Calendar 2024

Wanaka Station Park toilet building

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Wanaka Station Park toilet building

Cover photo: Wanaka Station Park toilet building, which is quite near the famous Wanaka Lake Tree

NZ$25 – free delivery in Wanaka. Elsewhere whatever the postage is.

Image size is: 11 inches by 8 inches (approximately 27.94 cm by 20.32 cm). Spiral wire bound with a hole for hanging. On high quality stiff paper.

No advertising text apart from the printer’s logo on the rear.

Hand written link to this page on the rear for those who’d like to know the location of each image.

Vipers Bugloss on the roadside to Poolburn, Central Otago, New Zealand


Vipers Bugloss on the roadside to Poolburn, Central Otago, New Zealand.

Poolburn is a reservoir at high altitude constructed a few decades ago to provide irrigation for farms in the Ida Valley and surrounds.

Dawn at Poolburn


Dawn at Poolburn, Central Otago, New Zealand.

Historic Lindis Hotel


Historic Lindis Hotel

Homestead campsite-hut Oteake Conservation Park at the foot of the Hawkdun mountains, Maniototo


Homestead campsite-hut Oteake Conservation Park at the foot of the Hawkdun mountains, Maniototo

Clynes cottage 1896 lower Nevis Valley


Clynes cottage 1896 lower Nevis Valley. Built originally for gold mining

Historic gold sluicings at Bannockburn, near Stewart Town remains (to the right)


Historic gold sluicings at Bannockburn, near Stewart Town (remains to the right)

Historic farm cottage still in use. Hills Road, Maniototo


Historic farm cottage still in use. Hills Road, Maniototo

Full moon ski touring at the Snow Farm cross country ski area, Cardrona Valley


Full moon ski touring at the Snow Farm cross country ski area, Cardrona Valley

Historic gold miners cottage remains. Bannockburn, below Stewart Town


Historic gold miners cottage remains. Bannockburn, below Stewart Town

Southern Lights Aurora from the Snow Farm, Cardrona Valley


Southern Lights Aurora from the Snow Farm, Cardrona Valley

Tree in the snow - Nevis Valley NZ


Tree in the snow – Nevis Valley NZ

Egret/White heron/kōtuku in South westland podocarp forest NZ.


Egret/White heron/kōtuku in South Westland podocarp forest NZ

“At Te Rerenga Wairua, where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean, the souls of the departed pause, taking in the beauty of the place where land and sea merge. It is here that the kotuku, with its timeless wisdom and solemn beauty, is believed to lead the spirits further on their journey. The kotuku, the guardian of the threshold between the mortal realm and the spirit world, is said to symbolize the peaceful transition from the earthly plane into the boundless expanse of the sea.”

Central Otago’s Heritage

Vipers Bugloss on the roadside to Poolburn, Central Otago, New Zealand

To celebrate Central Otago’s incredible and diverse heritage, the heritage Central Otago organisation invited professional and amateur photographers to put Heritage in Focus. It, the Central Otago Heritage Trust has teamed up with Tourism Central Otago to tell the stories of our heritage through images.

How they defined “Heritage”:

“Heritage will mean different things to different people, so we’ve taken a broad view of what heritage means.  Your photo could focus on tangible things like historical buildings, trees, natural landscapes, streetscapes, signage or historical objects. Or you might have a more intangible interpretation of what Central Otago heritage means. This might include things like cultural heritage, family or social traditions, or other personal expressions of heritage. The creative boundaries are yours to define!

You may have already taken some great photos that have a focus on heritage. You can enter these photos into the competition, as long as they’ve been taken within the last three years.”

Submitting a maximum of five images not older than three years seemed a challenge at first, but in retrospect a blessing. If I’d been able to utilise a couple of decades worth the selection process would have involved sifting through several hundred.

The other aspect that took a little time was defining the actual physical boundaries of Central Otago. Their website map was small and a tad vague however it only took a quick email to ask if the likes of the Nevis Valley fell within the borders.

My personal sifting and selection process

I searched on keywords I’ve ascribed to folders/images, and also let the question settle into my subconscious. In the case of the latter a few days later I’d recall a trip and it’s images.

This got me to about one and a half doz. Some of which I emailed to friends to ask their idea of which I should consider. When done I then created thumbnails so each could be seen in the context of the whole.

By a process of subtraction the many were eventually whittled down to five. Along the way I made a new thumbnail file each time, and would randomise the order too. Eventually arriving at the below:

Clyne’s cottage in the lower Nevis, Central Otago, New Zealand
Clyne’s cottage originally constructed in the lower Nevis township by Clem Sutherland in 1898
  • [ ] Surrounded by golden grasses, rose hip bushes, native matagouri, and the occasional willow for shelter the cottage is a rustic relic in a landscape marked by the remnants of gold mining. What truly makes this image precious is its evolution – from a miner’s abode to a cherished holiday home, embodying the timeless Kiwiana style. This transformation mirrors Central Otago itself, adapting to the kinder summers while preserving its historic charm.

Historic cottage in snow at Hills Rd. At the junction of SH85 and Hills Rd. Central Otago, New Zealand
Historic cottage in snow at Hills Rd. At the junction of SH85 and Hills Rd.
  • [ ] This ageing structure, nestled near what was once a bullock track, harkens back to Central Otago’s early days when gold mining and farming forged the region’s identity. A testament to the rugged pioneers of the past. It now finds refuge amidst strategically planted trees, offering both shelter and firewood. While its weathered exterior whispers stories of a bygone era, it remains a practical asset on a modern farm. It’s a living relic that bridges the gap between history and utility in this corner of Central Otago.

Homestead campsite hut Oteake Conservation Park, Central Otago, New Zealand
Homestead campsite hut Oteake Conservation Park
  • [ ] Situated within the rugged expanse of Central Otago’s Oteake Conservation Park, the “Homestead Campsite” is more than its basic description implies. This enduring structure, ensconced by ancient, gnarled trees, embodies the essence of the region’s history. Probably originally erected for farming and perhaps rabbiters, this resilient building has been meticulously restored by DOC, retaining its rustic charm. Today, it stands as a haven for adventurers exploring the St Bathans and Hawkdun Ranges, offering shelter and a communal kitchen area, a living testament to the pioneering spirit that shaped Central Otago’s heritage.

Stewart Town cottage remains above Bannockburn on the walk to Stewart Town. Central Otago, New Zealand
Stewart Town cottage remains above Bannockburn on the walk to Stewart Town
  • [ ] These meager rock walls, now no taller than one’s waist, stand as the remnants of a humble miner’s refuge in the heart of Bannockburn. Their stark simplicity tells a poignant tale of the relentless pursuit of gold that once consumed this region. Behind them, the formidable vertical cliff, shaped by the ceaseless sluicing for precious metal, looms as a testament to the determination and bravery of those early miners. This barren landscape, devoid of sheltering trees, to me still epitomises the flavour of the day as the ruins, standing silent amidst the golden history, serve as poignant relics of a bygone era fraught with the ceaseless search for riches, ultimately limited by limited sources of water.

Two trees, snow and road lower Nevis valley, Central Otago, New Zealand
Two trees and road lower Nevis valley
  • [ ] In the, bleak snow-covered expanse of the lower Nevis Valley, two weathered willow trees stand as solitary sentinels. They bear silent witness to a time when the only passage through this unforgiving terrain was a rudimentary road, once traversed by bullock teams and later by hard tyre’d lorries laden with supplies for the tenacious miners. These supplies included massive loads of metal pipes and machinery, essential for the operation of the numerous gold dredges that once dominated the landscape. Here, in this stark, treeless realm, shelter is but a distant memory. What captivates me in this image is its stark, unadorned simplicity—a profound reminder of the relentless struggle for survival in a valley notorious for its heavy snowfall and brutal exposure. The very backbone of Central Otago’s heritage.

And now all that remains is to wait for the results, and maybe even some prize money 🙂

Unleash Your Creative Potential: Transforming Emotions into Captivating Photography

This post explores the power of emotions in photography and provides practical tips for harnessing the photographer’s creative potential.

Emotions are a vast and intricate part of human existence, comprising a multitude of nuances. As photographers, understanding and harnessing these emotions can be a powerful tool in creating compelling images. In this post, we will explore the concepts of transforming emotions into captivating photography and how our emotional experiences can elevate our photography to new heights.

Emotions in Focus

Let’s simplify the vast spectrum of emotions into five primary categories: Sadness, Anger, Happiness, Fear, and Relaxation. Each of these categories contains numerous subtle variations, much like the layers of human psychology.

Connecting with Emotions

A personal breakthrough in my creative journey occurred when I consistently practiced yoga. Gradually, I noticed an improvement in my ability to perceive and capture potential photographic moments. However, it took some time for me to connect the dots.

Yoga, in essence, is about unifying and balancing our diverse aspects. It serves as a potent method for healing from trauma—a shared experience in the tapestry of life. Trauma can take various forms, and the process of grieving is often non-linear and unpredictable.

Suppressed Emotions

During traumatic events, we tend to relegate certain emotions to the background—often emotions like anger and happiness. We may even inadvertently stifle them, a pattern I experienced after my divorce two decades ago.

What I didn’t realize was that by suppressing these emotions, I was also inhibiting the positive ones. I lived in a state of emotional “grayness” for over a decade. I even told friends that I was no longer pursuing happiness but rather settling for contentment.

The Impact on Creativity

After experiencing trauma, we can become tense, hyperactive and/or withdraw into ourselves, which compromises our ability to learn from the event and ongoing experiences. Despite maintaining our heads, we may unknowingly become stubborn and inflexible, and depressed. All the attributes that can stifle creativity. As photographers, it impairs our ability to see without overthinking.

Navigating the Journey to Recovery

Healing from trauma entails a twofold process: first, restoring our executive functions, and second, rebuilding self-assurance in our ability to embrace playfulness and creativity. To embark on this journey, we delve into the realm of our emotional mind, where we undertake a form of therapy that focuses on recalibrating our emotional responses. This therapy helps fix any faulty alarm systems and reinstates the emotional brain to its natural state as an unobtrusive background force that safeguards our overall well-being.

<< this gives an outline of a therapy I’ve found very useful in so many regards in life.

An introduction and using breathing techniques while anxiously navigating rough terrain in a 4 wheel drive As I began my first session with my psychologist […]

Embracing Emotions

Traumatized individuals often fear experiencing emotions. Yet, to create images that evoke immediate emotional responses, we must embrace and feel these emotions ourselves.

Once we have honed our camera settings to the point of automaticity, we can operate on autopilot, allowing our intuition to guide our creative process.

A Captivating Example

The image below serves as a prime example of this process. I stumbled upon the scene recently and captured it without hesitation, even shooting blind into the sun, relying solely on instinct. Only later, upon reviewing the image at home, did I realize that I had subconsciously framed it to lead the viewer’s eye to the red kayak—a departure from the conventional “leading line from the bottom left corner” rule.

In conclusion, our emotions are a wellspring of creative potential in photography. By acknowledging, understanding, and embracing them, we can craft images that resonate deeply with viewers, evoking instant emotional responses. So, don’t shy away from your emotions—let them guide your photographic journey.

With thanks to the author of The Body Keeps the Score, for the concepts above.

More ideas on transforming emotions into captivating photography by harnessing the power of emotions:

Transforming Emotions into Captivating Photography by photographing a hand holding a bell to get attention

In the world of photography, capturing an image is more than just freezing a moment in time; it’s about conveying a story, evoking emotions, and creating a lasting impact on the viewer. One of the most potent tools at a photographer’s disposal is the ability to leverage emotions to craft compelling narratives.

1. Emotions as Storytelling Catalysts

Emotions are universal, transcending language and culture. They provide a common thread that connects us all, making them a potent catalyst for storytelling in photography. Here’s how emotions can be harnessed to tell captivating stories:

a. Elicit Empathy: Emotions, when skillfully captured, allow viewers to empathize with the subjects in your photographs. Whether it’s the joy radiating from a child’s smile, the determination etched on an athlete’s face, or the vulnerability of a street portrait, emotions enable viewers to connect with the people and situations depicted in the image.

b. Convey Mood and Atmosphere: Emotions are intrinsically tied to mood and atmosphere. By understanding how different emotions manifest visually, photographers can manipulate lighting, composition, and color to convey a specific mood or atmosphere in their images. For instance, a photograph bathed in warm, golden light can evoke feelings of comfort and nostalgia, while stark contrasts and muted tones might create a sense of melancholy or tension.

banded dotteral

<< An example of using photography to tell a story about New Zealand’s braided river birds. How data is collected on the numbers of endangered species.

2. The Narrative Arc of Emotions

Much like a well-structured story, emotions in photography can follow a narrative arc. This arc can be a vital tool for photographers aiming to tell a compelling story through their work:

a. Introduction: Start by introducing the emotion or emotional state you want to convey. This can be done through the choice of subject, setting, or composition. For example, capturing the tranquility of a serene landscape or the anticipation in a pre-event portrait sets the stage for the emotional journey.

b. Buildup: Gradually intensify the emotion by using techniques such as framing, depth of field, and timing. Show the emotion evolving within the frame. In a candid street photograph, this might involve capturing the exact moment when surprise turns to laughter, or when sadness deepens into reflection.

c. Climax: The climax is the emotional zenith of your story. It’s the moment when the emotion is at its most palpable and resonant. This could be the peak of joy at a wedding ceremony, the tension of a decisive sports moment, or the vulnerability captured during a heartfelt conversation.

d. Resolution: Just as in storytelling, emotions in photography benefit from a resolution. Allow your image to provide closure to the emotional narrative. This could involve showing the aftermath of the climax or hinting at what comes next. A resolution helps viewers process and reflect on the emotional journey they’ve experienced through your photograph.

3. Connection Points on Transforming Emotions into Captivating Photography

In a rapidly changing world, where countless images vie for our attention daily, those that evoke emotions stand out. Emotions become the connection points between the photographer and the viewer. When viewers feel something—a smile, a tear, a sense of wonder—they engage more deeply with the photograph and the story it tells.

In conclusion, photography is not just about capturing moments; it’s about capturing emotions that resonate with viewers. By harnessing the power of emotions and weaving them into your visual storytelling, you can create images that not only capture the eye but also touch the heart and leave a lasting impression.

Embracing the Ethereal Beauty of Winter: A Journey through Fog, Hoar Frost, and Sunlit Wonders

Hoar frost on two willow trees. Near Omakau, Central Otago, NZ


As winter spreads its icy fingers across the landscape, it unveils a realm of ethereal beauty that awaits the keen eye of a photographer. Capturing the essence of this magical season can be a captivating endeavor, especially when exploring the juxtaposition of fog, hoar frost, and the radiant sun in semi-urban, rural and recreational settings. In this blog post, we embark on a visual journey through the lens of a camera, discovering the unique concepts and techniques that elevate winter photography to an art form.

Hoar frost at Stewart Town, Central Otago, NZ

Embracing the Mystical Fog:

In a semi-urban setting, when the winter fog envelops the surroundings, photography takes on an almost mystical quality. The limited visibility adds an element of intrigue and mystery to familiar landscapes. Compose your shots with leading lines to draw the viewer’s gaze deeper into the foggy abyss, guiding them through the hidden beauty that lurks within. Experiment with monochromatic tones to emphasize the stark contrasts and evoke a hauntingly beautiful mood in your photographs.

Hoar frost and tall night sport lights at sports fields Wanaka

To make the most of this atmospheric phenomenon, consider using a shallow depth of field to create a sense of depth and focus on the immediate subjects that emerge from the mist.

Close up photo of hoar frost on the top of a waratah, Central Otago, NZ.
Close up photo of hoar frost on a leaf sitting on grass

Macro photography can unlock a world of intricate details as the frost crystals form mesmerising patterns on leaves, branches, and other surfaces.

Capturing Hoar Frost’s Delicate Touch:

On frosty mornings, nature gifts us with an exquisite display of hoar frost delicately cloaking every surface. To capture this wondrous phenomenon, venture out early when the frost is at its peak, glistening under the soft light of dawn. Use a tripod to ensure sharpness and stability, and seek out contrasting backgrounds that allow the frost to stand out with stunning clarity. Play with exposure settings to achieve the right balance between the frost’s sparkle and the ambient light, giving your images an enchanting and dreamlike quality.

Hoar frost crystals on a fence with a horse framed by the fence, Central Otago, NZ

Dancing with the Winter Sun:

When the winter sun finally breaks through the shroud of fog, it bathes the world in a warm and golden glow, transforming the landscape into a breathtaking spectacle. The key to capturing this magic lies in understanding how light interacts with the environment during winter. Embrace the golden hour and blue hour, the times just before sunrise and after sunset, to infuse your images with a soft and enchanting light. Leverage long shadows and silhouettes to create dramatic and evocative compositions.

Hoar frost with sun appearing, Cardrona Valley near Wanaka.

Suggested Gear List:

  1. Insulated Jacket and Layers: Invest in a high-quality insulated jacket designed for cold weather. Dress in layers, so you can easily adjust your clothing based on the temperature fluctuations throughout the day.

  2. Warm Hat and Gloves: A good beanie or hat that covers your ears is essential to retain body heat. Additionally, thermal gloves or mittens will keep your hands warm and dexterous while shooting.

  3. Thermal Underwear and Socks: Keep your body and feet warm with thermal underwear and thick, moisture-wicking socks to avoid discomfort from the cold.

  4. Waterproof and Windproof Outerwear: A durable and waterproof outer shell will protect you from snow, rain, and wind. Look for breathable materials to prevent sweat buildup.

  5. Sturdy Winter Boots: Invest in waterproof and insulated boots with good traction to navigate slippery terrain and keep your feet dry and warm.

  6. Hand Warmers: Disposable hand warmers can be a lifesaver in extremely cold conditions. Keep some in your pockets or camera bag for quick warmth.

  7. Dry Bags: Use dry bags or waterproof camera bags to protect your camera gear from snow, rain, and moisture.

  8. Lens Cloth and Cleaning Kit: Cold weather can cause condensation on your lenses, so carry a lens cloth and a cleaning kit to ensure clear and crisp shots.

  9. Tripod Leg Warmers: In extremely cold temperatures, tripod legs can become uncomfortably cold to handle. Tripod leg warmers or foam covers can mitigate this issue.

  10. Extra Batteries: Batteries drain faster in the cold, so carry extra fully charged batteries for your camera and any other battery-powered equipment.

  11. Plastic Bags: Keep a few resealable plastic bags in your gear kit. They can be used to protect your camera in case of sudden snow or rain.

  12. Headlamp or Flashlight: Winter days are shorter, and you might find yourself shooting in low light conditions. A headlamp or flashlight will help you navigate safely.

  13. Snacks and Water: Carry some energy-boosting snacks and a water bottle to stay hydrated and keep your energy levels up during your winter adventures.

  14. Navigation Tools: In remote areas, where GPS might not be reliable, bring a map and compass to navigate effectively.

  15. First Aid Kit: Always carry a basic first aid kit in case of any injuries or emergencies.
  16. Don’t forget to ensure your vehicle is fit for the purpose of winter driving. And be familiar with driving to the conditions.
  17. Tell someone where you will be going and when you expect to return (and don’t forget to advise them you have!). Even better carry a personal locator beacon.

Remember, winter photography can be physically demanding, so taking care of your well-being is crucial. Proper preparation and the right gear will help you focus on capturing stunning winter images without compromising your safety and comfort.


Winter photography in any setting, shrouded in fog and adorned with hoar frost, offers a treasure trove of opportunities for photographers seeking to capture the enchantment of the season. Through careful composition, a mastery of light, and a keen eye for detail, you can elevate your photographs from mere images to captivating works of art that evoke the winter’s mystical charm. So, grab your camera, embrace the elements, and embark on a photo quest to immortalise the fleeting beauty of winter’s embrace.

Hoar frost on willows at the Ophir historic bridge that crosses the Manuherikia River, Central Otago, NZ

The West Matukituki, the jewel in the crown that is New Zealand’s Southern Alps

Mt Beaven, Mt Aspiring National Park

The jewel bit… what qualifies this valley, when there are others that I think are even prettier such as the remote Wilken north branch and the Rockburn?

These two and many others typify the Otago Alps, where the mix of river, mountains, warm brown grasses and beech forest allow a feeling absent in the rawness of the Canterbury valleys, with their mean rivers, acres of gravel and rock, all with little in the way of natural shelter for man, bird or beast.

Really it is simply because the West Matukituki is so close and easy of access, just an hour’s drive from Wanaka.

All photos below are from a one day trip to Aspiring Hut return, in late May 2018. They span from Mt Aspiring Station homestead to the NZ Alpine Club’s Aspiring Hut…

NZ falcon

Read all about the status of the birds v. predators in the valley at this recent post in >>

Coastal Otago Wildlife

Shag Point landscape, looking south. Coastal Otago, New Zealand

Dunedin city on the east coast of Otago, regards itself as the wildlife capital of New Zealand.

It makes this claim with a high degree of truth! Looked at alone it is impressive. Yet it is is only part of a much larger (coastal) picture. photo: Shag Point looking south

The natural beauty is overlaid with a fascinating cultural history.

Main entry stairs, First Church, Moray Place, Dunedin
Dunedin Town Hall at night
Dunedin Gardens, autumn colours

There are many historical buildings apart from the above eclectic selection! images: Main entry stairs, First Church, Moray Place, Dunedin. Dunedin Gardens, autumn colours. Lastly Dunedin Town Hall at night

Larnach Castle, Olveston House, and the Dunedin Railway Station are favourite tourist attractions. The latter being one of New Zealand’s most photographed buildings.

Otago University historic building. By the Geology Faculty.

NZ’s oldest university (1869) is but another institution hosting many classic buildings. This one by the Geology Faculty.

It all started in the 1830s with a whaling station in the Otago Harbour. By 1848 a Scottish population became dominant. Dunedin being the old Gaelic name for Edinburgh.

NZ pied shag flying at speed

World-class wildlife encounters are possible north and south of the city. Pied shag at speed.

Young fur seal
Seal family
Pied Shag
Basking sea lions

The Dart River and Kinloch, and some important photography advice

Dawn at Kinloch, at the head of Lake Wakatipu.

An authentic kiwi work day:

Sheep crossing the Greenstone River, New Zealand by swing bridge.

Sheep cross the Greenstone River, located a few kilometers down the (gravel) road from Kinloch, beside the lake.

The bridge serves as an access point to the popular Greenstone Caples round-trip tramping track, offering a moderate and relaxing 3-4 day hike.

Capturing the above image while crossing required two things from us:

(It was mind boggling watching about 2000 of them cross a bridge in an orderly manner. A tribute to the stock men and woman that pulled it off with total respect for the animal’s welfare).

  1. positioning ourselves after receiving prior warning of the upcoming crossing from the farmer above.
  2. being very considerate of their work with about 2000 sheep. Being mindful was crucial to avoid causing chaos or panicking the stock to their deaths.

As good Kiwi blokes, when we asked if we could hang around and take a photo, the farmer kindly offered us the best advice on where to be. We understood the importance of being considerate (and carrying venison home signaled they were of similar ilk, as it’s a cherished tradition in New Zealand).

Witness the beauty of dawn at Kinloch, located at the head of Lake Wakatipu.

Lake Wakatipu, an inland lake in the South Island of New Zealand, is perhaps better known by the name Queenstown, situated on its eastern shore. Kinloch is positioned at the head of the lake to the west, right beside the primary tributary, the Dart River. Access to Kinloch can be obtained by road through the township of Glenorchy.

Kinloch Lodge and camping area in the foreground
Kinloch Lodge with the public DOC camping area in the foreground

What is a stamper battery?

Stamper battery Otago Goldfields

A stamper battery [a row of rock crushing stampers] represents one of many techniques to separate gold from earth and rock. The ratio of gold to dirt/rock is what determines the financial viability of a gold mining operation. Machinery is inevitably employed and has a capital cost as well as a very high maintenance cost: water is usually involved too and steel machinery is not best lubricated by water especially as it has rock particles in suspension in a gold mining operation [I’ll leave it to the reader’s imagination to ponder the downstream effects on water and river quality!].

There are many areas or land in my homeland of Central Otago where what is called the peneplain is exposed by weathering, maybe aided by glaciers having stripped away substantial debris earlier, and also faulting crinkling the surface of the earth thus exposing edges where weathering can occur faster. Anyway you don’t have to rush off to the link below – just to know that rocks in keeping with a high percentage of gold are on the surface or can be mined/transported easily to a battery.

These rocks will typically be much heavier than our greywacke and shists, and they’ve once been part of layers of sediment cooked with pressure under extreme weight and silica has been forced all about. Quartz is also evident, along with “petrified wood”.

Stampers have to be constructed out of material tougher than silica impregnated rocks and crush same, then water is used to transport the crushings through a complicated refining process that leads to a water, gold and rock crushings mix [slurry].

Water was often also brought to the battery to power it, via races and fluming constructed with great effort out of creeks and around hill sides slowly loosing height to the site of the battery. The levels were calculated by using old gin bottles almost full of water [hence the phrase “spirit levels” perhaps].

When at the battery the water flowed onto a wheel thus supplying motion to a shaft on which a number of cams [all offset to ensure balance] would lift and then drop [stamp] very heavy cylinders of steel onto the rocks. The noise is awesome [some enthusiasts have restored one on the West Coast and I’ve been fortunate to see it running briefly]

Diagram courtesy DOC website

This photo shows the curved cams that raise and drop the shafts that have the huge weights at the bottom…
Stamper Battery, Central Otago

This photo shows the wheels and gears that turn the shaft…
Stamper Battery, Central Otago

Here is a further explanation from DOC interpretation boards…
YStamper Battery, Central Otago

Stamper Battery, Central Otago

For me two factors in these operations astound me: how did they get the components on-site? And how did they live [or not live] in the winters!? Keep in mind that it is springtime when water is most abundant – this must surely mean working hard and long hours to have the material ready. Especially in some situations where, the water being temporarily frozen would aid the mining!

The Clutha River Area (inc. Wanaka), Otago, New Zealand

Clutha River near Wanaka. And California Poppies

Upper Clutha River near Albert Town Wanaka. California Poppies in December are a delight!

The Upper Clutha Basin, and the Clutha River.

The Cardrona, Hawea, Makarora and Matukituki rivers all feed into the Clutha Mata-Au (formerly Molyneaux). The longest river in the South Island of New Zealand. Wanaka airport is to the left, and Wanaka township, out of sight to the right.

Hawea Flat, New Zealand aerial photo.

Tangential winter lighting reveals the ancient fluvial processes associated with rivers and streams. And now overlaid by relentless Europeanisation in the name of agriculture.

Paddling the Cromwell Gorge, Clutha River, New Zealand

Paddling the Cromwell Gorge, Clutha River, New Zealand. Circa 1985.

This wild river was no more when Lake Dunstan was formed, beginning in April 1992. It is a man-made lake and reservoir and was formed on the Clutha River as a result of the construction of the Clyde Dam.

Redwoods at Wanaka Station Park

How do you assimilate such immense, ancient, stately, mysterious and powerful redwood trees into language?

It seems to be as much of a challenge as capturing their essence in a photo!

Their existence is their very presence or vice versa – no “soft” wood here, but the voice of patience and endurance.

They come from a humble seed no bigger than one from an apple to achieve prodigious ages and dimensions of up to 120 meters tall, with a width of several at the base. And they continue to flourish in a history of up to 160 million years in the making, and going back 20 million years in their present range.

They probably had dinosaurs scratching their trunks!

California’s North Coast is the most well known location in the world that provides an environment they like – one underscored by cool, moist air created by the Pacific Ocean keeping the trees continually damp, even during summer droughts. And yet here they are in New Zealand, and in Wanaka we don’t have a lot of damp moist air!

Theories continue to develop as to why they grow so old and tall (probably there is a physical limit imposed by how far water can be transported upwards), but proof remains elusive. The trees can reach ages of 2000 years and regularly reach 600 years.

Powered by the leaves’ diffusion of water, water-to-water molecular bonds in the trees’ sapwood drags the moisture upwards – and to move thousands of litres maybe even in a day to such a height is quite a feat. During the summer, this transpiration apparently causes redwood stems to shrink and swell with the cycles of day and night.

Here a recent picture of one of the entry way to a magical place hosting some redwoods, Wanaka Station Park…

Redwood at Wanaka Station Park

Wanaka Station was a large sheep station In the late 19th century covering land from the head of Lake Wanaka to the nearby Cardrona Valley.

The foundations remain of original homestead which it seems burned down twice, and these and the land has been preserved as a park, which includes beautiful mature fruit trees and giant redwoods. More latterly many other species such as rhododendron have become established…

Wanaka Station park
Late spring time snow fall

Morning and evening views of Lake Wanaka

Roys Bay, Wanaka. Sunset
An early morning springtime view of Lake Wanaka

A springtime morning view of Lake Wanaka.

The Buchanan Mountains from Roys Bay, Lake Wanaka, New Zealand.

A similar view in black and white.

Black Peak in the center is often mistaken for Mt Aspiring.

Pastel sunset glow on Lake Wanaka.

Lake Wanaka’s Roys Bay in the evening. With Black Peak in the distance.

Lake Wanaka from Beacon Point.

Beacon Point is simply a very large and shallow area on Lake Wanaka’s shore. There is a permanent red light hundreds of meters from the point to warn boaties.

Glendhu Bay, Lake Wanaka.

Glendhu Bay is a short drive west from Wānaka, Otago, New Zealand. It is on the road to Treble Cone ski field and Mount Aspiring National Park. The bay has a motor camp that is popular with New Zealand locals over the New Year holiday period. Patronage numbers in the many thousands.

Buchanan Mountain Range, from Wanaka

Braided River Bird Monitoring

banded dotteral

Braided rivers are a common in Alaska, Canada, New Zealand’s South Island, and the Himalayas, which all contain young, rapidly eroding mountains. They are a unique environment inhabited by equally unique birds.

They simply cannot contain a river in a straight line. In floods especially they carry sediment, and in places where the flow slows down this settles on the bottom, thus raising it. And the water flows off to the side of least resistance. This will happen constantly during floods.

The technique for gathering bird numbers on these sort of rivers is quite simple: a team of four people spread out, in radio contact with each other, walk downstream counting every bird they see in front of them. On the ground or airborne.

And at that point the simplicity vanishes! Very finely tuned river crossing skills are needed, as well as “an eye” for the line that will give the best results. Plus physical stamina.

The tools of the trade are: a radio each, walking pole to aid crossings, binoculars, sun-cream, sun hat, good boots and gaiters [to stop gravels getting in the socks], GPS each, and a pen/paper/clipboard. Plus lunch, warm clothing, a camera etc. Warm dry socks also help at the end of the day.

A view upstream of the Hunter River that feeds Lake Hawea in Otago, New Zealand
Preparation. In this case to get into the very remote Hunter Valley. In the Wanaka area two other rivers, the Matukituki and Makarora are also done, and they don’t require a helicopter drop in. There is 25 years now of history – each river being monitored every third year.

The three year cycle is sometimes hard to maintain. The work has to be done in the spring when the birds are breeding, and this is when there is a high frequency of floods, with high levels due to snow melt.
After a short but steep climb in the helicopter from Makarora town-ship, on popping over the ridge the large and rugged Mckerrow Range come into full panoramic view [actually named after a close friend’s grandfather who did lots of surveying and exploring.
Dropping the over-night gear off by a hut, before flying further up the valley to begin the survey.
On the left [note the silt in the grass!] where we only go to avoid a complex river crossing; and where we do – the gravel on the right.
One species of many that we’re looking for. The ‎nationally vulnerable banded dotterel / tūturiwhatu, is the most common small plover of New Zealand seashores, estuaries and riverbeds.

This one is feigning a broken wing to lead the surveyor/photographer away from a nest.

After breeding, they either remain at the nesting area or move relatively short distances to nearby estuaries.
Typical nesting surface, and one of the team striding it out. Being very careful to not stand on eggs!
On the wing. A black fronted tern. Not in the Hunter though, but the Tasman River near Mt Cook. The blue colouring of the very cold water is caused by rock ground up by glaciers.

There are about six species that are primarily dependent on the braided river habitat: wrybill, banded dotterel, south island pied oyster-catcher, black-fronted tern, black-billed gull, black stilt) as well as the caspian tern and the pied stilt. The villain of the piece though is the black-back gull, as they predate on the eggs of the others.

Teaming up – linking arms for mutual support. Lots of concentration is required so it’s harder to observe what maybe in the air ahead. However the most experienced person leading the crossing, which is nearly done, has in this instance time to look. River crossing is best done by not looking down, which upsets balance, and with great care – there is no Plan B if people get swept away.
When not to cross at all – just too big and not braided into smaller channels.
The job is going well!
What we don’t want to see, but if we do, weeds are recorded as Way Points on a GPS, so that DOC staff can return later to deal to them. The most often encountered on the above mentioned rivers is this area, is often broom.

We don’t encounter many lupins in the above mentioned rivers. This photo is in the nearby Ahuriri. Lupins, which the birds don’t like, offer cover to predators. Foolishly seeds were spread many decades ago by well meaning people wanting to add some colour to the grey landscape. And the seeds can remain for years until uncovered by a flood as they’re coated with a protective oil.
A sad aspect of some surveys is that we know that after a bank-to-bank spring flood hundreds of these young birds are washed away. These are a few surviving gulls after such an event in the Matukituki a few years back.
Knock off time – a classic old-time hut.
Every hut has one
Evening and time for sleep. Tomorrow morning the survey will resume tidying up the riverbed to the right.
Job over and pickup
The long and sometimes bumpy drive home beside Lake Hawea

Obviously the results of such monitoring give a good guide as to the health of the environments concerned.

However the data as regards where breeding colonies are located, can be used for the most efficient locations for a new trapping lines. There is an attrition of traps though – during floods despite them being anchored by a chain to a long steel stake hammered in, they get washed away. Often the best compromise often considered, is for them to be near a bank that exhibits a history of stability, and place them with a shorter distance apart than the 200 mt standard in the bush, so as to create a fence of sorts.

Mt Aspiring National Park

Waterfall, Mount Aspiring National Park, Rob Roy Glacier
Rob Roy Glacier walk, and waterfall

Waterfall and Beech Forest on the Rob Roy Glacier Walk New Zealand. B&W

The walk starts at the Raspberry Creek car park, 54 km west of Wanaka. After about 15 minutes it enters Mount Aspiring National Park. It is an easy 3-4 hours.

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