Thursday 3 December 2020

Night Sky Cottages Are Go


What can I say but sorry folks for the lack of contact over the last few weeks. I know, here I am again apologising for the lack of posts, and shock, horror, I am really disappointed with myself that there were no posts for November. That's the first time in the eight year history of the blog that I have missed a whole month! 

Hence the reason I'm now posting this blog, I don't want December to follow suit! No, not really although there is a little truth in there somewhere. With a busy Christmas season ahead of us, I probably won't be back posting regularly again until the New Year.  

And many of you will know the reason for the lack of postings, for the last six months we have been parked up in Twizel preparing our property purchase 'Night Sky Cottages' for the holiday home rental market. 

Kahu Cottage

Hot tub under the stars- Kahu Cottage

It's been a long haul that didn't come without a lot of  'blood, sweat & tears', not to mention fog, snow & frosts but we are finally finished and are both thrilled with the end result! It's going to be hard to pull out of here next week, the roots have gone a lot deeper this time.

Kea Cottage

Wild Flower Garden & Strawberry Patch

Last night the cottages' Facebook page went live so I thought you might like to see them in all their glory, click this link below to view, find the 'Photo' tab at the top of the page for the interior shots and don't forget to follow if you'd like to keep up to date with the news, & views, of Mackenzie Country- 

Night Sky Cottages Facebook Page 

Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve

If I don't manage to get back here before Christmas, we'd like to wish all my readers a relaxing & happy holiday season after what has been a horrendous year for many of us. Keep safe & do get 'Out There' and explore your own backyard, you may be surprised at what you find. 

Take care & best regards

Shellie & David     

Wednesday 28 October 2020

Winter in the Mackenzie- A Hoar Frost; Part 4

Continued on from Part 3

I've finally finished processing five days of hoar frost photos! And there were some more beauties which I'd skipped over on the original hurried pass over. I've now loaded them into my hoar frost Flickr photo album so you can check them out there at your leisure. 

Frozen Briar Rosehips
Be warned though, there are a few hundred of them, it was very hard to select the best from a large bunch of amazing photos (if I must say so myself). Someone remind me next time there's a major event not to take so many photos. Because taking them is the easy (and fun) part, processing then is painfully long and then choosing which ones to upload & post, exceedingly tedious!

Kea Cottage- Night Sky Cottages
The photos in this blog are from days 3, 4 & 5 of the hoar frost. Each morning I tentatively pulled up the blinds expecting to find the frost had disappeared overnight (but knowing full well it hadn't going by the frigid temperature inside the van).

Our boundary fence
It was a delight every morning to see that frost was still coating everything within sight and building up in thickness too. The fog still hung low across the paddocks behind and in the distance over the canals & lake. Each day I headed out on a familiar circuit to check for any changes & also hoping to finally shoot my sought after blue sky hoar frost photo.

Ben Ohau Station
The frost wasn't so prominent on the trees surrounding the sheltered waters of Lake Ruataniwha's 'Lagoon'.

But up along the top of the cliffs, the frost covered pine trees looked splendid...

...and the pines along the track- heavily laden with ice crystals- reminiscent of a Northern Hemisphere Christmas scene. 

The moisture laden fog would have blown in over the top of the lake from the south, coating the trees exposed on the ridge along the lake's edge.

My favourite view over the lagoon was a little misty this time.

Motorists heading along State Highway 8 would have been in awe of the spectacle they were driving through.

Every day I drove a loop around Kellands Pond and everyday I shot something different (and it took me several hours). Here's another one of my favourite photos; look how still that water is. And what you can't see is me slowly disappearing into the water after jumping onto a partly submerged clump of tussock to get the right angle. Lucky I had my gumboots on.

The fog rolled back in thick & fast around the ponds on that day so I headed up the road a few kilometres to Lake Wardell, a large puddle of water surrounded by trees and wedged in between SH8 & the Pukaki Canal. 

Lake Wardell is also a freedom camping area where many of my readers will have camped (usually in warmer weather). 

Today it was a frozen & somewhat gloomy Lake Wardell, but even still, there were several hardy campers in residence! Brrrr.....

When I peeked out on the morning of Day 5 the fog looked to be retreating so hurriedly got ready and raced down the road to Loch Cameron to see if I could shoot a decent hoar frost sunrise.

Nailed it!
As the sun rose higher the fog rolled back and the cloud looked to be lifting too. I thought I might just get my blue sky shot today if I was lucky. 

Fraser Stream, Ben Ohau Station
Down at the ponds there were patches of blue sky and while I didn't get the perfect shot it certainly was a lot brighter and the scenery was just as amazing. 

The tracks of fellow photographers

I don't think I could ever tire of seeing how a hoar frost settles on the landscape, it looks just spectacular and very surreal.

 Enjoy this selection of photos from Kellands Pond.

By the time I reached the far end of the pond the blue sky had disappeared under a light cover of patchy cloud.

Even the raupo was coated in frost
At my all time favourite spot the water was once again a millpond making for a few more  perfect shots (I've actually put this one on canvas for one of the cottages and it looks fantastic!) 

With a loop around Kellands Pond complete I stopped for one more photo looking across Wairepo Arm before deciding to seek out some new territory before the frost disappeared.

I headed down the track on the south side of Lake Ruataniwha; it leaves the highway opposite the salmon farm. There were more amazing views across the lake and the trees were coated in just as much frost, if not more, than the trees on the other side of the lake.

I stopped often as I couldn't quite believe how thick the ice hung on some of the trees. Check out these photos, this frost wasn't just a little bit of ice settling on some trees. Once again you can see the direction the wind has blown the fog in from.

Although on this tree the branches were totally incased in ice. I had to resist the urge to break the ice off.

The scenery is stunning high above the lake. In the background Ben Ohau & Ben Ohau Range dip in and out of the cloud and I'm already thinking I must come down here for the autumn colours.

I could have easily driven on further but I turned around several kilometres down the track just before it drops down to lake level. It looked like the frost was thinning out further up the lake towards the Ohau River. 

I headed back to the main road, stopping often again as I saw the frost laden trees from a different angle.

Once out on the highway I pulled in just a few metres up the road to take some photos of another of my favourite views, looking across the lake to the small pine covered peninsula and Ben Ohau Range behind. (I've also had this pano put on canvas, it looks magnificent)

And then it was quick skip across the road to take a photo of the old Iron Bridge to add to my collection of 'Iron Bridge Photos' taken through the seasons; snow covered, autumn colours, spring greenery, summer dry and winter bare and now I have a hoar frost photo to add to it too!

I can see that the weather is changing, there's a bit of blue sky but heavy cloud is rolling in from the east. I stop for one last photo overlooking the lagoon (shall I tell you I have this one on canvas too?)...

...and then another stop further up the lake above the boat ramp...

...and at the lookout overlooking the Ohau River outlet and Ben Ohau. 

It wasn't long before the monster bank of dark cloud catches me up, and with the cloud comes a warmer temperature. I have a feeling this will be the beginning of the end for the hoar frost.

Isn't Mother Nature amazing? The cloud formations over the Mackenzie Basin never fail to impress me.

I head back along Pukaki Canal, back past Loch Cameron (no frost in sight) and stop just down the road from home. 

The frost is now fast disappearing off the trees and the loud noise as the ice crackles and crashes through the branches is a surprise. 

It falls at my feet like snow and coats my camera & head as I stick them under the branches to check it out from the inside (silly move).

And then that was that, my five days in hoar frost heaven ended. It was time to head home & check in with David, he's nearly forgotten what I look like, poor man. 

Kahu Cottage- melting fast
And within an hour all signs of the frost are gone, quietly melted back into the landscape. 

Kea Cottage- gone

And, I can't wait until next winter... 

Footnote- talking about cloud formations how is this for a sunrise taken a few mornings ago. Canterbury's infamous nor'west arch provided an impressive backdrop to the stunning colours of sunrise.  Some of you will have already seen it posted on Facebook where it's proved to be very popular with over 40,000 views and a few hundred shares (I always joke when I see these impressive numbers, 'If I had a cent for every view.....') 

A stunning sunrise over Night Sky Cottages