Friday 30 December 2022

The Magic of Bioluminescence

- 29/12/22 Westshore, Napier, Hawkes Bay

What a way to end the year! Known as the 'aurora of the sea', I've been wanting to witness this amazing phenomenon for a long while. There's an algae bloom in Hawke Bay at the moment, close into shore & mostly along Marine Parade and around along Westshore & Bay Views' foreshore.

I missed the last bloom in Napier by one day. I wasn't going to miss this one but it took 3 nights of patiently waiting (at the beach) before the plankton really came out to play. I didn't want to leave but when I looked around about 12.30am & saw I was the last one standing I thought I'd better head home.

Bioluminescence is a natural phenomenon usually caused by an algae bloom of plankton. A bioluminescent sea will glow when it’s disturbed by a wave breaking or a splash in the water at night. And yes it's this bright & this blue. And there is a large algae bloom happening in Hawke Bay at the moment. During the day the sea along the coast is a rusty brown colour.

The bright lights are the Napier Port on the right, Whirinaki Mill on the left & ships waiting to berth in the middle.

I've also uploaded a video showing the magical movements of the bioluminescence here

There are three types of 'glows' in the ocean and this one is bioluminescent not phosphorescence as some might think. Bioluminescence is different & rarer to see.
An explanation courtesy of Schmidt Ocean Institute-
'Glow in the ocean falls into one of three categories: bioluminescence, phosphorescence and fluorescence. Bioluminescent organisms produce their own light generated by a chemical reaction, you might see this type of glow in a photo or video of certain deep-sea animals.

Phosphorescence and fluorescence are distinct from bioluminescence in that these phenomena involve the transformation and re-emission of light, not the production of new light.

Phosphorescent and fluorescent molecules absorb light and then re-emit that light in a slightly different form (more specifically a different wavelength). Phosphorescent molecules and fluorescent molecules differ in the time-lag between when the light that excites the molecules is received and when the transformed light is re-emitted. The emission from phosphorescent molecules is slow – think of the glow-in-the-dark stars you may have had on the ceiling of your bedroom as a kid. These phosphorescent stickers have to be “charged up” with light and then they slowly emit a faint glow over an extended period of time.

Fluorescence differs from phosphorescence in that the transformed light is re-emitted almost instantaneously. Think about going “cosmic-glow” bowling and how your white socks glow under the black fluorescent light.

To recap, bioluminescence is like running through the neighborhood at night with a glow stick, phosphorescence is the glowing stars on your bedroom ceiling and fluorescence is the glow of your socks at disco bowling'.

Tuesday 6 December 2022

Diesel Heater Servicing Review- HEATPORT

It's been a few years since David wrote his one & only blog post for me (a Takacat dinghy review) but he has now written another review for my blog.

We have been living full time on the road in our fifth-wheeler for over 10 years now and after spending the last five out of six winters in the South Island we have never regretted our original decision to run with diesel heating. Here’s our blog on the original diesel heater installation.

Lake Ruataniwha, Mackenzie Country
As many of you will know, my wife Shellie is a very passionate photographer and adores the Mackenzie District especially during winter with the incredible hoar frosts and snow falls amongst other things. Also, with us now having an interest in Twizel (Night Sky Cottages) it has meant spending more time there and our heaters were very often working overtime during the many days & nights of sub-zero temperatures. 

The heaters (we have two 2.2kw heaters) were starting to show signs of excessive smoking at start up and servicing was well overdue. Although I consider I am reasonably handy and certainly quite capable of removing the heaters from their locations, I was reluctant to strip them down for servicing even after watching several very informative You Tube clips. 

Another surprise I found out after doing quite a bit of research on the internet was that some parts were indicated to be in short supply for our model heaters mainly due to shipping delays and the current low stock levels held in New Zealand. 

During this research I came across a company called HEATPORT who specialised in diesel heaters. They are located in Cheviot, North Canterbury and as we had a trip to Christchurch planned I decided to extend our travel and visit their operation. And I was very glad I did.

Although located off the beaten track, I was immediately impressed the moment I entered HEATPORT’s factory and the photos included in this blog post should clearly endorse my first impressions. 

Also, after talking to the owner, Pango, and his serviceman Tomas, it was obvious that their knowledge for diesel heaters was extensive and that they were very enthusiastic for what they were doing. Consequently I had no hesitation in booking my two heater units in for a thorough service.

Tomas & Pango with friendly dog Sarah

We based ourselves just up the road at the NZMCA Park at Parnassus and it was arranged to take one heater at a time to them over the next couple of days which at least left us with one heater to deal with the cooler nights. 

NZMCA Park, Parnassus, North Canterbury

Part of their recommended service plan is to firstly do a full heater diagnosis to analyse the heater’s overall condition followed by a visual inspection and also to test the pump for the correct flow. The results showed most things were working fine but both the heat chambers were quite badly contaminated. By far the cheapest option was to replace the parts. One heater was also found to have a damaged glow plug assembly which was probably caused by some poor servicing in the past. This also needed replacement.

After servicing I reinstalled both units back into our van and they are back to working just fine. 

Letitia testing heaters

Finally there is certainly a lot of varying views expressed on social media forums regarding diesel heaters and spare parts that are manufactured in China. I for one, was very sceptical to begin with, but I was very well satisfied that HEATPORT are being diligent and very selective in only using the best products from the top manufacturers out of China.

Tomas at work
All in all I am very happy, also impressed with the lower costs involved and certainly have no hesitation in recommending this company.  

HEATPORT show room

Sunday 27 November 2022

Gibbs Sculpture Farm

And the final blog from out Northland travels. Click on the photos to enlarge. 

You'll recall I was offered a free ticket to an open day at Gibbs Sculpture Farm by our neighbours at the Muriwai Holiday Park. They'd bought tickets for two days just in case the weather wasn't great on the first day. 

Gibbs Farm, Kaipara Harbour
They headed off on a lovely sunny day, the next day- my day- wasn't so good; overcast, grey & threatening rain but I hardly noticed. I was out the door early & one of first in the car queue through into a top paddock carpark (no surprises there). 

Rakaia 1996/1997. Peter Nicholls
Gibbs Farm is an expansive open-air sculpture park on the edge of the Kaipara Harbour, north of Auckland. It has the greatest collection of large-scale outdoor sculptures in the country with works by some of the world's most renowned artists. The sculpture park took 24 years to create & employs over 28 people.

‘Horizons’ (1994), Neil Dawson
I once heard Neil Dawson, the artist of  Horizons talking about his work. He said it like a curved piece of corrugated iron, from an old farm tank, that has sprung loose and blown in the wind to settle on the hilltop. And it sure looked like that. Added to the surreal scene, yaks & rare breeds of horned sheep grazed on the slopes below the sculpture.  Dawson is also famous for The Chalice in Cathedral Square, Christchurch.

‘Te Tuhirangi Contour’ (1999-2001), Richard Serra

Gibbs Farm, Kaipara Harbour
The park is only open to the public a few days each year and the owner Alan Gibbs (entrepreneur, businessman & art collector) generously allows local charities to run the open days & fundraise selling tickets.

Red Cloud Confrontation in Landscape 1996. Leon van den Eijkel

Pyramid (Keystone NZ) 1997. Sol
It was great to get there early to take photos before there were too many people swarming in, around & over some of the more popular sculptures. Although a few hundred people soon disappear in the landscape.

Tickets Please- Otis the Ostrich 2019 (I named him)
By far the most popular exhibit, going by the strung out rows of tiny ant like people making a beeline for it, was 'Dismemberment', looking like a gigantic red megaphone high up on a hill.

‘Dismemberment, Site 1’ (2009). Anish Kapoor.
The farm covers over 400 hectares of rolling hills & a good level of fitness and sturdy footwear are required if you want to get up close & personal with the sculptures.

‘Dismemberment, Site 1’ (2009), Anish Kapoor.
I wonder how many people noticed the art work 'Green & White Fence (1999-2001), Daniel Buren', it contains fence posts painted, well, green & white, & placed at 4 metre intervals and is 3.2km long. I found it pretty hard capturing the whole sculpture but you can see it in the two photos below! 😁

At the top of the hill- Sea/Sky Kaipara (1994) Graham Bennett

Sculptures are located high on hilltops, down on slopes, tucked into gullies and in paddocks beside the harbour. 

A Fold in the Field (2013) Maya Lin (yes, it's those mounds in the paddock)
There is no public entry to this part of the farm but it looks like there's a fair bit going on down there. I wonder if that is where the private full-scale wild west farm complete with saloon is located. Although it looks more like a island resort to me. Someone will know.

And there's that fence again.

It is a large farm and it takes at least four hours to follow the sculpture trail.

‘88.5° ARC x 8’ (2012), Bernar Venet
There are even a few sculptures located out on the Kaipara harbour mudflats that can be viewed from a few locations along the walk- I didn't manage to see any. 

Gibbs Farm, Kaipara Harbour

‘Te Tuhirangi Contour’ (1999-2001), Richard Serra.
The farm also includes quite a surprising number of exotic animals such as zebra, bison, buffalo, yaks, giraffe & an assortment of rare & unusual breeds of cattle, sheep & goats.

Buffalo- Mumma & her son
One of us is not like the other- Jeff the Giraffe gets a lick from the Gibbs Farm dominant real life male giraffe (salt forms on the sculpture from the salt laden Kaipara Harbour air). There are 3 male giraffes, they are big animals and very tall, it's just that Jeff is much taller!

Giraffe (2011-2012), Jeff Thomson
The giraffe are the only remaining Rothschild giraffe in New Zealand and Gibbs Farm is a registered zoo with suitably qualified staff taking care of all the animals.

I'm sure the animals hate open days- they are contained in smaller paddocks & yards
The ponds have fish in them and various types of waterfowl congregating lakeside. 

Easy K (2005) Kenneth Snelson & Red Square (1994), Richard Thompson
I had a fantastic time exploring the farm, visiting most of the sculptures and saying hello to some of the more friendly animals...
Umbrella Ostrich 2019
Towards the end I wanted to reverse my route & revisit some of the sculptures again, see them in a different light, capture them at a different angle but sadly time was up and groups of tired, bedraggled people dragging their feet (it had rained on & off), slowly made their way back up the hill to the top carpark. Those that were in the bottom carpark had already climbed to the top in the morning. 

‘Dismemberment, Site 1’ (2009). Anish Kapoor.
If you ever get the chance I'd highly recommend a visit to Gibbs Farm. The farm & artworks might be privately owned by a very wealthy businessman but he very generously shares this magnificent landscape with visitors through the open days. You won't be disappointed. 

And a huge thankyou to the lovely visiting Dutch couple who gave me one of their tickets, it was very much appreciated & enjoyed. 

‘Dismemberment, Site 1’ (2009). Anish Kapoor.

‘Jacob’s Ladder’ (2017), Gerry Judah.

Floating Island of Immortals (2006), Zhan Wang

What do you think? Did I managed to capture 3.2km of THAT fence?

‘88.5° ARC x 8’ (2012), Bernar Venet

Monday 31 October 2022

Muriwai Gannets

Continuing on with our Northland travels from before Covid. I thought I'd better finish soon as we're now heading back to the North Island for a few months!  And I'm afraid it's going to be a bit of a gannet photo fest.

Our last stop before heading into Auckland was at the Muriwai Beach Motor Camp. I wanted to check out the gannet colony and also try for some west coast sunset shots.

Muriwai Beach
The gannet chicks were in various stages of development; tiny bald youngsters, big fluffy white chicks & motley coloured juveniles testing the limits of their nest boundaries & flapping to strengthen their wings 

A tender moment with a parent
Time to take 40 winks

Contemplating life in the colony
There's not a spare piece of real estate left on all available rock stacks & plateaus
Juveniles watch on as an adult displays
"You keep off my patch you here?"
Can you see the lookout at the top? there are areas you can watch the gannets from
Muriwai Beach
I managed to capture the sun setting on the first night...

...and also had some great light on the way home.

But the next evening it was very unsettled and then a bank of cloud rolled in. I still found some great subjects to photograph; fisher people & other photographers.

When I got back to camp, David was having happy hour with our neighbours who were visiting from the Netherlands and travelling around the North Island in a motorhome. 

He had a surprise for me, they had offered us two of their tickets for the open day at Gibbs Sculpture Farm which wasn't too far back up the road, you'll remember we passed it on the road to Muriwai. They'd bought four tickets for two different days so they had options if the weather wasn't great. They'd decided to go the next day so we could visit the following day. 

David decided he wouldn't go so they kept that ticket to pass onto someone else. There was no way I wasn't going! I couldn't wait...