Wordless Wednesday: Skull



The Steampunk Capital of New Zealand

Oamaru. Population 13,000. Last time I actually stopped here I was with my parents when I was a teenager. This time, some years later, I stopped here for lunch with my daughters. And, we were impressed with the recently restored historical Victorian precinct.

According to Wikipedia, steampunk s a sub-genre of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s.Steampunk involves a setting where steam power is still widely used—usually Victorian era Britain or “Wild West”-era United States—that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy  (

These photos are in front of the Steampunk HQ. Unfortunatately, we didn’t have time to go inside and have a look. Next time, I think we might stop the night to visit properly and to visit the World’s smallest penguins, the blue penguins at the colony just close to the harbour.

Wooden posts and sharks

St Clair beach in Dunedin; a stunningly beautiful beach perfect for windsurfing. Although the weather in the morning was beautiful and warm by the time we visited the beach in the afternoon, black clouds started to threaten us from above. We did manage a quick walk down the east end of the beach so I could take these photos.

The waves were much too rough to go swimming with water regularly splashing, as the tide was incoming, above the steps that lead from the boardwalk down to the beach. Instead, we took ourselves west to the 28 degree celsius hot salt water outdoor swimming pool, nestled in the rocks at the end of the beach. The pool was first opened in 1884 and heating was added during the 1960s. As we were swimming in the hot water, waves were regularly crashing into the rocks with the surf being thrown against the sides of the pool.

These much photographed wooden posts on the beach are the remains of an old breakwater.

The girls asked me why there was a shark warning bell at the beach and what would they do if they heard it while swimming. Get out as fast as you can would be very good. Luckily we didn’t need to test how fast we could get out of the water.

Grandfather Bill’s Paintings

I so wish I could draw and paint like this. Unfortunately, I can’t, but Olivia and me are one day going to throw some globs of paint at a canvas with our paintbrushes, call it “modern art” and see how much we can get for it on Trademe.

The girls were delighted to find three of their grandfathers’ artworks on display at the New Zealand Academy of Arts in Wellington:

Now, which one is my dad and which one is my uncle….

1979 versus 2012, which one is the better looking and more innocent… (Had to convert this one to black and white since I made such a hash job of the photo. Sorry, John you turned out bright yellow!)

You can see more artwork at

Jack, a budding artist at work painting a watercolour after Grandfather Bill showed him how to…

Sushi Train

In Japan it’s called kaiten-zushi (conveyor belt sushi) or sushi-go-round. In South Korea, it’s known as revolving sushi. It Australia and here in New Zealand, it’s known as a sushi train as the plates of sushi usually go around a track on the back of a train rather than the plates going around a conveyor belt. Our first visit to a sushi train (the Catch Sushi Bar in Wellington, which actually had a conveyor belt) was deemed a very successful visit, and at NZD43 for a family of three it was pretty good value.

You simply pick a plate with some sushi on it. Each plate had two or three pieces, a great way to sample various types of sushi, and each plate was coloured-coloured. We paid a price according to the colour of the plate and number of plates in front of us at the end of our dinner. We stuck with the cheap red-, green-, and blue-coloured plates.The cheapest being $2.80 and the expensive was about $6.30.

Mmmm, that one looks good….

Shutter speed 1/52. ISO 800.

Moeraki Boulders or Eel Baskets

When my daughters saw these rocks and asked me where they came from, I suggested that maybe aliens planted them there. They didn’t believe me. However, Maori legend has it that the boulders are the remains of eel baskets, calabashes, and kumera washed ashore from the wreck of a large sailing canoe (Āraiteuru) that was wrecked at nearby Shag Point (Matakaea).

Some 60 million years ago, the Moeraki boulders on the Otago coastline of New Zealand started forming on the ocean floor. Centuries of coastline erosion have revealed a spectacular view of these curiously large spherical boulders.

The largest boulders are as big as 3 metres in diameter and weigh several tons. It is estimated that they have taken 4 to 5.5 million years to grow. The boulders consist of mud, fine silt, and clay, and cemented by calcite. The degree of cementation varies from being relatively weak within the interior of a boulder to quite hard within its outside rim.

Shutter speed 1/100.  ISO 400

Shutter speed 1/1400. ISO 400

Shutter speed 1/640. F-stop f/5.6. ISO 100

This next photo shows large cracks known as septaria formed in the boulders. Brown calcite, yellow calcite, and small amounts of dolomite and quartz progressively filled these cracks when a drop in sea level allowed fresh groundwater to flow through the mudstone enclosing them. This particular large boulder has split over time revealing its inside.

Shutter speed 1/80. ISO 400

Shutter speed 1/500. ISO 100

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Shutter speed 1/500. ISO 100

A Day to Remember

Shutter speed 1/250. F-stop f/3.2. ISO 100

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Shutter speed 1/125. F-stop f/3.2. ISO 100

Shutter speed 1/105. F-stop f/4. ISO 100

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Shutter speed 1/640. F-stop f/6.4. ISO 100

Shutter speed 1/125. F-stop f/3.2. ISO 100

Shutter speed 1/450. F-stop f/3.2. ISO 800

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Shutter speed 1/38. F-stop f/3.2. ISO 100

A private joke….Looks like the two Liams may be practising for when they’re old enough to go down to the local for a pint and a gossip.

Shutter speed 1/140. ISO 400

Shutter speed 1/150. ISO 100

Finally, the men are doing the dishes….

Shutter speed 1/75. F-stop f/4. ISO 800

Shutter speed 1/85. ISO 400