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

Mum’s birthday and driving north

Our final day in Timaru and the main reason we’d come down, Mum’s birthday. The morning was spent preparing food and getting everything ready for brunch as a bevy of family arrived. There were copious pancakes and croissants, fruit and Christmas mince pies. And then it was time for a birthday cake to be presented.

Time for cake

Time for cake

Blow out the candles

Blow out the candles

As is traditional there were a number of family photos taken. Frances and Helen were excellent photographers standing in my Richard and myself.

Uncle Richard

Uncle Richard

Siblings

Siblings (Alayna standing in for Patricia )

Family photo

Family photo

Alayna and the birthday girl

Alayna and the birthday girl

Early afternoon saw as saying our goodbyes and taking to the road once more. We were splitting up our journey with our Ferry not sailing until the following evening and we would be spending the night in Cheviot. Getting there we somehow managed to avoid most of the thunderstorms and hail that was threatening, only getting hailed on just north of Christchurch for a few minutes though it was loud enough to wake Alayna and concern her a little.

Stormy skies

Stormy skies south of Christchurch

We arrived in Cheviot and our accommodation at the Cheviot Motels and Holiday Park in good time. There was a trampoline, guinea fowl, rabbits, chickens, geese, horses, a donkey and a friendly cat so Alayna was set. I could see the heavy weather coming our way so dashed up to the next door Church as the front same in and got some photos of moody clouds before the wind kicked in, shortly followed by heavy rain. It blew through quickly thankfully, much to the relief of the cyclist who had just set up his little pup-tent.

The storm comes over

The storm comes over St. Johns at Cheviot

Here comes the rain

Here comes the rain

Morning rainbow

Morning rainbow

Cloudy with a chance of Aurora Australis

The last couple of weeks have had a few opportunities for some interesting night time photography. There have been a few nights with a good chance of Aurora Australis activity and on clear nights there have been some final chances to capture the brightest part of the milky way low in the night sky before it disappears below the southern hemisphere horizon until next year.

Viewing stars and aurora is heavily dependant on the weather and specifically a lack of cloud. When I got out to try and capture aurora action I knew the weather forecast wasn’t great but if I stayed at home then I’d definitely not see anything. As it happened I got to see almost no aurora but viewed a lot of cloud and frequent bouts of rain so there was plenty of time spent in the car trying to predict when it would be safe to take the camera out for some photography.

Stormy viewing from inside the car

Stormy viewing from inside the car

Once out of the car it was then a patient wait to see if the cloud would clear enough for some star and aurora viewing. The sky did mostly clear for a brief period but not long enough or at the right time for the aurora to show. Better luck next time perhaps.

Waiting for the cloud to clear at the Red Rocks carpark

Waiting for the cloud to clear at the Red Rocks carpark

Another night saw me driving north to try and get a photo of the milky way over Kapiti Island. Initially I stopped at the lookout on the Paekakariki hill road and then the beach at the north end of Paekakariki but in both places the bulk of the milky way was sitting to the left of Kapiti Island. Driving further north I settled on a spot at Peka Peka beach, deserted and mostly free of any lights. It wasn’t perfect and there was a haze of thin cloud in the sky but I got some interesting photos and was able to try capturing a panorama or two as well.

Viewing the milky way and Kapiti Island from Peka Peka beach

A panorama of the milky way over Kapiti Island from Peka Peka beach

A longer exposure over Kapiti Island

A longer exposure over Kapiti Island

The reverse view looking back towards the Tararua’s was also good and I spent some time watching the International Space Station moving across the sky. Next time I try this I’ll have to try this earlier in the year and go further north. Better preparation! By this time next year we might even have helpful applications like Photopills and the updated version of TPE available for Android (both containing useful tools for visualising the location of the milky way for photography amongst other things).

Stars over the Tararua's from Peka Peka beach

Stars over the Tararua’s from Peka Peka beach

Some favourites

Updates here have slowed to a crawl, co-incidentally work has been a lot busier for me. I suspect there is a link there. The further travels of two Kiwis in Western Australia will be appearing here at some point, I’m just not sure exactly when. In the meantime here are some nice photos from the last couple of months, highlights if you will.

MG 6152Photo by Brendon & Keryn

We start at Hamilton zoo with a ring-tailed lemur wrapping up against the cold.

MG 6223Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Then we have a cheeky monkey called Adam playing in a house that I’m sure contained rabbits and guinea pigs when I was little and visiting Hamilton Zoo.

IMG 1850Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A big fish we swam with off the coast of Western Australia. If you get the chance just do it, so awesome. Really, its the best wildlife encounter I’ve ever had.

MG 8978Photo by Brendon & Keryn

One of my favourite shots from the winter visits to Zealandia. This pied shag (or Australian pied cormorant for those across the ditch) was taking off and I got the panning just right.

MG 9276Photo by Brendon & Keryn

One very lost penguin and a crowd of admirers. I will not call him “Happy Feet”…damn

Look what I gotPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

White faced terns at Plimmerton.

Shore Plover washingPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

One of a small flock of New Zealand shore plover that have taken up residence in Plimmerton next to the fire station. They have flown across from Mana Island which has concerned DOC, what with all the cats and dogs found on the mainland. There are only a few hundred of these birds left, one of New Zealand’s rarest species.

Eowyn and the NazgulPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

A close-up of a statue we now own, it depicts Eowyn fighting the Nazgul from the book Return of the King and is based on a painting by John Howe.

New Zealand Falcon (Karearea)Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The falcons are back at Zealandia and I managed to grab a few photos yesterday. Overcast skies may make it darker and therefore harder to get nice sharp photos but wildlife looks so much better without harsh, contrasty light everywhere.

White Fronted Tern (Tara)Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A white fronted tern battles the intense westerly we’ve had for the last few days at Plimmerton.

So that’s a visual journey through some of my recent photographic highlights. Next time I hope it’ll be back into the dry landscapes of Western Australia.

Kate and Roger are Married

The rain persisted and it bought along some strong winds to party with, which ruined the planned peninsula cliff-top ceremony. Plan B was enacted. Kate was staying at the Hotel Bondi and the new plan was to have the ceremony on a balcony overlooking the beach, so at least there would be a feel of the outdoors and a view of the ocean. It was only close friends and family at the ceremony, we got in because I was asked to take some photos. Everyone pitched in as plans fell into place over the morning. Chairs were found and arranged, and then re-arranged as the wind and rain conspired to soak the outer areas of the large balcony. Flowers were arranged in vases on a table and then artfully draped across another table when the wind blew the vases to the concrete with a crash of breaking glass. People huddled as much out of the wind as could manage, beautiful dresses clasped between legs to prevent impromptu Marilyn Monroe moments. It sounds chaotic but there was no panic and everyone was in a good mood, all the more so with the arrival of the bride when all the background details around weather faded away and we watched the couple say their vows in a beautiful ceremony.

MG 3629Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Mr and Mrs Kate and Roger.

We had some time taking photos in the hotel while the wedding party had a few drinks at the bar. Then we were around the corner to Roys Tapas for the reception.

MG 3896Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Happy.

MG 3958Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Very Happy.

MG 4056Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Hotel art.

MG 4082Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Fun in the elevator.

The reception was a good time for all, whether inside drinking and eating incredibly tasty food, talking with others or exploring the strange little back yard that was home to beanbags, some tables and a large tepee. The cake was a lovely collection of cupcakes and the cutting ceremony involved the couple feeding each other after having lit sparklers. Before this we had good, heart felt speeches involving much laughter and tears. All in all it was a great day and evening and it was a pleasure to attend.

MG 4142Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Cake and makers, Rochane & Georgie.

MG 4240Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Celebrating the couple.

South Island: Abel Tasman Coastal Walk

Our water taxi was booked to take us from the beach at Kaiteriteri at 8:30am, or so we thought. Turns out the time on the ticket was incorrect and pick-ups don’t start till 9am in the off season, thanks for telling us and advertising the wrong details Aqua Taxi. It was a lovely morning and I took advantage of the spare time to take some photos from the beach. I watched a pied shag take multiple journeys to the beach where it selected a stick to take back for nest building purposes. There were also a few people going out to some of the boats moored in the bay and in the distance there were snow covered peaks, all in all there are worse places to be waiting for a water taxi.

Heading outPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Row row row your boat.

Kaiteriteri BeachPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Kaiteriteri Beach.

Pied ShagPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Flying off with the perfect nest building stick.

When they did arrive the service was friendly and the transfer efficient with a few stops at significant features along the way to our drop off at Bark Bay. Because it was a small boat we were able to travel faster than the larger boats we had seen earlier, so that helped make up some of our lost half hour. We also got given a tip that we might be able to wade across the estuary and cut some time from the walk.

Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Viewing Split Apple Rock.

We were able to walk across the estuary but the last part, crossing a channel, proved to be a little troublesome. We all had to remove our trousers to ensure we didn’t have to walk in wet clothes, just as well I was too busy drying off and getting back into clothes to take photos. By the time we were all across, dried and fully dressed we probably didn’t make up any time. At least we had a little adventure to start our walk.

The weather was nicer than I recall the last time I was walking this track with Bridget and Dean back in 2005. It was sunny and warm with a cool breeze, very nice conditions to be walking. It also helped that this time around I didn’t have an overloaded pack including tent and cooking equipment.

From the Abel Tasman trackPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

A view from the track.

From the Abel Tasman trackPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

In the forest.

Tonga Island from the Tonga QuarryPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Tonga Island from the beach-side remnants of Tonga Quarry.

We were a little worried that we didn’t have enough time to walk to Awaroa Lodge, have lunch and get to the beach in time for our pick-up but were grateful to realise that the sign posted track times were for the DOC hut at the Awaroa Inlet, not the privately owned Awaroa Lodge which turned out to be an hour or so closer.

The forests were shady and interesting and the beaches beautiful in the sunlight. There were a few other walkers but no crowds of people which helped the walk seem unhurried, even if we were pushing ourselves at time to make the lodge so we had time to eat. Highlights included the long golden beach at Onetahuti Bay and the tannin browned stream at the beaches end, two beautiful spots.

Onetahuti BayPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

The Onetahuti Bay beach.

Onetahuti BayPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Walking the beach.

Onetahuti BayPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

The stream to be crossed at the end of Onetahuti Bay.

Arriving at Awaroa Lodge I noticed a few changes including a sprawling organic vegetable garden as we came onto the Lodge grounds. The bar and restaurant area hadn’t changed a lot, a new set of shade sail-clothes the most obvious difference. We were pretty much alone for our late lunch, one other walker coming in as we ate. The food wasn’t as good as the promise (I have fond memories of eating toast and jam last time, two days walking probably heightening the appreciation) but perhaps that was due to the off season timing of our walk. It was OK, but nothing more. The cold beer was however very good.

Arriving at Awaroa LodgePhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Arriving at Awaroa Lodge.

Beer o'clockPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Cold beer after a nice walk.

Once done it was about time to head down to the beach and await our taxi. The wind was got up while we walked and ate and the beach was being submitted to a stiff breeze which meant the waves were getting up. This made for an adventurous landing and a wet walk through the low surf onto the rocking boat, a task which was accomplished with minimal fuss and bother.

Heading to the beachPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Down to the beach.

Waiting pick-upPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

A wilder beauty.

With wind and waves the return journey was bumpier than the mornings ride but things got calmer as we neared Kaiteriteri. We saw some seals around Tonga Island and a few penguins and seals in the water as we headed back, stopping to pick up more walkers at a couple of bays. Arriving back at the accommodation it was nice to sit down and relax. Tomorrow, the journey to Karamea.

WWA Freewave round 2

The Wellington Windsurfing Association had their 2nd freewave event today in Plimmerton and we went down for a half hour or so to watch the action. Compared to the last time there was a lot more jumping going on, but it wasn’t a competition previously. It was also easier to spot the wind surfers intentions meaning I got plenty of action photos.

MG 5610Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Sky bound.

MG 5640Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Hitting the gap.

MG 5656Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Speeding towards the shore.

MG 5761Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Plenty of air.

MG 5991Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Pushing through the surf.

As usual there are plenty more shots on flickr, I’ve created some sport related sets including one for wind surfing. Living this close to Plimmerton I suspect there will be lots more photographs taken in the future.

Windsurfing

We went into town today on an unsuccessful mission to find Keryn some new shoes. On the way out we spotted a couple of kite surfing kites appearing over the trees that line the channel into the Porirua lagoon. Coming back from town the kite surfers had gone but there were a half dozen or so windsurfers zipping along the Plimmerton foreshore so we parked up and took a walk down the beach to watch the action.

The breeze was strong but very changeable and where one minute there would be windsurfers leaping over waves the next there would be three in the surf as a wind change caught them out. We watched as people came in and more went out, there were over a dozen in the end. One guy in particular was obviously more confident than the rest and he was one of the few coping well with the conditions and jumping over waves.

MG 2862Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Taking to the air

MG 3003Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Airborne

We stayed until the combination of bright light and cold wind got too much (maybe we needed wetsuits as well). It looked like everyone was having a good time, there must be a windsurfers forum or facebook group somewhere because new boards kept arriving on the beach and there were many cars parked up on the road with people leaving and arriving.

MG 3018Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Synchronised windsurfing

I headed back to the beach as sunset neared but missed the final windsurfers in the water, the last couple were heading to their cars as I turned into the Plimmerton road. So I stayed and got a few sunset shots instead.

MG 3126Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The setting sun glows over Mana Island

MG 3143Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Sunset from Plimmerton, looking to the South Island