An afternoon of birds in the city

Yesterday afternoon (25 July 2009) I went for a walk with my camera in Travis Wetlands, Christchurch. This land was once used by my great grandfather to run a herd of cows, and sold the fresh milk around Christchurch from the back of a horse drawn cart –  my mother remembers this from when she was a young girl some 80 years ago.  Today, the last remnants of the ‘bog’  or ‘swamp’ as it was once called has been saved from the encroaching houses is now a valued and award-winning ‘wetland’. Check out their website, and visit when you get to Christchurch – you can get there by public bus.

A farmstay on the wonderful westcoast, NZ

We all know of the wildly popular Wild Foods festival in Hokitika – mountain oysters, possum kebabs, and huhu grubs tickling our tonsils – but how about Hokitika for some R&R during a quieter time?


Apart from walks in the bush or on the beach, watching the dramatic sunsets, or other such relaxing things, what else is available in Hokitika? There is plenty so check out the visitors centre when you arrive. For history buffs the 22 point heritage walk is a great way to get to know, and see, some of the early pakeha history. (described in a freely available brochure)

Hokitika was settled in the 1860’s following the discovery of gold. For Maori pounamu (greenstone) was the natural treasure here and today there are a number of places you can watch carvers as they transform the extremely hard rock into traditional or modern pieces.

web cabbage treeJust north of the town boundary is the Glow Worm Dell – a free opportunity to see these magical tail-lights which are designed to attract food onto the sticky threads from which the worm hangs. Make sure noise is kept to a minimum as you gaze on the thousands of little lights.

Hokitika is also a good base from which to explore other West Coast delights such as Okarito to see the kotuku and of course the glaciers to name only two.

While on the Coast I stayed at  B&B Farm stay – Berwicks Hill  in Ruatapu, 14 ks south of Hokitika. Perched on a hill it provides wonderful views of both the Tasman Sea and Southern Alps. It lived up to its advertised “warm and friendly stay”.

Owned by the Berwick family for three generations, the farm is now run as a hobby farm. Close by is the beautiful Lake Mahinapua with its great bush walks, a golf course, and the beach. With only two rooms for guests booking ahead is recommended -arrive with an empty stomach as the food is superb too.

Visitor Centre

Cnr Tancred & Hamilton Streets

Phone 03 355 6166 fisherman in clear waters

Berwicks Hill homestay:   Phone NZ 03 755 7876

pecha kucha: I help 79 men become monks in thailand


monk takes photos at the Grand Palace in Bangkok
monk takes photos at the Grand Palace in Bangkok


Pecha Kucha Night is a presentation format for creative work originally devised by Astrid Klein and Mark

Dytham of Klein-Dytham Architecture (KDa) in Tokyo, Japan in 2003.

The name derives from a Japanese term for the sound of conversation (“chit-chat“). A Pecha Kucha Night is a non-profit orientated event that is part of an international network and consists of a format where presenters show a data slide-show of 20 images, each of which is shown for 20 seconds, giving a total presentation time of 6 minutes 40 seconds.

Each event aims to have a maximum of 14 presenters. Presenters (and much of the audience) are usually from the design, architecture, photography, art, music and creative fields. The event format has been replicated in more than 172 cities including London, San Francisco, Seattle, Rotterdam, Shanghai, and Berlin, as well as in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Nelson. Events are usually limited to one each month per city and to a minimum of four events per year.

Pecha Kucha Nights Auckland is currently organising their twelfth event, Wellington hosted their fourth event in late 2008, and Nelson, Hamilton and Dunedin have recently joined the New Zealand contingent.  The next one in Christchurch New Zealand is on the 2nd April and features this blogger – the kiwitravel writer – anda presentation on  how she became involved in helping create Buddhist monks from 79 ordinary men to celebrate and commemorate the King Of Thailand’s birthday.

Below are some additional links to more information about Pecha Kucha Nights in New Zealand andinternationally:

15 top tips for great photos

Make your holiday snaps even better and impress your friends with these simple hints

Maheshwar, India
Maheshwar, India

Want friends to love your holiday photos? try these tips

Travel sharpens awareness of our surroundings; the different, the unusual and it’s these things, the view of a new eye that makes great photos.

As a travel writer I take many photos during my first few days in another country, a different culture. (

If you want your photos to be more than a mere record of your travels try these tips.

  1. Keep your camera with you : some of my ‘best photos’ are the ones I missed by not having my camera read
  2. Filling the whole frame adds impact to many pictures
  3. Eliminate the unessential, cut the clutter. Don’t try to grab it all.
  4. Early morning and late afternoon have the most favourable light.
  5. Avoid midday as overhead sun drains the colour.
  6. Simple blocks of bright colour make bold statements look at other people’s photos to see what works, what catches your eye.
  7. Vertical shots are great for height and portraits, while horizontal ones are good for getting some background.
  8. Hold your camera at an angle for some fun shots: I won a photo-of-the-month prize because my angled shot stood out.
  9. If possible, leave the subject lean on something, or put their weight on one leg for natural pose.
  10. Take photos when the person is unaware of you.
  11. Use a background that enhances the subject: don’t have poles, trees, or the Eiffel tower growing out of your subjects’ head
  12. Balance the picture; rarely does the subject look great right in the centre.
  13. Take a series of photos: signs, doors, sunsets, fountains, or faces.
  14. Use something to frame the subject, a tree trunk and branch, a door, a window – but not with all your photos.
  15. Finally, be considerate and don’t take photos of people who don’t want to be photographed – eg the hill-tribes of Laos. If I believe I will publish a photo of people, I get permission to do so (when possible) and pay them in an appropriate way.
Takahe - a colourful native
Festival of the Hungry Ghost. Malaysia
Kaikoura, New Zealand
%d bloggers like this: