Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens Steps

Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens StepsBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

The recent heavy rain in Dunedin caused a few minor rock falls around the city. One of which exposed these steps that start at the base of the Otago Peninsula that once led up to the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. 

The Pleasure Gardens were opened in 1862 and were hugely popular at the time, being accessed by way of a steamer that brought people across the harbour. The gardens featured private picnic areas, various flower gardens, a band rotunda, tea rooms, baths and on special occasions firework displays were held. 

However, by the early 1870s the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens were a place of intoxication and prostitution which lead to their closure and the land being sold off for housing development. 

Wild Tide At Blackhead Beach

Wild tide at Blackhead BeachBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

I was shooting out at Blackhead Beach one afternoon where I had the big 10 stop filter in play to get a nice slow, candy floss effect in the water which was had a very hostile feel to it as wind buffeted the point. The sky had an angry feel to it as dark clouds passed out to sea and the local seals where active as well as they looked for dry places to bask in the sunshine where they wouldn’t get soaked by the tide. Fun times.

The Highcliff Track On Otago Peninsula

The Highcliff Track on Otago PeninsulaBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

The Highcliff track on the Otago Peninsula is quickly becoming one of my favourite spots on the peninsula. One part of it has an amazing view of Boulder Beach and beyond while the peak of the track has all these boulders scattered on it. It’s a wonderful spot to sit and watch the world go by.

More info on the Highcliff Tracks can be found here: https://www.dunedin.govt.nz/community-facilities/walking-tracks/peninsula-tracks/highcliff-tracks

Dunedin CBD

Dunedin CBDBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

As I was standing somewhere near either View or Tennyson Street, just a stone’s throw away from The Octagon, it struck me that there are some unique views of Dunedin’s city centre to be found. If you’re prepared to walk up hills that is. You see, while it doesn’t have a cluttered skyline made up of buildings that light up like a Christmas Tree at night, the small and compact CBD can be viewed from some quirky vantage points if you’re in for a walk!

Dunes at Blackhead Beach

Dunes at Blackhead BeachBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

I headed off while the weather was still holding. After a period of rain a while back, over the last week the winter weather had been delightfully settled. While the temperature was still inclined to drop away at night, the daylight hours were filled with increasing hours of warmth and sunshine. On this particular day I enjoyed the popular spot of Blackhead Beach.

Wedderburn Farm Shed

Wedderburn Farm ShedBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

My last stop before heading home was a green shed. Once again, only in Aotearoa can a green shed become famous. However no trip through Wedderburn is complete without at least once stopping at the shed made famous by Grahame Sydney’s 1975 Egg Tempera painting called ‘July on the Maniototo’. Being my last stop, I sat and pondered for a while just what it is I like so much about it. I didn’t come to a definite conclusion however I think it’s something to do with timelessness and simplicity. 

So I returned to the car and headed out rejoining State Highway 85 heading east, then eventually south and towards home. 

St Bathans Blue Lake

St Bathans Blue LakeBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

The Blue Lake of St Bathans doesn’t seem quite as blue as it once was. While it is very blue  indeed, it is possibly slightly less blue than it once was. Maybe it was just the light, however the lake’s distinctive blue colour seems to have significantly faded if you ask me. If anything, it’s more green than anything. Unless of course it just happened to be the day I was there, in which case I’m totally wrong! 

I had arrived in St Bathans by way of State Highway 85. Following the Manuherikia River I passed through the small settlements of Chatto Creek, Omakau and Becks before taking the St Bathans Loop Road, eventually bringing me into the small town where I purchased a drink at the hotel and parked by the lake. Looking around the lake, it’s hard not to be impressed by the man-made water feature. 

Once known as Kildare Hill that stood 120 metres high, gold-sluicing transformed it into a 168  metre deep pit. When it was abandoned and filled with water, remaining minerals in the soil gave the lake a distinctive emerald colour. I explored the lake surroundings and tried to imagine Kildare Hill in its place. It was hard to do. 

Dunstan House In Clyde

Dunstan HouseBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

Arriving in Clyde I found my way to Dunstan House where I was booked for the night. Some days back, anticipating a stay in Clyde I phoned ahead. I was fortunate to get a room in the historic building as all the rooms but one were full. Upon arrival and after checking in, I discovered two things. Firstly, all the rooms were named after local people. My room was the John Holloway Room. Named after a local stone mason who completed the stone work for the very building I was staying around the year 1900. 

The second thing I discovered was upon talking to the owners, it transpired that earlier that day an entire party had cancelled their stay for the night. This left all the rooms but mine empty, meaning I pretty much had the whole building to myself. 

Venturing back out into the streets of Clyde I joined the mix of holiday makers and locals who were making the most of the fine summer weather and strolling the streets. Later, back at Dunstan House I sat on the balcony, enjoyed a beer, read a book and listened to dusk settle upon the town. 

Feeling the need to eat, I made my way to a place called Paulina’s. A busy bar and restaurant that was doing a brisk trade. Fighting my way to a table and feeling lucky to get one, a young and enthusiastic waitress arrived to inform me that there would be a good wait for food. With the sunshine on my back, I happily settled into my book and enjoyed a pint or three. I ate, strolled the town once more, then returned back to Dunstan House and settled in for the night.

What to find out more about Clyde including places to stay, places to play, places to explore and lots more information? Visit the Clyde: https://www.newzealand.com/nz/clyde/

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/

The Genesis At Irishman Creek

Irishman CreekBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

Leaving the perplexing and somewhat curious yet enjoyable Tekapo Sculpture Walk behind, it was on the way to Cromwell that I came across an equally interesting and intriguing sight. The famous Irishman Creek Station sign. Impressively coming to an abrupt halt on the gravel on the side of the road, I spent the next short while photographing the famous sign location as passing cars whizzed by. For those that aren’t knowledgeable about the history of marine propulsion systems, the Irishman Creek Station was the location where Sir William Hamilton invented his famous jet boat engine. The engine revolutionised the boating world in the 1950’s by allowing boats to skim across the top of the water in the shallow rivers. Which is just what Sir William wanted to be able to do. 

All this I was quite unaware of at the time. While I knew the history of Sir William Hamilton, I hadn’t linked the famous invention to the famous Irishman Creek location. 

Therein lies another of the wonderful curiosities of Aotearoa. There are small pockets of fascinating history all over the place. Unlike America or Great Britain that would have road signs every 5 km saying, ‘next stop’ birthplace of the Hamilton Jet,”where upon arrival you find a massive parking lot, an overpriced ticketing system and a small museum that made you wonder why you bothered. Attached to which you will also find the compulsary McDonalds or Taco Bell. However, here in Aotearoa, you’ll find nothing of the sort. Just a simple sign saying “Irishman’s Creek.” Thus giving you the understated beauty of travelling in Aotearoa. 

With time quickly passing and the road traffic seemingly unhappy at both the location of my car and my tripod, I decided it was best I get to Cromwell and then further on to Clyde.

Tekapo Sculpture Walk

Orbit 2 by Rebecca RoseBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

One of the most joyous and recent developments in Aotearoa (and by recent I mean in the last 20 years) is the creative movement of putting artwork in random places. For instance in Wellington there is a 16-foot sculpture of hand in Civic Square, Christchurch has an aluminium stairway in the middle of a pond and in Tokoroa you will find massive ‘talking’ wooden poles throughout the town. That’s just the start of it, throughout the country there are collections of giant fruit, vegetables and animals from Cape Reinga to Stewart Island. So, when I was at Tekapo, enjoying the peaceful surroundings of a town that was tourist free, it was no surprise to find a collection of giant sculptures. 

However, unlike most other town’s that put up objects like giant carrots or gumboots because someone in the area owns a farm, Tekapo had done it rather tastefully. As part of the Mackenzie Book & Art Festival they were holding an open air sculpture exhibition which included an iron globe made out of iron wedges, cast iron birds in an array of colours, blocks of carved stone and a work called Orbit 2 done in Corten Steel. 

I was to find out later that the sculpture walk is all part of a create festival celebrating literature, arts, the spectacular Mackenzie landscape and the community who live here. As I was heading to my car, I discovered the next festival is going to be held next in 2023, ‘by then there might even be some tourists around to see it’ I thought to myself. Then, with that thought I head off in the direction of Clyde.

Matauwhi Bay In The Bay Of Islands

Matauwhi Bay Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

It was my last full day in Russell and I decided to mark it up walking up the hill to the flag staff. By the time I set off the day was already hot and warm, however the prospect of a bush walk in front of me with no other plans for the day was quite delightful. Consisting of a combination of walking on road and gravel through bush, the walk while steep was certainly a treat and like others ahead of me, my efforts were rewarded with a magnificent 360 degree view of the surrounding area. Not to mention the famous flagstaff which first had the Union Jack flown in 1840 before Māori chef Hone Heke and his supporters cut it down four times as a symbol of protest against the way the British Crown were uploading the Treaty of Waitangi agreements.

I had a look around in the morning sun and decided that I liked Russell very much.

Tapeka Point In The Bay of Islands

Tapeka Point BayBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

If you’re looking for a holiday location, I would like to suggest the Bay of Islands in Northland. Russell to be precise. You can spend the hot, warm summer days swimming in the bays, wandering around all the inlets, paths and tracks that are scattered around and generally not doing much of anything really. It’s easy to see why it’s such a popular spot. 

Quaratine Barracks On Matiu Island

Quaratine and immigration barrack on Matiu Island Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

During World War I these buildings on Matiu Island were used as quarantine barracks to hold enemy aliens who were considered a risk to New Zealand’s security.  Around 300 prisoners were held on the island, most of whom were German nationals. 

In World War II the island again became an internment camp. The prisoners were primarily German however there were also a large number of Italian and Japanese. The prisoners were required to do road-building, gardening and fishing. 

This building that still survives was part of the immigration barracks which were originally built for the influenza pandemic 1919.

Mount Cook And The Hooker Valley

Mount Cook and The Hooker LakeBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

Covered in deep snow, the track led up the Hooker Valley towards Aoraki/Mount Cook. It started by passing close to Freda’s Rock. It’s named after Emmeline Freda du Faur who was the first woman to climb Aoraki/Mount Cook. This amazing accomplishment she achieved in 1910 and remains forever immortalised in New Zealand mountaineering history. I happily followed the snowy path, kicking snow and trying to decide if it would be socially acceptable to throw snowballs at strangers when Mueller Glacier and the first swing bridge came into view. The path crossed the Hooker River and carried on to the second swing bridge. 

It was somewhere between the Mueller Glacier and the second swing bridge that I suddenly had the overwhelming feeling that I might be getting sunburnt. I rummaged through my bag but soon realized that bringing sunblock really would have been a good idea. resigning myself to the fact that I was going to end up very burnt, I pushed on. 

Passing the second bridge, the track opened to the wider valley floor, and even deeper snow until I arrived at the third swing bridge and headed for the glacier lake. 

Upon arriving at my destination I came across a view that is pretty well unimprovable. Mountains, rocks, snow, ice, a glacier and lake in every direction. The last 20 meters of the track is a gentle incline until reaching the top of the path where it opens out to an amazing view of Aoraki/Mount Cook, Hooker Glacier and the Southern Alps. This is one of the beautiful things about Aotearoa, if you are prepared to walk then you’re in for some spectacular scenery. 

I stood and daydreamed for a bit, ate my carefully packed sandwiches, explored the different vantage spots with my camera before turning my attention to the walk back. By this time, under the hot sun, the snowy track was turning to slush and I had 5km of splashing through puddles ahead of me. 

Sometime later, upon my return, I fetched a Speight’s from my improvised ice bucket fashioned from  rocks and snow and settled on my bed. My legs aching and my face burning, I started the process of uploading flash cards to my computer.

Smaills Beach

Smaills BeachBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

It was the most time I’d  spent  actually on a beach in a good while. It was the end of the week and the end of the day and so with the sun starting to drop below the hills I spent a good hour or so enjoying the quiet surrounds of Smaills Beach. The nearby stream showed all the signs of recent heavy rain and  all that was left was a collection of debris scattered among the sand dunes. On the rocks by the point at the end of the beach two Fur Seals rested while an ever increasing group of surfers enjoyed the small barrels that were breaking just off shore. 

‘Not a bad spot to end the week’ I thought to myself.

Artisan Farmers Market At Wingatui Racecourse

Wingatui RacecourseBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

I found my way to the Wingatui Racecourse in Mosgiel, which was holding an Artisan Farmers Market however I wasn’t exactly sure why I was going. The previous night having watched the All Blacks lose to Ireland, I then proceeded to drink a dozen pints of something that didn’t agree with me and in the morning was feeling the worse for it. However, by midday feeling much more human and stable on my pins, I pointed myself in the direction of the market and set off. 

Not being completely confident about what I was going to find, I didn’t some research and found myself heading towards a large collection of candles, smellies, dried flowers, hangers and other arrangements that included knitting, soft toys, cushions, soaps and perfumes. All I was hoping for was a good busker playing something from a folk music catalogue and a good hamburger, however now I doubted I would either.

Gothic Water Tower Of Zealandia

Gothic water tower of ZealandiaBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

This is the valve tower of Wellington’s first public water supply which has been in place at a height of 21 metres for nearly 150 years. The original dam was constructed on the Kaiwharawhara Stream in 1874 and lasted until 1997 when it was decommissioned. Now, it is part of Zealandia, a wildlife sanctuary which can be found in the Karori Valley.

Glenorchy Boardwalk

Glenorchy Boardwalk Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

When I started out along the Glenorchy Boardwalk I had the path to myself. Now, nearly 30 minutes later I was coming across the first group of people I had seen. For a split second I felt somewhat annoyed that I had to share the lagoon walk and surrounding mountain views with other people. Suddenly I realised that in the 30 minutes I’d been on the boardwalk, I had become so used to not seeing anyone else, I had come to think of the path as mine, and mine alone.

Thunderbirds Are Go

Savaged By The WindSavaged By The Wind Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

Here on my blog … from a Small City, I publish a photo everyday from my journey’s, trips and travels. I view it as a loving photographed and written jaunt around Ōtepoti and around Aotearoa. During the week (Monday to Friday/Saturday) I try to maintain a single writing style for consistency. However, on at least one day during the weekend I break that style. That’s for two reasons, firstly for variety and secondly because there are other things I want to say. So, that brings me around to today’s post. 

The other day I got a message from Invercargill based photographer Rick Harvey. He left a very complimentary comment here on my blog, and after replying to him I visited his website (you can view it yourself here). There, I found the niche genre of Black n White trees. This then got me thinking about my own tree photos and what images might be hiding in my own galleries.

This one I took back in either 2010 or 2011 for a series called A Rugged Paradise and is titled Savaged By The Wind. So, thanks Rick, I’d forgotten about this image and make sure you visit his website.


As I wanted to post a new photo today this is Virgil Tracy from Thunderbird 2 at Weta Workshops in Wellington.

Virgil Tracy, Thunderbird 2 is goBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery


Otago & Dunedin House

Otago & Dunedin HouseBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

Not long before taking this photo I’d been exploring Lower Moray Place. Photographing things like the Regent Theatre and the First Church of Otago signs. Then, I noticed these two buildings. I liked the different shapes that were contained within the overlapping of the two structures. It also made me wonder if it’s possible to get on the roof of these buildings. I might need to investigate that one.

Te Papa In Wellington

Te Papa in WellingtonBuy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

While walking in Wellington ….
I recently explored Te Papa in Wellington which has the honour of being labelled ‘The Museum of New Zealand.’ Having been stupid enough to visit during the school holidays I quickly decided that it is best avoided on the following days; Christmas Holidays, School Holidays, whenever a cruise ship is town and possibly Sundays! But, The Gallipoli exhibition is somewhat breathtaking and sobering all at the same time and any time spent looking at Rita Angus paintings is always time well spent! 

… 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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