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  Thursday, 30 September 2004

I went to Rabbit Island after work today.  It was a grey and blustery afternoon. A stiff north-west wind was blowing in on the beach. The low tide was due at around 5.30pm. Rabbit Island is only open to the public during daylight hours so tonight the gates would close at 6.30pm. That gave me a window of a couple of hours from about 4 o'clock to go buggy.

Off all the kite buggying scenarios, this has to be my favourite conditions. A storm blowing in with rain on the way. When a northerly front like this rolls in theres generally a good blow for 6-12 hours before the rain hits. Thats the time. The beach is usually deserted so no need to limit speed. In the breeze we had today a 3 meter kite was more than enough. I flew my 3.0m Flexifoil Blade II, a fast, punchy and powerful little ram-air foil. If the c-quads I usually fly were cars, they would be family sedans. Big, safe, powerful, but predictable. The Blade would be a formula one race car. Awesome performance, if you can handle it! The wind was right on the edge of its safe range. The occasional gust would try to pick me up off the buggy. I was travelling up and down the beach at about 45 kph before my speedo stopped working because of the rainwater. I'm sure I hit 60+ once or twice during gusts. The only other life form I saw in the whole 9 kilometres of beach was one guy on a blokart. He packed up and left though, just after I blew past him for the third time (whooping and yahooing and I went). Usually a blokart can go faster than a kite buggy; today I think it came down to the sanity of the pilot.

I packed up and left just before the gates closed. Sand down my pants, face numb from cold, and a grin from ear to ear.
7:34:24 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 29 September 2004

"In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock."
Thomas Jefferson

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9:08:36 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 27 September 2004

Photos from Saturday at Wharariki Beach...

Awwwwwwww.... A seal pup stops for a look at the humans on the beach. There was a group of three or four pups playing in the shallow tidal pools while the parents watched from several hundred meters aways on the rocky shelves of the islands. These pups were really bold and playful. One of them thought it was great sport to come rocketing out of the water and land belly down on the beach as close to the humans as he could, there by giving them a fright and making them leap back. Again and again he did it. Others were chasing each other from the water to the beach and back to the water, in a never ending loop of joyful fun.

I took this picture with a 55mm lens so you photographers out there can imagine how close I was able to get to these guys. There are more pictures of the seal pups in the photo album I've published on the kite club site and some prints too.

Wharariki's coastline is extraordinary (print).

This is the area where the seal pups were playing at low tide.

My kite buggy in the foreground and one of the more stubborn parts of the coast, that seems to have found immunity to erosion.

Craig in his Big-foot buggy.

The advantage of those Bigfoot buggy wheels is, given enough wind, you can play in the softer sand of dunes like these, with out the fear of getting stuck.

Theres heaps more pictures in the NKC photo gallery and I've made some prints available.

Next time I visit Wharariki won't be far away, and I'm going to make point of getting to the beach by sunrise to photograph it. It could be quite a challenge getting there in the dark if there isn't any moon. But thats another adventure, for another day.

Ok.... the thirteen dollar question... whats it gonna be for Wallpaper Wednesday this week?

8:49:31 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 26 September 2004

"Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home."
John Howard Payne

I'm back after an awesome weekend. I'm tired and struggling to stay awake long enough to finish this post. I have flown kites on no less than four different beaches, kite buggyied on two of them, camped two nights in my camper-van, and even went for a paddle in my kayak!

I have heaps of photos to post, especially of Wharariki Beach which is a kite buggyiers paradise. Tonight I'll post the first few and spread the rest out over the next couple of days...

Friday evening I arrived in Pakawau just before sunset. I set up camp under a pink sky at the Pakawau Beach Camp.

From driving to camping in 2 minutes flat.

Saturday morning this was the view of Pakawau beach from my campsite. Note the toi-toi flowers indicating the offshore breeze; note the best for kite buggying. Wharariki Beach is about 20 minutes drive, plus twenty minute walk from here. Why go all that way if theres a perfectly good beach at Pakawau? Because Wharariki is spectacular. Tune in tomorrow for pictures of this wild place, and a good kiting yarn. : )

must sleep now...
9:00:07 PM    Comment []

  Thursday, 23 September 2004

Its been a strange week at work. It's week 1 of 2 of the school holidays so the College I work at is pretty much deserted, apart from a few tradesmen and teachers on training courses. They leave me alone in my little office and I plod away. I've been keeping srange hours too, arriving early in the morning so I can take long lunch breaks or go to the beach at 2pm.

While having McD's for lunch today I found myself wondering what they do to the ice in their drinks to keep it from melting. Then I wondered if the same technology could be employed to keep the polar ice caps from melting, thus combating the effects of golbal warming.
Now thats what I call a brain fart.

This weekend is shaping up to be a big one. I'm planning to kite buggy on Wharariki Beach on Saturday. At least one other kite buggy pilot is planning to be there, and an email has been sent to the Nelson Kite Club inviting anyone to join us. I'll be camping at Pakawau Beach Camp on Friday night and then heading to Wharariki (10 minute drive away) mid-morning on Saturday. You can drive to within a kilometer or two from the beach and then a walking track is the only way in from there. It means lugging kites and buggy all the way along the track, through farmland and bush. The beach though, will be worth every bit of the effort... if the wind is right. Fingers crossed for a strong onshore breeze. If the weather is good and looks like continuing I'll probably stay over there on Saturday night too, and have another go on Sunday. Kaycee is booked in for a weekend at my parents (where I'm sure she will be more than comfortable).

Heres a shot of Wharariki from the last time I was there. This weekend, unlike this picture, the tide will be low and there will be even more beach to buggy.

8:43:56 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 22 September 2004

There's spring bulbs flowering everywhere this week. I thought I'd bring you a shot of the daffidols behind the house as a desktop wallpaper but I couldn't decide which one... so you choose.

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5:58:39 PM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 21 September 2004

"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered."
Nelson Mandela

8:32:37 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 19 September 2004

Sometimes, as an exercise in photography I challenge myself to sit or stand in one spot, and see how many good photographs I can find, from that one point of view. Often it is surprising how many shots there are, especially using telephoto lenses. This morning I stopped on my drive home and sat in the sun, in a rest area for a while. While sitting there I looked around through the viewfinder with my 75-300mm zoom lens on the camera. Its amazing what you see when you look for long enough...

Going by all I know about aerodynamics and the laws of physics (not much admittedly), this creature should not be able to fly, let alone manoeuvre around these flowers with the precision and agility displayed here.
8:23:31 PM    Comment []

My friend Devon went to Wellington on the Picton (inter-island) ferry this morning. He's into week 2 of his first holiday in years. I gave him a lift over to Picton this morning, which is about and hour and a half drive from Nelson, to catch the 10am sailing. I managed to get a speeding ticket on the way, for doing 92kph in and 80kph zone. 12kph over = $80 infringement fee. I won't complain. It was a fair cop, I wasn't paying attention to my speed, in fact I thought I was going faster than the little machine on the patrol cars dashboard said, but I kept that to myself. I still got Devon to the boat on time and then drove home via Queen Charlotte sound, at a somewhat more leisurely pace.

10 points to anyone who can guess which passenger is Devon. Clue for the really short-sighted: He's looking back through his binoculars.

The Interisland Ferry, Aratere, leaving Picton headed to Wellington. The first hour of its three hour journey will be winding through the Marlborough sounds to emerge into the exposed waters of Cook Straight. This shot was taken from a lookout at the start of Queen Charlotte Drive where I stopped for a coffee before driving home (speeding ticket in hand).
7:03:05 PM    Comment []

I've been prolifically photographic this weekend. So much so that yesterday I just ran myself into the ground. I went to bed Saturday night absolutely shattered.

It started after work on Friday when I just felt the need to get away, anywhere. I got in the van and drove, leaving home right on sunset having no idea where I was going to go. I ended up touring around until about ten o'clock when I parked up at the Spooners Range Lookout again. The three sunrise photos I published yesterday night were taken from there.

Saturday morning I still felt like driving so I went for an excursion up the Aniseed valley. This is a popular picnic area and I remember many summer days from my childhood swimming in the river there. Further up the valley is the Hacket Picnic area which is the start to the Hacket track. An hour an a halfs walk down that track is the Whispering Falls. I walked to the falls and back, filling almost 750mb worth of memory cards in the camera on the way. I got rained on walking back and wet feet from river crossings. By the time I got back I was wet, cold and tired. I drove home and almost collapsed into bed right away. I held on long enough to eat something and publish the three sunrise photos. In my mentally and physically drained state there was no way I could muster up any words to go with them.

Here is my Saturday in pictures...

The Hacket River full with the recent spring rains.

Some blossom along the track-side.

This is just one of the larger Whispering Falls. The falls are actually all over this hillside. Little cascades of water spring from the bush at every turn. The floor of the forest is a network of little streams created by this rivers indecisive descent of a mossy hillside.

The view looking down on some the falls.

One of the literally hundreds of smaller falls that litter the bush. In many places the track was the path of least resistance and became part of the flow. It was impossible to keep my feet dry (I have holes in my boots) walking this part of the track.

I was already wet from the falls when it started to rain on my way back. I had a rain jacket with me but I was still very cold by the time I got back to the van. The cold drained my energy and as a result I went to bed in a unhealthy state last night. I had a splitting headache and my body was aching from chills.  I felt sure I would wake this morning with a cold.  But it seems a good nights sleep (12 hours straight) was all my body needed to get it together again.

12:55:30 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 18 September 2004

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  Thursday, 16 September 2004

6:59:11 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 15 September 2004

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"It is the mind which creates the world about us, and even though we stand side by side in the same meadow, my eyes will never see what is beheld by yours, my heart will never stir to the emotions with which yours is touched."
George Gissing

8:44:31 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 13 September 2004

I spotted this guy, stalking his dinner in the estuary behind Rabbit Island, yesterday afternoon on my way home. I pulled the van over to the side of the road and took this picture through the window, so I didn't spook him, and break that intense concentration.

It is a White Heron (Egretta alba modesta to be precise) or Kotuku (NZ Maori name). They are rare (only about 15 breeding pair) in New Zealand which just adds to their mystic. Another species for my collection.
6:29:20 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 12 September 2004

Today, for the first time in many months, we got wind, on the monthly Nelson Kite Club Rabbit Island event. Woo hoo! I've just got home and I'm all buggyed out.

 A nice northerly breeze was blowing when I arrived at the beach just after midday. I was the first one with a kite in the air, and the last on to leave just before sunset. The breeze stayed pretty steady all afternoon and was perfect for my 8.5m c-quad. Four other kite-buggiers showed up during the afternoon along with a handful of other kite fliers. One club member turned up with a newly acquired sand yacht, which was rigged on the beach. It looked rather large and cumbersome next to a kite buggy but this thing is made for some big speeds that a kite buggy could never reach. There wasn't quite enough wind for it today but the guys still got it rolling using a 8.5m c-quad instead of its mast and sail, just for fun.

Roy launches his 8.5m raspberry flavoured c-quad. Thats my kite buggy in the foreground.

The sand yacht Equinoxe and its proud new owner. I think it's a very aesthetically pleasing vehicle and I'd love to try it out in a good strong wind. I'm told it is easily capable of speeds in excess of 100kph!   8D

Of course with this bright orange beauty sitting in the middle of the beach, with four or five kite buggiers cruising past it, back and forth, it wasn't long before someone suggested it....

And what do-ya know, it worked! (but it doesn't look to comfortable being the power guy.)

Kite buggying is always more fun  when there's someone to chase.

I think I played to hard...
9:21:49 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 11 September 2004

Last night I drove back to the picnic area at the source of the Riwaka River. The weather forecast was for rain, which arrived during the night, in the form of a heavy drizzle. It provided just the right light to photograph this river between light showers this morning...

This shot is right beside the spot I parked at 12.05 this morning. With everything looking fresh and green after the rain, and the soft light provided by the overcast sky, the river was looking particularly colourful at first light.

Me and the van. Just having a quick brew before walking the track to the river source.

A fifteen minute walk through some beautiful native bush is even nicer in the rain.

Heres the spot where the river emerges from the side of the Takaka Hill. Divers have explored this cave as far as they can. What to know whats down there? Check this diagram out (courtesy of the D.O.C. signage at the location.)

A few hundred meters downstream the river breifly disappears beneath a labarinth of rock again...

Under these boulders is the river. Clambering over the top I could faintly hear it but could not see any water.

The flow emerges again at the Crystal Pool.
5:23:13 PM    Comment []

  Thursday, 9 September 2004

I've been chasing fantails in the backyard again. I've been trying for ages to get a good shot of a fantail in flight in natural light. They are fast little buggers. Masters of aerobatic flight, they catch flying insects on the wing. I could watch them for hours. In fact I have watched them for hours, trying to get the shot I want. I haven't found it yet but I'm enjoying some of the out-takes anyway...

8:48:46 PM    Comment []

I needed to go grocery shopping this afternoon, but when I finished work a smooth, steady northerly breeze was blowing so I went for a kite buggy on Neale Park instead. I guess I'm having cereal for dinner tonight. The sacrifices we make...

I got this little windsock for the radio aerial on my camper-van, so I don't look so much like a loopy in a rental (not sure if thats working, but I like it anyway). Today it was spinning happily while parked at the sports field, and doubled as a indicator of the direction of the shifting wind. As you can imagine, on the road at 100kph its really spinning! I wonder if it will last to Northland and back on my upcoming road-trip (only 45 more sleeps).
6:58:10 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 8 September 2004

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7:32:40 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 6 September 2004

I've been out and about all weekend. I didn't get home until after dark on Sunday night and I went almost straight to bed, exhausted, too tired to even blog. So today I catch up with all the photos.

My Sunday drive took in the Riwaka River Resurgence which is a beautiful spot my family used to visit for picnics when I was a kid. It is just how I remembered it minus the swings and slides which have been removed (thanks to public liability law). A short walk from the picnic area, through some virgin native bush, is the spot where the Riwaka River emerges from underground at the base of the Takaka Hill. The water is incredibly clear and the surrounding bush is lush. Plant life clings to everything...

I must return to the Riwaka River Resurgence again soon with a bigger tripod and more time to explore. I think most of the good angles for photographs will be found from the middle of the river, clear of the overhanging bush. I'll need the heaviest tripod I can lay my hands on, a good pair of waders, and steady feet.

Then it was off to the top of the Takaka Hill to find Harwoods Hole. Harwoods Hole is a mouth to a huge cave system that is 176m straight down. The track to find the hole is as wonderful as the attraction itself. Its hard to walk through this place without keeping an eye out for Golem behind the moss covered rocks.

I was kicking myself for leaving my tripod in the van for this walk. The light was very low but the colours vibrant. I needed long exposures to really get the saturated green. The shot above was one shot I managed to hand hold steady enough. Another spot I'll be returning too soon, with more time.

The view from the ridge above Harwoods Hole was worth the climb over jagged rocks...

6:54:25 PM    Comment []

  Friday, 3 September 2004

10:44:23 PM    Comment []

  Thursday, 2 September 2004

I just spend half and hour typing up a long post which consisted of a long list of things I need to do before my road trip (which is still seven weeks away, but closer than Christmas). I had just finished running my spell checker over it and was about to post it when my laptop inexpleciably shutdown. Just powered off (and yes it was plugged into mains and not running on batterypower). I lost the whole post! Maybe something is trying to tell me not to plan so much?

I am now going to sulk and watch a movie instead.   ...dam machines, mumble, mumble....
9:01:22 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 1 September 2004

Underwater kite flying - Video 317kb.

(Since I pinched this little clip from the DVD I bought the other day, I thought I should at least link to Prism, who made it, so you can all visit their site and think about buying one for their cool kites.)

9:35:57 PM    Comment []

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9:02:30 PM    Comment []

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