Autumn has begun to feel its way into the valley. In the late afternoon at the top of the No. 1 Line track, sunlight grazed the ridges, lighting up the old pahautea (Libocedrus bidwillii) — some dead, some still with a tenacious grip on life. White puffy clouds in a blue sky, a small cricket singing in the grass nearby, a tui calling in the gully below the lookout. I drank Lapsang Souchong tea, wrote a few notes and let the sun dry the remains of my old icebreaker top.
[23 March 2013, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 100–300 mm at 264 mm, ISO 200, 1/640 at f6.3]
A week ago a friend and I walked up the track towards Iron Gate hut. Where the track drops down to the main river, we crossed over and enjoyed a leisurely lunch, then wandered down the river and climbed back to the car park. Not surprisingly, the river was as low as I've ever seen it, but it still retained the beautiful clarity typical of Ruahine rivers before they leave the mountains and enter farmland.
[12 March 2013, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 14–45 mm at 19 mm, ISO 200, 1/20 at f16]
The cinnabar moth, Tyria jacobaeae, was released over much of New Zealand from 1929–1932 in an attempt to control ragwort, but the moth established good populations only in parts of the southern North Island. In the 1980s, a redistribution programme saw populations become more widespread, but many people still have no idea of the identity of this spectacularly coloured moth.
The moth's host plant, ragwort, has reached far beyond the farmland where it used to be a major weed (and still is in some areas), but biological control agents often have an extraordinary ability to locate their hosts. This cinnabar moth was fluttering around outside Iron Gate hut in the Ruahine range a few days after Christmas 2011.
[28 December 2011, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 100–300 mm at 300 mm, ISO 200, 1/50 at f5.6]