Monday, October 26, 2009

Dunstan Mountains sojourn

I worked for at least half of this NZ Labour Day long weekend, but on Sunday evening my good friend Roger and myself headed up to about 1200 meters on the nearby Dunstan Mountains for an overnight stay in my Land Cruiser camper truck. The theme was landscape photography - we've done these trips before and find them really fun, and also both being photographers we're tolerant of each other's time needs.

The light turned out to be flat where we camped, and so we had a little of this sort of light in the sky, but sadly nothing on the ground...


A sunrise lacking any direct light did little for me so unlike Roger, who was up and working with his wide format cameras, I slept in then took a walk while he went back to bed. I left a broad ridge and dropped into this lovely gully to descend from my high point not far from patches of snow...

It's a big landscape when given scale by my camper...

Roger has a new puppy and she's quite proud of having stalked and captured an earthworm for breakfast...

I was fascinated by this low cloud coming in, obviously preceding very nasty weather. Our 4wd track was medium steep with patches of soil that would be tricky in the wet, so I was watching this phenomena with more than a passing interest knowing the only way home was down...

The only panorama shot I was happy with - like I said with flat light, to my mind we really only practised...

Once down from the tricky heights and just before the front caught us, we checked out an old gold mine I know of nearby...

Below the mine shaft there is a restored stamper battery...

While Roger made lots of photos I explored, and during such times in these places I ponder what it would have been like sans shade and shelter from the wind such as this apple tree now provides...

Of course there is lots of water right now in spring to help the sluicing for gold, but what must the scene have looked like without these recent willows, and what would the sounds have been like of people madly working to process as much rock as possible before summer arrived and the little streams became almost dry. Of course in winter in such shady places they'd be frozen. Central Otago is a land of extremes!

Returning I made this photo of Roger working, literally just catching his eye with only seconds of warning - anticipation is one of the keys to an interesting portrait...

Lastly just as the rain started, giving this Californian poppy no chance to open for business we just had to stop again as the colour is compelling, and with a backdrop of the Lindis Valley, one more picture had to be made...

Roger's photography website ... more>>

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Blogger Marg said...

you may not have been so happy with your photographic conditions but these photos manage to capture for me anyway that sense of central otago that you can only feel when you are there. I particularly liked the one of the stamper battery? ( not sure what that is) - and especially those stone walls. there are some of those on the otago peninsula ( both sides) and I often wonder about the making of them and how those early people must have endured such terrible hardship in this unknown remote place. Carrying all those rocks must have been very wearying after a while. Marg

October 26, 2009 at 9:33 PM  
Blogger Donald said...

Hi Marg

Thanks for your kind and interesting comments. You're quite right about the typical Central Otago look, and cloudy skies are part of it all. It's just that it's quite amazing when an illuminating shaft of sunlight touches the foreground somewhere. It certainly makes for a scramble!

You can read all about stamper batteries in my archives - the same one in fact...

And scroll down to the FRIDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2007 entry



October 27, 2009 at 8:41 AM  
Blogger Ruahines said...

Kia ora Donald,
What amazing country, and I love the fact you can also choose to drive to remote spots with all the luxuries afforded.
I had intended going out for a three day solo trip but changed my mind when looking back at my records. My luck with the weather on Labour Day has been a shocker. And though yesterday was brilliant during the day, it turned very ugly last night, making it very easy to nestle deeper under my blanket in bed and congratulate my self on wise decisions. Got a lot of long over due yard work done, and the mountains are still waiting. Have a great week.

October 27, 2009 at 2:01 PM  
Blogger Donald said...

Hi Robb

Well yes the luxury camping was quite a decision to invest in several years ago. A prime factor was as a means to keep bonding with my son post divorce. I was the house husband for 9 years until that interesting transformation in my life, and given much that transpired to keep us apart I figured a camper would be great as a step to let him know he and I, although parted, would continue to have many adventures, and so it's turned out to be a great investment.

I also had the funny thought that I'd have it as a fait accompli if I got into a new relationship!

However 4wd for it's own sake leaves me cold and like a mt bike I see this wheels aspect as a great way to see more of the amazing and vast landscape down here. Cetainly it's one thing to drive across and through the ranges, but to stay overnight in high places is a privilege. I think the highest altitude achieved has been 7000 ft. where I felt like I was in a plane as we jiggled and bounced along a ridge on the St Bathans Range. One remote place few ever get to on foot.

As for the weekend's weather: it got ugly here after we got down and home, so as happens the mountains were not open for visitors, so I think your choice a wise one!

October 27, 2009 at 2:16 PM  
Blogger Marg said...

Sorry it's marg here again - I forgot to give you that recipe and although it's late I'm awake worrying about sick child in Wellington - very sick -maybe has whooping cough? (Has been ill for over 6 weeks) So typing a recipe will be a diversion.
Coconut Biscuits from Stewart Island cook Book -supplied by Daphne Goomes.

1/2 c sugar
2 oz butter - that's about 60g
2 C coconut
1 egg
1 heaped T flour ( i used rice flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1. cream butter and sugar,add egg, beat well
2.Sift in flour and bp
3. Add coconut
4. Mix well- shape into balls. Flatten with fork or whatever suits.
5.Bake 300F (about 150C)for about 10 -15 mins. Best if cooked on Baking paper.

ALlow to cool on tray when cooked.
While cooling take a short walk to closest coffee shop - order your favourite coffee - stroll home - turn up the CD player - put on favourite music -enjoy cooled and by now crisp biscuit with favourite coffee and music. Your own moment of joy that trancends your daily existence awaits.

October 27, 2009 at 11:40 PM  
Blogger Donald said...

Thanks Marg

I'll try the recipe thanks - it reads well. I need to get into some more cooking stuff... used to be adventurous once!

It's a real worry when we're away from our kids and we know they're not well, so I hope you get some good news soon. As you eloquently say "joy that transcends your daily existence".

Working late here after a nice yoga practise, but sometimes they energise me and I suspect tonight is one of those times.

Anyway wishing you sweet dreams



October 27, 2009 at 11:48 PM  

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