Tag: Lighthouse

Miramar Peninsula

Miramar Peninsula

Miramar Peninsula, New Zealand – March 12, 2016

Going back through my older photographs, I noticed I had not shared a drive along one of our favorite places in Wellington; the Miramar Peninsula.  On this particular trip, I decided to stop and capture a photograph of the “Windy Wellington” sign.  The sign is on a hillside shortly before one can turn onto the seaside road that encircles the peninsula.

The Windy Wellington sign.

“Windy Welly” is a moniker that many may have heard, but just how windy is Welly? Is it windier than the “Windy City”; Chicago? From all sources I have checked, it appears that Wellington is, in fact, the windiest city. The table below makes a comparison, including several of the cities in which we have lived. These statistics are from Wind Finder. Try the site to check on other towns of personal interest.

City Average Annual Wind Speed
mph km/h
Wellington, New Zealand 17 27
Chicago, Illinois 12 19
Islamabad, Pakistan 12 19
Colorado Springs, Colorado 10 16
Dallas, Texas 10 16
Georgetown, Guyana 10 16
Grand Junction, Colorado 8 13
La Paz, Bolivia 7 11
Madrid, Spain 7 11

 

The average annual wind speed seems so insignificant. So, what is the record wind speed in the same locations? Now, these are some numbers! Bear in mind a category 1 hurricane begins at 74 mph or 119 km/h. Based on that, the record wind speed in Wellington equates to a category 2 hurricane! The records are from the almanac section found on My Forecast.

City Record Wind Speed
mph km/h
Wellington, New Zealand 101 163
Chicago, Illinois 76 122
Islamabad, Pakistan 47 76
Colorado Springs, Colorado 71 114
Dallas, Texas 91 146
Georgetown, Guyana 75 120
Grand Junction, Colorado 78 126
La Paz, Bolivia 70 113
Madrid, Spain 73 118

Luckily our day was not blustery in the least. It began as a bit overcast but cleared to a beautiful day.

The first community one passes through is Shelly Bay, a collection of World War II-era buildings. Some are in disrepair while others have found new life as a café or an art gallery. Other than taking photos, we did not stop on this trip. It has a lovely charm.

A pier at Shelly Bay that is no longer in use.
Shelly Bay piers. The Port of Wellington is in the far distance.
Looking across Shelly Bay.

Our next stop on this trip was Point Halswell and the lighthouse. Lighthouse seems a rather grandiose term. It is a small, automatic beacon. At the point there were several seagulls around, periodically diving into the water. As I got closer, I could see there was a fish carcass just under the surface near the shore. The seagulls plunged in grasped the body, and with the whip of their head, they tore off bits of flesh. It was fascinating to watch.

Preparing to dive into the water.
Grabbing a bite.
Looking for a chance to dive in.
The lighthouse at Point Halswell.
Several gulls watching the action.

Kau Bay was our primary destination that morning. After finding a place to park, we walked down to the beach with our folding chairs. We had never been to that beach before, but we were up for some beachcombing. We found a surprising amount of sea-glass on the pebbly beach. When we had our fill, we sat in the folding chairs and observed the world. We are so fortunate to be able to live in such a beautiful country.

A close view of the beach at Kau Bay.
Scuba divers at Kau Bay.
Scuba divers in Kau Bay. The Point Halswell lighthouse is visible in the background.
A Jetstar jet on final approach to the Wellington International Airport. The Point Halswell lighthouse is below the jet.

Our next stop was the beach at Scorching Bay. It is a lovely public beach. At the beach is a small café, the Scorch-O-Rama. Other than stopping once for some bottled water, we have never sampled the offerings. Before we depart, we need to try breakfast there just once. Some friends go frequently. They say it is terrific.

People enjoying the day at Scorching Bay. The Scorch-O-Rama restaurant is just to the right of the parked cars.
View across Scorching Bay. The nearly vertical line in the center of the photo is a funicular. That is how people get from the street to that particular home. These are quite common in the area.

We were not the only people out that day.  We saw joggers, bicyclists, people fishing, scuba divers, and surfers.  The peninsula seems to have something for everyone.

Fishing off the Karaka Bay pier while the Interislander ferry Kaiarahi passes.
Surfers in Breaker Bay.

When we stopped at Moa Point, we were very near the south end of the runway at the Wellington International Airport. I heard a jet taxiing. When I looked up, I saw a jumbo jet from the Islamic Republic of Iran. The plane was a huge Airbus A340, no wonder it looked so big.

A dignitary from the Islamic Republic of Iran was departing the airport while we were watching from Moa Point.

Other than the occasional aircraft distraction, we busied ourselves with beachcombing. At Moa Point, we are always assured of finding paua shells. The shells we found range in size from about one-inch to nearly eight inches. Neither of us knows what we are going to do with these when we leave. Regardless, it sure is fun to collect them!

The Wellington skyline.
A jellyfish washed up on the beach.
A phone booth that seems to have seen better days…
View across Karaka Bay.
A seagull among the Mytilidae, a small saltwater mussel.
The Interislander ferry Kaiarahi passing a water taxi.
A small red stone on the beach. It turned out to be a small piece of brick.
Fishing from the pier at Karaka Bay.
Karaka Bay Road.
Surfer riding a wave at Breaker Bay.
Pencarrow Head with the two lighthouses.
The Interislander ferry Aratere.
The Interislander ferry Aratere and some surfers in Breaker Bay.
Breaker Bay.
A regatta as seen from Karaka Bay.
View of sailboats from Karaka Bay.
These are Mytilidae, a small saltwater mussel at low tide.
A seagull near some of the Mytilidae, a small saltwater mussel.
These are Mytilidae, a small saltwater mussel.
A rusted eye-bolt in a rock near Scorching Bay.
A wave crashing on a rock with the South Island visible in the background.
These are lottiidae, a type of sea snail.
An old war-bird.
Closer view of a seagull on his perch. The mountains in the background are on the South Island.
A seagull on his perch.
A panoramic view of Lyall Bay from Moa Point. The end of the Wellington International Airport runway is at the right side where the stones are piled.
A wave crashing just offshore.
The Pencarrow lighthouses.
Pencarrow Head and the two lighthouses.
View from the rocky shore of Wahine Memorial Park looking toward the two Pencarrow Lighthouses.
View of the rocky shore at the Wahine Memorial Park.
A very colorful house at Moa Point.
24-Hours of Photography

24-Hours of Photography

Point Halswell, New Zealand – May 7, 2018

Over roughly the last 24 hours, I have made nearly 300 photographs.  Readers, please do not despair.  This entry does not contain that many!

Leslie and I intended to travel to Point Halswell on Miramar Peninsula to capture the sunset.  Once the sun was down, I wanted to photograph the lights of the City of Wellington across Wellington Harbour.  Unfortunately, when we arrived, the conditions did not lend themselves to either endeavor.  It was very windy.  The wind gusts were about 78 km/h (48 mph).  That meant there was a lot of haze in the area.

Even though Plan A was off, I moved to Plan B; taking advantage of the beautiful colors courtesy of the late afternoon sunlight. Part of Plan B included using my wireless shutter release remote. I had never used it before…as the photographic evidence attests! Before I made the first shot, I knew the shadow of my tripod was in the view. However, I thought my body might be far enough away so that my shadow was out of sight …wrong! My next brilliant idea was to use the two-second delay. Surely that would be enough time for me to run my shadow out of the frame…wrong! Apparently, it takes quite a while to relocate this mass. Oh well, it is all about learning, I guess.

Hmmm…does the wireless shutter release work? Why yes it does!!
…maybe I can outrun the wireless shutter release…NOT!!

Once I got my wings, so to speak, I noticed a flock of water birds.  The birds hovered on the wind above the water and then dove into the water.  There was a shoal of fish there that was on the birds’ menu.  It did not last long there.  That makes sense.  If I were in a shoal, I would continue moving along, trying to get away from those pesky birds.

Seagulls flying around the rocks.
Feeding on a shoal of fish.
Flying to the next feeding spot.

When the flock flew behind me, there was a male and female seagull that remained behind, perched on a rock.  I can only assume they had had their fill of fish.  They just stood there, watching everything else unfold.  After a while, another female stopped on an adjacent rock.

“This is our rock,” she yells!
A new neighbor looking for a spot on the rock.
The neighbor has landed.

Leslie and I turned around and drove back home.
The next morning, we were on the road at 04:00. We drove to the Owhiro Bay area to experiment with star photography. My results were not “stellar”…but it was enjoyable. There is a reasonably well-lit foreground in many of the shots because there was a half-moon directly overhead. It provided a lot of light.
While we were there, we saw several ships moving through the Cook Strait.  We also saw a lot of shooting stars.

Stars at Red Rocks. The lens was open for 152 seconds. The line of light on the horizon is actually a cargo ship passing by in Cook Strait.

Before we depart from New Zealand, I will find another opportunity to try night photography.

We waited at the beach for the sunrise. It was breezy and fresh which made it somewhat uncomfortable. After making a few more photographs, we piled into the car and headed to breakfast with warm coffee.

The sun lit up most of the point. The barely visible mountains at the left horizon are actually across Cook Strait on the South Island.
View from Point Halswell across to Eastbourne.
A flock of seagulls feeding at Point Halswell.
Four birds stayed behind.
View toward Eastbourne. The small Ward Island is also visible.
Rock textures.
Rock textures II.
A trio of gulls.
Watching the waves crash.
The Point Halswell lighthouse.
Matiu/Somes Island.
Stars at Red Rocks. The lens was open for 193 seconds.
Stars at Red Rocks. The lens was open for 132 seconds.
Stars at Red Rocks. The lens was open for 123 seconds.
Looking toward Red Rocks at the far point.
The sky turned a bit pink at sunrise.
Looking toward Red Rocks.
Get to the Point

Get to the Point

Castlepoint, New Zealand – September 2, 2017

We decided to take a long weekend at Castlepoint, New Zealand. We wanted to stay in a bach since we knew many of those would be right on the beach. A bach (pronounced “batch” without the “t”) is like a cabin or summer home. We had heard of them, but we had never stayed in one. I visited the website Bookabach to find our accommodation. We decided on a two-bedroom bach, on the beach, with stunning views of the Castlepoint Lighthouse. The only things we had to bring were our linens and groceries. Other than that, everything is provided by the bach owner.
Taken just outside the bach.  It was chilly.  I had on a fleece jacket and two shirts.  It was spitting rain during this photoshoot.

The small town of Castlepoint is a little more than a two-hour drive from Lower Hutt. The journey is not bad; although, Leslie would disagree because of Rimutaka Pass. She really dislikes that pass.

Castlepoint lies along the east coast of the north island.  If one is looking for wild nightlife, this is probably not the place to visit.  There is one coffee house/grocery, the Castlepoint Store (they are called dairies here) and one hotel/restaurant, the Castlepoint Hotel and Guesthouse.  It is also known as the Whakataki Hotel.  On our way into town, we stopped at the hotel for a coffee.

September is the beginning of spring in New Zealand, so the weather can be dicey. We indeed found that to be true. It was cold and rainy for much of our visit. Regardless, we had a fun, relaxing weekend. It seemed more like a fall afternoon than a spring day.

We whiled away some of our time by quietly sitting in the bach, reading, or doing art projects. When we looked up, we were looking out of a large picture window, right at the lighthouse.

The Castlepoint Lighthouse as seen from our bach.

Except for some raindrops periodically hitting the bach, it was tranquil. It was also rather chilly inside. There were some space heaters available, but we did not turn them on too high. We would rather be comfortably cold than excruciatingly hot.

Part of what made the environment so relaxing was the water. I mean both the ocean and the rain. I have never been able to put my finger on the reason why, but something is soothing about the sound of water to the human spirit. It seems to “soothe the savage beast.” I could sit, watch, and listen to the ocean and the rain for hours. The smell of the sea and the rain added to the experience and the overall relaxation. I love Colorado, but I have come to love the islands of New Zealand too.

On our first afternoon, we walked along the beach in front of our bach.  There was a lot of activity because there was a fishing tournament in full swing.  We watched one man for a while as he set his bait, cast, and then reeled the line back to shore.  He said he had caught a couple, but he did not think they were anything to write home about.

Reelin’ one in.

The fisherman told us the tournament was drawing to a close.  He said there would be a large gathering at the Wairarapa Sports Fishing Club to celebrate the winners and have a fish-fry.  He suggested we stop by and partake.  We opted not to since we did not feel comfortable.  Besides, we had our heart set on dinner at the hotel.

The ocean swells were reasonably strong. At times, the fishing boats out disappeared from view as they bobbed up and down. Leslie and I were both glad we were on terra firma.

Since the fishing tournament was ending, people were beginning to bring their boats to shore.  It is always fun to watch people launch and recover boats.  They drive out onto the beach with a tractor, point the trailer into the surf, and either launch or recover.  I assume the small bay is too unprotected to have an actual marina.  Also, once a marina is in place, then it requires time and energy to operate and maintain.  So, I am sure the locals think the tractor and trailer method is much preferred.

A green tractor retrieving a boat.

Because of the weather, we opted to not climb to the lighthouse that first afternoon. For dinner that evening, we went back to the Castlepoint Hotel. The dining area was a combination of a bar, diner, and pool hall. There was a more formal dining room to the left as one entered, but everyone seemed to opt for the other. I am sure a big reason why was the roaring fire in the woodstove. We had a glass of wine and a good ol’ stick-to-your-ribs dinner.

A roaring fire in the hotel.

Back at the bach, I sat up my tripod to try to get some photos of the lighthouse in action.  It was a cloudy, misty, and cold evening.  I think that made for a good picture.

The next morning, we drove a little farther north along the coast. In about 15-minutes we came to the Mataikona Rocks. One of the Kiwis in the hotel the night before had recommended we visit. They were an unusual formation. We arrived as the tide was coming in. That limited how much of the structure we could see.  The compositions are layers of sandstone that have been upthrust when tectonic plates collided.

Mataikona Rocks at the beach.

It was still a mostly cloudy day. However, now and then, the sun would poke through. That made for some excellent photographs.

On the way to the Mataikona Rocks, we drove past a beautifully green paddock. It was part of a sheep ranch. One could see dozens of sheep and lambs. The shades of green in this country are hard to explain adequately. They are just so brilliant.

Near the Mataikona Rocks was a little-used trail along the beach. Along the path was a sign regarding Paua taking and the relevant regulations. I found that very interesting.

After some additional exploring and beach-combing, we drove back to the bach. Before departing Lower Hutt, we packed some groceries…and wine. That evening we ended up barbequing some beautiful steaks. I am sure part of the reason they tasted so good was the picturesque beauty all around us. The patio of the bach had a small overhang. I moved the barbeque under that for protection from the weather.

The following morning, our last day there, I woke up early. I checked outside and saw that the sky was relatively clear. I had never taken photographs of the stars. I decided to try it. I can tell I will need a lot more practice to get a perfect shot. That said, I did end up with one shot that I liked. Without very much light pollution at Castlepoint, it is incredible all of the stars one can see.

Starry starry night…My first try at star photography. It was actually a very early morning shot. The eastern horizon was just beginning to light up.  That is the lighthouse in the lower right.

Many of our friends from work have been to Castlepoint. For those that have not been there, I highly recommend the trip. It was so lovely to relax and not be running from one tourist site to the next. We felt very relaxed when we returned home.

Early evening at a stormy Castlepoint.
Launching in Deliverance Cove.
The fishing boat shuffle.
Reelin’ on in…again.
A boat launcher/retriever.
The lighthouse.
A couple of seals on the rocks.
Castlepoint lighthouse.
Green and rolling paddock.
More sheep and lambs.
The bay at Castlepoint.
The Mataikona Rocks looking toward the north.
I could not determine why the poles were in the surf.
Panorama of homes along Mataikona Road.
Gathering clouds above the Mataikona Rocks.
Paua fishing sign.
Bay alongside Mataikona Road.
Koru.
Rolling hills near Castlepoint.
Castlepoint bay.
View from Mataikona Road looking toward Castlepoint.
Sheep and lambs.
Rock formation along Mataikona Road.
Castle Rock looming over Deliverance Cove.
Deliverance Cove and Castle Rock.
Castlepoint lighthouse with Deliverance Cove and Castle Rock in the distance.
Castlepoint lighthouse.
Castle Rock at Deliverance Cove as seen from the lighthouse vantage point.
Our little slice of heaven. The bach we stayed at is in the center foreground with the green roof.
View of the Castlepoint bay from the lighthouse vantage point.
Southern North

Southern North

Cape Palliser, New Zealand – January 29, 2018

Cape Palliser is another of our favorite spots in New Zealand. Located on the southernmost point of the North Island, it has a rugged beauty. Add to that beauty a spectacular red and white lighthouse and herds of seals and one has the recipe for a beautiful outdoor experience. There are very few trees at this location. That adds to the stark look.

Nearing the small village of Pirinoa, one passes the little Burnside Presbyterian Church. It was a beautiful day for photographs. The church dates from 1875 and has a small cemetery off to one side. Other than flowers and trees, there is nothing else around.

The Burnside Presbyterian Church. A sign out front noted the church dates from 1875.

The Cape Palliser Lighthouse is literally at the end of the road. For much of its length, the way hugs the beach, which allows storms can wreak havoc on the road. In places, only one vehicle may pass at a time. Not long after leaving the small fishing village of Ngawi, the sealed road ends. The remainder of the way is simply a dirt road.

At the end of the road is a parking lot and, thankfully, a toilet. Towering above the parking lot is a large, rugged hillside, at the top of which is the lighthouse. I wanted a photograph of the lighthouse with the ocean in the background. I was not able to get a decent picture in the past because of the lens I had. The issue is that one can only stand so far back from the lighthouse without risking a fall down the hillside.

Just like the first time Leslie and I visited, 261 stairs were separating the lighthouse from the parking lot. None of my traveling companions were interested in taking on that many stairs. Being not quite as bright as the others, I decided I must go up. The reward for my ascent was a spectacular view of the lighthouse and the ocean. As a bonus, I was there all by myself.

The Cape Palliser Lighthouse.

As I was ready to descend, I saw three people who had just begun their ascent. The stairs are very narrow and very steep. I decided to wait until they made it up to the lighthouse before I started down. It is hard to say which is more taxing; the journey up or the walk down. Regardless, I shan’t have to worry about ever making the trip again…been there, done that.

Also, it is 261 down!

While I had been on my little adventure, my traveling companions explored the beach near the parking lot. At that point, the beach is challenging to travel across. That is due to the fist-sized stones covering the beach. It is hard to get stable, proper footing. Regardless, they did locate a lone bull seal napping on rocks at the water’s edge.

A yawning bull seal.

We got back in the car and began the return trip, stopping to look at various seal herds along the way. Just before the tiny village of Mangatoetoe, there is a small piece of land that juts out into the sea. The little peninsula forms a small, protected bay and some tidepools. Every time we have visited, we have always seen seals there. This day was no different.

By far, my favorite seal of the day was “Cruiser.” I am not sure if the youngster was a male or female, but it was undoubtedly mobile. That seal cruised all over the area. It seemed not a centimeter of the area was left unexplored. Something is mesmerizing about watching seals in their natural habitat. I know that is one of the things about New Zealand that I shall miss when we depart.

“Cruiser,” the very energetic seal pup. He or she cruised all over the rocks.

On our way to the lighthouse, as we drove through Ngawi, I noticed the Captain’s Table food trailer was not open. That meant if we wanted lunch, we would need to drive to Lake Ferry. As we entered Ngawi on our return, it was open for business. That was great news!

Adjacent to the Captain’s Table is a small camping area.  We ordered our lunches and then waited at a picnic table.  That did not last long.  The sun was very intense, so we gathered our food and sat in the air-conditioned comfort of the car to eat.

The food trailer. This is the only food commercially available in Ngawi. When it is open, it is a must stop!

After lunch, it was a leisurely drive back home.

The Burnside Presbyterian Church near Pirinoa.
261!!!
View from the Cape Palliser Lighthouse. This is part of the Matakitaki-a-kupe Reserve.
Truly in the rocks.
Just barely raising its head. Sorry to have disturbed you.
This must be how seals enjoy life.
Cruiser going up a “cliff.”
Ten seals.
One seal playing in the small inlet.
Life on the edge.
Two seals and a gull.
Cruiser and, maybe, mom.
That just cannot be comfortable…
Shortly after this shot, the seal had to abandon its post because of an incoming wave.
Cruiser checking out the photographer.
Another gull on the rocks. That sounds like a New Zealand cocktail…
“Cruiser,” the very energetic seal pup. He or she cruised all over the rocks.
Lounging seal. I guess the rock close to her head is a pillow??
A gull on the rocks.
Cape Palliser Lighthouse in the distance.
After a hard morning of swimming, this seal could not make it very far before a nap took over.
The nearby rocks must provide a sense of protection. Regardless, the flat rock seems much more comfortable than some of the other resting spots observed.
A female Paradise shelduck.
Gettin’ a little sun on the belly, ahhh!
Rocky beach near Mangatoetoe.
Awaiting lunch from the Captain’s Table food trailer in Ngawi.
In the backyard, waiting for the grill to heat up. This was after a hard day of seal watching.