Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The overlooked and ordinary

Even when there's nothing much to see in the rural countryside there's always something if you stop and look around.  It is no longer considered 'best practice" for farmers to leave their bobby calves in roadside pens waiting for collection but, to me, the old pens nearly always look photogenic. 

Kids and cattle love a puddle on a hot day.

Cows gather in any available shade
an over grown stock loading ramp

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Taranaki Market and Beach

I think they call them the beach markets.  No, the Seaside Markets.  I think they only have them in summer.  Have you guessed that I don't really know much about them?  Not much except that when they are on my daughter loads up her beautifully restored caravan that she calls Audrey with her delicious cupcakes and sets up shop in a prime position along the beach front.

Last time I visited Taranaki I went along with the family for the evening at Ngamotu Beach.  Justine was busy, of course, and Bill jumped into action, too, during the busy periods but little Aiden and I had nothing else to do except explore our surroundings.

Colourful tables and chairs being set up

Lights strung through the trees come on as night approaches

Shopping finished, a couple relax before heading home.

A couple of days later Audrey was once again hitched up to the family car and taken to visit a beach.  This time it was to a popular beach side wedding venue to serve as a bar.  

Justine dropped Bill, Aiden and I off at the beach while she set up Audrey at the venue.  It wasn't exactly swimming weather but perfect for rock hopping, trying to keep our feet dry (because the water was very cold).  

After Justine returned we moved on to another beach for a picnic at Weld Road beach access.  We sat on the grass out of the wind. The weather here was perfect for wind surfing.  There were quite a few surfers out but they were quite some distance away from our position on the rocks.

On the other end of the beach was proof of the dangers of this piece of coast, the Gairloch shipwreck.  The coastal steamer slid on to the rocks at 11.40pm on the dark, moonless night of 5 January 1903.  That's what the official account says - slid on to the rocks.   To quote "ship seemed to slide over the rocks before grinding to a standstill.'  Doesn't sound right to me!  And sounds even more wrong when I read that she had narrowly missed collision with her sister ship, the Ngapuhi, off New Plymouth just an hour before she ran on to the Timaru Reef.

No lives were lost and the next day the captain returned with his  officers to the wreck where they salvaged the crew's personal effects, the ship's silverware, linen, upholstery and spirits. 

I enjoy the little side stories - "History fails to record whether the ship's whistle was a souvenir or legitimate salvage, but legend has it that for years it served as the knock-off hooter at Henry Brown Ltd's sawmill at Inglewood."

As a result of the stranding, the captain appeared at a marine inquiry in Auckland. The court found that he had committed an error of judgment in hugging the land so closely on a dark night and suspended his certificate for three months. 

Friday, 18 March 2016

Forgotten fences

Thanks to St Patrick's Day I've spent a day remembering my trip to Ireland.  Oh, how I loved Ireland!  While looking through my photos I picked out a few fence shots to share.  I haven't linked to Good Fences for over a year, it's time I got back into the swing.

All of these were taken on the Dingle Peninsula, the first few at the farm of the shepherd, Gabriel.

 Gabriel's father home, behind the stone fence, not lived in since the 1960s.

Gabriel and his dog heading back down to the road.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Morning mist

I've barely noticed the mornings growing ever so gradually cooler.  Unlike the farmer and his helper who are out and about early to milk the cows.  My grand-daughter, Shayde has finished school and become her father's helper.  She's already asked me to knit her a beanie to keep her head warm on cold mornings.  

This morning I was out earlier than usual and had to stop before I even got going to try to capture the soft mistiness of the morning and the amazing sky around to the north a bit. 

Once I had dropped my other grand-daughter, Krystal off to her place of education in town I had time for a couple more shots.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

A slow trip

On my way to join my exercise class for lunch at a small cafe beside Ruakaka Surf Beach (we had already done our exercise) I stopped by a small tidal estuary.  It's not usually much to look at but this day at low, low tide I thought it looked quite lovely. I'll have to go back another day when the tide is in by just a little bit more. 

After lunch I headed south to Auckland and was in the mood for appreciating life and meandering.  I explorer a few side roads which lead towards the Kaipara Harbour.  Now I know which roads offer the best view I can do so again on a clearer day.

Sunday was one of those beautiful clear days we get in March.  The heat has gone out of the sun but it's still shining strongly.  On my way to the Fish Fry at Waipu Cove I called in to the Waipu River mouth down Hamon Road, always a favourite spot.

The tide was rushing in.

It was high tide at Waipu Cover but still plenty of room on the beach.

Heading home I turned off down Johnston Point Road to have a look at the Waipu River Estuary, a refuge which is the nesting area for New Zealand dotterel, variable oyster catcher and New Zealand fairy tern. The birds were all elsewhere.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

A few faces

I gave warning last week that I would be concentrating on portraits for the next couple of weeks.  It's not really the sort of photography that I enjoy but luckily my family have had cameras pointed at them since day one and just carry on with whatever they are doing when I point in their direction.  I think a portrait should capture the essence of the subject and have never liked stiff or posed photos.  These are my grandchildren and step grandchild.  We were having evening picnic at the beach.   

Jami was laying on a blanket at my feet.  (Being a senior person I had a seat.)

Unfortunately, the sun is reflecting off Michael's face but I like the shot anyway.

My daughter in typical pose.

Zharn in a rare quiet, thoughtful moment.

I was at the Waipu Cove Fish Fry on Sunday.  It's a gathering of surfers and shapers sharing a day at the beach. The original format of the Fish Fry was based around the Fish surfboard but as the event has evolved and spread throughout the world it has become open to all forms of surfcraft.  It's a non-competitive and non-commercial event and was well attended by surfers of all ages.  

The weather could not have been more perfect for strolling along the beach looking for subjects.  Trouble was there were about 20 other people with cameras, doing the same thing.  Every time I stopped for a shot this guy seemed to be in my way with his camera.  So in the end I resorted to a portrait of a photographer.  No doubt that is him in typical pose.

 A mother doing what mothers do.

And a little beach babe.  I love this, the little thumb showing her concentration not to lose any of that wet sand.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

One day, two lakes

I'm lucky enough to visit Taranaki a few times a year.  My love affair with Mt Taranaki has deepened since my daughter moved there but that hasn't stopped me from falling for a few lakes as well.  When I was last there visiting my daughter, after I returned from Australia in mid February, I was in need of a day out by myself and new sights.  I'd been itching to visit Lake Rotokare since I first noticed the road sign and had googled it.  

Justine suggested I have a look at Lake Ratapiko and to look out for a wedding venue that is there. It's only 12 kms from where she lives, practically on her doorstep.

Lake Ratapiko is not a natural lake but was formed by building a 15 metre-high earth dam across the Mako Stream to create the lake which is approximately three kilometres long.  It is owned by TrustPower and is used for storage for the Motukawa Power Station.  But there are no concrete walls, it looks for all the world like a natural lake.  

I stopped when I came to Lake Farm Garden.  The house sits on the far side of the lake, a very pretty scene.

 An old calf pen stands at the roadside entrance, a testment to the place's life as a dairy farm.  

 As I wandered around I realized the road had passed over a little causeway.  The water on the other side of the road looked more like a pond, not that I'm any sort of expert on bodies of water.  It was covered in something green but looked fresh and alive, not in the least stagnant or smelly. 

A duck family leave 'footprints' on the water surface. 

I'd like to come back on a day when there is no cloud as I've seen photos of the mountain reflected in the lake.  Next time, perhaps.

It was not yet lunch time so I decided to head south to Lake Rotokare which sits about 12km off the main road, just north of Eltham.  A very pleasant drive.  

Entry to the lake is designed to ensure the effectiveness of the predator proof fence which encircles the 8.2 km reserve perimeter, acting as a barrier to pests that might visit from surrounding farmland.  Push a button for the gates to open, drive into the 'vacuum', wait till the first gate closes behind you, then move on and press another button for your release.

It's immediately obvious the difference that fence has made to your surroundings.   One minute you are in open farmland, the next you are in a lush, magical forest.

It was a relief (in more ways than one) to find toilet faciities.  I really should have thought about that before turning off the main road.  But I needn't have worried.  There was also a small information room in the visitor's facilities.

I had company as I sat at a picnic table and ate my lunch to continuous birdsong.

My view from the picnic table.

The bush walk was magnificent, with many seats along the way, abundant bird life and beautiful native bush with frequent lake views. 

The walk was flat and easy although there is another longer and more challenging walk for those who have a need for serious exercise.

I give thanks to the Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust for their work in restoring and preserving this beautiful place.  The Trust formed in 2004, in response to concerns about the damage pests were causing to the Reserve’s forests.  It originally set out to raise $30,000 for a pest-trapping project.  With that achieved, they set about fundraising and building the $2 million pest proof fence, eradicating pests (12 pest species disappeared from inside the fence during 2009-2011 alone), revegetation of 12.5-hectares of land that was gifted to the project by neighbouring landowners.  

A wonderful example of what a caring community can achieve.