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 🙂

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 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

Historic Buildings

Dunedin Railway Station and stairs

The Dunedin Railway Station is the grandest ‘Gingerbread House’ you’ll ever see.

Dunedin Railway Station, New Zealand

Going back to 1906, this magnificent Flemish Renaissance-style edifice increasingly entraps the public. White Oamaru limestone facings on black basalt rock, creates a timeless and dramatic air.

The grandiose style and rich embellishments earned architect George Troup the nickname of Gingerbread George.

Dunedin Railway Station – Foyer

The building is also home to the Otago Art Society

Kokonga hut in the Oteake area of Central Otago, New Zealand
Kokonga hut in the Oteake area of Central Otago, New Zealand Originally a railway station on the Dunedin to Clyde line, it was relocated to a remote area, and is used as a mustering hut. The railway line no longer exists as such – it’s now the Otago Central Rail Trail constructed for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

Fiordland New Zealand

Waterfall, Fiordland National Park New Zealand

Waterfall, Fiordland National Park New Zealand.

Note the tannin coloured water typical of the area. 7 metres of rain annually With over an average of appox. 200 rain-days/year.

Sunset Milford Sound New Zealand.

Sunset side lighting on storm clouds in Long Sound in Preservation Inlet, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

Fiordland. Sunset outlined clouds in Long Sound

Sunset side lighting on storm clouds in Long Sound in Preservation Inlet, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

Lake Orbell, Fiordland NAtional Park, New Zealand
Lake Orbell, Fiordland National Park. A panorama 6727 px wide.

Situated in the Murchison Mountains. Home of the takahe.


Moke Lake, Queenstown

Moke Lake, Queenstown, New Zealand
Moke Lake, Queenstown, New Zealand

Dawn. Moke Lake is a small lake just a 15 minute drive from Queenstown, in the South Island of New Zealand.

There is a Dept. of Conservation camping area on the northern shores. And the short Moke Lake Loop Track is popular with walkers and cyclists.

The Southern Coast of New Zealand

Gemstone Beach, Southland, New Zealand

Gemstone Beach Southland New Zealand.

Gemstone Beach is part of Te Waewae Bay, and near Tuatapere and Orepuki

Semi-precious stones such as garnet, jasper, quartz and nephrite can often be found on the beach. Subject to change of the surface. Sand to stones and back again occurs with the storms and tides of this very wild coast line. The very best of the Southern Coastline!

Wind swept trees on farmland, near Tuatapere, Southland, New Zealand

Tuatapere is on the edge of Fiordland National Park’s wilderness. There is spectacular unspoilt scenery merging with lush rolling farmland. It is an ideal base for many wilderness activities such as tramping, fishing, whitebaiting, hunting and jet boating.

The Waiau River flows through the town before reaching Te Waewae Bay, where Hector’s dolphins and whales are often seen. There is a rich sawmilling history and the area is home to a logging museum, along with many other quaint reminders of the town’s pioneering history. 

Cosy Nook Beach Southland New Zealand.

Cosy Nook is on the coastal road between Invercargill and Tuatapere, close to Colac Bay, Gemstone Beach and Monkey Island. And part of part of Te Waewae Bay

It is a picturesque rocky cove sheltering several fishing boats and holiday cribs and baches. It is an important cultural and historical Maori settlement site.

Pahi, as it was originally named after Ngai Tahu Chief Pahi, boasted one of the oldest and largest Maori villages in coastal Murihiku in the 1820s. Captain George Thomson, Harbourmaster of Bluff, named his property Cozy Neuk, after his homeland Scottish village. He was the first European settler.

Wanaka, Hawea and Upper Clutha Trees

that wanaka tree

Cabbage trees/tī kōuka and Harakeke/flax

New Zealand landscape. They will often reach a height of 12-20 metres. Very popular in Britain, Europe, and the U.S. In the former they’re known as Torquay palm.

The flowers are very scented in early summer, and turn into bluish-white berries that birds love to eat. It is very fire-resistant. Māori used cabbage trees as a food, fibre and medicine. The leaves were woven into baskets, sandals, rope, rain capes and other items and were also made into tea to cure diarrhoea and dysentery. Lastly they were also planted to mark trails, boundaries, urupā (cemeteries) and births, since they are generally long-lived.

There are two identified species of flax in New Zealand – common flax (harakeke) and mountain flax (wharariki). (Harakeke is really a lily).They are unique to New Zealand and is one of our most ancient plant species. It grows up to 3 metres and its flower stalks can reach up to 4 metres. Tui, bellbirds/ korimako, saddlebacks/tīeke, short tailed bats/pekapeka, geckos and several types of insects enjoy nectar from the flax flower.

Flax was a valuable resource to Europeans during the 19th century because of its strength. It was New Zealand’s biggest export by far until wool and frozen mutton took over. Today, it is used in soaps, hand creams, shampoos and a range of other cosmetics. Flaxseed oil can also be found for sale.

Flax was the most important fibre plant to Māori in New Zealand. Each pā or marae typically had a ‘pā harakeke’, or flax plantation. Different varieties were specially grown for their strength, softness, colour and fibre content.

The uses of the flax fibre were numerous and varied. Weaving is now very common. Clothing, mats, plates, baskets, ropes, bird snares, lashings, fishing lines and nets were all made from flax leaves. Floats or rafts were made out of bundles of dried flower stalks. The abundant nectar from flax flowers was used to sweeten food and beverages. Flax also had many medicinal uses.

The outer layer represented the grandparents, whereas the inner layer of new shoots – the child – remained and were to be protected by the next inner layer of leaves, the parents.

Infrared of poplar trees

Poplars were first grown in New Zealand in the 1830s. Although ornamental in Central Otago they were primarily planted upwind in rather mundane straight lines to provide shelter for stock and houses. Especially from wind, but also to provide shelter from the intense summer sun .

This is probably the Lombardy poplar, given its column-like form. And was also often planted to mark boundaries and river fords as they could be seen from a distance. This planting is very grouped thus supplying quite a magical feel, in the gathering dusk of a summer evening.

That Wanaka Tree!

A willow that was once a fence post. Now a “must see/photograph” for every tourist that comes to New Zealand.

A year of photography – 2019

Autumn at Glendhu Bay, Wanaka, New Zealand

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

Magnolia in the upper Dunedin Botanic Gardens

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

Mount Aeolus from Isthmus Peak track

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. Nor are they likely to be. But if you’re interested in purchasing, please note which image and email Donald so I can advise you with a price and options.

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