my car and negotiate my way through Christchurch traffic and I wasn’t too sure that alcohol would help the matter.

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.        

Cherstey Book Barn

Cherstey Book Barn

The small community of Cherstey lies between the South Island towns of Rakaia and Ashburton. The great thing about Cherstey is the local Book Barn. Located in a massive disused shed that sits between the railway tracks and state highway 1, it’s one of those quirky roadside places that make driving in Aotearoa so interesting. 

Housing over an estimated 300,000 books, it’s the kind of place where you could happily spend hours rummaging through the almost endless maze of titles. If you’re lucky you might even get a free hot drink, biscuit or a few lollies for the road. 

Otago Peninsula Honesty Box

Harington Point Road  Honesty Box

With caution, I’d spent the afternoon negotiating the Otago Peninsula Road. I say with caution as there were lots of tourists in campervans and rental cars who always make the summer roads a bit of a lottery. The peninsula road begins at Andersons Bay Inlet at the head of Otago Harbour and winds its way for 26 kilometres to Taiaroa Head where there’s an albatross colony. As a drive it’s quite spectacular. The coastal road passes through small settlements, past beaches, boat moorings, marinas, boat ramps, and jetties by the dozen. Along the way there’s also places where you can see fur seals, sea lions, penguins and all manner of bird life. There’s art galleries you can visit, cafes and restaurants to pass the time at and of course the classic honesty box sitting by the odd farm gate or fence.

I must confess, there aren’t many honesty boxes that I don’t pull over at. In fact, I’ve been known to put money in the box without actually buying anything. I think it’s the element of surprise I love best. On this occasion, not only were there fresh eggs and tomatoes, but decorative paua shells and other assorted items for sale. Looking over the display, I decided that there wasn’t anything I really needed, however it didn’t seem right to leave without making some type of contribution. So, I found $4 in the car and popped it into the payment tin. I figured it was payment for the photo.

Taieri Mouth Cribs

Taieri Mouth Cribs 

I stand in front of two signs. One is a formal council sign with white lettering on a blue background that reads ‘Boat Harbour’. The second is less formal. It’s made out of a surfboard that’s stuck in the ground that has red and black lettering. It reads ‘Slow Down. Free range kids! Slow!’ As I look at the surfboard my eyes drift across the road to a crib close by. For a moment my mind skips between the words crib and batch. My thoughts linger on how the use of the word crib or batch depends on where in Aotearoa you’re from. My attention moves back to the crib, then the surfboard, then finally once more to the crib.  

The longer I look the more I notice various objects like; flagpoles, boats, flower pots, ornamental fish and a lifebuoy. My eye drifts over the whole scene and arrives back at the surfboard and a boat not far off. It all seems so very typical backyard Aotearoa

First Church In Dunedin

First Church in Dunedin 

I sit down on a shady piece of grass where the shadows of two trees meet. I’m wearing shorts, a t-shirt and jandals. On my head is a faded bucket hat and over my shoulder is a camera with a 10-22mm lens. Usually, I carry a backpack with other lenses and camera bodies, however today is different. Today I wanted to travel light. Having only one lens means I have less decisions to make. It means I become more focused on how I’m going to show the idea I have in my head. Some days it’s good to have more equipment and more options to shoot with, however today isn’t one of those days. 

The patch of grass where I now sit has been carefully chosen, it’s the spot where I have the view of the church that I want. It’s the spot that I find the most interesting, the spot that generates the most questions in my mind. Earlier, I walked around the grounds at the church at least three times to make sure I found the spot I wanted. Now, as I settle on the grass I look at the trees I’m sure I have. As the sun moves between the branches I look to a nearby park bench, then more trees. Beyond the trees is a flower bed that is filled with summer colours and past that a driveway. I turn to my right and observe a spacious grass lawn that has other church buildings sitting on the boundary line in the distance. In between all those, sits the old gothic church.

It’s not so much the church that I’m interested in, nor is it the trees, the park bench or grass but how all the objects interplay with each other. In this spot, I have questions. I have questions about the shapes, textures and spaces I see in front of me as I sit on this shady piece of grass. 

Summer Dusk At Second Beach

Stormwater Outlet at Second Beach – Buy 

I spent the evening exploring the beauty of Second Beach at St Clair. Along this stretch of beach, years of consistent wave movement have created great drifts of raggedly oval stones worn to a polished smoothness. They are nearly impossible to walk on since your feet sink with each step while at the same time having to navigate piles of driftwood that have washed up. The coast path above the beach is much easier and doesn’t require clambering up and down a bank to reach it. At any one time you’ll meet anyone and everyone from the young to old, those getting their daily fitness quota, surfers and people just enjoying a tranquil escape for 5 minutes. No matter which option you take, if it’s the beach or the path you’ll hear the sea, crashing into the shore creating a seemingly endless musical score of stones clattering on the water’s edge. It’s one of the most glorious places in Dunedin.

Kapiti Island Wildlife Sanctuary

Kapiti Island Reserve – Buy 

During the 1840s, the whaling trade/industry around parts of New Zealand had started to fade away. Kapiti Island was one of these locations. At this time, much of the land on the Island was cleared for farming and sheep, goats, pigs, deer, cats, and dogs were introduced. For the next forty to fifty years, the island was farmed until around 1900 when the government purchased most of the island and developed it into a predator-free, bird sanctuary.

Mangaweka & Cyclone Hale

The Rangitikei River – Buy

On my way through the North Island I had a look around the town of Mangaweka. I was hoping to see the DC-3 aircraft tearooms and cafe, however, to my disappointment it was no-longer in existence, having moved two years previously in 2021. For over 30 years, one of the North Island’s most famous landmarks was the elevated Douglas DC-3 aircraft installed in the middle of Mangaweka as a tearooms. Opening in 1984, it was a popular roadside stop on State Highway 1 in the central North Island until 2021 when the plane was moved and then put up for sale in 2023. 

So, with the absences of the DC-3 aircraft tearooms, I called in at the Mangarere/Rangitikei River rest stop as tropical cyclone Hale was moving down along the east coast of North Island

Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre

Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre Buy 

Finding myself with no place to be, and with a bit of time to spare, I went for an amble around Christchurch. It had been a good five years since I’d visited the city centre and it was with interest that I strolled the streets around Cathedral Square. One of the new buildings I found (although hard to miss) was Te Pae. Te Pae, literally meaning “gathering place” in te reo Māori, is the new Christchurch Convention Centre.

Kapiti Island

Kapiti Island – Buy 

Accessible only by specific ferry companies, Kapiti Island is a wonderful place to spend some time. These days, the predator-free Island is managed by the Department of Conservation however back in the mid-1830s, there were up to five whaling stations on the island. At the time, European traders and whalers were populating the coastlines and so local iwi provided them with land, pigs, potatoes, dressed flax and women in return for guns, tobacco and alcohol.

The Cardrona Hotel

The Cardrona Hotel – Buy 

Dating back to 1865, the Cardrona Hotel is an iconic pub/hotel situated in the Cardrona Valley, that dates back to the Otago gold rush days. It had numerous owners of the years, however none more famous than proprietor James “Jimmy’ Patterson. Having purchased the hotel in 1926, Jimmy Patterson owned the establishment for 35 years until his death at the age of 91 in 1961. His attitude towards serving alcohol to patrons was legendary in the area. He preferred not to sell alcohol to women, and the amount you could drink depended on the direction you were heading. For those heading into Wanaka, he would allow two drinks while those heading over the Crown Range were limited to a single glass.

Kings Emporium & Vintage Clothing In Herbert

Kings Emporium Vintage Clothing – Buy 

Kings Emporium and Vintage Clothing is located on Otepopo Street in Herbert. That’s about 22 kilometres or 17 minutes (depending on your driving speed) from Oamaru. According to the shop’s Facebook page, the Emporium is currently closed while some house renovations happen. I can’t say I’ve ever been into the store, however I’ve always thought it would make interesting subject matter for a photo. 

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.

The Dunstan

Dunstan House – Buy 

At one point in history, The Dunstan Hotel, or ‘The Dunstan’ as it was known locally was the most popular spot in Otago and possibly the entire country. At the height of the Otago Rush, miners from all over New Zealand and the world were flocking to the Otago region, as news of the ‘The Rush’ spread. The gold rush caused many small towns to grow rapidly, one of which was Cylde, known at the time as Dunstan. The Dunstan Hotel was originally built in 1863 and not only featured accommodation but dining, drawing and smoking rooms, as well as a theatre for Saturday night entertainment. It was also the stopping point for the famed Cobb & Co’s coaches that ran from Dunedin to ‘The Dunstan’ and journeyed further on to Arrowtown and Queenstown.