Photography

A full-on winter and a new web site to publish photos onto

It’s been a crazy winter weather wise with lots of SW and S weather bringing front after front. Good for photos and cross country skiing but hard living.

So time to enjoy the fine spells and work away when it’s miserable. In this case a new site. Take a peek:

Wanaka Images
Wanaka snowfall

I’ve not uploaded many images yet, but they’re coming. The structure of the site had to come first.

Since Wanaka is the gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park and in the middle of routes to South Westland‚Äôs¬†glaciers, the historic gold bearing Cardrona Valley and Queenstown ‚Äì all with Central Otago‚Äôs nearby golden landscapes to the east, the site¬†and it’s blog will span and incorporate all these regions.

An online shop is in the plan too

Enjoy!

Five months – many changes

Hi all

I’ve not posted much since early in the year because I decided to make some changes. “Down sizing” I believe some call it. As some of you may recall for quite a few years I’ve been re-modeling the inside of a very large 32ft. 3 axle caravan.

It’s now back on the road. Getting it there took a big push of many weeks, most especially as I went through everything I own and threw out literally over a ton of it.

Right from that moment when we take a deep breathe and utter “right”, the work has had a magical flow to it. All I could deduce from this [with my mouth often hanging open] was that it affirmed I was doing the right thing.

This sort of process I realise looking back from the delightful solitude of the Hawea River, where I’m now parked up for awhile, creates space of a somewhat spiritual flavour.

But what it may all be about, is by getting rid stuff and simplifying life I feel ready and able to easily adapt to opportunities and change!

At times my tank was running near on empty and then as is often the way you realise:

1] who has the inclination to “be there” for us, but can’t

2] those who can and are , and may not even realise it, as it’s just what they do.

Either way I felt supported one way or another by everyone who knew and I managed to not cherish any opinions while developing a deepening sense of gratitude for how it’s all worked out – and still is. Thank you everyone!

First stop [which maybe for awhile] on my new journey is by the lower Hawea River just 5 mins drive from Wanaka. Yes, it is chilly, but I’ve now a total of 120mm of insulation layered in my still tall ceiling. That took a bit of work too, but well worth it!

Actually that the technology is now available has been a significant factor in deciding to try some “change” in life.

My Land Cruiser camper supplies the electricity [which even powers my old washing machine now fitted in a spare corner behind a curtain], and also now hosts the highest speed Internet I’ve ever had, and my landline phone, via a radio link to Hill End by the mouth of the Cardrona River. All for a monthly cost a third that I’d been paying Telecom…
Hawea River

The same spot in the warmth of yesterday afternoon. That’s me to the left in the distance. The grey house near the center is another house on wheels. Just by coincidence [that flow again!] it belongs to an old climbing/tramping and ski touring mate Bruce from Ranfurly, and he is on his first prolonged “roadie” after building it for about a year. His setup is very different to mine [wood stove v. my hi tech diesel heater, height v. the length of mine, and possibly I’m lighter, but both demand the use our larger 4wd vehicles. It’s been fun to have brews at each other’s home and swap ideas as to how to live this way – experimentally for both of us. Btw this site costs us $7/person/night – no facilities except for “long drop” DOC Kiwi style toilets, which I find just fine…
Hawea River Swing Bridge

In the months it has taken to make these changes, and to keep my clients happy as I’m still working [not quite full time], I made an effort to get away regularly to keep my batteries charged. Thus I made two trips to Southland on photographic sorties. This shipwreck is near Bluff…
Shipwreck at Bluff

My cousin’s son got married in town too, and I was asked to do photos in her amazing garden…
Wanaka Wedding

I also kept up my regular volunteer work for the Dept. of Conservation. This kea was a bit sick – recovering I think from an injury in the West Matukituki Valley in Mt Aspiring National Park, and while cautious did not mind me getting up close…
Kea

My other trip to Southland was to Milford Sound for an overnighter in the back packers. I’d never visited this crazy tourist infected spot before for more than an hour or two. It turned out to be a delightful thing to do!…
Mitre Peak Milford Sound

Homer Tunnel en-route to Milford Sound
Homer Tunnel - Milford Sound

For both trips to Southland I was able to bypass Queenstown on my return by taking the public 4wd drive road through the remote Nevis Valley to Cromwell. It always takes me several hours as it is just so beautiful and photogenic, reeking of gold mining history too…
Nevis Valley

On another weekend I lived in style in a motel in Queenstown and did the long mt. bike ride up the Arrow River into the old historic gold mining ghost town Macetown [semi restored by DOC] to sample the autumn colours…
Macetown

Once again I attended the annual Autumn Art School in Wanaka in order to push my photography learning along. This was my best shot for the week. That is a chainsaw dangling – minutes later the tree top above the guy toppled down past him.

Earlier I mentioned “making space”. Well, it can be filled with creativity I think, which seems to be happening to me One way it manifests I suspect is in these photos! And somehow I seem more able to work very fast making them, probably because I’m not thinking much, yet taking time to let whatever story is inherent to reveal itself…
Wanaka Autumn Art School

More DOC volunteer work trapping predators in the Grandview Range between the Lindis and Clutha valleys…
Grandviews

Yet again more DOC volunteer work checking trapping tunnels in Matukituki Valley…
Matukituki Valley

Ice Puddle Matukituki Valley

A grab shot in rain and good light while driving through Wanaka, that I applied some new techniques to…
Plantation Road Wanaka

Another application of new found skills on trees in Lake Wanaka…
3 Lake Trees Wanaka

I made a couple of trips to Dunedin to see my son and do some other things, and found him in fine fettle. He now has a degree in chemistry and is continuing on doing papers in botany, archaeology and anthropology. A professional student methinks – I’m very proud of him…
Dougal Dunedin

Up the Matukituki Valley again – whew I now realisie the days in there have added up – delightful times!Matukituki Valley Matagouri

Rob Roy Mt Aspiring National Park

Local shots around Lake Wanaka again – often taken on my evening bike rides…
Lake Wanaka

Lake Wanaka Tree with Shags

A more recent trip into the Cromwell end of the Nevis Valley to experience it winter wise…
Nevis Valley

Nevis Valley

And now that cross country skiing is again possible I duck up to the Snow Farm regularly, but not this weekend as I have a mild head cold, and I think need a rest!…
Snow Farm

The Hawea River out my door is raging filling Lake Dunstan so us NZ’ers enjoy having power, except I’m now off the grid. I have to be quite careful getting my water by bucket…
Hawea River

A self portrait at the Snow Farm last Wed…
Snow farm nz

Lastly for photos, a delightful fantail on the Hawea River last evening…
a delightful fantail on the Hawea River

So now at last with space it is time to stay aware of self and the surroundings so as to follow that flow I talked of that just may come about when we follow our hearts, and don’t over think things!

Recently I was talking to my friend Bob McKerrow wayfarer and of International Red Cross and telling him of my changes and straight away he suggested I look up the work of Sterling Hayden. Bob quoted below in part, and I found it verbatim on the web.

So I here on-pay to you all Bob’s consideration and compliment:

From Sterling Hayden:

To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea… cruising, it is called.

Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.

“I’ve always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can’t afford it.” What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of security. And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine – and before we know it our lives are gone.

What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.

The years thunder by, the dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

Where, then, lies the answer?

In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?

and…

From Hayden’s introduction to Wanderer’s 1977 edition

“So it is no wonder that the mass of people regard the wanderer as a cross between a romantic vagabond and an irresponsible semi-ne’er-do-well who can’t – or won’t – fit in. Which is not to say that those who are fated to stay at home and toe the line do not look at the wander with envy and, yes, even awe, for he is doing what they would like to be doing, and something tells them they will never do it unless they either “strike it rich” or retire – and once retirement rolls around, chances are it will be too late. They know that too…..

It would be remiss if I didn’t add that if you want to wander, you’re going to have to work at it and give up the one thing that most non-wanders prize so highly – the illusion of security.

I say “illusion” because the most “secure” people I’ve encountered are, when you come right down to it, the least secure once they have been removed from job and home and bank account. While those unfortunate enough to be locked into some despised and unrewarding job are even worse off.

And if I have been favored with good luck all down through the years, I can also quickly single out scores of men and women spread around this beleaguered old world who, without “luck” have managed to live lives of freedom and adventure (that curious word) beyond the wildest dreams of the stay-at-homes who, when fresh out of school, opted for that great destroyer of men’s souls, security….

“They never taught wandering in any school I attended. They never taught the art of sailing a vessel, either. Or that of writing a book. It’s all so mysterious and – yes- enchanting. And that is what I suppose this book is all about. For whatever its merits, I would like to think that there is just as much of frustration and failure (call it lostness if you will) as there is of the free-swinging, far-rolling time when, however rough the going, you have the feeling, F*** it! I wouldn’t swap places with anyone else for anything on this earth.

Which is how I feel now, aged sixty-one and still more or less broke, slowing down in some ways and picking up steam in others, still with a roller skate on one foot and an ice skate on the other, yet only too well aware of the wisdom of the words:

“…But I think he swaggered
So he could pretend
the other side of Nowhere
Led Somewhere in the end.”
_H. Sewall Bailey

Various meanderings and on the road to Styx

Over the last several weeks preceeding the dramatic onset of winter and accompanying snows I’ve been grateful for some wonderful trips in South Canterbury and Central Otago, and more recently traversing parts of the Old Dunstan Road, just before it closes legally and due to snow until Sept. or Oct.

And following on from a week of creative stimulation at the Wanaka Autumn Art School Landscape Photography class I’ve been busy with my camera…

Now that the Snow Farm cross country ski area is run by a Trust and has reserve status, it’s more like a club ski area now, so I’ve been doing a few repairs of snow retention fences, and staying up overnight in my truck…
Snow Farm

My favourite lake, Lake Ohau, where I spent significant good times as kid. I like that it’s not developed…
Lake Ohau

Looking across Lake Ohau and up the Dobson Valley to Mt Cook…
Lake Ohau

I’ve delved into my archives for some pictures of the old days. Colour slides scanned actually. I must do some more, especially of this beautiful wild place

Mind you the wind can scream down the lake…Lake Ohau

I’ve spent a lot of time at Ohau Ski Area. Here’s my old mate the late Chris Jackson above the facilities. We climbed tramped and ski toured all over for many magical years. He was superb at route finding…a victim of melanoma…
Ski touring - Lake Ohau

Sheep!
Sheep Lake Ohau road

The Hopkins Valley – one of two that feed Lake Ohau…
Hopkins Valley - Lake Ohau

The Hopkins Valley – I’ve spent a lot of time in this one…
Hopkins Valley Mt Jackson and Mt Ward

The Hopkins Valley and Mt Ward
The Hopkins Valley and Mt Ward

And like I said it can be windy…
Hopkins valley storm

Danseys Pass Hotel – a unique place on the road that connects the Waitaki Valley to the Maniototo…
Danseys Pass, Central Otago

Cattle near Kyeburn, Central Otago…
Cattle near Kyeburn

The Kyeburn river, but on this occasion for some reason it reminds me of the movie Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark…
Kyeburn

Naseby Gold diggings in the mist – now over grown with wilding pine trees…
Naseby Gold diggings

A little History…Paerau (Styx) to Clarks Junction

This section is approximately 50kms and you will experience solitude and beauty on this desolate but ethereal route. From the old Styx goal (used to store gold on the trip east to Dunedin) the road winds up and over the southern end of the Rock and Pillar Range, reaching an altitude of 1041m. There are few human impacts on this landscape except the Logan Burn Reservoir, formally the Great Moss Swamp. Natural beauty was only interrupted by the track and numerous hotels and sly-grog shops that dotted the route. Little now remains.

From this isolated irrigation reservoir the road winds its way through the tussocks and rock tors down through Rocklands Station more […]

Styx Goal…
Styx Goal

Above Styx looking out at an inversion over the Maniototo Valley…
Above Styx

Looking out at an inversion over the Maniototo Valley…
Above Styx

Dawn near the Great Moss Swamp…
Dawn near the Great Moss Swamp

Dawn near the Great Moss Swamp…
Dawn near the Great Moss Swamp

Yoga at dawn near the Great Moss Swamp…
Yoga at dawn near the Great Moss Swamp

Dawn near the Great Moss Swamp…
Dawn near the Great Moss Swamp

Woollen Mill at Milton NZ…
Woollen Mills at Milton NZ

How did this happen – why visit a woollen mill? Well I was doing a little bit to foster trade by helping a representative of a new business called Grannies Finest in The Netherlands source merino wool.

Woollen Mills at Milton NZ…
Woollen Mills at Milton NZ

Onwards to visit good friends Brian and Diane on Otago Harbour…
Otago Harbour

It’s been a bit rough sea wise around Dunedin of late, and the Sea Wall at St Clair is being severely tested by the relentless swells hitting it…
St Clair, Dunedin

Home to Wanaka and bike riding while waiting for the ski season to kick in, I was reminded that this town in autumn is a hot-spot for couples wishing to tie the knot…
Wanaka wedding

Wanaka Autumn Art School part 2, and my unrequited love

Well what a wonderful experience it’s been attending a learning and creative intense week on all aspects of landscape photography with such a good tutor as John Doogan and an outstanding group of fellow students. Here are a few of my images:

Each afternoon we’d go to a different Wanaka location and spend a couple of hours making some images, which later we’d have to distill down to two, and the next day we’d critique each other’s selection. This one took awhile to set up, with tripod in the creek etc. by the airport, and thanks to being fussy there was not much post production work needed…
Autumn Lake Wanaka

For our last two assignments the weather was sunny with more contrast between light and dark than I care to work with, so I spent sometime “seeing” and working in the middle of shady thickets…
Wanaka Autumn

Playing with tension between objects at the Lake Wanaka Outlet, illustrates my above comment on the extreme contrast in light around 3 pm…
Wanaka Lake Outlet

I’m a sucker for autumn with the carpet like potential of fallen leaves. On this occasion I hung about until the light got lower and more tangental just as the sun dipped below the western horizon…
Wanaka Autumn Leaves

A sculpture at the Lake Wanaka Outlet by fellow cross country skier Ernie Maluschnig, a Wanaka metal worker and artist…
Wanaka Laughter Art Work at Lake Outlet

Wanaka Outlet Art Work

I went back to the Lake Wanaka Outlet to catch the ANZAC day dawn light, and froze my butt off doing the “landscaper’s wait” perched on top of my camper truck for this shot…
Wanaka Outlet Autumn

When the course finished on Friday afternoon I was a bit of a lost soul coming back to the “unreal world” from working with light and very special people for five days, so I wandered the Lake Wanaka shoreline on dusk to begin to assimilate many feelings arising out of the dichotomy of art [from the heart/gut feelings] and craft [the technical skills needed to make an image].

Readers here might wonder at my comment that it had aspects inherent in it of being in love in a never ending creative unrequited sense, but my heart was opened somewhat by the experience!

Can our creative urges in their many guises ever truly be satiated?

“Wandering” at least often leads us to other kindred spirits…
Lake Wanaka Tree

Wanaka Autumn Art School [progress report]

As mentioned a few days ago, I’d signed up to attend the annual 5 day Autumn Art School at Mt Aspiring College this year. Sort of got into it finally after 24 years of it’s legendary existence partly due to currently being on the committee that underwrites it and organises things.

Here a few images two days into the course, from my perspective in the Landscape Photography class. There are twelve of us being tutored by John Doogan, and they’re all great people and I’m learning lots! For two afternoons now we’ve headed out in the field in the sort of rainy grey weather I seem alone in liking for photography…

Bremner Bay, Lake Wanaka…
Bremner Bay, Lake Wanaka

Bremner Bay, Lake Wanaka

Each day we have a set topic too, and the first day it was a 3 metre high poplar, and I decided I’d handle it in a playful way…
Bremner Bay, Lake Wanaka

Then Albert Town, beside the mighty Clutha River…
Clutha River

My class mates really get into it…
Albert Town

The topic today was to photograph something that illustrates the current so as well as the floating leaves above I tried this shot. Pity about the Didymo…
Clutha River

Not sure who these folk are, but they’re commemorated…
Albert Town

Why have ribbons on this tree?…
Albert Town

Local colour…
Albert Town

This evening I was shooting right through until dark…
Albert Town

By the light of the silvery moon…
Albert Town

Back to various aspects of photography

For many months now I’ve often tended to post in a linear style on my wanderings and follies, whereas a few years ago I made the emphasis landscape photography.

So back to the roots, be they a bit broader now, but who knows… I’m attending the annual Wanaka Autumn Art School next week, and my chosen course is to be landscape photography. So who knows what my next blog content will have morphed into after this.

However many of you have tended to enjoy the odd post I’ve done containing varied images, so here we go again! Enjoy…

One of my friends Rianne is a professional model, so after helping with the Gold Rush race [last post], we had a photo shoot session for me to play with light and for her to experiment with various emotionally based “looks”. This is the image I like most out of a doz. or so…
Rianne

On a roll with portraits of a sort, here is Roger and Nico. Roger got me around to his place a few weeks back to do some portraits to take to his sick dad in the UK, and I grabbed this one later with my easier to handle compact…
family

Sunset behind Treble Cone and Black Peak, Wanaka…
Treble Cone and Black Peak Wanaka

From the precipitous Dingleburn Station Road, Lake Hawea…
Dingleburn, Hawea

Cabbage tree, Dingleburn Road, Lake Hawea…Cabbage tree, Dingleburn Station, Hawea

I was privileged to attend my cousin Deirdre’s 70th birthday party in Timaru…
Deirdre's Birthday

Taking a bike ride near Peel Forest with my old friend Ian, we discovered an Anglican church in a remote area that had quite a “presence”…
Anglican Church, Peel Forest NZ

It’d been badly damaged by the deadly February 2011 Christchurch earthquake. Note the cracks, and sadly a few windows at one end were wrecked…
Stained Glass, Anglican Church, Peel Forest NZ

A nearby large estate had a very surreal feel. Does anyone know what the fleshy plants are, that were sometimes 3 mts. high, on the left please?…
Peel Forest NZ

A further oddity were these large fungi growing under chestnut trees…
Fungi, Peel Forest NZ

Guess what this is…
Arty help

The unique autumn light we get in New Zealand doing it’s thing with the Lindis Pass landscape – east side…
Lindis Pass NZ

Lindis Pass landscape – west side
Lindis Pass NZ

More autumn light in the Pisa Range…
Tuohys Saddle NZ

Waterfalls, Mt Aspiring National Park…
Waterfalls, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ

With autumn comes mist, and it always makes for a mood that defines whatever it settles on that we care to isolate in our viewfinders…
Mt Aspiring National Park NZ

Continuing the Otago Odyssey closer to home with rain, sun and some mountain modelling

Following on from my last post all about travels about Otago, when I got home the skies opened, and so in such events photographic opportunities abound.

Lake Wanaka got very high…
Lake Wanaka during heavy rain

My good friend Roger and I settle in for some dusk ’till dark time exposures, amid a rather nerve wracking electrical storm
Lake Wanaka during heavy rain

When the sun came out was a great time for a day trip up nearby Rob Roy Stream in Mt Aspiring National Park with a visiting friend Rianna, who besides being a very wise “old soul”, is a professional model…
Rob Roy Stream Mt Aspiring National Park

As a photographer it’s very handy having a trained model, so we agreed her fees for the day would be $1000, and mine as a photographer and guide would also be $1000 – an easy way to do business!

There is a lesson here in the benefits of looking after our skin [tip coconut oil and good nutrition]…
Rianna - Mt Aspiring National Park

Because there had been little spring snow melt before the big storm event mentioned above, the water was simply pouring out of the snow pack higher up for days afterwards. Here we have a unique example of how a waterfall in NZ can flow uphill when we get strong winds…
Rob Roy Stream Mt Aspiring National Park

This tree, as my friend Robb noted, simply “called us” to honour it in many ways including some challenging situation photography, but I’m glad I made the effort, both on site and during post production cropping/alignment perspective in PhotoShop…
Tree Rob Roy Stream Mt Aspiring National Park

Then the weather settled and it was time for the crazy annual Challenge Wanaka race that is turning into a monster of an event….
Challenge Wanaka

And then it started to really get hot, so grass is mowed everywhere to reduce the fire risk…
Roys Peak and Wanaka grass mowing

And it’s hardly rained since! Stay tuned… 🙂

Spring time “f” words ~ flowers, feathers, fur seals, festivals and a funeral

It’s been awhile I know, but here we go again posting.

I’ve done a web site revamp too so it’s accepting of more content that’s easily navigable. This blog thing did actually start out a work project… like many years ago I was asking myself; “what is a blog?”, little knowing I already knew. So then it became a challenge to play with SEO [search engine optimisation], but along the way it got a following and has turned into something I really quite enjoy tinkering with.

Here a few diverse photos all made this 2012 spring…

Recently spotted out walking. I’ve been doing some delightfully long ones of late…
Wanaka tulips


Wanaka tulip


Wanaka garden


Even being on my deck is quite a beautiful experience what with clematis and lilac …
clematis and lilac in Wanaka NZ


Trying my hand at “panning” at a high speed urban downhill mountain bike race, held as part of the annual Wanaka Wanakafest…
Wanakafest Urban Downhill MTB race


Over on the coast on a dry day…
NZ gull


Fur Seal in NZ


Lake Wanaka on a moody and damp spring time evening…
Moody Lake Wanaka


Working on my deck with my friend Bill, fixing the catcher for his ride-on mower…
Bill in Wanaka


Spring further west…
Dunstan High School Lodge azelea


Beech forest in NZ

A few months back, just for fun and a change I took on a new job helping organise an inaugural Wild Hearts Festival here in Wanaka. An alternative sort of a gathering held over two days last weekend, but there was nothing alternative about the web site I built for it., and it logged 10,700 page views over 90 days. Many factors contributed, but that’s how it is with good SEO [search engine optimisation].

It was held at the Lake Wanaka Centre…
Lake Wanaka Centre


On the Sat. there was a big emphasis on activities for the children. As I entered the room little Elle in the green hollered out, “Hello Donald”, and it was so enthusiastic and from the heart I was quite chuffed. I’m not sure why, but we always seem to have a connection I find fascinating and rewarding…
Lake Wanaka Centre


Wild Hearts Festival Wanaka


Wild Hearts Festival Wanaka


This young lady was getting a “reading”, but what I was reading was her enigmatic Mona Lisa look…
Wild Hearts Festival Wanaka


Christine and Michael posing as a couple of people engaged in bartering…
Wild Hearts Festival Wanaka


Maree and Jen doing some yoga out in front of the old THC Wanaka hotel. A free session for festival goers…
Wild Hearts Festival Wanaka yoga


http://www.wildhearts.co.nz/


Lastly I’d also like to pay tribute to my client/friend Dave Hall who passed away in tragic circumstances last Sat.
Dave was an aviator of a different sort: pioneer base jump and sky diver in New Zealand and California, a pilot and aircraft engineer, so it was very fitting that his send-off was in the Alpine Deer Groups hanger at the Wanaka Airport to a huge crowd of 500 I estimate.

Pall Bearers on the first walk to his last flight…
Wanaka Airport funeral


I really felt for Hamish taxiing here, taking his employer on his last flight. It was uncanny too: as a mark of respect the airport was in shut-down mode, but as ROK headed away you could have heard a pin drop, as a strong southerly wind meant there was no engine or prop noise to be heard. Hamish then did a slow fly by, then a fast one just above the runway, then climbed steeply in a big spiral, to 10,000 easily. That I tell you was a poignant farewell for me, of an amazing guy and husband and dad! My sympathies to Jools, Max and Maye
Wanaka Airport Funeral

Bracken and snow grass fire on Roys Peak Wanaka

While out walking tonight, I saw the start of a fire – a farmer’s burn-off going a bit wrong. I took awhile to hoof it home to get closer with my truck, but this had advantages light wise. Tripod and wet feet crossing Waterfall Creek both helped… my¬†friend’s Alix and James doing a great job flying monsoon buckets into the smoke and dusk…

PS: The story emerges: so far it seems a case not typical of the usual burn-off of bracken fern by a high country farmer, and more an accidental startup at the hands of a small block holder wishing to get rid of some gorse. People new to the area, and not aware perhaps that even ‘tho we’ve had a heap of rain lately, fern really burns well and helps no end to get a larger event established.

It was easy to get in position for these shots, because I’ve seen more than one fire on this face over the years – they spread and race up because of wind and always seem to burn diagonally across Roys Peak, so when this happens then no houses or people are usually in immediate danger [noting you can’t assume anything with a fire and precautions must be taken, and apparently were], but the vegetation uphill comprised of a few natives sadly gets a hammering.

The other regular site nearby of similar events is Ruby Island to the right of where I was with my camera. A small island now hosting many plantings of native trees and plants. The last fire on it travelled so quickly comparatively few of the new planting were damaged. It both “raced” through older tree tops and through long grass at an astonishing speed. I suspect the spike of heat was so short lived other plants did not ignite. I was on the island helping, but all of us had no option but to fight only 2m inwards from the water – we retreated often to keep our clothing wet [classic best practise is to wear wool despite the summer heat, and not have bare skin exposed].

Cheers

Donald

A duck on a ledge, “oh Kirsty how you made me Burn” and half a toilet stop

This winter has been, and currently still is, an amazing one for me. So many exciting changes: “full on” yoga of a style known as Anusara [opening of the heart], fitter than I’ve been for years, and my love of cross country skiing blossoming, especially thanks to some new gear that allows me to enjoy marginal snow conditions rather than survive them, notably Salomon skis I was introduced to by the welcome annual visit of my friend Alexei to our local Snow Farm, where he runs coaching clinics.

So as spring time takes hold, with all it‚Äôs usual vagaries of weather the longer daylight hours lend themselves to longer ski tours of several hours duration into the ‚Äúreal‚Äù mountains, where I like being forced to take responsibility for my own [usually solo] follies. Click on the first thumbnail below for a slide show of last Sunday’s “big burn” attempt to ski Mt Pisa‚Ķ

For those of you interested the skis are 185 cm Salomon Hadu models. They have metal edges and fish scales for grip, and along with Salomon’s heavier cross country ski boots with the wider binding fitting and a climbing/tramping tread, make for an amazingly effective and light combo for New Zealand snow conditions.

Best fun I’ve had for years on them!