Category Archives: Images

Gallery: New Zealand 2018

NZ Trip: On the Road, Part 4

On the way from Punakaiki to Picton, I passed through the seaside city of Nelson, which happens to be located at the geographic center of New Zealand (at least according to one accepted measurement). Even more coincidentally, the exact center point happens to be at the exact tip top of a conveniently situated hill.

The Centre of New Zealand Monument

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Picton has a lovely old walkable downtown along the shore, with several very nice restaurants. I stayed a couple of blocks away at a small B&B called Anchor Down, run by Janet and Ian, who provide nicely appointed rooms and good conversation over a glass of wine.

I turned in my rental car and caught the ferry to Wellington (cheaper to rent a new car on the other side than to bring the current one with me). I took photos on the ship with my point-and-shoot camera; I’ll post a few at some point.

In Wellington, I needed to recharge, so I was selective about my activities. I drove along the southern shoreline by Fitzroy Bay and took photos of the sea and the shore. In the following photo, the wave is about fifty feet away, and the ship is about 1.5 miles away.

A freighter sails past Pencarrow Head

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After a stay with some new friends in Paekakiri, I drove up to Tongariro National Park, and halfway up the side of Mt. Ruapehu. There, the Chateau Tongariro Hotel surveys the countryside. it’s a grand old 1929 construction with a restaurant, a cafe, two bars, and a splendid main lounge with piano and billiards. My luggage got to my room courtesy of a bellhop (and there’s no tipping in New Zealand). A quote from my Facebook post about my stay:

Walking the classically carpeted hallways, I hear a mysterious hum coming from a remote stairwell; I also hear the distant murmur and clink of guests relaxing in the well-appointed lounge. At any moment, I expect to see a pair of identically dressed twin girls, or a little boy on a tricycle, or Jack Nicholson.

At 5:00am, I got up and drove four miles farther up the mountain to the Whakapapa ski area, to try and get a shot of the sunrise hitting the adjacent Mount Ngauruhoe, which is a perfect volcanic cone. It played Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings. Unfortunately, both mountains were shrouded in cloud, which was complemented by rain as the sun attempted to rise. So no photo of Mount Doom. Most if not all New Zealand ski areas are above the treeline, which makes it hard to imagine them as ski areas during the off season. They’re very, very rugged.

Whakapapa ski area at dawn

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As the rain continued and strengthened, I headed for Rotorua, which is best known for two things: geothermal activity and Maori culture. I stayed there for three nights, hoping to investigate both, but nature had a different idea: for two of those days, Rotorua received more rain than it usually gets in a year, and more rain in 24 hours than has ever been recorded there. The northern part of town flooded; my motel was spared the worst of it. Eventually I did get to see some of the geothermal sites and some of the Maori culture.

A continuously erupting geyser

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Along the way to Auckland, I took a walk to see the Putaruru Blue Spring. The source of the Waihou River, the Blue Spring provides clean drinking water to a large portion of the surrounding countryside. The river water is crystal clear, making it easy to see the underwater grasses that fill the river from bank to bank and filter its water even more.

The grasses of the Waihou River

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Palms and grasses at the Blue Spring

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In Auckland, I rode to the top of the Sky Tower, the city’s tallest building by far and the tallest freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere. From the main observation deck, the 360 degree views are stunning.

One odd sight is a a magenta ribbon snaking among the highways. It’s called the Lightpath, and is a dedicated cycling and walking path connecting the Auckland suburbs to the central business district. It’s flanked by LEDs that give you a light show as you pass.

Auckland’s Lightpath

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I spent the last night of my trip in a lovely old hotel across the Waitemata Harbour from Auckland, in the quaint town of Devonport. From the Sky Tower I could see and photograph the town, its ferry building and dock, and the hotel (it’s the three story building closest to the small beach). In the photo, the hotel is two miles away; behind it (at five miles) is volcanic Rangitoto Island, and forty miles away in the distance are the mountains of the Coromandel Peninsula.

Looking past Devonport from the Sky Tower

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Thus ends my travelogue of New Zealand, but there are still quite a few more photographs of the trip that I haven’t processed and published yet. I’m not sure how soon this will be, but I’ll do my best to get them out there…

NZ Trip: On the Road, Part 3

After Glenorchy and Queenstown, I made my way North.

New Zealand farmers find it useful to plant shelter belts — single, double, or multiple lines of trees to shelter their farmland from the wind. Some of them are simple plantings, but others are designed to put a farmer’s personal aesthetic stamp on the landscape.

A shelter belt outside of Cromwell

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To get to the West coast of the South Island, one drives through Wanaka, up the West shore of Lake Hawea, then across a small bit of land dividing it from Lake Wanaka. I came across a dramatic scene at that point.

A storm over Lake Wanaka

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I made it to Haast on a long, steep, winding mountain road through a steady downpour, then drove up the coastline to the Franz Josef glacier. I had to hike about two kilometers up a long valley to see the glacier; it rained most of the way, and the low clouds obscured most of the view. In addition, the glacier itself was a bit of a letdown. However, the landscape was still quite beautiful. Fun fact: Ten years ago the glacier filled the entire valley and no hike was necessary to see it.

The Franz Josef glacier from almost two kilometers away

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I continued up the coast toward Greymouth. Along the way was evidence of storm damage in the form of collapsed roadways. There were also some lovely, windswept beaches. And New Zealand’s famous sandflies. Tiny, ubiquitous things, they love blood. I found out about them the hard way. My arms still itch like crazy.

A lonely beach on New Zealand’s west coast

North of Greymouth is Punakaiki, home of the Pancake Rocks. The rocks developed in very thin, horizontal layers, and then eroded, in some cases into thin, vertical plates. In the process a number of channels and blowholes formed, through which ocean water booms and sprays.

Water surging through a blowhole

It was time to get on to Picton, where I would catch a ferry to the North Island. Along the way, I encountered another New Zealand cultural phenomenon: regularized tree plantings. I haven’t quite figured out why this is done: huge numbers of (usually) pine trees are planted in geometrically precise rows, resulting in entire mountainsides covered with patterns of green reminiscent of a vineyard or an orchard.

A small example of a regularized forest

I’m now resting up in Wellington. More to come…

NZ Trip: On the Road, Part 2

Driving back from Te Anau to Queenstown, I spotted scene after scene of New Zealand’s stunning landscape. Here’s an example:

Southern Otago with autumn colors

The massive mountains that enclose Lake Wakatipu rise straight up with no foothills.

The scale of a glacially formed landscape

Passing through Queenstown and heading on to Glenorchy at the northwestern tip of Lake Wakatipu, the lakeside road winds, dips, and rises, giving access to some stunning views.

A stunning view along the lake

The light is constantly changing, giving rise to an infinite variety of scenes, especially with the current spate of storms buffeting the South Island.

A storm over Lake Wakatipu

Finally reaching Glenorchy, I had to turn around and head right back to Queenstown to check in to my hotel room.

A scene in Glenorchy

Since I took these photos, I’ve driven from Queenstown through Wanaka, through the mountains to Haast on the West coast, and up the coast to the Franz Josef Glacier. It may take a while to post the next set of photos as I’ve misplaced a key charging cable. Stay tuned…

NZ Trip: On the Road, Part 1

On 14 April I took the gondola to the top of Mt. Cavendish outside of Christchurch. From there, I had a commanding view of Christchurch, the south island’s east coast, and one of the several (flooded) calderas of the Akaroa peninsula.

The New Zealand coast from the summit of Mt. Cavendish

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Next I drove to the shore of Lake Tekapo. The area is designated a dark sky reserve for its clear atmosphere, which makes it a great place for astronomy. The University of Canterbury operates several telescopes at its observatory at the top of Mt. John next to the lake.

The southern alps of New Zealand

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I spent the night of 15 April in Cromwell, at the base of Lake Dunstan. Cromwell is at the nexus of major highways leading to Dunedin, Queenstown, Wanaka, and Tekapo.

On my way to Queenstown, I stopped at the hydroelectric power station where the Roaring Meg stream feeds into the Kawarau River gorge, and took a few pictures.

A scene at Roaring Meg

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A little closer to Queenstown, I encountered a landform reminiscent of something from Dr. Seuss. It consists of two small peaks that stick out of the landscape like, well, a pair of nipples. Or maybe pimples. They’re known as the Judge and Jury.

The Judge and Jury peaks

2018-04-17-16-30-29I’m writing this in my motel room in Te Anau, from which I was planning to visit the spectacular Milford Sound in the southern fiords of New Zealand. Unfortunately, I’ve been suffering from a bad cold since I arrived in the country, and it’s been unusually cold with powerful rainstorms, so I decided to forgo Milford Sound and spend 17 April relaxing and creating this post. I have two more weeks of New Zealand to experience, so I’ll post more photos soon.

Gallery — Brooklands Museum, 2011

The British motorsport venue known as Brooklands was built in Weybridge, Surrey in 1907. It included the world’s first dedicated racetrack and an early airfield, and it was the host of many car, motorcycle and bicycle races until WWII. During and after the war, it became a major center for aircraft design, construction and flight testing. Since 1987 the Brooklands Museum has dominated the property, with vintage military and civilian aircraft (including a Concorde and other airliners), cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, and bicycles.

These photos are not so much documents of the exhibits as they are explorations of color, light and form. They’re best viewed at full size (some have a lot of detail). Each one will open in a new window when you click the version displayed in this post.

Brooklands Museum, 2011 #24 picture

Brooklands #24


More photos — Brooklands Museum, 2011

Gallery — Nevada County Fair, 2011

These photos are best viewed at full size (some have a lot of detail). Each one will open in a new window when you click the version displayed in this post.

Nevada County Fair, 2011 #65 picture

#65 — All Together


More photos — Nevada County Fair, 2011

Gallery — Seattle to Victoria from Above

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