31 March 2010

Rishikesh local

On a bank of the Ganges

He showed me a grimy letter, apparently from a doctor. The letter pointed out he needed 50,000 rupees immediately for a life-saving operation. He held up an arm, bandaged to look like a stump. "Gangrene," he said. He'd been suffering from it for the last ten years.

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

30 March 2010

Macrocarpas, southern Wairarapa coast [II]

Old light, old lives

Macrocarpas (the common New Zealand name for Monterey cypress, Cupressus macrocarpa) aren't native to Aotearoa. But they're a distinctive part of the human-modified landscape here; I love them and don't share the view of those who consider them "untidy". I guess tidiness isn't one of my predilections.
All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

27 March 2010

National Bouldering Series at Baring Head — 2010

A great day for bouldering; difficult for photographing.

Ewan Sinclair in action on one of the particularly difficult problems (Chris 'n' Cosy; V7) at Baring Head in February. More photos at Baring Head Bouldering.

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

26 March 2010

Seal, Kawakawa rocks, southern Wairarapa [III]

Subcutaneous padding has advantages.

Same place, same approach to life, different seal. Can’t identify the insect, sorry. 

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

25 March 2010

Hills at dawn; Wanaka [II]

Light worth rising early for.

About 10 minutes later.

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

24 March 2010

Hills at dawn; Wanaka

Ephemeral light

Mid January 2010; shortly before 6:30 a.m. Sunlight slipped under heavy cloud, slid across the hills and vanished.
All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

23 March 2010

Skyscape, Lake Wanaka

Bad weather on the way

Fine weather, about to change.

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22 March 2010

Lake weed, Lake Wanaka


From a small jetty we peered down into the still water. Weed hung there, the upper fronds clearly visible, the lower parts somewhere out of sight in the darker murk. One might expect a creature from Celtic myth to stir, appear momentarily, then sink back out of sight.

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

20 March 2010

Nor'west dawn, Wanaka

Generally a clear indication to stay out of the mountains.

Mid January 2010; dawn promised bad weather but it didn't arrive — at least not that day.

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19 March 2010

The bank of Te Awaoteatua stream

The time of long shadows

The poplars in Te Awaoteatua stream have taken a battering during the last two winters and some didn’t survive. Will these still be here this time next year?

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

18 March 2010

Edge of the Ganges, Rishikesh

Different ways of life
The young guys had just ventured into the river and seemed keen to be included when I photographed my “guides”.
Mid November 2006. I wonder where they are now; what they’re doing; how they’ve lived in the years since I met them. 
All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

17 March 2010

Willow at Wanaka

A tree with the right idea on a day like this.
At Lake Wanaka in the January heat, an old willow cooled off in the shallow water near the shore. The midday air hardly moved.

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

16 March 2010

A walk on the beach, southern Wairarapa

Friends like these enhance places like this

Few things would improve evenings like this.
All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

15 March 2010

13 March 2010

How rock forms

More biological than geological

I'm no geologist, but even I could see what was happening here. Mud (I won't say clay, because that has a specific meaning),turning to stone; hence, the common name "mudstone". Southern Wairarapa coast, a few weekends ago.

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

12 March 2010

The South Island from the North

A lot farther than it looks

A record shot from the evening when we stood on the southern Wairarapa coast and looked across the sea to the South Island. It really was like this (although this is a telephoto shot).

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

11 March 2010

Standing in surf at sunset, southern Wairarapa

The pull of the sea
On the beach in the evening we stood at the water's edge, watching the afterglow over the distant Kaikoura Ranges. Waves rushed up the coarse dark sand and around our feet, then sucked back towards the ocean.  “Come,” they seemed to say, “this is where you were born; this is your true home.” 

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

10 March 2010

Mackenzie Basin, near Omarama

Better as lush green pasture for intensive dairying?

It might not look like much — sere, sparsely vegetated and riddled with rabbits and weeds — but for many visitors the seemingly desolate landscape of the Mackenzie Basin has a particular kind of beauty. Moreover, as ecologist Susan Walker points out, "The Mackenzie Basin supports the highest-density area of naturally rare ecosystems of any region in New Zealand of similar size." Remove the grazing pressure and the native vegetation returns; it might take a decade or two but this long period before the recovery begins seems to be characteristic of this kind of ecosystem.

But a small group of businessmen/farmers wants to change the Mackenzie Basin. They propose extensive irrigation over thousands of hectares to provide feed for intensively housed dairy cattle, with the resulting effluent used as fertiliser. The proposal threatens not just this landscape (appreciated by the huge number of tourists who pass through on their way to Aoraki/Mt Cook and further south) but also New Zealand’s image as a place where contented cows graze freely in the fresh, clean air; it threatens the rivers and lakes, partly through the water take and partly through nutrient runoff (each day, the amount of waste produced would be the equivalent of a city of about a quarter of a million people); and it threatens a richly diverse ecosystem. The benefits, despite the assurances of the proponents that the environment will be better off, will accrue largely to that handful of farmers and businessmen (some of whom have already been prosecuted successfully for illegally discharging dairy effluent from farms in other areas).

The good news is that the proposal faces huge opposition from diverse sectors, and an independent Board of Inquiry will assess the proposal. Unfortunately, issues relating to the intensive housing of cattle (cruelty, health, etc.) won’t be considered, but at least there’s still hope for a wonderful part of Aotearoa.

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

09 March 2010

Flax head and sparrow

A moment at dawn
Dawn at Wanaka a couple of months ago — the flowering harakeke (New Zealand flax, Phormium tenax) attracted a variety of birds, partly for the rich flow of nectar but also, as for this sparrow, simply as a vantage point. The long, tubular flowers mean only a few birds can access the nectar well (tui, for example, have beaks that fit the flowers very well, and also have tongues specially adapted for extracting nectar); sparrows, with their short, stout beaks, can only take what might trickle down from a bent-over flower.

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

08 March 2010

Southern Wairarapa coast [II]

The sound of surf on a shingle/sand beach ...

Evening along the coast between Lake Ferry and Cape Palliser.
All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

06 March 2010

Southern Wairarapa coast

Enjoy it before the 'developers' sell it
In the evening we crossed the road to the narrow beach. Waves crashed along the coarse sand and shingle; the sky darkened and took on colour; the moon brightened.  The rocks still held the heat of the day.

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

05 March 2010

Cape Palliser lighthouse

Worth the ascent of the 252 steps

The lighthouse at Cape Palliser, at the southern tip of the North Island. Reaching the lighthouse requires walking up 252 wooden steps (not as tough as it sounds). Part of the Kawakawa rocks, where I photographed the seal, is just visible on the right of the photo; the beach in front of the lighthouse was also occupied by many seals.

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

04 March 2010

Macrocarpas, southern Wairarapa coast

An example of why I love macrocarpas

The view seaward from the narrow beach at sunset captivated us; I don't recall ever seeing the South Island so clearly from the North and the colours of the sky, after the sun disappeared behind the Kaikoura Ranges, lit up the foam washing around our bare feet. But the light behind us, making the seawall glow, sliding around the trunks of the old, weathered macrocarpas and slipping under their branches, also entranced me.

We were there to enjoy the weekend with friends; for another perspective, read Anne-Marie’s post.

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

03 March 2010

Seal, Kawakawa rocks, southern Wairarapa

If you're not using a long telephoto lens, don't try to get this close. Let them enjoy their rest (and they bite).

Kekeno (New Zealand fur seals; Arctocephalus forsteri) can be seen at many sites on Aotearoa's rocky coasts. One of the best is the Kawakawa Rocks near Cape Palliser in the southern Wairarapa — about as far south as it's possible to go in the North Island. This female had draped herself in the cool, deep shade and I eventually dialled the ISO up to 800 to photograph her with the 300mm.

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

02 March 2010

Siberia Valley, South Island [2]

Another view of the Siberia Valley, this time looking upstream from a point further down-valley from yesterday's photo. The lens has reduced the apparent size of the mountains, but you should still get some impression of how lovely and spectacular this country is.

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

01 March 2010

Siberia Valley, South Island

Near the junction of a small side stream and the main Siberia stream

A typical valley in the south-eastern part of the South Island. The Siberia Stream flows into the Wilkin, which meets the Makarora, which flows into the head of Lake Wanaka. Magnificent country. This is part of a very popular tramping route, with a very good (by New Zealand standards) walking track. The sandflies (blackflies; Simuliidae) can be atrocious, but we were lucky and were hardly bothered.

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor