WQW #36 September Equinox- at last it is Springtime!

‘Is the spring coming?’ he said. “What is it like?…”

 ‘It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…’” — 

Frances Hodgson Burnett

“The astronomical spring equinox is a precise moment in time and this year it was at 1:03pm NZST, Friday September 23. So, according to astronomy, this is a naturally occurring event during which the centre of the sun appears to cross over the celestial equatorial line of the earth. In layman terms, one can say that an equinox occurs when the sun switches sides from one hemisphere of the earth to the other.”

To mark the occasion, Mother Nature choose to remind us of her forceful personality. A 5.8 earthquake rumbled and shook central New Zealand, centred in the northeast of Marlborough Sounds, about 51 km deep in the  Cook Strait, .  Fortuitously, there appears to be no further damage to the cracked roads. 

Enough is enough, I say!  Over August and into September, we have had more than our share of rain resulting in floods, slips and slumps which resulted in further road damage even more significantly damaging than last year’s July weather event. 

Road closures are still a major issue as we struggle to access medical care and essential supplies by risking the drive through the fractured roads.  Whilst there is no light at the end of this particular road ’tunnel’,  thankfully, there are spring flowers blooming amidst the raindrops.

At last it is our turn to enjoy the warmth of the spring weather.  Let’s hope it’s a good one and that the damaged roads will be repaired as the earth dries out. 

The raspberry canes are growing leaves,  the freesias are flowering. 

The fruit trees are blossoming. The Tui are sipping the nectar from the kowhai flowers.

Spring has sprung at last. Hope springs eternal.

Sunday Stills – Beauty on the Beaches

It is not just the beach that is beautiful in my neighbourhood.  Even on these cold winter days, there are feathered  beauties to be found on the beach.

Beautiful are the variable oystercatchers seen frequently along the shoreline as the incoming tide brings little fish, crabs and shellfish. Taking time out from their endless search for food, the seabirds frolic in the shallows.

Beautiful too are the kingfishers that perch on the driftwood logs, before diving into the streams and estuary ponds to catch a fish.

Beautiful are the Kereru (native wood pigeons} that swoop into the kowhai treetops to nibble on the sweet leaves.

The Banded Dotterel nesting on the shingle beaches are beautiful -and endangered.

Beautiful black swans glide along the seashore, questioning each other as they look for seaweed to nibble.

And then there is the beautiful light to be found at the beach.

From the sunlight reflecting on the hills to the light glowing on the foreshore as the sun is setting. Each beach has a different kind of beauty.

And at the end of each day there are the beautiful sunsets. Is there a better place to be?

i am thankful for all the beauty I find at the beaches.

WQW – 5 Senses: Tasting the memories

Aaah the taste of Bluff Oysters – the new season started 1 March, and at last my blog posts will restart this month. 

I have been MIA for most of February due to our extended summer road trip through areas with limited wifi reception.  I have focused – pardon the pun – on using my camera extensively rather than blogging. 

“Pull up a chair

TAKE A TASTE

Come join us.

Life is so endlessly DELICIOUS.”

Ruth Reichl

This quote is meant to be about food but let’s take it a step further. I have been tasting the delights of travelling around the stunning South Island, especially Central Otago, Fiordland and Southland. I’ve been chasing rivers and waterfalls, mountains and fiords, and the elusive Lady Aurora herself. The Aurora Australis remained elusive but the waterfalls were amazing.

Central Otago: 

Parked over alongside Lake Dunstan in Cromwell, the weather was stunning with very hot summer days  and  balmy evenings. Just right for enjoying happy hour, (G&T, beer, crackers and cheese)  with our neighbours in the campground. after a leisurely stroll along the lake. 

We also parked up beside the mighty Clutha River at Millers Flat, otherwise known as the ‘fruitlands’  where we tasted the famous Roxburgh apricots and had a tasty dinner at the old tavern across the historic bridge built in 1897.

I was thrilled to find an old hand painted aerial photo on the wall. My first job was using photo oils to hand paint photos just like these. A meaningful memory for me and a great overview of the Clutha River at Millers Flat.

Fiordland

We spent a few days relaxing in Manapouri before heading to Te Anau, to catch up with friends, and attempt to capture an image of Aurora Australis -I found just a bit of airglow at Manapouri.

We decided to take the coach tour to the Milford Sound, where we boarded the Milford Haven to cruise  through the Milford Sound towards the Tasman Sea. Although we had been there before, Milford Sound never ceases to amaze me within its spectacular mountains and magical waterfalls. 

If you never been inside a waterfall, this is the place to do just that. I got soaked, my camera got soaked – and it was magical. The water tasted pure and delicious on my tongue (surprisingly – my camera survived another wet adventure).

Entering the Tasman Sea

Southland:

Bluff is the southern- most harbour at the bottom of the South Island.   Bluff is also world famous for these delicious Bluff Oysters. 

Some say that Bluff oysters are the finest in the world. They are grown slowly in the cold clean waters of the Foveaux Strait. In season, (March till about August) they are dredged by Bluffs oyster fleet. Oystering first began commercially at Stewart Island in the 1860s.”

Bluff Oysters

Many years ago the North island company I worked for had a social club which organized a  weekly shipment of fresh Bluff Oysters to be flown in. I had a regular order for 5 dozen bluff oysters which arrived each Friday of the season.  All weekend we would eat oysters. We ate raw oysters, battered oysters, oysters wrapped in bacon   (Angels on horseback), and oysters baked in a creamy white sauce. The taste was divine every which way they were prepared. Another meaningful memory!

And in my world I did find the pearls. 

The Bluff Hill Lookout offered spectacular views across Fouveaux Strait  to Stewart Island/Rakiura, our next destination. 

We had decided on a day trip rather than struggle to find  expensive and scarce accommodation.  The weather was perfect for the one hour catamaran crossing of Foveaux Strait, notorious for its usually wild weather.  

We  scheduled an island bus tour in the morning and a boat ride with guided bush walk on  Ulva Island, a wildlife sanctuary, in the afternoon. These kept us busy. No time for tasting any food at  all but we drank in the peaceful scenery and spectacular sights. We heard the bird calls as we trod carefully and quietly along the forest track. We touched the texture of the trees and leaves.

It was a truly a tasty feast for all my senses. 

https://alwayswrite.blog/2022/03/09/wqw-five-senses-taste

This is also my contribution for Sunday Stills https://secondwindleisure.com/2022/03/06/sunday-stills-making-meaningful-memories/

WQWWC # 36: Lofty Mountain

Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei

Seek the treasure you value most dearly: if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain


This whakatauki (Maori proverb) is about aiming high or for what is truly valuable, but it’s real message is to be persistent and don’t let obstacles stop you from reaching your goal.


Each time I venture near to the highest mountain of the Southern Alps of New Zealand, I look to photograph another perspective of this magnificent mountain.,  This proverb goes some way to describing how I feel when this mountain is in front of my camera.

On clear days, Aoraki / Mount Cook is visible from the West Coast as far north as Greymouth, some 150 kilometres away, and from most of State Highway 80 along Lake Pukaki and State Highway 6 south of Lake Pukaki. The near horizontal ridge connecting the mountain’s three summits forms a distinctive blocky shape when viewed from an eastern or western direction.

Aoraki / Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand. Its height, as of 2014, is listed as 3,724 metres (12,218 feet).

https://alwayswrite.blog/2021/08/04/wqwwc-36-writers-choice-or-mountains/

Sunday Stills – Tiki touring in the Great Outdoors

North and South, East and West.  

From the ocean to the mountains, from coast to coast. Just a few photos of the great outdoors of NZ where I love to visit with my camera.

Lets start at the Southern Alps which is in the rugged mountain range that spans from from North to South of the South Island. Although climbing mountains is not my thing I did struggle up to the Tasman Glacier viewpoint – and saw ICEBERGS.

Moving westwards towards  Arthurs Pass is this stunning landscape.

Venturing a little further North on an inland road we stopped over at Iveagh Bay at Lake Brunner

Heading to the top West corner of the South Island is Karamea – which also provides a perfect opportunity for a West Coast sunset.

Further down the coast is  Punakaiki, famous for its blowholes and rugged beaches

Time for an overnight at Fox River to meet friends and eat pancakes (what else) before heading East through the Kaikoura mountains and onto the East coast. 

Finally we headed back up North to the Marlborough Sounds  and over the top to French Pass at the top of the South Island where Pelorus Jack once roamed the sea.

Home again to another silvery moon and to hunker down at home for the winter months. The great outdoors can wait a while until the weather warms up again.

For Sunday Stills June 27

better late than never.

Sunday Stills. Just 1 sunrise and several sunsets

Oh yes – do I have  plenty of sunsets and maybe a sunrise?


I’m not so great at getting up early enough to capture sunrises.  We cruised into Gothenburg harbour in the early morning just as the sun had risen enough to hide behind the clouds. Does that count as a sunrise?

Later that week, we saw glorious  sunsets over the Southern archipelago.

The West Coast is a great place to watch the sunset.

Sunsets are such peaceful time of the day to enjoy some solitude.

And then there are the fabulous sunsets I see out my window or through the trees.

This winter month I am just looking for a few hours of sunshine each day – just a few hours and perhaps a lovely sunset.

SundayStills – Color Challenge: Glacier Blue

Yay – A chance to reminisce about glaciers I have visited.


1990:

My first glacier visit was during a work trip to the West Coast of New Zealand.  Back then we could actually walk to the face of the Franz Joseph Glacier. My colleague and I had travelled on the Sunday so we could spend some time exploring before starting work on the Monday. That was such great experience and one never to be repeated since it became too hazardous to get up close and personal to the glacial wall due to the high rate of retreat- and a couple of unfortunate injury  incidents due to falling ice.

2017:

On a South Island road trip, we stopped off at a viewpoint to marvel at Fox Glacier. Viewing made easier by following a short gravel road to a handy carpark.  Fortuitously, there was no cloud cover and we got this spectacular view.

Fox Glacier – 2017

2020:

What an adventure we had on our trip to Tasman Glacier.  

“The Tasman Glacier is the longest glacier in New Zealand and a must-see natural wonder in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.  The short walk to the Tasman Glacier view point is approximately 40 minutes’ return. The view from the overlook takes in spectacular scenes of Aoraki Mount Cook and the Southern Alps, as well as the lower Tasman Glacier, vast terminal lake and its mighty icebergs.

Climbing up Tasman Glacier view track to view the Glacier was a bit of a challenge for me.  The sign clearly said a 15 minute walk but it took me a much longer than that. Luckily I had my hiking stick with me to support my knees. ‘ Up with the good and down with the bad’ is what they had suggested after my knee replacement surgery a few years back so I decided this was the way to ascend those steps. My operated knee is now my good one as the right knee is also deteriorating so up I went one step at a time. No wonder it took me awhile.

Everyone who was heading back down told me “it is not too much further and worth it for the view” – this as I was  struggling up the 550+ rock steps.

They were right – it was worth it.

Three trips to the glaciers in 30 years. Maybe next time I will do a helicopter flight instead?

SundayStills Nightlights – memories

NEW ZEALAND

A trip down memory lane for me. My journey into night photography started a few years back. After a few attempts at shooting the moon, I finally managed one I was pleased with.  

Super Moon

I experimented with fountain lights after late night work meetings

Seymour Square, Blenheim,

Then I did a night photography workshop in Picton, NZ. That was a lot of fun and I learned how to cope with bright street lights – and capture the stars.

Picton Harbour – Coathangar bridge

Lockdown 2020 arrived and so did light painting fun.

Light painting in blue hour

My most exciting nights under the stars were when I captured my first Aurora Australis the night my grandson was born in 2019, and then the Milky Way under the dark skies at Twizel, Mackenzie in 2020 (after lockdown when we could travel again)

TRAVEL IN EUROPE

My travelling night photos are a little more iconic – such lovely memories of some wonderful travels. 

2013 

A childhood dream came true when we visited Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen.

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen at night

A magical evening at Le Louvre in Paris as the sun set through the pyramid. I went wandering all alone with my camera after a few glasses of wine so it is a wonder this is in focus.

Paris Le Louvre Pyramid

2018

Out to a family dinner at the Gotha Towers in Gothenburg, Sweden  when I spied these ‘swimmers in the sky’ overlooking he Liseberg Amusement Park.

Swimmers in the sky, Gothenburg, Sweden

On our first night in Croatia we explored the Monument to the Sun in Zadar.  It was difficult to photograph as there were so many people taking selfies although that is part of the fun  of travel- people-watching. A very impressive sight to behold by day or by night.

Monument to the Sun, Zadar, Croatia

The Greeting to the Sun  is a monument in Zadar, Croatia dedicated to the Sun. It consists of three hundred, multi-layered glass plates placed on the same level as the stone-paved waterfront. It consists of a 22-meter diameter circle, with photovoltaic solar modules underneath. Lighting elements installed in a circle turn on at night, and produce a light show.  – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monument_to_the_Sun

I hope you enjoyed my trips down memory lane as much as I did – sigh – not sure when I will get to travel overseas again though my next goal is to capture a nebula – and learn to photo stack!

Thanks for the opportunity to share my night lights.

11. Trespassing in paradise

How did I deserve this? To be wandering through paradise with camera in hand. Awe- inspiring scenery every which way I look.

 I  was on a special mission. I was looking for my phojo. I had lost it a while back when the busyness of life interrupted my self imposed obsession.

 My mission was to recapture my passion.  Just one look at the passing scenery and I was hooked all over again. 

Feeling like a trespasser in paradise, I revelled in the expansive vistas surrounding me. Emotive superlatives flooded my mind.  I was back in my happy place.

 Later, in front of my laptop, I was excited to find my phojo was back in full force. Editing decisions abound. Which images shall I keep? Which images will I edit.  How many should I share?

 My phojo is back from where it was hiding, right back where it has always been, patiently waiting for the right time and place to return. 

The majestic mountains and lakes of the Mackenzie have worked their magic on me. I’m not trespassing at all. I’m rediscovering  New Zealand/ Aotearoa again. 

This is a response to a Flash Fiction prompt from ‘Putting My Feet In the Dirt’, Writing Prompts hosted by ‘M’.\https://puttingmyfeetinthedirt.com/2020/09/01/september-writing-prompts