Curling In Naesby

Curling in Naesby

In Naesby I found people curling which wasn’t really a surprise considering how cold it was. So, I decided to stay and watch a while. It was quite interesting really. Over the half hour I was there, I walked around and heard all sorts of terms I’d never heard before and didn’t really understand. But, I can say this, they seemed to be having a great deal of fun and what’s more, not one person slipped over while I was there. A feat I was rather impressed with.

Clarks Mill near Oamaru

Clarks Mill near Oamaru

On a whim, I stopped at Clarks Mill. I was on my way to Christchurch and when the historic mill came into view, some 15 kilometres south of Oamaru, for no particular reason I pulled the car over and made the decision to have a look around. Unfortunately, the mill was closed and all locked up so I was forced to be content with wandering around the grounds. However, I was able to find out that the milling of wheat and flour was a key component of the early North Otago economy and Clarks Mill was an important part of that production. Opened in 1867 for the New Zealand and Australia Land Company, Clarks Mill was originally equipped with grinding stones powered by a water wheel. Since the mill was in a rather awkward location beside a bend of the Kakanui River, it required the construction of a long water race to power it.

The TSS Earnslaw

The TSS Earnslaw in Queenstown

As I stood on the dock, the crisp morning air filled my lungs and the beauty of Queenstown surrounded me. The TSS Earnslaw, an iconic steamship affectionately known as the “Lady of the Lake,” was moored majestically against the tranquil waters of Lake Wakatipu. Its vintage charm, accentuated by the bright red funnel and classic white hull, transported me back in time.

The surrounding mountains were nothing short of breathtaking. Snow-capped peaks of the Remarkables range loomed in the distance, their rugged beauty softened by light morning mist. The sun, still low in the sky, cast a golden glow, creating a picturesque contrast with the deep blue waters of the lake.

It was then that I realised that I had never actually been on the historic ship, maybe this is something I should change I thought to myself as I moved along the dock.

Tunnel Hill Historic Railway

Tunnel Hill railway at McDonald’s Saddle

Tunnels are amazing. Whenever I see one, I can never walk or drive past without stopping to go inside to investigate. On this occasion, I was heading for Balclutha having recently left the small town of Owaka. I had spent the day walking the Catlins River Track near Tawanui in the Owaka Valley and by the time I arrived back at my car, it was mid afternoon. Leaving Tawanui, I arrived in Owaka where I stopped for a bite to eat before continuing on to Tunnel Hill, the location of a disused 250 m long railway tunnel. Built between 1879 and 1915, the Catlins River Branch railway formed part of New Zealand’s national rail network which was constructed to provide access to the local timber industries. The tunnel was finished in 1896.

Paraparam (aka Paraparaumu)

Corner of Marine Parade and MacLean Street

This is an image I took while I was in Paraparaumu on one of those typically hot, North Island  summer days. When I processed this image I was in a mood to be a bit creative, so I added a preset. Lightroom presets are great, I use them all the time. IN case you don’t know what Lightroom presets are, they enable quick additions of filters during photo editing. They’re really useful, super easy and fun to make. This particular preset is called ‘Ali Is Smiling’ because I made it and a whole bunch while I was watching the famous Thrilla In Manila boxing match between Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier III from 1975. I also added a Fisheye Lens effect to mix things up a bit.

The Penguin Entertainers Club In Oamaru

The Penguin Entertainers Club

Wandering around the Victorian Heritage precinct of Oamaru, I had a delightful time exploring all the alleyways that connect the surrounding area. They were filled with doors that were clearly delivery entrances and the usual assortment of rubbish bins and other bits and pieces you might find in an alleyway next to a busy shopping area. Along one passageway that ran between two historic buildings I came across a ramp and door that looked slightly different than all the rest. The sign on the door said, Jam Night: Members, Guests. The sign above said ‘The Penguin Club.’ It was one of those places that appeared to be still in use, but then again it was hard to tell. Intrigued, I made a note and continued on exploring the heritage buildings. 

Later, I read that the Penguin Entertainers Club started in 1990. Located in the annex of an old grain store, the space was made available for Oamaru musicians to practise, have a few drinks and mix with local talent and now, almost 35 years later the place is still going.

Maybe South Canterbury?

Railway track near State Highway 1

So, usually I’m pretty good at remembering where and when I was when I took a photo. It’s not often I can’t pinpoint an exact location, however this is one of those times. What I can tell you is that I was driving to Christchurch and somewhere beyond Timaru I stopped to stretch my legs. Spotting a walking track, I followed it and found myself under a bridge, with both railway tracks and a river next to me. It was fairly obvious from the surroundings that the river had recently flooded. This of course meant that I had to spend a lot of time avoiding puddles, something I wasn’t too successful at.

Little Red Rooster

Belladonna Lily

So, I was going to change direction today away from flowers however I got a message that changed my mind. I received an email from a viewer saying they didn’t like to leave comments on blogs, however she was loving the images of flowers. She then went on to ask if I had any more I could post. Well, I promised one more flower photo so today by special request here is a Belladonna Lily, a species of Amaryllis. 

Green River


Mediterranean Spurge

This is another image from my social media channels which you might not have seen. Once again, turning to my marvellous Picture This app I can tell you this plant is a Mediterranean Spurge and it symbolises purity, protection and wisdom. Why that is, I can’t say, however I do know that it is used in Mediterranean cooking such as with salads and cooked with vegetables. Interestingly, the plant is also toxic so working with it would be rather dangerous I’d imagine. 

Oh, incidentally if you want to follow me on Facebook you can find me here (@fromasmallcity) or on Instagram right here (@fromasmallcity).

Purple Rain

Garden Mum (Chrysanthemum)

Just in case you need a little more purple in your life!

This is the image I shared on one of my social media channels yesterday however, since not everyone is not signed up to the various online communities, I’m sharing it here as well. If you’ve already seen it, you get the delight of seeing it again! I must say, I don’t really know plants and flowers, so identifying them is a bit of a mystery to me. Yet, I can tell you that it’s a Garden Mum, a species of Chrysanthemum. I know that thanks to my marvellous Picture This app on my phone. 

Oh, incidentally if you want to follow me on Facebook you can find me here (@fromasmallcity) or on Instagram right here (@fromasmallcity).

The Karetai Coastal Walking Track

The Karetai Walking Track

On a lovely bright winter’s morning, I was walking along the Karetai Track between Karetai Road and Smaills Beach when I came across a dozen or so empty beer bottles scattered in the long grass near a stone wall, next to the path. I’m sorry, but this is a scene we must examine for a moment. First of all, not only had they left the bottles but also the box, and judging by its condition it couldn’t have been sitting there more than a few days. The very least the owners might have done is put them back in the box! Secondly, to get the beer to its current location, it needed to be carried from the car park, a distance of some 50 metres. Either that or they lugged the thing up a very steep hill from the beach, and this seemed unlikely. If they (whoever they are?) went to all the trouble of carrying the beer to my present spot, I would have thought they could have taken it away with them. So, my question is this. What kind of person carries a box of beer, 50 metres along a public walking track, scatters all the empties and their rubbish round and simply disappears. Clearly my expectations of some sections of society are far too high! 

Having surveyed the scene, and it was a lovely spot to take in the view, I decided there was only one course of action available. I walked back to my car, collected a reusable shopping bag and proceeded to gather up all the empty bottles and took them with me. Leaving the path a little tidier for the next person.

St Clair Beach At Sunrise

St Clair Beach at Sunrise

The beach was still and calm as I looked out over the ocean. The sky was an exquisite blend of deep blues and purples, with streaks of orange and yellow near the horizon where the sun was first appearing. The reflections of the colourful sky on the wet sand created a mesmerising effect. To my left were stairs that led up to the Esplanade, illuminated by the warm glow of the morning light. In the distance, lights started to appear as people awoke, adding to the tranquil and picturesque scene.

The South Sea Hotel

The South Sea Hotel

I found my way to the South Seas Hotel. Once inside I found a cosy bar where a dozen or so patrons were seated at an old wooden bar, engaged in conversation with the bartender. I looked around and took in the friendly, casual and relaxed atmosphere. It was then that I realised I was the only one not looking like I’d just spent a week in the bush. The place was rustic and inviting with all the charm that you’d want from a local gathering spot to relax and enjoy a drink. I decided to hang around for a bit.

Ngawi In The Wairarapa

Ngawi Beach

Having spent the early part of the day climbing up the 253 steps to Cape Palliser Lighthouse, I couldn’t help but spare a thought for the early lighthouse keepers at the Cape. 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! So, having explored the famous lighthouse and the nearby fishing villages, avoiding washed out sections of road, I stopped and went for a walk along the beach at Ngawi. 

It was then that I noticed an extremely large and ominously dark wall of weather approaching from the south. Earlier in the day, I read that snow was forecast to fall in the Wairarapa area however that was something I’d chosen to ignore. I’d simply assumed it wouldn’t happen. After all, how often do you really believe snow will fall when it’s forecast. Now, late in the afternoon it seemed that snow was on its way.

Goat Island In Otago Harbour

Goat Island In Otago Harbour

With wind rocketing down the harbour and dark, grey skies only adding to the already cool wind that was dropping the temperature to a chilly 5 or 6 degrees, I pointed my car in the direction of Port Chalmers. Upon arrival, I took a short detour to an area known as Back Beach and the Peninsula Road to get a view of Goat and Quarantine Islands. These days, Goat and Quarantine Islands are designated as scenic reserves and places of national significance. However, once upon a time both Quarantine and Goat Islands served as quarantine stations for Otago from 1863 until 1924. When ships arrived in Otago harbour, passengers with infectious diseases were quarantined for various periods of time.

Return To The Dunedin Gasworks Museum

The Dunedin Gasworks Museum

I’ve mentioned the Dunedin Gasworks Museum in South Dunedin previously. Along with the fact that it is one of only three known preserved gaswork museums in the world, making it a place of significant heritage. Operating from 1863 to 1987, it offers a bit of rustic charm to all that visit it. The only drawback being that if like me you’re just not that interested in the manufacturing, treatment, pumping and storage of gas then you’re going to find it a little boring. Funny that most of its visitors seem to be men!

Akatore Creek Swamp

Akatore Creek and Swamp at Taieri Beach

Leaving the small fishing village of Taieri Mouth, I felt an urge to continue past the small township, simply because I had the time and I figured, well why not! Coming to Akatore Road which changed from the traditional tarseal to gravel, I travelled for some distance. I passed paddocks filled with sheep, farm yards, tractors and all other sorts of rural machinery that you don’t see in central Dunedin. On a whim, I called in on Taieri Beach Cemetery before rejoining Akatore Road until Akatore Creek came into view. An area that at first glance appears to be just another sleepy valley in rural Aotearoa covered in part with wetlands and swamps. Yet, it’s an area of great significance.

Located within the Tokomairiro Ecological District in the Otago Coast Ecological Region, The Akatore Creek Swamp is home to all kinds of living organisms. It’s a habitat that covers a diverse area of wetland and is an area considered nationally significant. Looking at the surrounding countryside you’d never guess, however what makes it so important is among other things, the presence of rare and threatened species such as the Fernbirds which are a declining species and the Mimulus Repens, an at-risk native plant. All of which I was quite delighted to see.

Street Art By Phlegm

Street Art by UK artist Phlegm

The Dunedin street art scene kicked off in around 2014 when local and international artists were invited to add colour to some of the city walls. Since then, murals have appeared all over the city. It’s really not hard to come across street art in Dunedin. One of the earlier pieces was this one by Welsh-born Sheffield-based muralist and artist Phlegm that can be found on Vogel Street on the exterior wall of Vogel Street Kitchen. 

Dunedin’s Tomahawk Beach

Tomahawk Beach In Dunedin 

When it comes to beaches, I seem to forget about Dunedin’s Tomahawk Beach. Maybe the reason is that it’s so close to home? I’m really not sure! It’s actually a lovely beach to walk along, when the weather is fine of course. Due to its location it can get a tiny bit windy however, on a fine day it’s a lovely walk. If you get your timing right, at low tide once you reach the end of the beach you can even continue around the point to Smaills Beach. Additionally, in 2018 Tomahawk Beach was used as a location for a British bank advertisement. It featured 20 black horses galloping along the beach in a commercial for Lloyds Bank which was called The Running of the Horses. Just how a British bank ended up filming on Tomahawk Beach is really quiet mind boggling. 

Hotel St Clair & Tītī Restaurant

Hotel St Clair & Tītī Restaurant

Without any real intention or set purpose, I returned to the Esplanade at St Clair. I’d been there only a few days earlier, only this time was different. On the previous occasion, I’d spent a glorious afternoon exploring the rock pools surrounding the St Clair Salt Water Pool at low tide. This time however, for reasons I wasn’t sure about and with no-set agenda, I needed to walk. Now, sitting in my car, I waited a few moments for a light rain shower to pass before strolling along the beachfront. I passed both the St Clair Surf Lifesaving club and the statue of ‘Mum’ (a famous local Sea Lion) and looked out beyond rows of sand sausages – massive long tubes made of mesh, filled with sand and put in place to help slow coastal erosion. I watched the incoming tide for a few minutes, turned and headed for the far opposite end of the Esplanade. The whole area was quiet in the fading light as the street lights started to take hold. Reaching the end of the Esplanade by the Salt Water Pool, I paused beside a cafe that must have closed several hours ago. Once again I stood and watched the tide roll in, breaking against the rocks before receding out into the backwash. Every so often patches of sand became exposed, revealing leftover seaweed and driftwood that would shift and move with the tide. I took a moment to look out across the ocean. As the light had continued to fade, the sea had taken on a moody grey-blue complexion. Suddenly to my left the lights of the Hotel St Clair came on and drew my attention back to the Esplanade. In the blue hour of evening, I walked in the salty sea air as darkness held. The lights from the hotel reflected off the road’s glossy surface, created from light misty rain that had recently passed through. The glow of the lights from the hotel revealed a cleaning crew packing up from the day while the restaurant was just starting to become busy. Occasionally, a passing vehicle would slowly pass along couples holding hands, walking in the calm and quiet night air.