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 Lots of lights, a disco ball at the top of the tower, some odd sounds and the swing seats had been replaced by neon-rainbow glowing models.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.

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

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 :)

Breaker Bay Aurora Australis

Over the weekend of the 22nd/23rd April 2017 there was heightened Aurora activity and Wellington was treated to two nights of Aurora Australis displays. I was working Saturday night so couldn’t get out and had to make do with watching the excited reports appearing in the Wellington Aurora Hunters and Aurora Australis Facebook groups. On Sunday night I was able to get out and found my way to the Wellington south coast to find that apparently half of the population of Wellington had also thought the same. Turns out that the chance of seeing the Aurora had been mentioned online and on the evening news and this information quickly spread via social media leading to unusual crowds. After nearly getting stuck in gridlock at the Red Rocks Reserve carpark I drove east along the coast road and eventually found a quiet spot above Breaker Bay to take some photos.

Even above Breaker Bay I wasn’t alone with three University Students joining me to sit and watch the horizon. Ferries entering and leaving Wellington Harbour and aircraft flying in to Wellington Airport ruined any real chance of seeing the Aurora by eye and it didn’t help that I’d arrived and started shooting as the display was peaking but the camera captured some good images. I got enough photos for a short timelapse movie and I finally figured out how to use Lightroom to put the video together (using the tutorial here).

Canon 5D Mark IV, Samyang 14mm @ f2.8, ISO 3200 / 25 seconds (first 12 frames) & ISO 6400 / 13 seconds (the rest)

An autumn escape – Arrowtown to the Catlins

Last year I won a camper van trip in a photo competition organised by Bluebridge. We planned an Autumn escape down south and seeing as we were given a 6 berth campervan we invited Keryn’s parents along as well. We flew to Queenstown and picked up our vehicle then headed to a supermarket to get supplies. Finally we drove to Arrowtown to spend the night at the Arrowtown Holiday Park.

Our first evening and night was all about getting to know our new mobile accommodation and figuring out thing like who would sleep where and where to put all our stuff. One thing decided fairly early was that we wouldn’t be moving Alayna’s car seat from where we had installed it and it was a right pain to get in securely. The car seat was fitted to a seat that was in an area that converted to a bed. Thankfully Alayna still fitted in the bed with the seat in place. The beds were not the most comfortable given the mattresses were mostly seat cushions but it was good enough. We also discovered that we wouldn’t be easily getting Alayna asleep during the day (she normally has a midday siesta) and that meant she slept longer at night. The knock-on effect was we all ended up sleeping in each day, not the worst thing to happen on holiday.

The morning was largely overcast and the visible hillsides were to the east so there was no chance of a dazzling sunrise and then sunlight lighting up the autumnal colours of the trees. Still, the foliage and hills were still worth a photo or two.

Morning light on the hills

Morning light on the hills

Colour in shadow

Colour in shadow

Leaving the camp site we found a place to park nearer the town centre and went for a walk in the Arrowtown Recreational Reserve alongside the Arrow River. There were plenty of trees showing nice colours and the walk was very pleasant but Alayna wasn’t overly pleased to be walking and probably hadn’t had the best nights sleep either (everything being new and different). We didn’t get very far before the weather started turning and we walked back in a light rain. I ended up walking Alayna around town in her pram to give her some quiet time and we had some fun wandering through a few shops while dodging heavier bouts of rain.

Crossing the bridge

Crossing the bridge

Remains of a tree hut

Remains of a tree hut seen on the walk

Eventually it was back to the campervan and we left Arrowtown and started our journey south to the Catlins. Unfortunately we had a little mix-up with some over-reliance on the satnav that came as part of our hire package and we took a rather roundabout and longer than necessary route to our next destination. We had dinner in Gore and drove though the wet night to get to the Catlins Kiwi Holiday Park.

Part of the prize had been vouchers for Kiwi Holiday Parks but I’d accidentally left them at home. A quick conversation with my sister Catherine had the vouchers picked up and sent by courier down to the Catlins but they were going to take a few days to arrive. The staff at the Catlins Kiwi Holiday Park were very understanding and trusting in allowing us to sort out the costs of the stay once the vouchers arrived.

Our home for the next week

Our home for the next week

Te Araroa: Pukerua Bay to Paekakariki

The new Paekakariki Escarpment track, a recent addition to the Te Araroa NZ trail, has been open for a few weeks now and we’d been thinking about giving it a go. The fabulous weather continues and we decided that Saturday morning would be our time. The only concern was my football in the afternoon so we had to leave early, as it turned out earlier than we normally leave for work. We decided to walk north and this found us driving and parking up at Paekakariki Station to then catch a train back to Pukerua Bay to start walking. It also helped get Alayna excited, she likes public transport a lot.

Travel by train

Travel by train

Train station playing

Train station playing

Here is my ticket

Here is my ticket

Everything went to plan and we started our trek at the right time of 8:30am. The walk is meant to take 3-4 hours and we thought we’d probably be a little slow but would get back to Paekakariki around lunchtime. From Pukerua Station the path took us through some streets and then a small park before joining the new trail at the now closed Muri station. We had a couple of trains pass by as we walked along beside the train tracks and Alayna got a few waves and a small toot from train drivers, they must be a friendly bunch.

Escarpment Track

Escarpment Track

Lets begin

Lets begin

We were soon rising up the hillside and getting grand views both of the Tasman Sea to the west and the farmland and coastal scrub to the east. The stands of trees all bore evidence of the often harsh climate with windblown branches leaning away. It was a calm day with only a slight southerly and out to sea there were a number of kayakers out fishing. The South Island was hidden behind a bank of cloud but Kapiti Island was a strong, familiar presence. Every kilometre of the track was marked with an iron signpost, we seemingly quickly covered the first 2 kilometres but then the steps started.

Landscape

Landscape

2 kms done

2kms done

Looking down to the shore

Looking down to the shore

Views north

Views north

When we didn’t have steep stairs to walk up the trail was often quite narrow, winding around the hillside. I’m normally not too bad on this kind of track but with Alayna in the backpack on my back I was very concious of the drop to our left and I concentrated on just one foot in front of the other at times rather than looking out at the view. It was also good that we didn’t meet many other people for most of the first half as the steps and track didn’t have a lot of rooms for passing. There were a few small bridges but the highlights were two swing bridges that spanned valleys that rose steeply above the train tracks below. It was disconcerting approaching the first swing bridge with a dark tunnel entrance seemingly filling the view ahead just above the stairs.

Sihlouette

Sihlouette

Steps and the first bridge

Steps and the first bridge

Over we go

Over we go

Brendon and Alayna

Brendon and Alayna on the second swing bridge

There were a few steps

There were a few steps

After the second swing bridge there was a series of steps leading up a steep slope. We slowed right down, taking one flight at a time and resting before moving on up. At the top of this section we had a break and talked to some other people coming the other way who let us know that this was only a taster for what was to come. Thankfully the next step climb was a while away and first we got to walk through some nice stands of trees, the forest a quiet and easy stage to recharge and ready ourselves.

Some were very keen

Some were very keen

A gap in the canopy

A gap in the canopy

The longest stretch of stairs is called the stairway to heaven and it was quite tough to ascend. We were passed by a very fit older man who was counting steps as he walked, reaching 200 when he passed me. He got to the top of the steps and then turned around to come back. We kept going.

The stairway to heaven

The stairway to heaven

More steps

More steps

At the top and just past the halfway mark was a lookout with some good seating and a glorious view out to sea. We had some snacks and got Alayna out of the pack to stretch her legs. There were more and more people reaching the top, almost all coming from the north, and there was plenty of friendly banter and laughs at the top. I got a few comments on how keen I was to have carried Alayna all the way so far on my back, further on we would come across a few others also carrying children in similar fashion.

Feet at the top

Feet at the top

The lookout

The lookout

Brendon and Alayna at the top

Brendon and Alayna at the top

Watered, fed and a little rested we got our gear together, helped Alayna into the pack again and walked on. The way down seemed easier, though tougher on the knees. There were plenty more stairs but a lot of the downward path was sloped across switchbacks. Time passed more quickly it seemed and by the time we neared the end of the track we were in good spirits while still ready for a proper meal. Alayna slept for the final 20 minutes or so, waking up as we approached Paekakariki.

Starting to head down

Starting to head down

More downward steps

More downward steps

8kms completed

8kms completed

It took us around 3 1/2 hours in the end which we thought was pretty good considering we had stopped a few times. We had lunch as planned in Paekakariki and didn’t have to hurry which was nice. Then it was back to the car via the train station and Alayna was full of beans, revelling in walking herself. She was exploring, running around, playing with her shadow and the writing on the ground. So all in all we enjoyed ourselves, completed a challenging walk with no issues and in very good time. We’ll have to return once Alayna is a little older and ready for a longer walk under her own steam.

Ready for lunch

Ready for lunch

Happy times

Happy times

There's my shadow

There’s my shadow

A for Alayna

A for Alayna

Crossing the tracks

Crossing the tracks

For the Birds

The last NZ Festival in 2014 included an event called Power Plant which was a trail of light and sound installations set up in the Wellington Botanical Gardens. It was a well recieved and popular event so there was a follow-up organised for this years festival called For the Birds. As the name suggests this new event had its influence in our feathered friends and overall it was a more thoughtful and relaxed experience while still encouraging interaction and cultivating a sense of wonder.

Books, birds and bird houses

Books, birds and bird houses (Cuckoo Ensemble – Artist: Jony Easterby)

 

Talking, glowing eggs

Talking, glowing Huia eggs (Nests – Artist: Marcus McShane)

 

Now extinct

Now extinct, the eggs of the Haast’s Eagle (Nests – Artist: Marcus McShane)

Initially the installations were mostly static with small moving parts and subdued lighting. The bird houses above had small bellows that sounded in cycles, mimicking somewhat mournful two note “cuck-oo” calls. The glowing eggs I found very engaging and very relevant. There were a number of nests containing eggs, each set representative of a species of New Zealand bird now extinct. The eggs glowed in time to an audio track of conversation between the birds inside the eggs and their hunters, for instance the unhatched Huia bemoaning that people would want their feathers when they look much better on the bird as intended. There was a lot of humour in the conversations as well which I found helped with the engagement.

Mysterious birds

Mysterious birds (Owls & Kingfishers – Artist: Mark Anderson)

Movement began to be introduced with installations traversing large areas. The mysterious calls of the Owls and Kingfishers piece came from small devices attached to long wires that were strung between trees and above the stream bed. We’d turn as we heard one approach and then watch as they came towards us and then disappear as the lights dimmed at the end of their path, only to spark up and pass back again a short time later. Alayna found it a little disconcerting but that was understandable for a 2 and half year old up well past her bedtime. I just wanted to find a space where I could try and get some photos without interrupting the constant flow of fellow visitors.

The glowing tunnel

The glowing tunnel (Feather Arch – Artist: Ulf Pedersen)

A glowing tunnel gradually formed as we walked up a slope, first appearing as lights in the distance and then becoming ephemeral walls and ceiling around us as the light source was approached, light becoming stronger and then fading as the smoke was pushed across the path. It was a beautifully still night so the smoke moved and dissipated slowly keeping the structure of the tunnel very well defined as passers by waved their fingers through the projection.

Birds through the wires

Birds through the wires (Piano Migrations – Artist: Kathy Hinde)

A crowd had formed in from of the Piano Migrations installation watching as shadow birds fluttered through the upended piano strings, their movement apparently touching on strings to make a strange music. Is was quite mesmerising, attested by the amount of time people stood by and took it all in.

Bird house silhouettes

Bird house silhouettes (Shadow Birdcages – Artist: Jony Easterby)

 

The bird arch

The bird arch (Lapwing Display – Artist: Jony Easterby)

 

How it works

How it works (Shadow Birdcages – Artist: Jony Easterby)

We came out of the forest into the dell that is the Troupe Picnic Lawn with a number of works scattered around. The Shadow Birdcages attracted a number of people who often posed to have their own shadow portrait captured with the bird cage silhouettes. Keryn and Alayna were immortalised in kind as evidenced at the top of this page. Stepping around the screen the birdcages could be seen and provided a separate interesting sight, hanging suspended while bathed in light.

Off to one side the silent outlines of lapwing flew up and then down into the still surface of the stream that defined the lower edge of the dell. The reflections completed the loop, an endless mirrored flight.

Looking at the spinning feathers

Looking at the spinning feathers (Feather Dervishes – Artist: Mark Anderson)

 

Cello and nightingale

Cello and nightingale (Nightingales with Cello – Artists: Kathy Hinde & Jony Easterby, Cellist: Elena Morgan

The path then headed upwards and opened out as we neared the Cockayne Lawn and rock gardens. Alayna enjoyed watching the Feather Dervishes and was quite keen to touch them as well, something we had to quietly dissuade. A number of large white feathers were spinning while lit by bright white lights and made an intriguing spectacle. All around the trees and vegetation was lit in an array of dusky autumnal colours providing a warm and inviting atmosphere. There was a variety of installations and near the end we stood and listened as cellist Elena Morgan played counterpoint to a recording of nightingales.

All up it was a wonderful walk full of interesting and thought provoking sights and sounds. We can’t wait to see what amazing event may came along during the next NZ Festival.

Arquitectura de Feria

It’s been another NZ Festival year and included as part of the events this year was a travelling playground named Arquitectura de Feria (the Architecture Fair). Originally from the Catalonia region of Spain and created by performance group Antigua i Barbuda the fair consists of traditional fairground rides and entertainment but created out of scraps and spare parts. So there is a small ferris wheel with seats made out of toilets, a roundabout with seats made out of children sized vehicles like a small tractor, a plane and a rocket and a swing set where the seats are re-purposed sleds. And all of the rides are people powered and in most cases the people come from the audience. Alayna loved it.

We’ve visited a couple of times and Alayna never wants to leave. If it wasn’t for the popularity and the queues to ride she’d stay on each one going around and around (or up and down or forwards and back) indefinitely I’m sure. Everything is simply but fantastically made with wonderful detailing. For the ferris wheel a simple crank is hooked up to a tyre and a rubber belt connects to another tyre that pushes the wheel around through friction. There is a person sitting behind the seats at the bottom of the wheel and they provide instructions to the volunteer cranker via a tube and traffic cone. It’s also their job to add weights to each seat to balance out the wheel. Each child is weighted and gets a chalkboard hung around their neck with their name and weight so there is a bit of maths to help decide who sits where. Generally it was larger children on the toilets and smaller on the alternate metal seats.

Ready to ride

Ready to ride

Brendon powered

Brendon powered

Alayna also had a run around the existing playground at Frank Kitts Park and enjoyed climbing to the top of the lighthouse to then take the slide. This was fine until one particularly fast decent which got a little out of control at the bend in the slide and Alayna bumped her head. An ice cream was offered as a distraction from the head bump so we wandered along the waterfront for Kaffee Eis.

Ice cream time!

Ice cream time!

We wandered around a bit and checked out the flags that made up the Fly Me Up to Where You Are New Zealand project by Tiffany Singh. We also spent time on the city to sea bridge where Alayna got to climb over the various wooden seats and booths before heading back to the playground for more rides.

Under the flags

Under the flags

On the bridge

On the bridge

Back for more

Back for more

Arquitectura de Feria has now ended in Wellington and will continue to travel the world. If it pops up near where you are I thoroughly recommend a visit.

The roundabout

The roundabout

Lets go to Newtown!

The Newtown Festival came around again so we had an afternoon walking around the stalls and checking out the sights and sounds. We parked up near Catherine and Paul’s (amazingly finding a park quite quickly) and went for a quick visit to say hi and because Alayna likes visiting her Aunty and Uncle.

Checking out the cats tail

Checking out the cats tail

Later on at the fair Alayna was interested in many different things including every dog that walked by, any stalls with toys, all the other children and babies and balloons. She also wanted to take a ride on the first thing we saw at the fair, the giant inflatable slide (or the big! big! slide! as Alayna described it).

The Newtown Fair

The Newtown Fair

We returned to the slide as our last fair activity and Alayna eagerly took off her shoes and with a quick boost up was heading up the stairs. Turns out the stairs were a little bit long for Alayna to comfortably reached so it was nice that another girl on her way up slowed down to help. Once at the top Alayna got a big grin on her face and launched herself down the slide…only to find it was a lot steeper and faster than she was expecting and she tumbled down to end up in heap at the bottom. She was a little unhappy but shook it off quickly and after a bit of a snuggle was almost ready for another go. Deciding that it possibly wasn’t the best idea we instead headed back to New World for an ice cream treat to help cool down.

Balcony party

Balcony party

Back to the quiet of Catherine and Paul’s and we were treated to pikelets and a relaxing sit down. It was nice to have a quiet break before the drive home.

The summer had to end sometime

It has been a glorious summer of warm weather, lots of sunshine and little wind. It would appear that this has ended today with the advent of heavy rain and high winds, normal service resuming. That all said some rain will be welcome in the garden.

Over the last month we’ve been out visiting a few fairs and festivals and have also been starting to get into a DIY mindset (while working through some planning differences between what we want to do and what the local developer will allow). First up was the Newtown Fairand we had a pleasant morning walk looking at all the stalls and entertainment on show.

Smiling happy people

Smiling happy people

Dancing with a smile

Dancing with a smile

Balloon entertainment

Balloon entertainment

We also spent an afternoon at the first Cuba Duba festival in Wellington. There were theatrics, music, a huge variety of street food and stages full of interesting entertainment. We didn’t manage to see Spanish hair wizards Osadia at work but their work was always crowd stopping as those who had been worked on wandered the festival turning heads and drawing compliments.

Different festival, more joyful dancing

Different festival, more joyful dancing

Hairdressing at another level

Hairdressing at another level

The dragon and El Matador

The dragon and El Matador

Street parade

Street parade

Red rose petals

Red rose petals

A change of pace had Keryn designing a planter box and after purchasing the required wood and a few new tools I was set the task of constructing the piece. An afternoon and mornings work and we had a new planter box ready for filling.

Watching mum measuring her design

Watching mum measuring her design

Happy days

Happy days

The finished planter

The finished planter

And sometime during all this Alayna decided that crawling wasn’t the transportation be-all and end-all and has started walking :)

Walking!

Walking!

From Bethells to the Zoo via the ‘Tron

We’ve had a good extended Queen’s Birthday weekend up north. Travis recently turned 40 so we stayed with him for a couple of nights along with Phil and Elaine who had come down from Whangarei for a couple of days. Taking advantage of some wonderful weather we had a family outing to Bethells Beach where we walked to Wainamu lake over a large sand dune and then had lunch in the long grass next to the lake. Alayna enjoyed being fed and then having a chance to crawl around on the picnic blanket. Then it was into the grass which was a great new experience for her, surrounded by soft greenery.

On the return there was some caching undertaken and we watched people in the distance playing on the dunes. There were a number of people running and sliding down the dunes for fun and then further away a hard-core group doing some training which involved repeated runs down and then crawls up the dune face. These guys were obviously getting more and more tired but they kept going and made me exhausted just watching.

Lake Wainamu, Bethells Beach, Auckland, West Coast, Lake, Sand dunes, black sands

Lake Wainamu

Further views and a stop for lunch at Lake Wainamu.

Further views and a stop for lunch at Lake Wainamu.

After an evening of 500 and then a tasty brunch in the morning we then drove south to visit family and friends in Hamilton. First up we visited the Gaudin’s, catching up with Grant and Sally-Anne and their four lovely children and introducing them all to Alayna. It was a family afternoon and evening with plenty of play for Alayna and good conversation over dinner and into the evening.

The next day it was the Burdett’s turn though as they all had caught a bug they stayed home warm and dry while we walked around Cambridge and then headed into Hamilton to visit the gardens. It was a bit drizzly in the early afternoon but there were lots of families walking around the gardens. The grey skies and dampness meant the vegetation was vibrant and lush and everything looked good. I especially liked the Indian Char Bagh Garden and we often talked about more travel overseas as we entered a different themed area; thoughts for the future perhaps.

Indian Garden at the Hamilton Gardens

The Indian Char Bagh Garden

Bridget took us for a short walk in the afternoon to look at some of the new development in their area and we took an extended detour around Rototuna as the sun set. The next morning it was off back to Auckland where we caught up with Janet and Ross over lunch at the Sitting Duck Cafe next to the Auckland Harbour Bridge before our final adventure, a walk around Auckland Zoo.

Some of the Auckland Zoo sights: Alayna and one of her namesakes; otters looking for a feed; a serval poses in the afternoon sun.

Some of the Auckland Zoo sights: Alayna and one of her namesakes; otters looking for a feed; a serval poses in the afternoon sun.

Keryn, Alayna and the Kea

Keryn, Alayna and the Kea

The Zoo was good, not to busy on a Tuesday afternoon and plenty of activity from lots of the animals. Alayna especially enjoyed watching a cheetah walk by, giggled at the ungainly movement of a hippo and was captivated by ducks and running water (not so fussed by the more exotic animals like the lemurs in the background). I thought the more New Zealand themed areas were great, the whio and takahe seemed especially content in their mountain landscaped enclosure.

So all in all a relaxed but full weekend and a good little holiday. We’ll have to take winter breaks up north more often :)

Back to Petone (and 13 years)

We had a busy afternoon visiting a daycare centre in Takapu Valley and then visiting our mortgage broker in Wellington. One of those visits ended with a decision being made. It was a beautiful day so rather than spending the evening sitting in congested traffic we headed to Petone (OK, there was a short period of highway slowdown) so I could take some photos at the Petone Wharf. Keryn stayed in the warm car with Alayna and served up dinner.

We've been here before

We’ve been here before

What do they store in here?

What do they store in here?

Wrapping up while waiting for a bite

Wrapping up while waiting for a bite

Fishing downstairs

Fishing downstairs

Foreshore reflections

Foreshore reflections

The long rail

The long rail

This month marks 13 years since we started this blog. That sounds like a long time to me. Maybe we’ll still be blogging in another 13 years (from our hovercar virtual screens on the flightpath between Wellington and Hobart).