Tag Archives: otago

Von River Valley, Eyre Mountains

[landscapephotograph description=”Von River Valley, Autumn” photoname=”Von River Valley” photo=”https://timmulholland.com/wordpress1/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Von-River-Valley-Pan-8b.jpg” photourl=”http://timmulholland.photoshelter.com/image/I0000U20kis5uIXA”][/landscapephotograph]

  

I’m a person who loves to read maps, especially finely detailed topographic maps. First, I like to discover places that are new and interesting to me, and hopefully interesting photograph. With the plethora of maps on the internet (Google Maps and Google Earth, to name a couple), it’s really interesting to start to see someplace and then dig deeper. When I’m performing my research on US locations, I then find that deeper level of detail by pulling up USGS topographic maps on the Libre Map Project. I suspect that there are other, similar resources in the US, but I’ve been using Libre Map Project for years, so it’s my “go to” resource. My GPS is also a really good resource when I’m in the field, but I love these computer sites when I’m doing my research before I get into the field because it’s so much easier to see things on the bigger computer screen.

  

  

Fortunately for me, there’s a similar resource in New Zealand – NZ Topo Maps. When we’re planning our trips and tours in New Zealand, I’ll check out Google Earth for a start, and then head to NZ Topo Maps for a different view. I just love to pour over a good topo map and discover nooks and crannies that I didn’t know exist before.  For example, that’s how I “discovered” The Branches and made the trip further up Skippers Canyon.

  

  

Over the past few months, we’d heard about a place called the Mavora Lakes and it has been on our radar as a place to visit, maybe hike, maybe camp. It’s only a couple of hours from Invercargill and it’s not a major tourist area like Milford Sound, Te Anau and Queenstown. It seemed like a nice place to get away for a day and to relax.

  

  

I then hit the maps and “discovered” that, yes, Mavora Lakes looks like an interesting place. But the road to Mavora Lakes keeps going further and further from civilization – that’s my kind of road to explore!!! In fact, the road to Mavora Lakes and beyond goes all the way to Lake Wakatipu, which is the lake on which Queenstown is situated. There are no towns or villages on the road beyond Mavora Lakes. The only signs of civilization in this area on the map are a couple of sheep stations at the end of the road on Lake Wakatipu. These two stations are remote. The nearest town, Mossburn, is about a two-hour drive from them, although it’s only a eighteen kilometers by boat to Queenstown.

  

  

When we went to Mavora Lakes, the weather didn’t seem like it might be the best. It’s late autumn here and there was a lot of fog as we started the drive. The fog eventually lifted and we made it to Mavora Lakes uneventfully. The lakes were nice and pleasant, and it did seem like it would be a good place to relax. Of course, the sandflies were there, too. There were even a few people camping and exploring the area like us, so this is likely a reasonably popular place to visit in Southland during tourist season. We were contemplating lunch (actually, the kids were more like demanding it) when I suggested that we drive further on the road. It looked like it might be “only” another hour until we reached Lake Wakatipu.

  

  

A few kilometers further north of Mavora Lakes is when the good scenery and clouds really kicked in! Asta and I were oohing and aahing all of the time. When we finally came over a rise and saw Lake Wakatipu, we both blurted out WOW! at the same time. I have to say that this drive is one of my top three drives in New Zealand. Driving from Te Anau to Milford Sound is likely my favorite drive, and Skippers Canyon is my second favorite. The autumn foliage and dark, majestic clouds really set off the Von River Valley and the Thomson and Eyre Mountain Ranges, as well as Lake Wakatipu. At the end of the road, there wasn’t much to see in terms of civilization, but the views were spectacular! We stopped and enjoyed our lunch surrounded by a few hundred sheep who were hoping that we might want to share with them.

  

  

At the end of the road, there are two sheep stations, plus a resort.  One of the sheep stations, Mount Nicholas Station, also doubles as a nice, small, remote getaway place. The resort is the Colonel’s Homestead and is operated a resort by RealJourneys, which is a major tourist operator in southern New Zealand. We didn’t get close to the Colonel’s Homestead and just enjoyed our lunch views of Lake Wakatipu.

  

  

On the way back, the skies looked a little dark and blustery. These dark clouds made for excellent photographs and also for a bit of angst – would it start raining and make it difficult to ford the streams before we got past the last ford? Obviously, we made it, again with lots of oohs and aahs.

   
 
Again, enjoy the gallery – especially full screen:

  

   

  

46 S EnZed signing off…

 

   

 

Posted in Colonel's Homestead, Eyre Mountains, Lake Wakatipu, Mavora Lakes, Mount Nicholas, New Zealand, Queenstown, Thomson Mountains, Von River, Walter Peak Station Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Skippers Canyon

[landscapephotograph description=”Panoramic view of The Branches, on the Shotover River, Otago, New Zealand” photoname=”The Branches” photo=”https://timmulholland.com/wordpress1/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Branches-Pan-1.jpg” photourl=”http://timmulholland.photoshelter.com/image/I00006jT26j8X7ko”][/landscapephotograph]  

Near Queenstown, New Zealand, there’s a slightly remote and very beautiful place called Skippers Canyon. Queenstown considers itself to be the Adrenaline Capitol of the World, and Skippers Canyon and its Shotover River might well be the adrenaline capitol of Queenstown.

  

Historically, Skippers Canyon was a major area for gold mining in the late nineteenth century. Today, it’s a beautiful tourism area where it’s nice to get away from Queenstown’s crowds. No, Queenstown isn’t that crowded, but it does have a moderately high “chic” factor that doesn’t do a whole lot for me, sort of like Aspen. It’s a very pleasant drive from Queenstown to Skippers Canyon by roundabout way of Arrowtown (which is much more my speed).

  

Some tourism sites call Skippers Canyon New Zealand’s “Grand Canyon.” Skippers Canyon is very nice, and it is quite “grand” by New Zealand standards, but it’s not even a close comparison to the Grand Canyon. If you rent a car or campervan in New Zealand, the Skippers Canyon road is one of those roads that’s considered to be “out of bounds,” as in you’re not supposed to drive your rental vehicle there because they won’t insure it. If you get in trouble there, you’ll have a hard time getting the car rental agency to come and help rescue you, especially since your cellphone likely won’t work there. I won’t advise anyone who rents a vehicle whether to drive this road; I will write, however, that I’ve driven on a lot more difficult gravel roads in rural Iowa (and, with a school bus).  Just don’t look down…

  

We’ve been to Skippers Canyon three times and enjoyed it every time. The first time was on a hot Christmas Day. We didn’t quite know what we were going to experience and I didn’t come fully prepared. But, we did enjoy our drive on the narrow ledges and dusty road. It also was exciting to see how some of the local youth were enjoying their Christmas celebration. These kids went to Skippers Bridge, which is near the formal end of the Canyon, set up their barbecue (or, “barbie” in the local dialect) and rigged their own private bungy jump site on this remote, quiet bridge. There’s a Christmas that you won’t forget!

  

The second time that we went, we drove a bit further and ate lunch at the old Skippers Point School, which is an historic landmark. If you want to see Skippers Canyon and don’t want to drive the road yourself, there are several different tour companies in Queenstown that will gladly take you. Three or four of these little four-wheel drive vans were at the school at the same time and their patrons were enjoying their picnic lunches with New Zealand’s finest wines.

  

The last time that we were in Skippers Canyon in early April, we drove to the far end. Before you get to Skippers Point, there’s a side road that you need to take – The Branches Road. If you drive The Branches road, then Skippers Point is about the halfway point. The Branches road was much more challenging – more ruts, narrower, and not very well maintained. The scenery beyond Skippers Point was nice, but not spectacular.  That is, until you reach the end of the formal road at The Branches Station.

  

OMG! The Branches Station must have one of the best, if not THE BEST, views and settings in all of New Zealand. The Branches sits in a broad glacial valley with the cobbled Shotover River running through it. To the southwest, the direction from which we’ve driven, the views are nice. But, to the northeast, the mountain views are amazing!!! The good news is that you, too, can enjoy The Branches Station. It’s a luxury accommodation and it seems that most people who visit likely arrive by helicopter, not in their pokey old Subarus. And, the pleasure of staying at The Branches will only cost you a mere NZ$10,000/night (I rounded up by one dollar; and, that’s for two people with a two-night minimum).

  

So, after enjoying the high life at the gate to The Branches Station, we returned back down the Skipper Road, enjoyed some ice cream in Queenstown and slowly made our way back to Invercargill.

  

Enjoy the gallery: 
  
46 S EnZed signing off…

   

Posted in New Zealand, Queenstown, Skippers Canyon, The Branches Also tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Moeraki Boulders

[landscapephotograph description=”Moeraki Boulders, New Zealand” photoname=”Moeraki Boulders” photo=”https://timmulholland.com/wordpress1/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/MoerakiBoulders-6c.jpg” photourl=”http://timmulholland.photoshelter.com/image/I0000PavdToOpgxg”][/landscapephotograph]

 

 

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly a month since my last post.  Time flies when you’re having fun in Australia.

 

 

On the big trip around New Zealand in January, one of our first significant stops were the famous Moeraki Boulders, a few kilometers north of Dunedin on the South Island’s east coast. The Moeraki Boulders aren’t exactly spectacular like a lot of New Zealand’s mountain scenery, but they’re still awe-inspiring in their own way. These boulders (and other similar boulders around the world) are concretions that were formed when minerals (calcite) seeped into the interstitial spaces between mud and sand grains and “hardened.” Don’t ask me exactly why these minerals hardened; similarly, don’t ask me why these concretions are so nicely spherical in shape. Just chalk it up to some of the wonderful geological mysteries of Nature.  (Yes, I know that I’m a guy and that I’m supposed to know everything, but let’s just leave it at that.) I’m not going to write a whole lot this time and just leave you to enjoy the gallery at your own pace.

 

46 S EnZed signing off…

Posted in Dunedin, Moeraki Boulders, New Zealand Also tagged , , , , , , , , |

Water Sculptures

 

As any person has experienced, from time to time you have to inject some fun and creativity into your work or else you risk boredom, slumps and untold other work difficulties (insert your own experiences HERE!)

  

Several weeks ago, we were traveling to The Catlins, mostly to “find” a small waterfall that we’d somehow discovered, and which wasn’t on any tourist lists. The basic directions that we found to Koropuku Falls went something like this: drive down the Chaslands highway, about 10.2 kilometers east of its intersection with the Niagara-Tokanui Highway, and look for the ice cream sign on the north side of the road. Yes, you read correctly – look for the ice cream sign. It turns out that the property owners are encouraging visitors to their little waterfall. Since the waterfall is not on Crown Lands (i.e., belonging to the government of New Zealand), it’s not afforded a proper sign. So, the owners have taken the plastic lid from a tub of ice cream and created that their own small sign that says “Waterfall,” with a little arrow pointing into the bush.

 

 

It’s a short and pleasant hike to Koropuku Falls. It’s not a particularly remarkable waterfall in any way, but it was a nice hike, nice to climb around (especially for the kids), enjoy a simple lunch, and beautiful to photograph. The following gallery will provide you a sense of this small, intimate waterfall:

 

 

After our visit to Koropuku Falls, we travelled down the road a bit further to investigate another couple of waterfalls. Well, it turns out that we’d have to traverse some private property, so I decided that we weren’t going to be able to investigate those falls after all. (But, later, I realized, “wait, this is New Zealand, not the States!” —  more to come in a future installment!)

 

 

We then drove back to Porpoise Bay. The rest of the family wanted to swim, hopefully with the Hector’s Dolphins that reside there, but I wasn’t up for it. We’d been at Porpoise Bay a few weeks before and were able to swim with the dolphins, which is quite a treat. They’ll let you get a little close and then speed away. It’s a blast to watch them play in the surf – you can see their silhouettes in the waves!

 

 

When we’re at Porpoise Bay, one of the most pleasant things for me to do is to just sit and mindlessly watch the waves crash on the rocks at the Bay’s entrance. The power of the waves is awe-inspiring and humbling. And, the rhythm of the waves, along with a cool breeze, can almost put you to sleep. But, those nasty little sandflies are always doing their best to extract a sanguine meal from you.

 

 

I was trying to photograph these large, booming, crashing waves, and just felt sort of blah about the effort. I knew that my typical photos weren’t going to convey the sense and power of the waves. As I was lazing there, a bit frustrated, I realized that there was something fun, different and entertaining that I could do with my camera and skills.

 

 

In all likelihood, you’ve seen “animated gifs” on other websites. (Actually, I have one in the upper fight corner of my website to help draw attention to my business.) In certain situations, they can create additional drama and meaning with otherwise bland photographs. So, I proceeded to snap several hundred photographs (yes, I do love digital photography!) with the hope that there would be one or more series of photographs that would yield some decent animations.

 

 

And, I wasn’t disappointed! After a bit of editing work, I believe that you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy some of the waves below. I just hope that you don’t get mesmerized by these waves and forget to go to work, or grab an extra margarita…  🙂  (My favorite is the last one.)

 

 

Waves crash on the rocks at Porpoise Bay, New Zealand

Waves crash on the rocks at Porpoise Bay, New Zealand

WaterSculptures1

 

 

WaterSculptures10a

 

 

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WaterSculptures2

 

 

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WaterSculptures9

 

46 S EnZed signing off…

Posted in Catlins, Koropuku Falls, Porpoise Bay, Uncategorized, waves Also tagged , , , , , |

McLean Falls

In one of my first posts from New Zealand, I wrote about our visit to McLean Falls and other places and displayed some photographs from that trip. Over these past six months or so, we’ve driven past the McLean Falls turnoff several times and hadn’t gotten back. There are so many beautiful things to see in the Catlins that we’ve been spreading ourselves around.

 

In early February, we had guests in our home. Coming all of the way from Madison, they felt the need to visit the Catlins, in part because of our raving about it and hopefully because they had viewed some of my photographs. So, we made the trip to McLean Falls and several other places. But, this trip piqued my desire to get back to McLean Falls by myself and really “work” the area.

 

So, a few days later, I dropped the kids off at school and dashed over to McLean Falls. The weather was in my favor – overcast with a slight chance of rain. Excellent lighting for a waterfall and forest where bright sun light can create a lot of high-contrast problems (and opportunities) for outdoor photographers. It takes about an hour to drive from Invercargill to McLean Falls, and then maybe another fifteen minutes to walk up to the main fall. I’m one of these photographers who likes to enjoy these kinds of places all by myself – just like everyone else. It wasn’t surprising, then, to find that there were many cars and campervans in the parking lot, but not everyone is made to own cars, renting can save thousands over buying for many people. And, when I made it to the top, yes, there were several people milling about. This kind of shooting requires a little patience as people move in and out of the places that I want to shoot, as well as some other creative techniques to manage how these people appear (and don’t appear) in my final photographs.

 

It was an excellent, gratifying day at McLean Falls. The weather was pleasant and humid, with hints of threatening rain, but only threatening. There were other visitors milling around the area of the Falls, but there weren’t so many people that it was difficult to shoot. At the top of the McLean Falls walk, you can stand away from the Falls and take in the whole of the Falls. Or, you can be a bit more adventurous and climb some rocks and get closer to the base of the top, and tallest, waterfall. Further down, there are four or five cascades of various height that require some climbing (and slipping) to get into a decent position for a nice photograph. The following gallery provides some flavor of the McLean Falls Conservation Area – quaint, simple, easy and beautiful.

 

 

46 S EnZed signing off…

Posted in Catlins, McLean Falls Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Otago

A few weeks ago, we finally made it to the nearest big city of Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula.  As usual, the weather was alternately windy, sunny, rainy and grey.  We had been looking forward to visiting Dunedin as it was our first choice of a place to temporarily live in New Zealand, based on a visit our friends Marian and Eric made here several years ago.  But, it also seems that there are a lot of people who would like to live in Dunedin, so it didn’t come to fruition for us.

 

 

Dunedin is a more cosmopolitan city than Invercargill, but that’s expected.  Invercargill is a smaller and more agricultural city.  Dunedin also has the oldest university in New Zealand – University of Otago.  I’ve been trying to encourage the older son to study there for a semester, but I don’t think that it’s going to happen while we’re here.  And, Dunedin is nestled amongst the hills and harbor and has a more three-dimensional feeling to it.   But, some of those hills are pretty steep.  In fact, Dunedin boasts the steepest street in the world – Baldwin Street – which we walked up & down and drove up & down (driving was much more fun).  The main reason that we did visit Dunedin was because it was raining on the Otago Peninsula.  🙂

 

 

Most of our time was spent on the Otago Peninsula, which bills itself, along with Dunedin, as New Zealand’s ecotourism capitol.  Getting around the Otago Peninsula is slow – the roads are narrow and winding.  But, that’s OK because the views were spectacular!  We drove on the harbor side coast rode through Portobello a few times, and up and over Highcliff Road which sort over crosses on the central spine of the Otago Peninsula.  At the tip of the Otago Peninsula, Tairoa Head, we visited the Royal Albatross Centre.  But, our favorite places to visit on the Otago Peninsula were Sandfly Bay (twice) and Allan’s Beach.  Why?  First, the kids could run around to their hearts content, dig in the sand and enjoy a bit of the surf (even if the water is a bit chilly).  Second, we were able to see yellow-eyed penguins (hoiho) returning to their nests (keep your distance!), and there were Hooker’s Sea Lions (whakahao) basking on the beach and even a New Zealand Fur Seal (kekeno) enjoying the rocks.  In spite of his ugly teeth and terrible hygiene, the old bull sea lion was the highlight of my weekend…

 

 

As usual, enjoy the galleries!

 

 

46 S EnZed signing off…

 

 

Otago

 

 

 

New Zealand Fur Seal

 

 

 

Hooker’s Sea Lions

 

Posted in Dunedin, New Zealand, Otago Peninsula Also tagged , , , , |