The Clutha River Area, Otago, New Zealand

Aerial view of intensive agriculture, the Upper Clutha, New Zealand

The Upper Clutha Basin, and the Clutha River.

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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.

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

Morning and evening views of Lake Wanaka

Pastel sunset glow on Lake Wanaka Lake Wanaka's Roys Bay in the evening. With Black Peak in the distance
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.

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

Pastel sunset glow on Lake Wanaka.

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

Lake Wanaka from Beacon Point.

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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.

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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.

Early Autumn Photography

Green leaves turning to the typical gold of autumn
Green turning to the typical gold of autumn.
Note the softness. In camera, which gives a sharper look in this case, of segments of background – bit like pieces of a jigsaw
Green leaves turning to the typical gold of autumn, in Wanaka
Soft, out of camera, and then applied again in software
Green leaves turning to the typical gold of autumn, in Wanaka. High key filter
High key filter, post processing

Not every moment of Easter weekend 2021 was spent in the woods…

An un-seasonal nor wester on Lake Wanaka, and a dog with a stick
An unseasonal nor-wester on Lake Wanaka.
But every dog has it’s day
A moody clouds as prelude to the official autumn season on Lake Wanaka
A moody prelude to the official autumn season on Lake Wanaka
Hand stand in the wind, Lake Wanaka
Hand stand in the wind – gusts of 120 km/hr!
Focus stack of two images combined. Autumn colors
Two images combined
Claret colored tree in autumn, with lichen on the trunk
Lichen with claret!
dead birch tree leaves
Perhaps more dead than an “alive autumn look
Pink rose in the rain, with rain drops
Be prepared to get wet in the quest for soft light
White peonei
Source image for the mandala style one below
Bright red autumn foliage
Non distracting background known as bokeh.
More easily achieved if the background is someway behind the subject.
Plus lens wide open
Pink rose close up with raindrops
Roses in certain light are not always as they seem
Orange rose in Dunedin Gardens

And lastly some odds and ends for the week

University of Otago Campus
University of Otago Campus. Post processing involved some playing with infra red
Computer manipulated image of a white peonei
Once was a peonei
Decorative blue piano in Cromwell Mall
Nothing to do with autumn, but seen in Cromwell town

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.

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

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. 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.

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

Art exhibition by Eion Shanks at Rippon Vineyard, Wanaka

Last night a friend of mine from Oamaru [and ex Wanaka], Eion Shanks opened an exhibition of his paintings at Rippon Vineyard last night.

As well as owning a couple of his earlier works, which I really enjoy, I saw a few of the below at the Forester Galley in Oamaru back in March and thought it’d be nice to share them here.

One of the delights of a visit to the vineyard is the stunning view of Lake Wanaka, the rows of vines, and Ruby Island…
Rippon Vineyard - dusk


The entry door to Rippon Vineyard’s tasting building, which is also a popular venue for numerous events…
Rippon


The tasting room main area…Rippon


Some of Eion’s work…
Rippon - Eion Shanks Exhibition


Rippon - Eion Shanks Exhibition


Rippon - Eion Shanks Exhibition


There are also some landscape style works at the exhibition, but due to lighting and composition being compromised by people enjoying them, they’re not featured here.

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Wanaka Autumn Art School 2018

Last week I attended the annual Wanaka Autumn Art School held at Mt Aspiring College, during the NZ Secondary School holiday period.

It was the 29th annual school and offered 16 classes taught by highly talented tutors from New Zealand and Australia.

I choose the Fine Art Photography course, and here are a few pictures of the five days worth of intense and enjoyable work often using PhotoShop, or similar to bring together various elements into one picture.

On Friday, the last day of the course we eagerly gathered around the printer, while our tutor Kaye Davis [centre] downloaded our images and printed them for us on the best paper I’ve ever seen or touched…
Wanaka Autumn Art School 2018


Cold press bright paper kindly given to us by Epson who make high quality photo printers, and they also donated the ink – thank you Epson!
Cold press bright by Epson at Wanaka Autumn Art School


Below are  selections of our work for the week – some of us did three or four prints, while others put all their efforts into just one..
Wanaka Autumn Art School


Wanaka Autumn Art School


Wanaka Autumn Art School


Wanaka Autumn Art School


Wanaka Autumn Art School


I for one, was really inspired by the creative and varied answers emanating from my class-mates, to our brief to bring together various elements to tell a story…
Wanaka Autumn Art School


Here are my four efforts – each involving the honing of various skills, both in camera and in post production.

The first was almost my undoing until Kaye made one vital suggestion to change the centre element edges/blending/bleeding wise, and to go pure black and white to match the walls…
Wanaka Autumn Art School


Wanaka Autumn Art School


Wanaka Autumn Art School


Wanaka Autumn Art School


During the first four days we made joint or individual trips around town to gather information in our camera’s. One option was to take advantage of a visit to Wanaka by the gypsy fair house-bus people. Although I’m pretty sure what they offered was not used, it was a colourful event held in the Wanaka Show Grounds…
Wanaka Autumn Art School


Wanaka Autumn Art School

Many thanks to Kaye, and to five of my good friends who attended – I enjoyed your company immensely 🙂

If any of you would like to add your effort[s] for the week please email me a copy – no smaller than 1024 pixels wide please ~ don@southernlight.co.nz

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Wanaka by night – an alternative view over Easter

After a noisy few days in Wanaka over Easter weekend with vintage aircraft from the Warbirds over Wanaka Airshow filling the sky, I took a peaceful walk downtown in the early night.

The iconic White House Restaurant…
Wanaka - White House Restaurant


Many older cars were in town – many on display at the Airshow…
Wanaka by night - vintage car


The town centre with my back to Lake Wanaka…
Wanaka town center by night 4


The town centre night life from the banks of Bullock Creek…
Wanaka by night near Bullock Creek


Wanaka by night – Looking along Tenby or Upton St from the war memorial…
Wanaka by night - Tenby St


Entry way to the iconic White House Restaurant near the New World supermarket
Wanaka by night -entry to the White house


Wanaka by night – the Fire Station and full moon
Wanaka by night - Fire Station and full moon


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A couple of suprising places to visit, with visitors, on a rainy day in Wanaka

For the last few weekends in Wanaka it has rained. Since this is not the usual state affairs it can pose a few challenges when visitors come visiting.

I’ve long promoted Puzzling World as a fun place to go, but never thought of the National Transport and Toy Museum at the airport, and in this later case Brian led the charge – neither of us having any idea how much it has grown.


Brian found a car the same as his first back in his youth…




Vladimir, originally from Russia enjoyed seeing a Gaz from his home country…
Toy 1 15




I found an Austin, same model as my parent’s first car. It was more of indigo colour. Like this car it had very thoughtful footrests for passengers in the rear…



Then we adjourned to Puzzling World, where we were content to not be puzzled, favouring a more passive role playing with puzzles over a coffee…





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The magic of the Glendhu Bay area of Lake Wanaka

I went out a couple of evenings ago to capitalise on the beautiful evening light we’ve been getting lately, and the cool airs, after another scorcher in Wanaka – I even had a swim 🙂

I was not disappointed with the burnt off grass tones, and the reflective nature of the water surface mimicking the clouds was a bonus …

Roys Peak Wanaka, from Glendhu Bay
Roys Peak Wanaka, from the Glendhu Bay area


Glendhu Bay and Mt Aspiring
Glendhu Bay with Mt Aspiring in the background


Emerald bluffs Wanaka


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Some little known Lake Hawea and Wanaka history of gold mining back in the 1880’s

As tourists when we tick the boxes on the must-visit places it can be a bit of a rush. Then it’s easy to overlook other rushes accommodated by the past.

Close to Wanaka and on the very busy road beside Lake Hawea that goes to Haast and South Westland it’s easy to rush by a little creek on the left called Craigburn, and it’s accompanying Dept of Conservation interpretation board, which alerts us to some history of gold mining endeavours upstream back around 1880, mainly in a tributary called Long Gully.

Now days called the Matatiaho Conservation Area it once sported 200 miners, three stores and a butchery, but this development was not long lived as the hope of finding the source of the gold in the very rugged and deeply incised headwaters upstream came to nought. Sadly little evidence of this has survived.

Flowering kanuka and lupins as seen from the DOC track, with a backdrop of Lake Hawea…
Craigburn


About an hour in, the track comes to an end as it drops into seclusion down by the river at some signage, and a small gate in a deer fence…
Craigburn 2


Hunters [permit required] usually frequent the rugged country further to the west [through above mentioned small gate], and to the much steeper southern areas including Mt Burke…
Craigburn 4


Craigburn 3


Lupins by the carpark…
Craigburn 5

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, 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

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An early launching of Wanaka Images and Photography

I’ve had this site for a while – it languished perhaps because of timing. After all timing is everything in all things!

Having got my eco site Southern Light to where I wanted it yesterday, I turned my attention to this one.

It needed a look consistent with the aims, so setting it up came well before populating it with good visual content.

Which was just as well as I had no idea FaceBook would be tracking it every time I posted an article or image. The intention was to upload content then release it in the wild in a few weeks.

Consequently the project is launched!

Serendipitously at the same time [today] I’ve just been interviewed by a skilled journalist with the Central Otago News[paper], so along with my back ground pertaining to conservation and the environment I slipped in a mention of Wanaka Images…

… and so its open for business!

It’s a WordPress Multi-site which means any interested person can have their own web site within it, e.g. wanakaimages.com/mysite

Start your own journal blog site, or web site to promote the area, your photography, or business for the introductory offer of $NZ 5.00/month +GST payable in advance. Set up is free.

Also author/photographers, who don’t want a site and the work of maintaining same, are welcome to publish relevant articles/photos for free within wanakaimages.com/my_article_whatever_its_name. These will be moderated to ensure content is appropriate.

Mail me Donald don@southernlight.co.nz to get started

The “tree” today…

Wanaka tree today

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When the rain clears on Lake Wanaka magic is revealed

A couple of evenings ago a soft cold rain seemed set in, but then a few light patches appeared to support a rainbow in the north, so I rushed off to face that direction.

Meanwhile the clearance continued and looking west; well I followed my eyes.

On arrival near the famous Wanaka lake tree another excited photographer, who was rushing about, shouted out as he pointed, “is that the lonely tree?’

I gave him a thumbs up and off we scurried.

After getting this image on the fly, I lent him my tripod which seemed to surprise him – maybe they don’t do that sort of thing in Hong Kong!

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Wanaka Station Park and Web Site Upgrade

Hi There

This blog is under reconstruction as of late Oct 2017

Here are two recent pictures of the entry ways to a magical place, 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


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