While In Russell, I decided some exercise was in order so I headed for the historic Tapeka Point. The point was once home to the Tapeka Pa and is now classified as a historic reserve due to its links to Maori ancestors and key events in the Bay of Islands history. Leaving the tranquility of Tapeka Beach, I followed a narrow grassy track that led me into what was once the heart of the Pa itself. Following the path and navigating what were once defensive ditches, I continued to the end of the Tapeka Peninsula and the top-most part of Pa itself. Once there, I found myself with almost overwhelming views out into the surrounding bays and beyond.
I was on my way to Oturehua in the Ida Valley. Having spent the afternoon exploring back-country roads, trying to get lost and generally avoiding inconvenient accidents like getting a flat-tyre, I stopped at Blackstone Hill Cemetery. While I was there admiring a rather large storm cloud approaching in the distance, I spotted an isolated building on the hill side. Investigating, I discovered it was the former Blackstone Hill (Hills Creek) school house, built around 1890. At one time, Blackstone Hill was a busy place that included 13 hotels in the town. Today, all that remains are a stone cottage, a cemetery and this school building.
After walking all day in the snow to a distant lake, then having made it back feeling tired and sunburnt, I took a well deserved rest. Later, with the sun setting and the light changing in the mountains I summoned the energy to walk around Mount Cook’s alpine village in the fading dusk.
I had three days in Wanaka and on one particular evening I decided to join a very large group of people who, like myself, clearly had nothing better to do than to look at a tree growing in water! After getting a compulsory photo, I then decided it was more interesting to watch the people, watching the tree. Some of whom, were extremely excited and animated. By what? Well, I just can’t say!
Looking out from Paraparaumu Beach, across to Kapiti Island and the setting sun, I recalled recently reading that back in the 1830’s, whales migrated with their young through the channel between the Island and the shore. It would have been marvellous to see. I also recall reading that the channel provided a sheltered anchorage for ships and several shore-based whaling stations operated near-by, which explains why you don’t see whales in the area any more!
I had lunch just as the day in Arrowtown was starting to collect itself. The morning had started with subzero temperatures creating a thick layer of frost over the town and virtually everything in it. Now, several hours later with the sky a clear and brilliant blue and the sun being a welcome source of warmth, I found myself in a delightful cafe having brunch. Actually, I wasn’t as much in the cafe as I was outside in the garden, which was equally as delightful and rather splendid as the sun took hold.
Earlier that morning having been for a walk in the cool morning air, I decided to see what Trip Advisor was advising regarding the local eating establishments while the town defrosted. So, after some toing and froing and a rather lengthy period of indecisiveness, I decided to make my way to a place called Provisions of Arrowtown. There, I found my way to a table in the lovely garden and enjoyed a splendid brunch surrounded by a wonderfully restored cottage that dated back to the 1870’s and the Arrowtown goldrush era.
Having no immediate plans for the rest of the day, apart from vacating my table which was clearly wanted by a number of hungry visitors, I decided to ponder what to do next as I walked the town streets
A few years back, 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. I made my way down to the pier at the lakefront and savoured the splendor of the colours that surrounded me. 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. Only gradually did dawn on me that I was the only one around.
There’s something quite revealing about standing in an isolated field amongst the tussock with rain clouds passing overhead and snow on the ranges in front of you. It’s either a place you want to leave as quickly as possible, or unpack and stay a little longer. As a cool wind blew my hat off my head, I decided to sit by a boundary fence and hang around for a bit. Besides, I had a flat tyre and needed to unpack the boot!
If you ever go to Stewart Island, here’s a tip. Leave Oban by walking along the coast road of Elgin Terrace and continue into Leask Bay Road until you reach the very end. There you will find the Ackers Point Track Trailhead which takes you down into the remote Harrold Bay. In the Bay you’ll find the earliest stone house on the island, a small cottage that was built by former American whaler Captain Lewis Acker in 1834-5. It really is a delightful place and well worth a visit. I liked it very much.
Early on my climb up the 253 steps I had to ascend to get to the Cape Palliser lighthouse, I couldn’t help but spare a thought for the early lighthouse keepers at the Cape. You see, when the lighthouse was open in 1897, not only did they have to scramble up a muddy, 58 metre-high cliff to get to the lighthouse, but, they had to manually haul large drums of oil and kerosene up as well. This lunacy continued for the first 15 years of operation at Cape Palliser until someone had the genius idea of putting in a set of steps!
Recently while on holiday I found myself pondering a single thought, which was this; isn’t it amazing how sitting in the sun all day, doing nothing but reading a book and occasionally complaining that the sun has disappeared behind a cloud, makes you feel like you’ve earned a drink by 3pm? Not that I’m complaining, in fact, as I write I notice that it’s actually 4:13pm. So, if you’ll excuse me, I believe I hear my beer fridge calling.
I decided, impulsively, to walk a section of the Routeburn Track. However, being neither prepared or dressed for such an undertaking, it was when I reached a swing bridge over Sugerloaf Stream that I reconsidered my options. Looking at my watch and discovering the afternoon was quickly disappearing, I made a few quick calculations. Deciding that I’d gone far enough to earn a beer at the nearest pub, I started the walk back.
On the beach at Lee Bay in Stewart Island, after considerable thought, I came to a single conclusion. I like Stewart Island, and here’s the reason why. Stewart Island has a sum total of around 20 kilometers of roading compared to 245 kilometers of walking tracks. Now, there aren’t many places in the world where you can say that!
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.
Fortunately for me, I had a good friend acting as a tour guide. Our last stop was the wonderful Hokitika Gorge that is tucked away in the Hokitika Scenic Reserve. After a short walk that crossed 2 suspension bridges, we were presented with the most astounding aqua blue water, hidden in the most amazing forest.
Without a doubt the most outstanding features of Lake Tekapo and the McKenzie Region are the clear blue lakes, the mountain backdrops and the clear night skies. Standing on the edge of the lake, looking out to the clear blue beyond, I wanted to give mother nature a round of applause and say ‘job well done!’
What a joy it is to drive around New Zealand. At any one time you have to negotiate trucks, buses, campervans, campervans towing boats, campervans towing cars, utes, utes towing boats, utes towing trailers, cars towing boats, cars towing trailers, tractors, scooters, walkers, runners, cyclists, railway crossings, single lane bridges, Nissan LEAF drivers and the odd flock of sheep. All of whom share New Zealand’s roads in moderate bliss. Although why Nissan LEAF’s are allowed on the national state highway system is quite beyond me!
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.
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.
I recently found Falls Dam at Fiddlers Flat. The only problem was, I wasn’t actually looking for the dam. I was looking for the Falls Dam fishing village, which, it turns out, is located further down the lake.
After spending time in Oturehua, located in the Ida Valley, I proceeded to Hills Creek before continuing on the Wedderburn-Becks Road, until I met-up with the St Bathans Loop Road. I was heading for Falls Dam and it wasn’t long before I came to Fiddlers Flat Road and a signpost that read, ‘Falls Dam 6km’.
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.
… 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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