Monday, May 31, 2010

More from Otago Peninsula

Three more views on Otago Peninsula on an idyllic May day.
The skies were blue, the waters still, the reflections perfect. May 2010. Ajr

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

Beach Highlights - The Catlins

The last two days in the South Island have seen major flooding, sleet, hail, rain, snow, yet just a few days ago, this is what I was experiencing in the far southeast of the South Island in that blissfully remote and rugged region called The Catlins. The weather was perfect - all the better to show off the many beautiful beaches that most of New Zealand seems to be unaware of. The beach/estuary above is at Papatowai, just down from the tiny community that boasts one of only two stores in the whole of the Catlins - a stretch of land close to 180km long. Understandably, the population swells every summer as holidaymakers descend upon this beautiful spot. And then there is Tautuku Bay (above). I stopped (like hundreds of people a year), at Florence Hill Lookout to look dpown on this stunning crescent of golden sand. There's no road into the beach - just a walking track through bush - and the owners of the cluster of little cribs on the far green headland (not visible in this shot), access their dwellings with tractors and 4WDs across the Tautoko River at low tide. Back in the old days, there was a whaling station and quite a community on the headland.
Curio Bay in the south of the Catlins is a different kettle of fish - not so much a spectacular beach as a rugged, swirling kelp forest that surges over the rocky tidal platforms with every wave. This is where you'll find a fossilised forest, clearly visible in the rock platform at low tide. Thought to be 160 million years old, it's one of the iconic attractions of the Catlins.
I loved this sign on the headland that separates Curio Bay from the calm sweep of Porpoise Bay (below). Such an understatement, given that the land drops away into the unwelcoming ocean below.
And Porpoise Bay may have been my favourite. This is the view I woke up to from my motel room - just a few metres from the sand, in the company of sea lions. The bay is 'home' to a large pod of rare Hector's dolphins in summer, known to come very close to swimmers. Perhaps the best thing of all about the Catlins beaches is the absence of people. Even in summer when the so-called 'crowds' come in, you can still have entire bays and long beaches entirely to yourself. This was my first trip down the Catlins for ten years and so much has changed in that time. For a start, most of the roads were gravel last time I drove down; now the entire main road is sealed, and even many of the off-shoots are sealed. I guess that's a good thing from a motorist's point of view, but me? I prefer the gravel and the sense of discovery that comes with venturing down remote, narrow, twisting, steep roads to pretty bays that feel as though they have been forgotten by all but the abundant wildlife.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Barry's Provocative Unpublished Minutes -93

"Art and Industry"
Another in the ongoing series of works by my favourite New Zealand printmaker, Barry Cleavin.
For earlier works in the series click on Cleavin in the label line below this post.

Trees - Two Takes

Dead Totara Forest
Sinclair Saddle Banks Peninsula
2005 Ajr

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Church in the Country

It was a murky, gray, drizzly day when I recently visited The Church of the Holy Innocents at South Canterbury's Mount Peel Station. It wasn't my first visit - and not the first time I had enjoyed the beauty of this little architectural gem.
The church sits across a stream from the stunning Mount Peel Homestead, which belongsd to the Acland family - one of the early settling families of the South Canterbury region. The church was built in 1868 and its dedication to the Holy Innocents of St Matthew's Gospel is especially appropriate, as four young children who had died in infancy between 1864 and 1869, are buried on the hillside where the church now stands.
Anyone reading this blog regularly, will know that I have a particular interest in photographing church architecture - not for any particularly religious reasons but rather more for the fact that I find church architecture inspiring; and the interior of churches say so much about their communities from a sociological point of view. And it's the details that draw me in. I am of course in awe of big grand churches and the cavernous, beautifully detailed interiors that many of them present (many of those appear on this blog) but there's something about the small, humble, New Zealand country church, often tucked away down dusty side roads, that touches me more.
This particular churchyard is also famous for the fact that it is the burial place of internationally-regarded, New Zealand born crime writer and theatre director, Dame Ngaio March (1895-1982), who published 32 detective novels between 1934 and 1982 and was regarded as one of the world's 'Queens of Crime Writing.'
The stained glass window (above), above the church altar, is a memorial to J.B.A. Acland (1823-1904) and his wife, Emily, who first established the Mount Peel property.
The church was constructed from stone gathered in the local river and limestone brought from Mount Somers by bullock wagon. And like most of these small country churches, it is richly embellished with interior timbers from nearby native forests.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Bird (Almost) in the Hand

I'm not going to lie - I cheated with the Otago Penninsular albatross.
I mean, what were the chances of me actually seeing one this close when I was too lazy to walk up the hill that overlooks the albatross colony? Besides, it's not peak albatross season.
So I went Otago Museum instead and caught this fellow flying from the rafters. He seemed a much more likely bet for me. ...a ready solution for a girl in a hurry.

Cool Cars - 80

One Deep Burgundy 1934-37 Aston Martin - Spotted in Sydenham, Christchurch

Friday, May 21, 2010

Otago Peninsula - Three Views

Otago Peninsula on a fine day has got to be one of the most impressive places in New Zealand - and not just for the renowned ecotourism operations and the abundance of wildlife that lives there. The geographic features are equally beautiful - mirror clear harbour waters; long stretches of golden beaches and not a soul in sight; quaint harbour settlements; tortured trees bent over by the winds......I love it all. I spent all day yesterday driving around the peninsula, visiting assorted tourism operations, wandering beaches, photographing birds and boats. The weather couldn't have been better and by the time I had finished, I had more photos than I could poke a stick at. These are three, taken earlier in the morning on the coastal road on the way out.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

An Architectural Moment in History

I'm not going to write too much here today about Christchurch's spectacular Old Provincial Council Buildings - I've done all that before and you can read more about the history of the building by clicking on Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings in the label line below this post. Suffice to say it is one of my favourite Christchurch buildings
I went in there again recently to play with my new camera and while there were plenty of photographic failures on my part, I was reminded again of the beauty of the place, the quietness (except when tribes of school kids come in on a class trip) and the sense that you've stepped back in time, or perhaps been transported away to England.
Between 1853 and 1876, New Zealand was governed under the provincial system, which began as a 12-member council and a separately elected Superintendent. The first meeting of the Canterbury Provincial Council was held on September 27, 1853 on the site that now houses the nearby Cathedral Grammar Buildings. These Provincial Council Buildings were built between 1853 and 1865, to a design by architect, Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort. When the Council ceased in 1876, the offices were used as offices by various Government departments. These days, the rabbits' warren is home to a wide variety of offices, including a number of architects. You can wander the silent stone corridors, wondering what might be behind all the closed doors - and on the right day at the right time, you can get inside the magnificent end chamber, which I have shown in photographs in my previous post.

Barry's Provocative Unpublished Minutes - 92

"Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun."
More from Christchurch-based printmaker, Barry Cleavin

Monday, May 17, 2010

Billboard of the Week

Another one of my favourite VERO billboards.
And How Very Christchurch!
May 2010. Ajr


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