Sinclair Head seals

Sunday seemed like a good day to go for a hike. We’ve got a holiday coming up soon with lots of walking planned so we’ve been wanting to get out a bit more and have Alayna get used to longer treks. With a decent looking weather forecast we set our sights on the New Zealand fur seal haul-out at Sinclair Head past Red Rocks on the Wellington south coast. We also invited some friends and family to share the adventure and we all met up at the Te Kopahou Visitor Centre carpark ready to go.

Out for a walk

Out for a walk

Climbing rocks

Climbing rocks with Arlo

Walking with Aunty Patty

Walking with Aunty Patty

It’s around 8km return and with a few young children it was never going to be a quick journey but even with stops for rock climbing it still only took just over an hour and a half to reach the rock feature called Devil’s Gate and the seals. Curiously there were also a lot of bumblebees around as well, often landing on clothing or in Keryn’s case on her hand and using their antennae to push around looking for what we think was either water or salt, no stings at least. There were dozens if not hundreds of lazy male fur seals relaxing in the sun at the haul-out, obviously enjoying the good weather. For the most part they ignored the watching people, only moving occasionally to get more comfortable or to cough. There was one fur seal that went for a swim and then got growled at when it came back on shore to find a siesta spot.

We found the fur seals!

We found the fur seals!

Arguing over resting spots

Arguing over resting spots

On the lookout

Alayna and Clara on the lookout

All up we had a good time. Perhaps my shoulders were a bit sore from carrying Alayna a lot of the way back but she did well for the most part. Lunch afterwards at the Blue bell cafe in Island Bay was certainly well deserved :).

There he blows!

For the past few days a whale has been loitering around Wellington Harbour. Relatively quickly the whale was identified as a southern right whale, a species last seen in these parts 8 years ago. There is a myth that back in European settlement days the southern right whale population was such that their noise at night keep the Wellington human population awake at night. While this is probably untrue it would be true that before whaling took hold in around New Zealand there were thousands of southern right whales in our waters, whaling likely reduced this to double digit numbers. So to have a southern right whale back in the harbour and exhibiting behaviour that indicates it is looking to attract a mate is exciting. Maybe we’ll get more?

Southern right whales are often comfortable with human activity, acting with curiosity to boats and coming close to shore. The visiting whale has been touring the harbour and on Thursday just gone was entertaining the Wellington office crowd by spending the whole day close to the city centre. Taking the harbour-side walkways there were crowds of people hoping to catch a glimpse of our visitor and during the morning and evening we were treated to displays of breaching (jumping out of the water), loptailing (slapping of the tail on the waters surface), spying (just the head popping out of the water) and general lazying around. The happy buzz was fantastic, I talked to a few people enthusiastically talking about seeing a whale for the first time.

I had read about the whale for a few days, first sighted near state highway 2 towards Petone at the north end of the harbour and then on the next day near the Interislander ferry terminal further south. I figured that if it was moving southward that it might get closer to the city on Thursday so bought in my camera gear. On the way to work I checked for updates (via Facebook and the Whale and dolphin watch – Wellington group) and was happy to find I had guessed correctly and the whale was slowly making it’s way through the inner harbour. I managed to get a few photos of the whale breaching and playing around before reluctantly heading to work.

In the morning it was easiest to search for the gulls who were following the whale

In the morning it was easiest to search for the gulls who were following the whale

Breaching as the East by West ferry approaches

Breaching as the East by West ferry approaches

The distinctive "V" shaped exhalation

The distinctive “V” shaped exhalation

I got out at lunchtime and managed to get a couple more photos though the whale was further away at that point. Moving on a day our friend is back near the Interislander ferry terminal, still mostly unconcerned by nearby boats to the point where an incoming ferry had to sound its horn and then circle for a while before it could get in to dock. Local photographer and past time national marine mammal advisor at the NZ Department of Conservation Rob Suisted has even posited that based on historic behaviour “..then it is potentially here for several months of frolicking, given old breeding/birthing congregations”. Exciting times, hopefully the whale will stick around, will be back and in the future might bring some other whales here as well.

Diving near Oriental Bay

Diving near Oriental Bay

Watching the whale as it relaxed on the surface

Watching the whale as it relaxed on the surface

For more information on southern right whales check out this infographic.

Rainy day Zealandia

It has been cool and wet today so what better time to head into Zealandia? Yeah, perhaps not the ideal visiting conditions but we still had a good time. The wildlife doesn’t get the option to avoid the rain and we saw plenty of birds going about their business. The forest was often a scene of swaying trees and dripping leaves with the noise of the weather being challenged by the calls of the birds. Kaka especially seemed to be camped in the canopy kawing and calling loudly.

We were largely alone in the valley with the only people encountered being staff. Nio and Orbell seemed surprised to see us when we came down to the takahe lawn but were soon going about as usual and stoically ignoring the wind and rain.

Eye to eye with a takahe

Eye to eye with a takahe

Nio (front) & Orbell

Nio (front) & Orbell

Raindrop spider web

Raindrop spider web

In the shadow of the upper dam the kaka feeders were abuzz with kaka flying in and a bevy of other birds scurrying around trying to catch the scraps from the pellets the kaka were eating. All the birds were a bit sodden, well other than the pateke who were probably wondering what the fuss was all about.

Singing in the rain

Singing in the rain

Wet lunch

Wet lunch

So it was wet but we were wrapped up in our raincoats and rugged up in our layers so we were fine. It’s always nice to visit Zealandia and see a different side. Life goes on no matter the weather :)

LUX 2018 revisited

Wednesday night saw two photography walks taking place around the LUX festival. I joined up with the walk arranged via the Wellington Photography Meetup group. Winter might officially start next week but it’s been quite cold and stormy recently with the evening being cool with some rain around. This did mean that none of us spent as long as planned outside but the wet conditions did help create puddles and a sheen of water to hold the glow of the installations.

Capital-E takeover at the playground

Capital-E takeover at the playground

First up was the takeover by Capital-E of the Frank Kitts Park playground. Lots of lights, a disco ball at the top of the tower, some odd sounds and the swing seats had been replaced by neon-rainbow glowing models. The walk organisers quickly realised that keeping everyone together was going to be difficult so plans were made to meet at the Mac’s bar at an earlier time than first planned.

Also visited in the park were the giant mushrooms labelled Whareatua and the installation Kereru high up in a tree. I think to get the eco-aware message across the Kereru needed to be closer to the viewer, the plastic bag and cat collar details lost at a distance. The Massey Moshpit was sparsely attended when I found it but that probably had a lot to do with the rain that had started to fall.

The Massey Moshpit

The Massey Moshpit

We took shelter for a time from a rain and then were moving on before we got too cold. Pou Rama looked good after the rain and Bloom was enhanced by the reflections now found everywhere.

Pou Rama (Light Posts)

Pou Rama (Light Posts)

Cube also looked great reflected in the puddles on the wharf and it was a pity there weren’t more people around to enjoy the lights and music. Mandala was glowing serenely nearer water level but it seemed odd that it was positioned so close to one of the posts which blocked a front-on view.

In the end most of us were at the pub by 7pm, an hour spent walking around and taking photos. This year’s LUX is, for me, a disappointment after previous years efforts. I hope next time around that the laneways are utilised again, it’ll certainly help prevent the complete closure of the event when the wind picks up which has happened twice so far this year.

GOPI 2018

I entered the Guardians of Pauatahanui Inlet photo competition again this year and managed to get my best result so far with winning photos in the Recreation and Artistic categories along with three highly commended photos in the Recreation, Artistic and Scenic categories (I’d previously won the Wildlife category back in 2013). Alayna and I attended the prizegiving (Keryn was in Auckland for the weekend taking a well deserved friends weekend) and it was nice to see Alayna taking pride in the winning photo that featured her and also clapping me as I went up to get my certificates.

There will be a few photos in the Whitby Newsbrief newspaper June edition. The winning photos are below. Over the past year I’d visited the inlet a few times, always looking for a new angle. A lot of times I was trying to get photos of the fernbirds now resident in the reserve but none of the photos I got of the fernbird were worth entering, the great photos will come! In previous years the competition judge, Geoff Marshall, had suggested a few things to try such as the following:

“If you see a good image it is often worth returning when the light is at its best and repeating the photo. This is usually early in the morning or in the late afternoon.”

I’ll often visit in the late afternoon for this reason, the light is better and there is a chance for some nice colour in the sky around sunset. The fernbird also seem to be more active around dusk but its difficult to capture the elusive little birds when they like to keep to the vegetation. Capturing the great shots will come, I just have to visit more often.

On the boardwalk - Winner in the Recreation category

On the boardwalk – Winner in the Recreation category

Dusk toe toe - Winner in the Artistic category

Dusk toe toe – Winner in the Artistic category

Reeds in motion - Highly commended in the Artistic category

Reeds in motion – Highly commended in the Artistic category

Fire above - Highly commended in the Scenic category

Fire above – Highly commended in the Scenic category

And Jump! - Highly commended in the Recreation category

And Jump! – Highly commended in the Recreation category

LUX 2018

The LUX festival is back for another year so we took the opportunity of a dry Friday evening to attend the opening night. The festival covers a smaller footprint this year with no extension into the city laneways. I think this is a pity as there are a few sculptures on display that would look better suspended in the narrow spaces rather than being held up by scaffolding along the waterfront.

Anyway, we spent an hour or so checking out all the sculptures. Alayna is currently wheelchair-bound because of a broken leg sustained while trampolining and this limited her ability to interact with some of the sculptures. Thankfully she was very happy to receive candy floss on a glowing stick and play with that as we pushed her around. It was worth a look but we’ve enjoyed previous years more.

Cube

Looking up at Cube

Glow

Where has the candy floss gone?

Bloom

In amongst Pau Rama

Watching Pom and Pom dancing around

The playground lit up for Capital-E Colourplay

Playing with a marble maze, part of Capital-E Colourplay

Testing the Newton’s Cradle that is called Cradle2Cradle

Just So Festival

A festival aimed at families where we get to camp in the beautiful Kaitoke Regional park and take part in all sorts of events including a madcap tribal tournament? Sounds great! The inaugural New Zealand edition of the Just So Festival took place over the last weekend of February and we had a blast :)

We had left work early so we would have time to put up our tent and get settled before the festivities started at 5pm on the friday night. There were no queues and plenty of parking and from the car it was a short walk over to find our friends and pitch our tent. Once we had somewhere to sleep and everyone was ready it was time to head over to the festival site.

That evening and over the next couple of days we danced, crafted, paraded, rested, ate, marvelled, collected golden stones, played, talked, sang, dressed up, roasted marshmallows, chased bubbles, went inside bubbles, pillow fought and smiled. Hopefully you’ll see below some of the enjoyment and wonder that we experienced. We can’t wait for the next one!

Puppet dinosaur feeding

Puppet dinosaur feeding with String Bean Puppets

Learning some circus skills

Learning some circus skills

Campfire tales

Campfire tales

Kakapo shenanigans

Kakapo shenanigans

Misty morning camping

Misty morning camping

Conga line!

Conga line!

Dress up fun

Dress up fun

Festival buddies

Festival buddies

The lantern parade

The lantern parade

Campfire marshmallows

Campfire marshmallows

Fire dancing

Fire dancing

Inside camp curious

Inside Camp Curious

Inside a bubble

Inside a bubble

Checking out the aliens

Checking out the aliens

Knocked over by Fraser Hooper

Knocked over by Fraser Hooper

The penguin tribe leader

The penguin tribe leader

Pillow fight time!

Pillow fight time!

Let the feathers fly

Let the feathers fly

Tribal tournament

Tribal tournament

Mount Climie

With a few days left before I start work I’ve been taking some time to get outside. Today I went out past Upper Hutt to walk up the Mount Climie track. Accessed from the Tunnel Gully area of Pakuratahi Forest the gravel road provides service access to communication equipment at the summit. The track is steep, I wasn’t really prepared for the relentless upward grind and it didn’t take long before I was sweating profusely. It’s a 600m ascent and just over 11kms return. About half way up the surrounding forest changed to predominately beech and became much more interesting to look at with lots of native birds. It was nice to take my mind off the constant trudging to watch families of rifleman flitting through the trees.

Hitting the cloud level

Hitting the cloud level

Further interest was then provided by the low cloud level adding a misty fog to the forest. The higher I ascended the more wind there was and the swirling mist was great to watch during my frequent rest stops. After an hour and a half I came across the first of the communication towers. There are towers for TV transmission, cellular communication and apparently something for the NZ Police as well. There are two trigs, the first at 830m and the second at 860m. From the first trig the landscape changes again with the track following an exposed ridgeline that occasionally is snow-covered (some photos of that can be seen here). Not in the middle of summer but for my visit the cloud level was such that there were no views, just wind and white all around. It was eerie to be alone on the summit track, at times it was like something out of a horror movie (The Mist anyone?) but thankfully there were no scary or unexplained events. I ate lunch in a sheltered area by the trig and then spent the return trip taking my time, enjoying the general lack of climbing and taking a lot of photos.

The first trig

The first trig

Made it to the top!

Made it to the top!

The track disappears

The track disappears

Wind sculpts the summit vegetation

Wind sculpts the summit vegetation

A rata stump, the summit rata apparently all killed by possums

A rata stump, the summit rata apparently all killed by possums

On the set of a horror movie?

On the set of a horror movie?

More foggy infrastructure

More foggy infrastructure

Goblin forest

Goblin forest

A mountain cabbage tree

A mountain cabbage tree

All up it was around 4 hours return including my lunch and photo stops. I think it’ll be a few years before I take Alayna up there, she’ll need some practice on shorter climbs first. There is a definite sense of achievement in reaching the summit and I think I’d be more interested in regular visits if it wasn’t a gravel road but rather a track that had a better sense of travelling through the forest. That said I will have to return to see the summit under snow and also on a clear day to see some of the promised views.

Mist and trees

Mist and trees

Summer days part 2: The Putangirua Pinnacles

Saturday saw us traversing the Rimutaka Hill Road with a destination of the Putangirua Pinnacles on the Wairarapa south coast. We were not alone in our choice and as we sat at a picnic table for an early lunch there was a constant stream of vehicles arriving and departing the pinnacles campsite and carpark.

It was a hot day with little wind and it was refreshing to enter the forest as we took the track up towards the pinnacles lookout. Again we had Alayna counting steps and also introduced a game of hide a seek with various family members dispatched ahead to hide. Alayna enjoyed pretending not to notice people ineffectively hiding behind narrow trees and would be smiling when we walked past her hiding similarly.

Grandad "hides"

Grandad hides

Waiting to be found

Waiting to be found

Who is behind that tree?

Who is behind that tree?

You can't see me!

You can’t see me!

We reached a ridgeline and spent some time walking up, down and around the ridge mostly in the sun and it was a relief to finally reach the pinnacles lookout. We had a good sit down, rest and snack after taking in the view and after a brief discussion headed down the steeper track to the valley floor. It was a direct track and I’m glad we hadn’t walked up it (30 minutes up, 15 minutes down).

Looking out to sea

Looking out to sea

At the pinnacles lookout

At the pinnacles lookout

When we got to the rocky streambed that formed the valley floor I decided to head up to the base of the pinnacles while everyone else started back to the car. We’d been seeing (and passed by) lots of families and groups of tourists and the again there were lots of people around as I trudged upward. At the head of the valley there were two different groups playing around with their drones, filling the valley with a buzz like giant bees. I took a few photos and then took off to try and catch the rest of the family.

Heading down-valley

Heading down-valley

In amongst the pinnacles

In amongst the pinnacles

Up a narrow valley

Up a narrow valley

I caught up with everyone eventually and found Alayna happily throwing rocks into the stream bed. Picking our path alongside the stream we were not long to be back at the fork where we had headed up to the lookout and from there is was only 15 minutes back to the (stinking hot) cars. The road was quieter as we drove to Martinborough, perhaps most of the visitors already heading home.

Playing with rocks

Playing with rocks

The south coast road

The south coast road

Summer at the beach

Summer at the beach

Ice cream time

Ice cream time

The Wairarapa visit was completed with ice cream at the square and we sat on a picnic blanket in the shade feeling content. The ice cream was wonderful and made for a lovely footnote to our day.

Summer days part 1: Otari-Wilton and Titahi bay

The last few days have blessed us with lovely weather so we’ve been out and about. On friday afternoon we took a walk at Otari-Wilton Bush. There was abundant birdlife with dozens of tuis and kakariki flying overhead, plenty of kereru around and also a pair of k?rearea circling around a tree on the other side of a valley. We encouraged Alayna to walk as much as possible partially by having her count the steps we ascended, she did really well and also enjoyed crossing bridges, throwing leaves into streams for races and walking over rocks whenever possible. We ended up at the flax clearing which would have been better described as the daisy clearing for our visit, a carpet of flowers punctuating the dry grass.

Crossing the stream

Crossing the stream

Family in the daisies

Family in the daisies

Daisy Alayna

Daisy Alayna

Keryn made Alayna a daisy head dress and Alayna chased me around the clearing while I snapped away. We took a few family photos after clearing some (but not enough apparently) of the more intrusive grass stalks. We had some of the gingerbread that was left over from Christmas and watched a procession of birds fly overhead. There was a large pohutukawa covered in fading but still resplendent red blooms and the tree positively humbed with its audience of bees. There was time for some silliness and then we were off back towards the parked car.

Fading summer red

Fading summer red

The happy frog

The happy frog

It being such a nice evening we took the opportunity to purchase fish and chips in Porirua and then head over to Titahi Bay beach for a picnic dinner. We sat on some steps near the middle of the beach and watched the people wandering along the beach, the paddleboarders crossing the bay and the brave few playing in the water while the southerly breeze keep the temperature a little cool. We attracted a growing flock of seagulls and Alayna took great delight in chasing them away, at least until the numbers got so great that they just circled around behind her. It was a very pleasant evening.

Titahi Bay

Titahi Bay

The seagulls were persistent

The seagulls were persistent

Alayna chasing seagulls

Alayna chasing seagulls

The North Pole Express

What better time to break the blog hiatus than the lead-up to Christmas? Last weekend we traveled on the North Pole Express, a steam train ride from Paraparaumu to the North Pole (Otaki standing in) and back. We were joined by Kelly, Drew and Clara and all met up at the Paraparaumu train station. We had been advised to arrive 30 minutes before departure time of 7pm and got to out muster point for the Elf carriage at about 6:35pm to find we were the last people to turn up, obviously we weren’t as organised as everyone else. Still, we were early enough.

As indicated by the carriage name we stood with an Elf holding a big green flag and we got our tickets from a cheerful Christmas chef. Our Elf was constantly moving and we were soon on the move to the station platform to await the arrive of the titular Polar Express. Soon enough we could see a puff of smoke in the distance and then the train was pulling in to the platform, a wonderfully restored steam engine pulling equally grand restored carriages and all decorated for the Christmas theme.

Here comes the Polar Express

Here comes the Polar Express

Our carriage chef

Our carriage chef

Decorations

Decorations

Off we go

Off we go

We found our allocated seats and settled in for the journey. There was appropriately themed music for the whole trip and our Elf, Chef and a cast of other characters kept us entertained as we steamed north. There were people watching from their houses or pulled over beside the road to watch the train go past, obviously we were quite the sight! As we got closer to the North Pole our Elf was getting very excited and as we pulled into the station we saw Santa and his assistants waiting on the platform and welcoming us with a wave (Santa) and acrobatics (the assistants).

The conductor pays a visit

The conductor pays a visit

Our elf gets excited

Our elf gets excited

Disembarking we arrived into a winter wonderland with stalls dispensing iced chocolate (it’s been a warm summer so far) and cookies and there was a foam machine pumping out a fare substitute for real snow. Alayna was certainly impressed and this is was the closest she’s ever been to real snow.

Alayna in the snow

Alayna in the snow

The snowing platform

The snowing platform

We had plenty of time to wander about, watch people getting photos with Santa and the other dressed up characters from the other carriages, and then see the steam engine move to the other end for the return journey (returning backwards as there was apparently no turntable available). Then we were called back to our seats and headed back to Paraparaumu. During the return Santa visited everyone at their seats and gifted bells to all. There was more singing, more dancing and general good cheer and even a nice sunset to watch.

Receiving a bell from Santa

Receiving a bell from Santa

Peek-a-boo

Peek-a-boo

Singing and dancing

Singing and dancing

We disembarked, had a chance for one final chat with Santa and then were walking back to the cars. It had been a fun trip and was now quite late which meant Alayna fell asleep on the way home, all excited out.

The train empties at dusk

The train empties at dusk

Merry Christmas everyone and a Happy New Year!

LUX Light Festival 2017

After a hiatus in 2016 the LUX festival was reconfigured and back lighting up the Wellington night for 2017. Starting earlier in the year meant that the installations were powered up earlier in the evening which allowed us to attend with Alayna at a reasonable hour which was a bonus. The works were divided into precincts which was a logical progression and overall the organisation seemed improved on previous years, for instance having two areas set up with food trucks reduced the queues and the crowds.

We attended as a family twice and invited along some of Alayna’s friends and their families and this helped give the visits some variety. Both times we started with some food and then facepainting before setting out to explore the installations beginning with the Playground precinct.

Control No Control by Studio Iregular was a firm favourite and probably my pick for best installation. A large cube with a changing roster of lighting effects linked interactions. Touching the walls caused the effects to change and with plenty of space a large number of people could interact at the same time. Fun to play with and fun to watch it set a very high bar.

CONTROL NO CONTROL - STUDIO IREGULAR https://www.lux.org.nz/control-no-control

CONTROL NO CONTROL – STUDIO IREGULAR

CONTROL NO CONTROL - STUDIO IREGULAR https://www.lux.org.nz/control-no-control

CONTROL NO CONTROL – STUDIO IREGULAR

The little lion

Our little lion enjoying herself with Control No Control

The nearby Social Sparkles by Studio Toer was also interesting with suspended lights like hyperactive little fireflies following people as they moved below. Alayna for some reason wasn’t interested at all in this installation, perhaps the nearby sights and sounds of Control No Control were simply more engaging for a 3 (nearly 4) year old.

SOCIAL SPARKLES - STUDIO TOER https://www.lux.org.nz/socialsparkles

SOCIAL SPARKLES – STUDIO TOER

Capital-E had a couple of shipping containers set up with things to do. One had a sort of VR action game where hand movements influenced (rather than controlled) geometric shapes in front of a large face displayed on large screens. Of more interest to Alayna and her friends was the Electro Jungle where a black light lit container contained fantastical beasts and a forest which could be drawn on using glowing chalk. As with the last LUX there was also an area on the waterside path set aside for glow-in-the-dark chalk activities but it was much warmer (if cramped) in the container.

Alayna enjoying drawing on the walls of the electro Jungle with her friend.

Alayna enjoying drawing on the walls of the Electro Jungle with her friend.

Black light friends

Black light friends

Nearby was a totem-like installation named St Elmo’s Fire Tree created by Nelson local Anthony Genet. Four chaotic balls of fluorescent tubes sparked to life in glowing red. When the wind was blowing strong the straps helping to keep the piece in place would thrum adding to the almost ritual feeling of the piece.

ST ELMO'S FIRE TREE - ANTHONY GENET https://www.lux.org.nz/st-elmos

ST ELMO’S FIRE TREE – ANTHONY GENET

Walking on to the Te Ao Mārama Precinct there were a couple of highlights. Tane Te Wānanga by Hemi MacGregor & Mara TK was a giant waterscreen in the middle of the lagoon which was captivating to watch and the amphitheatre seating at the edge of the lagoon made this a perfect spot to sit and take in the projections. Geometric shapes and dancers appeared and moved set to music and sounds while the wind through the water screen changed the size and intensity of the projection.

TANE TE W?NANGA - HEMI MACGREGOR & MARA TK https://www.lux.org.nz/tanetewananga

TANE TE WĀNANGA – HEMI MACGREGOR & MARA TK

Neaby was another intriguing installation. Kaokao by Bob Jahnke. Two large Xs side to side and with red neon tubes enclosed in glass were striking from a distance and then close up the internal reflections made the neon appear to duplicate to infinity. It gave the piece a hidden depth and led to many people wandering around trying to figure out the optical illusion. I played around with shutter speeds and manual zooming to give an added effect to some of my photos.

KAOKAO - BOB JAHNKE https://www.lux.org.nz/kaokao

KAOKAO – BOB JAHNKE

KAOKAO - BOB JAHNKE https://www.lux.org.nz/kaokao

KAOKAO – BOB JAHNKE (with added zoom)

We also happened to see the returning Lux Cats near Kaokao. First featured in 2015 these cats wandered around the Lux precincts in mysterious fashion. They happened to stop nearby and just stood there, occasionally turning there heads and appearing to stare at people. After a period of time and with no warning they started walking again, very enigmatic.

Light cats

Light cats

The Circus Precinct took in Civic Square and the City to Sea bridge and was our next destination. To one side of the bridge in the grass space fronting the Michael Fowler Centre there was an installation called Passing Me By created by Christopher Welch & Makers Fabrication. For a static piece this one was quite playful. If you stood in one place it was simply a wall with different colours glowing under the black lights. If you walked in parallel to the work the colours changed with the change in perspective. Many people were just standing and staring without realising how fun it was to view while moving and try to figure out what was going on.

PASSING ME BY - CHRISTOPHER WELCH & MAKERS FABRICATION https://www.lux.org.nz/passingmeby

PASSING ME BY – CHRISTOPHER WELCH & MAKERS FABRICATION

Then on to the big display projected onto the council building. Circus of Light by Ocubo was a circus illustrated in an animated cutout style and involved a variety of animals performing (generally lame) tricks and most often failing in an unamusing fashion. Alayna summed it up for me when she asked after a few minutes “when does the real show start?”. It was pretty but overall for me and Alayna just boring. Plenty of other people seemed to find it enjoyable. The artists and acrobats entertaining between screenings were much more fun to watch.

CIRCUS OF LIGHT - OCUBO https://www.lux.org.nz/circus-of-light

CIRCUS OF LIGHT – OCUBO

Civic Square hula hoop

Civic Square hula hoop

Also found in Civic Square and then wandering around the festival were a pair of woman wearing Little Sun solar light dresses promoting the Little Sun project. Again this was a return from 2015 where there was a static installation of Little Suns displayed on a grid and it was good to see them back in a different form.

Little Sun solar light dresses

Little Sun solar light dresses

I was hoping for a night of rain during the festival but this didn’t happen during any of my visits. I like to photograph the reflections and reflected glow of the installations and I think the work Drawn by Lisa Munnelly & Angus Donaldson would have become even more interesting in those circumstances. Pretty much just some net curtains drapped over a large lightbox Drawn was interesting to watch when there was a wind blowing, the interferance patterns created by the fabric covered light were mesmerising at times.

DRAWN - LISA MUNNELLY AND ANGUS DONALDSON https://www.lux.org.nz/drawn

DRAWN – LISA MUNNELLY AND ANGUS DONALDSON

Near Drawn was Augmented Geometries by Erica Sklenars, another projection mapping work. I liked the contrast with the grafetti covered wall below and the sequence was a lot more interesting (albeit on a smaller scale) that something like the Circus of Light.

AUGMENTED GEOMETRIES - ERICA SKLENARS https://www.lux.org.nz/copy-of-imperial-ghosts

AUGMENTED GEOMETRIES – ERICA SKLENARS

My other favourite installation was Into the Underscore by Anita Dykes. A series of light emiting hoops suspended between buildings off Opera House Lane the colours and sequenced noises created an interesting if slightly disquietning show. Many people would approach and stand underneath mesmerised and looking like they would be transported up and away to some alien spaceship. This would have been another piece that would have looked great in the rain with reflections but the most I got was a section of hoops reflected in a tiny puddle.

INTO THE UNDERSCORE - ANITA DYKES https://www.lux.org.nz/into-the-underscore

INTO THE UNDERSCORE – ANITA DYKES

INTO THE UNDERSCORE - ANITA DYKES https://www.lux.org.nz/into-the-underscore

INTO THE UNDERSCORE – ANITA DYKES

INTO THE UNDERSCORE - ANITA DYKES https://www.lux.org.nz/into-the-underscore

INTO THE UNDERSCORE – ANITA DYKES, using the zoom technique again

Stretching Light by Joshua & Sam Lewis was a suspended lightwork above Opera House Lane. A number of neon strings navigating through a series of geometric frames it was diverting and an interesting addition to the laneway.

STRETCHING LIGHT - JOSHUA LEWIS & SAM LEWIS https://www.lux.org.nz/stretching-light

STRETCHING LIGHT – JOSHUA LEWIS & SAM LEWIS

Over the road above just past the entrance to Eva Street was The Light Launder by Rayzordoll. A larger than life washing line with suspended linen was used as a medium to project slides of family memories. Eva Street is now home to a number of light installations that had their beginnings in past Lux festivals so it’s always interesting to have a look around.

THE LIGHT LAUNDER - RAYZORDOLL https://www.lux.org.nz/thelightlaunder

THE LIGHT LAUNDER – RAYZORDOLL

So that’s a selection from this years LUX festival. I’m looking forward to the next one already and in the meantime there is a new light event planned for the Hutt Valley taking place later this year. The more the merrier I say :)