New Years day

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  • Little Grace at Scorch-O-Rama, Scorching Bay, Wellington, New Zealand.
  • Little Grace at Scorch-O-Rama, Scorching Bay, Wellington, New Zealand. Grace is the nearly two year old daughter of my friends Phil and Kerry-anne. They relocated to New Zealand four years ago from the UK.

    Scorch-O-Rama (formerly called Chocolate Fish Café) is a little café/restaurant with views across the bay. After a very wet and rainy New Years Eve, the weather broke and allowed us all to enjoy a pleasant brunch together.

The honking tunnel

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  • Mount Victoria Tunnel
  • Day two of the year and an attempt to go camping in ‘Middle Earth’ had to be abandoned when the weather became as uncooperative and moody as a toddler at bedtime. We got as far as the Mount Victoria Tunnel, no more than a ten minute drive from the front door.

    The tunnel is locally renowned as a place where some motorist (like my friend Phil) sound their horn for no other reason than to hear another horn sound back in response. Apparently this practice is polarising among Wellingtonians. You’re either a honker, or a non-honker.

    I’ll confess that I like to honk my horn in a tunnel or under a suitable bridge. I think I just like hearing the echo and maybe on some level reliving those times as a child when you would shout into a valley at the top of your voice in the hope that you would hear yourself shout back moments later.

    Long live the tunnel honkers

Camping

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  • Playing frisbee at a campsite
  • I like camping about as much as I like getting speeding tickets. The appeal of sleeping in something that feels like a shopping bag in not apparent to me. I think its the fact that it has to be built then taken down that turns me off. Yet spending time with my friends trumps my dislike for the style of accommodation, so here I am, about to catch (drop) a frisbee thrown by Phil as little Grace looks on.

Wonder

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  • Foxglove flowers
  • Today was perfect weather for one of those slow summer strolls you sometimes take. The four of us wandered from the campsite, crossed a bridge over a river, then walked a path alongside a meadow of yellow flowers that was set perfectly against a green hillside and an almost cloudless blue sky.

    We walked at a tempo befitting little Grace who frequently stopped to pick up petals, leaves, and seeds. She would look at them closely then hold them up to us for our a collective and somewhat theatrical gasps and wows.

    A little further down that same path I found myself stopping and looking at a flower, a Pink Foxglove it turns out. I took a few pictures of it then thought about how I am grateful that even now, so many years after being as close to the ground as Grace currently is, I’m still struck by moments of wonder. Sure, I don’t pick up as many petals, leaves, and seeds as Grace does, but I do still stop and marvel at things in a way that I think some people have forgotten how to.

    So today’s picture is of that Foxglove, and a simple moment of wonder.

The waiting room

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  • Waiting in the ER
  • I spent much of tonight waiting around for my friend Phil who was in the hospital suffering from bad dehydration caused by some kind of bug he caught from somewhere – probably camping, because camping is a bad thing – so be warned!

Kathy

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  • Kathie stands by the coffee machine at the Ballroom Cafe in Newton, Wellington, New Zealand.
  • This is Kathy Smith. I met her today at the Ballroom Cafe in Newtown, a funky suburb of Wellington. I’d just gotten my New Zealand drivers licence when I saw a sign for coffee pointing to an open door that lead to some stairs. It was begging some investigation, so I bounded up the stairs to be greeted by Kathy.

    She told me that the cafe has been listed as a heritage cafe, and that it used to be a ballroom. Back in its heyday is was apparently the centre of Newtown’s nightlife.

    Kathy is a jolly character who reminded me somewhat of WW2 icon Rosie the Riveter with that red scarf in her hair. She told me how she used to be in the science field but had always dreamed of owning a cafe. Ten years ago that dream became a reality when she became the owner of the Ballroom Cafe.

    I enjoyed chatting with her today and she was happy to pose for the picture when I told her she would be my picture of the day.

Blues Guys

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  • The Blues Guys Sam Daman and Andy Clouston
  • Local Wellington musicians Sam ‘Daman’ and Andy Clouston jam together outside the Monterey cafe on Rintoul Street in Newtown. Sam, pictured here wearing the hat, told me they were both in a band called Tin Guitars. However, as our conversation continued he then mentioned that the name of their band was actually Blues Guys. “Blue skies?” I asked, to which he said “That too. Whatever works.”

    They had enjoyed one or two drinks and were clearly feeling relaxed and jovial. With that in mind I have no real idea if they do play in a band called Tin Guitars, Blues Guys, or indeed Blue Skies.

I love the rain when it stops

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  • Rain rain go away!
  • Not every day can be a sunny one.

Urban Forest

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  • Wellington Urban Forest
  • Taken from the passenger seat of a speeding car this picture shows one of six modern art wind sculptures in Evans Bay not far from Wellington Airport. This one is called ‘The Urban Forest‘ by Leon van den Eijkel and Allan Brown. The colored boxes are designed to rotate in the high winds of ‘windy Wellington.’

Lifeguards

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  • Lifeguards on the lookout at Oriental Parade
  • Lifeguards Payal Ramritu and Sam Mulcahy sit on a bench overlooking the beach at Oriental Parade in Wellington, New Zealand. It wasn’t a busy day for them today. Sam told me the most action they had was a cut knee.

    Payel suggested they strike a funny pose for the picture that I told them might well end up on this site. So here they are, surveying the beach in an almost cartoon like fashion. I hope they get to see the picture.

Lunch at the beach

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  • My Birthday was beautiful. Even the workmen enjoyed a little beach R&R
  • Today was my birthday! The second one I’ve celebrated here in the Southern Hemisphere and the first time I’ve ever enjoyed glorious summer weather on my birthday. Ever since I was a kid I wanted my birthday to be in the summer.

    In the last four years I’ve celebrated my birthday in the UK, Hong Kong, Japan, and Australia. This year I’m in New Zealand and today, after a relaxed start, I made my way to Oriental Bay to stroll alongside the water.

    I chatted with the Lifeguards I met yesterday, then meandered down to a cafe where I sat in the sun listening to busker play trumpet. As I sat there eating lunch and watching the world go by he began playing “You’ll never walk alone” which reminded me of my old home city of Liverpool.

    I never realised that I felt any affinity to the tune before that moment. Hearing it took me back to various memories of parties, weddings, and football matches. Oddly enough, it seemed a fitting tune to hear at that moment, as if the past was reaching into the present, into this beautiful summer day to remind me of the journey to this very moment.

    I finished my coffee and went over to the man playing the trumpet. His name was Max, a regular busker in these parts he told me. I thanked him for playing the song and told him it was my birthday. He wished me happy birthday then we chatted for a while before I left.

    “I’ll play a number for you as you walk away.” He said. And with that he put the trumpet to his lips and began playing “Happy Birthday.” I laughed and walked slowly to enjoy it, bowing as he finished and waved back to me. “I won’t tell them how old you are!” He shouted with a big smile oh his face. It was one of those moments that you know you’ll remember, that somehow gets engraved into your history and your story. It was a good moment.

    I had a great day, I took loads of pictures and found it difficult to choose just one. In the end though, it had to be this shot of the workmen eating their lunch at the beach and taking a few moments to simply enjoy the day. For me this picture summed up today perfectly.

    Today was my birthday, and it’s the summer!

Innocent days

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  • Little Grace jumping on the bed
  • When I got back to Phil and Kerry-anne’s this afternoon, little Grace was playing trampoline on their bed as Phil changed the sheets. She delighted in each jump, laughing and trying each time to get higher than the last.

    It was fun to watch her, to peer into her world where the present is everything and the concept of tomorrow and yesterday is utterly unimportant. Where joy is jumping on Mom and Dad’s bed while clutching blanket ted and worrying about nothing, not even the risk of falling down.

Boat sheds

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  • Boatshed at Oriental Bay, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Today was a very windy day in so-called Windy Wellington. Residents seemed untroubled as the high speed winds ripped and roared around blowing over winds and garden furniture. I leave for the South Island tomorrow so I wanted to take a picture of the Clyde Quay boat sheds at Oriental Bay, not far from the centre of Wellington.

    It’s been fun staying with my friends Phil and Kerry-anne, but I’m looking forward to being back on the road and exploring places I’ve never been to before.

Blue sky thinking

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  • Wellington, New Zealand
  • An unusually clear day gives me, and fellow passengers of a Christchurch bound flight, a rare opportunity to see Wellington stretch out beneath us with the mountains of South Island in the distance.

The silent years

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  • old house
  • On the way to Lake Tekapo I came across a deserted old house. Such places fascinate me because I wonder how it is that a building, that was once a home, could fall into a state of such disrepair.

    This particular house was is an advanced state of decay. It was devoid of nearly all evidence of habitation aside from an old sitting room chair that was still in the corner by the front window.

    I wondered if this used to be someone’s favorite place to read through the pages of a book or browse a newspaper. Now it’s just some old chair, silent and alone unable to resist the decay that will surely swallow this old house and all the stories that go with it.

The Road to Mount Cook

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  • Lake Pukaki, New Zealand.
  • I awoke this morning in the the little rented sleeper-van not far from Lake Tekapo. The clouds, that yesterday clung to the snow capped mountains in the distance, had moved on in the night leaving the amazing mountain vista postcard scene clear. From there the drive to Mount Cook was awesome, and without a doubt one of the most breath-taking drives I’ve ever done.

    The picture I chose today shows the clear water of Lake Pukaki with Mount Cook in the background. It’s near impossible blue color comes from glacial flour, the extremely finely ground rock particles from the nearby glaciers.

Echoes

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  • Old car
  • It would perhaps be easy to post a beautiful landscape photograph each day as I travel around the New Zealand’s magnificent south island. However, while the stirring grandeur of this wild terrain is undoubtedly photogenic, I like finding the beauty in scenes others might pass by or not even notice.

    This morning, after leaving my overnight camp spot overlooking a river that wound its way through a gush green valley, I came upon a field with a dozen or so old vehicles sat there just rusting away.

    These old cars and trucks with their flared wheel arches and split screen windshields were automotive echoes from an era when cars were not the generic mass transport they are today.

    Once these were all gleaming new cars of all different colors, imports from America I suspect. But now, here in this boneyard of a bygone era, they shared the same shades of rust that nature has given them over the years.

    I photographed each one, taking time to examine it and imagine who would have driven a car like this. All traces of their owners had vanished, leaving nothing to connect their present with their past. Could any of the cars I’ve owned be sitting in a field somewhere? Somehow I doubt it, though a part of me kind of hopes there is.

The Kingston Flyer

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  • Kingston Flyer
  • This is George. He’s the driver of The Kingston Flyer steam locomotive. At 22 years of age he has to be one of the youngest full time steam train drivers around. He got his ‘steam ticket’ at 18, when he worked on another steam railway in New Zealand.

    The heritage steam railway runs from Lake Wakatipu in Kingston, New Zealand, taking tourists and railway enthusiasts alike to Fairlight.

    I asked him if he had always dreamed of being a steam train driver. Perhaps unsurprisingly for a young man of today he said he hadn’t. He didn’t own model railyway train set as a kid, and while he had worked on another steam railway system before The Kingston Flyer, to him this was just a job – a great job yes – but a job nonetheless. “Before this I worked in McDonalds.” He told me.

Doubtful of the rain

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  • Doubtful Sound
  • I had hoped that the good weather would have stayed for my trip to the fiordland and Doubtful Sound. However, at this time of year storm clouds lurk menacingly around the mouton peaks of New Zealand’s stunning west coast like gangs of teenagers on street corners.

    In the end, after something of a storm whipped start, the day on Doubtful Sound ended up being quite pleasant. Sure, it wasn’t picture postcard, but I actually enjoyed seeing the clouds snake their way around the mountains and the rain swelled waterfalls flying out into the open air off the sheer faces of the eerie looking peaks.

    It was a beautiful landscape that had an almost mythic feel to it. I’d like to come back one day and see it again in the sun, but I rather enjoyed the weather today, and ironically enough, I was doubtful that I would.

The Magic Lake

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  • Lake Marian, New Zealand
  • There are times when a picture cannot capture a scene or moment in any way that does it justice. Today’s picture is one of those times.

    This afternoon I walked a difficult three hour trail to Lake Marian, high in the Darran Mountains in the New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park. The trail to the lake was at times not so much of a walk as it was a climb where several times I had to concentrate on what to hold onto and where to place my next step.

    The trail to the lake was amazingly beautiful, and easily leapt into my shortlist of ‘most beautiful places in the world that I’ve seen.’ It really was that amazing. But to walk out of that lush green near mystical landscape into the open air at the end of the trail and be greeted by the lake scene, well, that was one of those landmark moments. You know, the kind of memory you’ll never forget.

    No picture could do that scene any justice. The lake was magnificent. Clear blue green tinted water surrounded by large rocks sitting in a mountainous snow capped valley. Wispy clouds swam around the mountain tops and threaded their way through the valley over beds of melting snow and ice. It was awesome in the true sense of the word.

The Green Chasm

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  • Moss Forest
  • Not far from the world famous Milford Sound is Chasm walk. This stunning walk takes you through a section of typical rainforest that makes up much of this area. Covered in dense vegetation and a lush green carpet of moss, the walk in utterly gorgeous and looks almost unreal.

Fiordland

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  • Fiordland, New Zealand
  • Deep in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park, not far from Milford Sound this is the view from Key Summit. After a 1.5 Hour walk you’re treated to views over the Humboldt and Darran Mountains. It was cold up there, so cold in fact it began to snow – and it’s the summer here!

The road to Paradise

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  • Road to Paradise
  • This is the road to Paradise, which as it turns out, is located just north of Glenorchy, not too far from Queenstown, New Zealand. The view looks across Lake Wakatipi toward the Forbes mountain range. Nestled in there is Paradise.

    The road to paradise is long and challenging in places. It bends and sweeps around dangerous cliffs and rock faces, and the closer you get the rougher the track becomes. Along the way you’re tantalisingly given the occasional glimpse of what lies in store should you make it to all the way to Paradise.

    I spent the night in Paradise under an amazingly dark and clear sky that was lit by billions of stars and the thick smoke like line of the milky way.

Under the surface

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  • Lake Wakatipu
  • Looking back toward Queenstown from the shores of Lake Wakatipu. This was a lot of fun actually, probably my favourite day so far. I left Paradise, with its sheer rock faces and rolling golden meadows, then headed back along the road beside Lake Wakatipu, stopping frequently to shoot pictures and splash in the shallow water on what was a wonderfully warm summer day.

    There could have been so many pictures for today, but I chose this one because it was a fun experimental picture where I used a zip-lock sandwich bag as an underwater case for my camera which seems to be dying a slow death at the moment anyway.

    From here the road out of Queenstown toward Lake Wanaka via Cardrona was amazing, a real drivers road. It snaked its way up the steep mountain and then swirled around the peaks like a roller-coaster ride. A wonderful newly surfaced open road perfect for my old MG, and not even that bad in my rented camper-van.

In the shade

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  • An old lady sits under a parasol reading a book at Lake Hamea. The stone beach was hot under foot and the water was clear blue and ice cold. Perfect for a little summertime cool off.

Way out west

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  • Today was mainly a day behind the wheel. There have been days when I have loads of pictures that could be my ‘picture of the day’ and it’s a shame just to choose one. Then you have days like today when it’s a struggle to even find one.

Over the blue

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  • Helicoper over Franz Josef
  • I’m in a helicopter, flying over Franz Josef Glacier. My pilot, Jason from Glacier Heliventures, points out various landmarks as we swoop low over the milky blue and white ice that’s enveloped the mountains and the valley beneath us.

    I’m grinning like a kid in a candy store. I love helicopters and rarely miss an opportunity to fly in one. The first time I took to the air in a helicopter was back in 2008 when my friend Phil and I took an impromptu flight over the city of Wellington, New Zealand. Since then I’ve had a string of flights over some amazing landscapes including Uluru, Sydney Harbour, and The Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road where my friend Samantha, who flew with me, actually cried after the flight because she was so overcome with delight!

    Like that time on the Great Ocean Road, this flight was unplanned. I was actually on the road out of Franz Josef when I saw a small sign for Glacier Heliventures, which turned out to be a small business run from the owners home. As always with chopper flights, it was money well spent. Moments like these, where your heart races and you can’t stop smiling, are what life is about if you ask me.

The window

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  • This picture was something I shot kind of in passing. I’d just been looking at the driftwood sculptures on the beach of the small west coast town of Hokitika when as I left the beach I saw this window.

    The window belongs to a little house that looks out across beach road to the Tasmin Sea. A little neglected and weather beaten this beach facing window stopped me because of the two little characters standing in the window that reminded me the iconic painting, American Gothic by Grant Wood.

    I have no idea who owned this house or what they looked like, but it seemed to me that the house was in some ways quite similar to the house seen in that famous painting, and therefore maybe the people inside we similar to the people in the painting also. I imagined the ageing decor inside. An old kitchen with an old stove and wooden table. A sitting room with a fireplace and two old chairs facing the kind of TV that doesn’t have a remote and takes a while to warm up when it’s switched on. And a hallway with a dark and well worn carpet, a musty old smell and a wind up clock keeping track of time, as best it can, for purely ornamental reasons these days.

    It seemed to me, or to my imagination at least, that time was not as important to this old house as it might have been one day.

The Bells Buses

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  • Mary Bell and her son Lukin
  • Meet Mary Bell and her son Lukin, proudly standing at the door of one of the two buses which they love calling home. Mary and her husband Darren have lived in a ‘house bus’ for nearly five years, acquiring the first bus just a week before they were married then getting a second a while later. In that time they’ve had two sons, Lukin and Eli.

    I met Mary and her son Lukin when I stopped to take a picture of their fantastic green house bus that I saw from the coast road as I drove through the small town of Granity, just north of Westport in New Zealand’s South Island. The spectacular location looks out over the Tasmin Sea and stands in front of a lush green mountain face that even includes a small waterfall and a fresh water spring.

    Lukin proudly showed me inside the first bus, pointing out things I should take note of like the beds, his books and a large chair which he sat in then asked me to take a picture. According to Mary the bus, which is beautifully converted, has attracted a fair bit of attention from passers by over the years, including one man who recognised it as his old school bus. The second bus, which Mary and Lukin are pictured in front of, is also wonderfully converted and includes a small wood burner and new carpets which Mary was in the process of laying.

    Darren, a professional snail hunter by trade, wasn’t a big fan of the buses and dreamed of building a house on their land, a dream that became a reality six months ago when building began. They’ve recently completed their new house and have just moved in, though Mary says the family is adjusting slowly to life in a conventional house, and often spend time in the buses which she told me will remain on the property as part of their home for many years to come.

Kiss Sloly

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  • And it’s certainly 2 short 2 spell correctly also!

The Honey Ghetto

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  • I’ve been seeing these boxes all over the New Zealand countryside. They’re beehives and standing up close to some today as I near the top of the south island, I could smell the bees wax and hear the machine like hum of the hives as I watched bees come and go.

    I wonder, are these high rise beehives consider the ghetto hives of the bee world? Is this low cost housing too a bee, complete with all the associated problems of vandalism and anti-sococial behavior?