Category Archives: photography

Wetas, cave wetas, and lagniappe (cat versus weta)

Some of the most unusual endemic insects in New Zealand are the wētā, orthopterans. They’re often referred to as “crickets,” but they’re in the families  Anostostomatidae and Rhaphidophoridae and not the cricket family (Gryllidae). Although Wikipedia says that there are 70 species of wētā (all endemic to this country), there are doubtlessly a lot more, as another guide […]

Rotorua: falcons and other birds

My amiable and gracious hosts in Rotorua are Geoffrey Cox, a terrific artist who specializes in natural history (website here, more on his art later) and his wife, Barbara Hochstein, a crack radiologist. Today (Monday) Geoffrey took me to—among other places—the Wingspan National Bird of Prey Centre in Rotorua, New Zealand. The goal was to see […]

Wellington to Puhaka Mount Bruce

Yesterday (Friday), I went to the Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre in the company of Phil Garnock-Jones, an emeritus professor of botany at the University of Wellington. The Centre is about two hours north of Wellington, and on the way we passed the “Beehive“, the executive wing of the New Zealand Parliament. Built between 1969 and 1979, it’s […]

New Zealand: From Picton to Wellington

Yesterday morning (I’m writing this on Thursday), I was driven to Picton, detouring through the famous Marlborough wine region (vineyard below), famous for Sauvignon Blancs. But I also saw some Pinot grapes on the vines. The ferry from South to North Island, and vice versa, goes between only two ports: Picton and Wellington (New Zealand’s […]

New Zealand: A sheep station (and mussel lagniappe)

Yesterday Don MacKay and I were invited to a “sheep station” (the word “ranch” isn’t used here) to tag along with a bunch of American wine buyers visiting New Zealand to sample the local sauvignon blancs and pinots. Don and his wife Karen are long-time friends of the station’s owners, Paul and Muff Newton, and the […]

New Zealand: Pelorus Bridge and thereabouts

I’m staying near Pelorus Bridge (not a village but a small bridge over the Pelorus River), famous for being not only the first bridge from which somebody bungee jumped, but also for featuring in one scene in a Hobbit movie, to wit: Part of the pretty Marlborough Sounds at the very top of the South […]

Big fun in Nelson

I spent two days and three nights in Nelson, graciously hosted by American expats Tom and Ann, who spent much of their lives teaching in “American Schools” across the globe, but have landed in Nelson. As one of the sunniest places in New Zealand, a lovely town of 50,000 on the northern coast of the […]

Travels in New Zealand: to Nelson via Pancake Rocks

On the way to Nelson two days ago, we passed through Paparoa National Park on the west coast of the South Island, one of New Zealand’s smallest national parks. It’s famous for its limestone geological formations, nearby blue penguins (I didn’t see any) and the rock blowholes, where the sea violently enters the caverns it’s carved, sending […]

The quest for the elusive kea: staging and preparation

Tomorrow is the day I head up to Arthur’s Pass from Greymouth to look for keas, the world’s only alpine species of parrot. I’m hopeful that I’ll get to see these remarkable birds, because the pass is where they are most easily found. In preparation, today I traveled from Fox Glacier north to Greymouth, took a […]

From Queenstown to Fox Glacier (with added Milford Sound bonus)

My trip to Milford Sound was pretty much a washout–literally. It was pouring rain the whole time, and while the ship’s captain made a great to-do about the lovely waterfalls that spill down from the top of the fjord when it rains, he was just making a virtue of necessity. One couldn’t even go outside the […]