21 November 2014

In search of the elusive mountain...{Mt Taranaki and Lake Mangamahoe photography}

Mount Taranaki has a reputation for being incredibly elusive and it's pretty rare to see her come out from behind her cloak of cloud for any length of time. She has a reputation for being incredibly moody and changeable and so many people have lost their lives thinking foolishly they could understand and survive her sudden mood swings.




I knew my best chance of seeing her in all her glory was to get out early.







As it turned out I couldn't go too early as I'd forgotten my tripod so there wasn't much point in getting up for the actual dawn! I headed up to the top of Mangorei road and made friends with a bunch of cows on the side of the road who may have been wondering what this lunatic was doing out and about shattering their peace at this time of the day. Then again they pretty much ignored me so they must be used to random strangers on their patch.







The foothills of Mount Taranaki are incredibly green and rolling as you can see.




But I had another spot in mind so headed to Lake Mangamahoe, hoping that the gates would be unlocked at this hour (7am). Thankfully they were! I drove right to the end of the gravel road which is probably at least a kilometre into the reserve, before heading up to what I thought was the lookout. It turns out in my half-asleep hurry I'd taken a wrong fork in the road and ended up way up on a ridge amongst the pines. Luckily I have a pretty good sense of direction and I realised fairly quickly when I could see the dam right down below me that I was on the wrong track. Especially as we'd been here before about six months ago and I knew roughly that the lookout was near the dam.




So after that false start, I did eventually find the lookout and it was worth the wait.

As was the view from the dam itself.




The cherry blossoms beside the lake were looking rather lovely too.




But possibly my favourite shots of the day came from the redwood forest clearing.




Sunflare, shadows and green in dappled light. Just delicious if I do say so myself!






Despite not having my tripod to be out to catch the dawn, I'm not sure it really mattered in the end as the shots I got were pretty lovely.

This was only the start of what turned out to be a very packed day of adventures, climbing Paritutu and going up to the North Egmont to see the mountain up close before she disappeared from view for the rest of our weekend - which made me all the more glad that I got out to capture her early!


19 November 2014

Into the wild blue yonder {sunset on Tahunanui beach}

It was such a struggle getting up early on holiday. For a gal who rises at 5.30am every week day, it seems odd to say this, but notice the word 'holiday'? Yeah, I was actually trying to have one. So I was pleased that daylight savings had kicked in so I could capture shots at the other end of the day instead.




I'd had high hopes that I might capture some fiery sunsets in Nelson but it was just not to be. I had to be content with the muted blue hues Nature handed out instead.




On this evening, the smoke from the local mill was clearly visible across the way.




Back Beach at Tahunanui is an expansive beach that just keeps going. I'd chosen it as a spot as I knew it would provide unrestricted views of the sun going down both over the water and distant hills.




The sun performed her part beautifully, sinking low in her final bow of the day and kissing the snow-capped mountains on her way.



















The air so still now that the smoke from the mill simply reached heavenward.




And then came the after glow.







Simply a stunning night to have borne witness to.

18 November 2014

46/52: In the blink of an eye

A portrait of my children once a week every week in 2014

Sometimes boys you just have to indulge your mama. When she gets all misty-eyed and wants to hug you a little harder and longer than normal. Because you see boys the thing is you don't see the passing of time like we do.

 Punnet Café - March
 
Punnet Café - November 



To you, life sometimes seems interminably slow especially when you are waiting for an important occasion to arrive like your birthday or Christmas. But for me, sometimes I see you strike a pose or in a photo like this one above (Noah) and I get this incredible sense of the passing of time and how fleeting these moments are when I can still get hugs from you whenever I want, when you still marvel at the littlest things, and when you are still small enough to pick up for a cuddle (well at least one of you is!). And in these photos I see you how much you've grown in just six months Mylo from one Punnet café visit to the next, from a still at day-care 4 year old to a big school boy and it hardly seems possible.

All I ask is that I have the sense to not forget to stop and appreciate these moments. To be in tune enough to feel a sense of awe and appreciation at the great privilege it is to parent these two on their life journey.


14 November 2014

The most dramatic and scenic beach in NZ - our big bang finale on Wharariki Beach

Before planning our trip to Nelson and Golden Bay, I'm pretty sure I hadn't even heard of Wharariki Beach. But once I saw some photos of it, I just KNEW we had to make time to visit. And the fact that it's a 20-30 minute walk over farmland to get there, plus there's a high likelihood of seeing baby seals (although we'd already had our share of seal scares earlier in the day) makes it all the more rewarding once you get there.





You do need to time the trip just right though as you can only get down to the beach and explore properly at low tide and so we'd kept a close eye on the tide times on the Surf Forecast website and I was pretty darn happy when I saw that the low tide would be at 6pm so the chance of being there for a good sunset was high!

We bought some takeaways from the Old School Café on our drive out to Wharariki and ate them at the carpark when we arrived, after bumping along a gravel road for a good 5km. The walk takes you up onto a ridgeline in farmland and is very well marked with a shelly path - this is a good thing as you are up quite high with a big drop on one side and it is reasonably narrow. Plus I can imagine that just like us, others are just as keen to capture sunrise and sunsets at this famous spot so they'd be potentially making the journey in very dim light in at least one direction.

After winding your way through several paddocks, the farmland eventually gives way to the dunes and then the beach.



FAR OUT! This is a beach with a capital B.









Wharariki Beach is arguably the biggest, most dramatic beach I have ever seen. The sheer size of the beach, even enclosed as it is on each end means you have to walk for a good half an hour from end to end. Once you add in the extra time for exploring the sea caves and seal spotting, it is easy to spend hours here.










Mark did do a bit of a recce into a few of the sea caves (which all stunk to high heaven of seal) but with the early morning fright we'd had on Farewell Spit still playing heavily on the boy's minds, they weren't keen for Mark to go too far in and kept yelling at him to come back - they weren't keen on Dad being eaten by a seal! And apart from spotting one baby seal high up on a rock, we didn't experience the volume we'd expected - it turns out they were all up the other end of the beach from where we were which we later found out - but as we'd visited Red Rocks not that long ago we felt we'd still gotten our seal quota this year!







The offshore Archway Islands make for an incredible centrepiece to photos here, and they are constantly changing shape as you walk from one end of the beach to the other. I wasn't the only photographer with tripod trying my luck here, but again the vast scale of the beach made it unlikely that we would get in each other's way!












We spotted what looked very much like a Turtle rock - can you see it?!


















 









As you can see I found it hard to stop taking photos with such an interesting subject.
 









And one thing this beach definitely had with its vast expanse of sand and the incoming tide was reflections galore. It was a photographer's paradise. Although when a set of waves came in, they would keep on rolling in for ages so even standing far back from the surf was no guarantee that you wouldn't get wet or have to hightail it mid-shot.




There's no other people I'd rather have been with in this glorious spot than these three. Although what is up with Mylo's face in this shot - ha ha!










You can get a small appreciation for the epic sense of scale at the beach from this black and whiate shot above with the lone walker in the shot.



 
 
I'd been hoping for a few clouds to add some drama into the scene but it was completely clear on this night. The sun sank behind the southern end of the beach casting a golden glow over the whole area. We also eventually found out that the seals were playing in the surf and on one of the islands at the opposite end of the beach but we could only hear them rather than see them as we made our way back to the dunes.

It was very hard to pull myself away, but with two weary little people out past their bedtime and still a long walk back to the car, I reluctantly packed up and we headed back over the hills in the dying light to the car.

I feel richer for having experienced the magic and wonder of this incredible landscape and I very much hope we are able to visit here again one day.

This night was the perfect, fitting big-bang finale to what had been an incredible week exploring the Nelson and Golden Bay area - this part of NZ packs an incredible punch in terms of amazing and varied scenery all within a couple of hour's drive of wherever you may happen to be.

Our holiday was so spectacular - from the snow capped mountains that surrounded us on our journey to the crystal clear azure waters we travelled on in the Abel Tasman, from dramatic big beaches to calm kayaking on the estuary, and so many sunrises and sunsets to sigh endlessly over  - it will all live on in our memories for a very long time to come.

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