Thursday, August 25, 2016

Totara Graveyard

In the 19th Century, Banks Peninsula was largely covered in native bush, much of it Totara, but many other significant species as well.
When the settlers arrived from UK in 1850 - and later, trees were immediately in demand for their wood to build houses, especially in the development of Christchurch. The trees in the Wairewa district - Little River as we know it better today, were particularly in demand because of the relatively easy access in getting the timber to Christchurch.
At one stage there were seven sawmills in the area. Trees were felled up on the tops and with dragged down the hills or rolled - sometimes on flimsy rails. After milling, the timber was barged down Lake Forsyth, then towed on tracks across to Lake Ellesmere (Te Waihora) and barged again over the lake to Lakeside (Wairewa), where it was put on a train and taken to Christchurch. A laborious journey. Many of the original buildings still stand in the city today, most of them having survived the recent earthquakes.
Back out on the peninsula the remains of these old trees still survive today. They have survived 150+ years of fires, farming, and savage weather. The trunks, some of them on their sides, are now silvered and stark against a blue sky.
They are dotted over the whole of Banks Peninsula, but there is a concentration of them high above Little River within easy access of Port Levy Saddle, only a 50 minute walk from the car park. It is a regular place to go with family, friends, and photographers - and often on my own - always with a camera.
For the adventurous, there is a walkway that traverses the ridges from Mt Herbert (the highest point on the peninsula) along to Hilltop, overlooking Akaroa. In fact it is a paper road - the Summit Road extension from Gebbies Pass. Never built - and probably never will now!
And still today, if you discretely scrape away the silver lining, the rich red colour of totara wood is a fraction of a millimetre below the surface. Long may that last.

Waipuna Saddle enroute to graveyard - guess the prevailing wind direction! 
White bones of silent Totara
Avian totara
These are so powerful in black and white

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


We escape the city at regular intervals with our friends Graeme and Sue. A few days away together is good for the soul. We managed to find space in our diaries for three nights at Kakanui (or more correctly Taranui on the south bank of the Kakanui River) just south of Oamaru. This time we took Martin, a dear friend - raconteur, wine and single malt appreciater, and good cook.
Not too much was achieved - good walks, Oamaru, Moeraki. All good fun.
Highly recommend the holiday house we rented. A place to go back to.
A bonus in Oamaru (apart from the whisky tasting 'shop') was finding the Adventure Book shop. Wow, what a place! I have it booked for a day when it is persisting down outside, and I have a good coffee and a comfy chair. Bliss!!

Kakanui Rivermouth
Coastal platform
South towards Moeraki
Sunset Reflection
Sunset glow
Pre dinner drinks!
Reminder of the past
Look carefully - Martin disappearing into Adventure Books
Beach patterns
Local shag posing

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Bridge of Remembrance

And another city icon, the Bridge of Remembrance has finally been completed after several failed promises to have the bridge refurbished for Anzac Day services - including the centennial service.

Repaired Bridge of Remembrance
My memories of this bridge go back a long way, a very long way - although I didn't ride my tricycle through it when I was three years old!! I chose a different route that day!
I used to go to town with my Mum on the bus at regular intervals. Back then traffic, including buses, used to drive across the bridge. Our bus route to Hornby did not cross the bridge however - it went past the bridge and down Oxford Terrace to the hospital.
Incidentally, the best hamburger shop in the city used to be on the corner of Cashel St and Oxford Terrace directly behind the right abutment in the photo above.
By coincidence, this image below appeared on Facebook a few weeks ago - which prompted me to post this blog.

Bridge of Remembrance circa 1959-1960

Art Gallery Revisited - again

A visit to the art gallery is so good for the soul.
Always something new to see, good for people watching, restful.
This recent visit was no exception.................

A symphony in yellow 
Michael Parakowhai's 'Chapman's Homer' in good company
'Everything is going to be alright'

The Great Hall

On the same day we visited the Art Gallery and Quasi (previous post), the Great Hall at the Arts Centre had a reopening ceremony.
After the earthquakes the Art Centre has been a hive of activity with repairs well ahead of schedule - a year at least. Just goes to show what can be done without political intervention, insurance arguments and petty personal agendas!
The Great Hall has great memories for both of us - right back to school and university days with lectures - and more recently with concerts and recitals.
The Hall is back to its former glory - even better now.
And the rest of the Art Centre will also soon be finished. Well done.

The Great Hall
Ceiling detail
Window detail

Friday, August 12, 2016


A few weeks ago we wandered about town to check on updates in the art scene.
We spied this atop the Art Gallery - it has only recently been craned up there.
It is a recent work by Ronnie van Hout. He describes this surreal piece of visual fun based on scans of his own body parts as 'the artist's hand made giant'.