Friday, August 14, 2015

A New Toy

I've just bought a new toy - a travel camera.
A Panasonic Lumix FZ1000.
Single Leica lens, 25 - 400mm zoom.
My present camera bag with all its toys weighs in at over 7kgs. When I travel, I'm getting tired of lugging a heavy camera bag with me everywhere.
I'm about to travel for 3+ weeks, so I've taken the plunge and procured this new camera. It's not the smallest camera - but it has a great zoom range, got pretty much all of the options my Nikon has, has great reviews - and it is light - ~0.8kgs.
I have no idea whether I will like it or not, but I will know by the end of September. Who knows, there may be a virtually new camera up for sale.
Yesterday I took the new camera on the weekly walk to trial it. So far, so good.
Here are a handful of samples from Day 1..................

Low tide, South Shore beach (25mm)
Hemi - must run 4-5 times the distance we walk!! (~250mm)
Estuary channel (~35mm)
Dinghy unmoved for years! (~50mm)
Stilts in Estuary (400mm)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

What is it??

The tide was fully out so this Wednesday's walk with the lads had to be a beach walk along the beach, round the spit and back via the estuary.
On the mud flats of the estuary on the latter half of the walk we came across a number of very large jellyfish - some were 70-80cms diameter, possibly larger.
We weren't sure if they were dead or simply awaiting the incoming tide to float off and away. I suspect the former.

Graeme did some investigating on internet and thinks they might be Cyanea capillata, the Lion's Mane jellyfish - the largest known species. They are found in colder waters of the Arctic region but a related species is also found in Australia and New Zealand. Apparently these can grow up to 2 metres in size! Impressive.
This reminds me of a weekend with a group of Kiwis on Jana Island in the Arabian Gulf (between Saudi Arabia and Iran). We were on Jane island to observe the green turtles laying their eggs - we weren't disappointed. On the Sunday morning the temperature at sunrise was well over 40 degrees - the only sensible option was to go snorkelling off the boat. I was on my own only about 40-50 metres from the boat when I was almost enveloped by what seemed a huge jellyfish - it was almost translucent. I felt I could have put my hand out to touch it - rather the opposite and I struggled back to clamber up to the safety of the boat deck. At the time I was thinking of the Portuguese Man o' War, but could it have been one of these Lion Mane jellyfish. I guess I will never know. I'm not a strong swimmer and that was the last swim I had that day. I gather the sting from these creatures is best avoided!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Huts 01 - Barker

I'm feeling a tad nostalgic - and I'm procrastinating big time!!
I'm meant to be commencing a huge task of scanning many of my 'annual lads tramping trips' from the pre-digital era in preparation for a new book. Browsing through some old images I came across a folder labelled 'huts'.
Many of these old images were captured on very basic cameras, some 50+ years ago.
So I thought 'why not' - I'll start a wee series of anecdotal memories based around huts.

One of the earliest images I have of Barker hut at the head of the White River, a tributary of the Waimakariri River at its headwaters. This image was captured on a Halina Viceroy twin lens reflex camera, the first camera I ever owned. A Christmas present from Mum and Dad at the age of 14 - so this photograph would have been circa 1963. Note the shovel tied above the entrance door.

I used to tramp up to Barker hut frequently in a weekend. Jump on the railcar at 2am Saturday and dropped off at the Bealey Bridge ~4.30am, eight hours tramp up the Waimak and the White, early to bed, up well before sparrowfart, a quick bite to eat, and off out to climb the likes of Murchison, Harper, Speight, Wakeman, etc. Back to the hut by noon, then 8 hours tramping back down to Klondyke Corner and the Bealey rail bridge by 8.30pm to catch the railcar back to Christchurch - get off at Hornby, walk home at ~11.15pm, greeted by Mum who was still up anxiously awaiting my safe return, off to bed for a well earned sleep, ready to bike 6 miles to school the next morning.
Today, I'm exhausted just thinking about those great weekends.

On one occasion we arrived at Carrington hut on New Years day in mid afternoon ~1969. Recent entries in the intentions book mentioned parties returning from Barker hut saying they could not find the hut. We took off late afternoon in the direction of Barker figuring that previous parties did not know the location of the hut. About 8pm that night, we staggered up the final slopes to find just the roof of the hut sticking up out of the snow. The roof was crushed and the shovel was nowhere to be found.
We set to work with ice axes and dinner plates to dig our way down to the door and eventually forced our way in. The rafters were broken and touching the floor but we managed to make ourselves vaguely comfortable and get dinner on the primus before nightfall. That winter must have been one hell of a snowfall!!
There is a new hut up there now - new being a relative term - it's been there probably at least 30 years or more now!! Unfortunately I can't locate an image of it right now, although I have visited the new hut several times.
The view down the valley from the bluff just beyond the tarn by the hut is one of those great views you never forget. So good, Austen Deans painted it many moons ago. Now I'd love a copy of that.