Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ducks and more snowy landscapes

Anyone got a suitable caption for this photo?
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Spring is in the air these days in Wanaka and since I love the changing of the seasons, this is just a wonderful thing. There is still a lot of snow on the mountains though, and skiing to be done, but now sun block is going to be a fundamental requirement. However this weekend I've been happy once again to potter about the house, and also go to a huge birthday party out at Hawea last night.

I got this nice shot during the week, and applied some of my slowly gathering photo enhancing skills on it, as I learn that digital images can hold a wealth of information that you can use to make the image closer to the eye's memory of the moment, or use in the quest to bring the concept of art out in a photo. Again from the road coming down from the Snow Farm - one of my favourite winter landscape spots around Wanaka, as well as where I ski cross country/Nordic...
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Sunday, August 24, 2008

My favourite winter landscape close to home

Over the last few years I've tried to have sea based expeditions to Fiordland most winters, and that's a favourite landscape, but for close-to-home in Wanaka it's hard to beat the landscape photography and art potential up at the Snow Farm on the Pisa range.

Looking up a gully from the River Run, which is my favourite cross country ski trail, and is actually beside the headwaters of the Roaring Meg river, which eventually meets the mighty Kawarau River that drains Lake Wakatipu, at the Roaring Meg power station on the Cromwell to Queenstown road...
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This one is taken from the Snow Farm looking across the Cardrona valley, with Wanaka to the right. You can see the tip of Mt Aspiring just right of center above the lower cloud...
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We have had some very unsettled weather this winter, but it's what makes the art potential of landscapes worth while and interesting.

Yesterday [Sat], by contrast was a rare perfect day. This year I decided to not compete in the Snow Farm's Merino Muster however. Since up-skilling my fundamental Nordic skiing technique, I've felt more playful than racy, so with a fair bit of work piling up I've had the weekend around the house, walking about Wanaka, and doing some minor shopping. I even washed my truck, which indicates just how muddy this winter has been - because it's quite high off the ground it never catches much mud most winters.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

People in the winter landscape

I'm now back into the skiing, so thought I'd share some pictures that give some insights into what some people do for pleasure or otherwise in our winter landscape. There is an art as to how to flourish and have fun in such a "strong" winter.

Ernie...
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Alexi my Russian/US house guest waxes skis for participants in the classic nordic ski race last Thurs...
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Ben prepares for the race...
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Race officials Liz and Jenny seem to have serious things to contemplate...
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The Japanese always have stunning lycra...
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A very serious finish line...
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Monday, August 11, 2008

Preservation Inlet in Fiordland

My son Dougal and myself recently had an expedition holiday with friends Arthur and Barbara on board their yacht Elwing down in Fiordland National Park, one of the last of the great wilderness areas in the world in a temperate climate.

Rather than telling the tale chronologically I've created a few headings, which give a better idea of the flavour of this enchanting place.

Flying in and out

We started our trip in Tuatapere in rural Southland by staying in our camper truck at Clifden, where we awoke to this pretty sunrise...
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Arthur and Barbara sailed from Stewart Island and we flew into meet them on Kisbee Beach in Preservation Inlet - here is Dougal in the front seat of the Squirrel helicopter...
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It was a very long flight over one of the largest tracts of total wilderness in the country, and into a headwind with lots of turbulence. It was very interesting though e.g. Lake Hauroko is very large, "S" shaped and 40 Kms long, and the deepest lake in New Zealand, but it is hard to see it's extent from the road or tramping, so this view was fascinating...
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Kisbee beach where we boarded [and departed] Arthur and Barbara's yacht Elwing...
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The flight out was done via a landing at Coal Island [the latest pest eradication/conservation project in the area], in the midst of a cold front, accompanied by low cloud and heavy rain, and so we had to contour New Zealand's remote and wild southern coast line on the way out so the pilot had an horizon. The weather was much worse than this shot of same taken a few days earlier from Puysegur Point lighthouse...
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Elwing

Our home - 46 foot and 20 tons worth of beautiful ship Elwing [Tolkien: Lord of the Rings princess named after the spray of a waterfall glistening in the moonlight]...elwing2.jpg

A couple of inflatable boats are invaluable on expedition holidays, and here we're going back to Elwing on one of them, from the Oil Shed [so named as storage building for oil to keep the light house light going in the old days] near Puysegur Point. The gap in the reef ahead was blasted many years ago just for this reason, but it's still a tricky passage conditional on tides and swells...
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Arthur [Skipper] gives the helm instructions while choosing an anchorage for the night...
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Lunch, and cuppas are usually served often on this white cabin top in the foreground...
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A magical anchorage by Spit Island...
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Some of my best friends and son Dougal...
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With twin keels and therefore only needing as little as 1.5 meters of water, here we take advantage of the Elwing's design to get in close to take on fresh water...
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When we went in close to this bluff, just for the fun of it, we were to find it was twice the height of our mast. The scale of Fiordland seems typified by this shot, as it looked "pint size" from this vantage point...
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Last Cove - another magical anchorage...
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Dougal at the helm and Darrell looking on...
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At every anchorage Arthur spends some time making us secure and thus safe, because this a wild land that takes no prisoners. Here he is sorting out some old mooring lines installed by fisherman back in the busy cray fishing days...
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Relatively ancient history

Before this trip I simply had no idea of the legacy of this land, and that thousands of people lived in the town of Cromarty on the again pristine Kisbee beach, around the turn of the 20th century. Earlier you saw Kisbee beach shots, and I found this fascinating photo in a Hall-Jones book on the area...
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The same site in the present day...
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More contrast...
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There's an old rhododendron [on above site] covering a quarter acre. It must be amazing when in flower...
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An old gold mining sledge track high up in the misty hills behind and south of Kisbee/Cromarty, near the Morning Star mine [shaft] leading to and from the Alpha stamping battery further south...
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Bogs, water and difficulties abounded on any historic track or line that we followed...
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The Wilson tram line to Kisbee - it's 3-4 Kms was nice to encounter as previously we'd doing steady and wet bush bashing on an old historic route down from the Alpha battery...
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An old sawmill boiler where the Wilson tramline meets Kisbee beach...
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The 1920's [restored] cemetery by the Oil Shed near Puysegur Point, with the poignant grave of a baby on the left, ...
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Puysegur Point light house [now decommissioned]. In it's day three families lived on-site along with a few sheep, and chickens - the later reputedly were often blown away. I did see some fresh pig sign nearby, which surprised me...
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The Puysergur Point light house Oil Shed in Preservation 3-4 Kms from the light house...
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Cuttle Cove and One Tree Island, site of New Zealand's first whaling station. The island was used as a spotting base...
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Spit Island notable not only for it's beauty, but also for the unassailable Maori Pa that was sited on the island's flat top, which was the site of some interesting battles three hundred years ago - a very rich story that ties in with Capt. Cook meeting a Maori family on Indian Island in Dusky Sound in 1773...
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Caves used not only by Maori on Step-To Island, but later by early sealers, as homes and places to build canoes and boats. Maybe favoured because the prevailing winds would blow into their dry interiors, thus ensuring less harassment from sandflies...
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The Tarawera Smelter reclining chimney, abandoned in the early 20th century after attempts to refine not only gold on site but other minerals such as copper. An amazing example of the skill of brick layers...
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More recent history

Kisbee Lodge built in the seventies, and now a private sort of holiday home, with permanent caretakers, a surreal anomaly in this regenerated beach front landscape...
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In the later half of the 20th century over a hundred fishing boats plied this coast, now it's down to a doz. or so, and here is one of them just having uplifted all the cray pots [on the rear deck] for placement somewhere else...
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Wildlife

I was really hoping to see some calving Southern Right Whales, but was not so lucky. Also being winter the bird life was quiet, but I did see a few things...

Primal waterways...
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A surprising number of Paradise Ducks...
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Mollyhawk...
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Jock Stewart, apparently in ill health - we did try putting him in deep water, but he persisted in posing for this shot...
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Seals accompanied us - they seem to love just lolling about in the sea being cute and uncaring about us...
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Shags were everywhere, but due to isolation totally at ease with humans setting anchors and pottering as they fished under our noses...
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My friends on the voyage

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And lastly the best beach landscapes I've ever seen in New Zealand - a landscape photographer's art heaven

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I can't wait for my next Fiordland adventure - I'm falling love with the place! Thanks Arthur and Barbara for making it possible.




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Monday, August 4, 2008

Snow - an irresistible landscape

Snow seems made for fun, but only when it's on the hills, and we don't have to live with it day-in day-out, with attendant shoveling etc. It also seems made for art!

I can never resist this landscape that I drive down beside every time I visit the Snow Farm for cross country skiing...
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Dougal is pretty patient with me as I stop for my landscape photography, and on this occasion got out for a play in the snow...
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I had amazing lesson on Sat. from one of the top coaches of world cup athletes etc., a Russian in fact now living in the US - he's my house guest, and a pretty good one at that, in fact he and his family totally impress me in terms of wonderful human beings and ambassadors. Anyway the lesson totally redefined how I'll be skiing from now on - I have much to practice!.

Here he is demonstrating where to have your shoulder, but underlying the lesson was the principal of how to get from A to B in the most efficient and fastest way. No one has ever tackled things for me in this way before...
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