Queenstown NZ and the iconic Remarkables Mountain Range

The most delightful backdrop for visitors to Queenstown is the Remarkables mountain range.

Loved alike by New Zealanders and tourists in all seasons, they’re best viewed from the town. The best viewing times are from mid morning onwards and especially at dusk.

These iconic photos were all made just on sunset in early winter

The Remarkables mountain range, Queenstown New Zealand
P1170216-remarkables [the same as the above featured image]
The Remarkables mountain range, Queenstown New Zealand
P1170223-remarkables
The Remarkables mountain range, Queenstown New Zealand
P1170226-remarkables
The Remarkables mountain range, Queenstown New Zealand
remarkables-b&w-1

None of these blog page images are listed in our shop yet, but if you happen to be interested please note which image and email Donald so he can process the various options, and advise you with a link when completed

A year of photography – 2019

There were various reasons for lots of local NZ travel in 2019, and fortunately I had the time often to not rush trips across the likes of Central Otago, e.g. Wanaka to Dunedin and return.

The images below are very roughly in chronological order, but being lots of them I’ve uploaded with speed in mind – life in 2020 is nice and full, and sitting at a keyboard is best kept to a minimum. Enjoy!

Silver Peaks, Dunedin
Silver Peaks range behind Dunedin on a day tramp in the damp, which helps engender a sense of mystery
Sheep on a Southland Road
On various days I’d help an old friend Wayne survey road upgrades in Southland, and so I got to see lots more of rural NZ than I knew existed, as usually the surfaces that needed to be marked out for upgrades were on anything but main roads.

These were long days with lots of water needed to keep hydrated.
Cook Strait looking back at the South Island
An evening on Cook Strait heading to Wellington on a roadie with an old and dear friend. This is looking back at the South Island
Rowing on Wellington harbour
Wellington harbour
A relocated railway station in Central Otago now serving as a musterer's farming hut
A relocated railway station in Central Otago now serving as a musterer’s farming hut. Bordering the Oteake Conservation Area
Lan Yuan, Dunedin Chinese Garden
Lan Yuan, Dunedin Chinese Garden, in Dunedin. The garden commemorates the contribution of Chinese people to the history and culture of the city.

I met my cousin and husband down there so it was a delightful family outing looking at some strong history, with them both and my son
On the Rock and Pillar Range looking west
A side trip and camp out in my Land Cruiser camper, to altitude on the Rock and Pillar Range – the last of the block mountains between the Cardrona Valley, Wanaka and Dunedin. A very windy area.
Camping on the Rock and Pillar Range
Luxury with a cold beer out of the vehicle fridge, on the Rock and Pillar Range watching the sunset.

It got very windy in the wee hours though, and despite turning the truck around so it faced into the wind, to get a good sleep I drove a few km and parked up in a gully out of it, and woke to heavy rain.
And when needing a bathroom
old gold diggings on the Hawkdun Range, Oteake Conservation Area
Another evening camp out – this time at old gold diggings on the Hawkdun Range, Oteake Conservation Area.

I’d climbed up to here in very cold winds to get some photos, and then descended in the dark back to my welcome little mountain hut on wheels, aka Cafe Toyota.

Mt Aspiring in the background
Lower Rock and Pillar Range
Lower Rock and Pillar Range – Butterfly country once experienced and now imagined
awning on Land Cruiser. camper
My new awning on the camper – should have made one years ago for the simple reason that in rain the end of the bed would get wet.

Note no poles and my 100 year old industrial sewing machine got an airing
Sunset from the Hawkduns
Sunset from the Hawkduns.

Just myself, my three legged tripod and some nearby cattle to enjoy a perfect evening while on my way to Dunedin
The now empty Cadburys chocolate factory in Dunedin
The now empty Cadburys chocolate factory in Dunedin.

Site of a new hospital coming up.
Classic car in Wanaka
During the year I finished off a new tire related web site in Wanaka, and so was delighted one day to spot this beauty outside the new building
Frog at Glendhu Bay, Wanaka
Best image from a sunset photoshoot at Glendhu Bay, Wanaka
University of Otago clock tower
University of Otago where my son has studied for several years. A truly beautiful campus
Christchurch cathedral statue
I had to visit Christchurch a few times during the year and since I’d never seen the city post earthquake I predictably ended up visiting the Cathedral ruins in the Square
Christchurch public toilets near the Square at night
Christchurch public toilets near the Square at night
Christchurch Art Gallery
Christchurch Public Art Gallery
Historic gold reserve cottage at Macraes Otago
Historic gold reserve at Macraes Otago
Luna Light Festival fairies - midwinter, Queenstown
Luna Light Festival fairies – midwinter, Queenstown
The smog of winter in the Manuherikia River Valley, Central Otago
The smog of winter in the Manuherikia River Valley, Central Otago
Mt Tutoko, Fiordland National Park
Mt Tutoko, Fiordland National Park – photo from the jet service into Queenstown from CHC
Wintery tarn and Hawkdun Mountains, Oteake Conservation Park
Wintery tarn and Hawkdun Mountains, Oteake Conservation Park, on the edge of the Maniototo
World Loppet Merino Muster race 2019
The front runners at the annual World Loppet Merino Muster race, the Snow Farm, Cardrona Valley, Wanaka.

These world class athletes on cross country skis are well into their 42 km race, and typically average speeds of up to 22kph over that distance
native kaka at Orokonui Sanctuary near Dunedin
During the year I was appointed onto the Otago Conservation Board where we represent the public and advise the Dept of Conservation on select matters and strategic decision making.

As such I get to do field trips, and here is a native kaka at Orokonui Sanctuary near Dunedin.
Young lovers in the sunset, near the mouth of the Catlins River, Coastal Otago
My son and girlfriend near the mouth of the Catlins River, Coastal Otago.

I had a large print done for him of this image as a Christmas present, and it was well received.
Nevis Valley gold dredge pond tree
Yet another visit to a certain tree in the Nevis Valley – it’s my photo nemesis I think: satisfaction eludes me capturing the cold emotion of this old historic gold dredging pond, but I’m getting closer.

This visit represented the coldest I’d been in 2019.
Nevis Valley gold miners cottage
Nevis Valley gold miners cottage
Lake Hawea from a day trip up Isthmus Peak
Lake Hawea from a day trip up Isthmus Peak
Otago Conservation Board field trip Matukituki Valley 2019
Otago Conservation Board field trip Matukituki Valley – me on the right
Proposed conservation land on Glenaray Station
Proposed conservation land on Glenaray Station Otago/Southland. An inspection visit by helicopter pre submission.

One huge area – one hour flying only covered a fifth of the farm.
Lake Wanaka flood Dec 2019.
Lake Wanaka flood Dec 2019.

Last event 1999, and thankfully this one stopped short of the shops, just!
Glendhu Bay autumn ripples
My favourite capture for the year – there I was all set up at Glendhu Bay for a more sedate shot and a jet ski came by causing some ripples I did not think I’d benefit from, however they made for something much better.
Dunedin Gardens rose
Wishing you all the very best for you and yours for 2020 – may you always have time to smell the roses

The Dunedin Botanic Garden

I often go to Dunedin for many varied reasons, and one of the delights of every trip is a visit or two to the oldest botanical garden in New Zealand, which was established in 1863.

There are two parts of the Dunedin Botanic Garden, linked indiscernibly, known as the upper gardens and the lower gardens which merge nicely with the University of Otago campus.  View Google Map

The initial garden was established on a site now occupied by the University but due to extensive flooding in 1868, the gardens were moved to their current site in 1869.

White rhododendron at the Dunedin Botanic Garden
A rhododendron typical of the more naturalistic upper garden, where there is an arboretum, rhododendron dell, native plant and geographic collections.
Dunedin Botanic Gardens
There are over 6,800 plant species
Dunedin Botanic Gardens
It covers 28 hectares of hillside and flat land to the north of the city
Dunedin Botanic Gardens
Dunedin Botanic Garden
The Garden is a preferred location for serious botanical studies as it is home to a significant number of plant collections
Dunedin Botanic Garden
Dunedin Botanic Garden
Dunedin Botanic Garden
Dunedin Botanic Garden
In July 2010, the Dunedin Botanic Garden was awarded a rank of “Garden of International Significance” by the New Zealand Gardens Trust thus becoming one of only five gardens nationwide to be bestowed with this honour.
Dunedin Botanic Garden
Dunedin Botanic Garden
Dunedin Botanic Garden
Garden worker at Dunedin Botanic Garden
The resources dedicated to the Gardens are significant, yet unlike many similar gardens in large cities overseas such as in Vancouver, entry to the Dunedin Botanic Gardens is free
Dunedin Botanic Garden
Dunedin Botanic Garden
Dunedin Botanic Garden, the roof of the Winter Garden Glasshouse
The roof of the Winter Garden Glasshouse – open 10am to 4pm, with nearby alpine house and toilets 9am to 4pm, and the cafe 9.30am to 4.30pm
Students studying in the Dunedin Botanic Gardens
Each University year Dunedin city hosts 40,000 plus students and with the Gardens in close proximity scenes like this are common place. In short they offer an immense and peaceful place for relaxation and study, while also providing pathways to North Dunedin where there are lots of student accomodation flats
Dunedin Botanic Garden - Peter Pan statue
Peter Pan and is that Wendy whispering in his ear?
Dunedin Botanic Garden decorative hedges
Dunedin Botanic Garden
Dunedin Botanic Garden
Dunedin Botanic Garden -Japanese shelter
A feature of the flat lower Garden
Fantails ofter frequent the Dunedin Botanic Gardens
Fantails often frequent the Dunedin Botanic Gardens
South African section of the upper  Dunedin Botanic Gardens
South African section of the upper Gardens
The formal rose garden and camellia collection in the lower Dunedin Botanic Gardens
The formal rose garden and camellia collection in the lower Gardens
Magnolia in the upper Dunedin Botanic Gardens
Magnolia in the upper Gardens

Some thoughts on how to enhance sustainability in photography

One of the goals of Photo Quest NZ is draw attention to our unique New Zealand landscape in such a way as to do something tangible towards not only protecting it, but ensuring people grasp the need for habitat restoration for our native species.

NZ tomtit
NZ tomtit

Along the way though we leave footprints – not so much in the way of the obvious nasty chemicals used to make images pre digital, but in more subtle and insidious ways such as the need for electronics (with planned obsolescence, not to mention packaging), batteries and data storage.



With these thoughts in mind, and already being off the grid (all Photo Quest studio work is done via solar power) with equipment chosen for it’s potential longevity (can you believe a ten year old iPhone) thoughts recently have gravitated towards travel – the simple act of getting to remote locations and back again.

Duffers Saddle in the snow - Central Otago
At least I have accomodation with me

It’s been a habit in the past to go to a new locations, take a few images and then retreat back to the office where they’re evaluated pending another trip to said location. The thought being to be there for sunsets and sunrises, or a snow storm or two.


However recently good friends invited me to have a day trip up Isthmus Peak – a viewpoint popular with young back packers, which gives great panorama views of both Lakes Wanaka and Hawea.

View from Isthmus Peak track
View from the lower section of the Isthmus Peak track
Mts Castor and Pollux from near the top of Isthmus Peak
Mts Castor and Pollux from near the top of Isthmus Peak
Lake Hawea on the left, Wanaka on the right,  from near the top of Isthmus Peak
Lake Hawea on the left, Wanaka on the right, from near the top of Isthmus Peak
Lake Hawea on the left, Wanaka on the right
Lake Hawea on the left, Wanaka on the right
Near the top
Mount Aeolus from from Isthmus Peak
Looking across Lake Wanaka we could see the Wilken Valley peaks such as Mount Aeolus, but unfortunately the noon light did not make for a photo equal to the majesty of this view

On seeing the panoramas offered by this walk, it can come to mind to return for the golden hour after the sun has set, or better yet in this case, be there for dawn. Which actually means burning more fuel.

Mount Aeolus from Isthmus Peak track
So one way to improve the light photographically is to use post production software, thus getting a competent image on one visit which goes someway towards sustainable photography. The dull image immediately above was the basis for this one

None of these blog page images are listed in our shop yet, but if you happen to be interested please note which image and email Donald so he can process the various options, and advise you with a link when completed

The story of an astute kereru (NZ wood pigeon) and a myopic photographer

Last week I came across the above fantail /piwakawaka and as my camera was in my hand, I started stalking him/her with my lens, knowing full-well, like we all do, that these sweeties move about almost too fast for us limited humans.

But I got a good enough shot, and then I had the oddest feeling I was not alone and was being watched, so I took half a breath and realised the kereru was less than a meter from my nose. 


The rest was history as they say, but look at the expression. It’s said these beautiful birds are dumb, but that was not what I saw

Portrait of a kereru (NZ wood pigeon)

Eventually my kereru friend decided to turn away prior to departure, but could not resist looking back for sometime with an air of indecision, or maybe even reluctance…

Back view of a NZ kereru / wood pigeon at Dunedin Botanical Gardens

One of favourite piwakawaka photos taken in red beech forest in Mt Aspiring National Park

Piwakawaka / fantail in red beech forest in Mt Aspiring National Park

None of these blog page images are listed in our shop yet, but if you happen to be interested please note which image and email Donald so he can process the various options, and advise you with a link when completed

That Wanaka Tree

I’ve been around this now famous tree in more ways than one, e.g. swimming, and simply took it for granted for a few decades.

In snow, flood, or times of drought this tree that used to be a fence post earlier than 1939, endures with a determination to not just live, but to be a rock star of the Internet

However before it became famous a few of us had been there with cameras in sunshine and storm, simply because it was nice subject matter for landscape photographers.

But even then we had no idea how social media would change all that – now days getting an image of it with no people is the ultimate challenge.

A Wanaka Tree photographer working in a  snow-storm under an umbrella

And so the photographers came! With tripods, umbrellas, children and iPhones!

That Wanaka Tree at sunset

And often the sun sets on a perfect day, which finds the lake levels either up or down or somewhere in between

That Wanaka Tree bathing in unusual light

But what intrigues me of late is the tree seems to sense the attention it gets and becomes alive in another universe

Wedding couple by the Wanaka Tree

Then again it is not always the centre of attention

None of these blog page images are listed in our shop yet, but if you happen to be interested please note which image and email Donald so he can process the various options, and advise you with a link when completed

In the Beginning

There were gold miners, and before that a few explorers and opportunistic land grabbers, and before that Maori travelled inland each autumn to harvest birds, and very probably floated down the mighty Clutha river back to the the east coast.

Omakau Central Otago - historic cottage

The road from Omakau to the Ida Valley in Central Otago passes by this cottage reminiscent of a by-gone era. It’s not hard to photograph it, but it is seldom seen in a hoar frost setting.