Wharariki Beach Archway Islands New Zealand – Aotearoa

At the most northern tip of the South Island of New Zealand you have Cape Farewell and to the west you will find Wharariki Beach(top of the Kiwi’s Head) A short 20min walk through Department of Conservation land (Puponga farm park) that was once owned by the Riley’s. The walking track will bring you out at the top of a small sand dune with a view down the beach and the Archway Islands. Best time is at low tide and it can get very windy,  seals can be found coming ashore to rest in some of the caves along the beach, Oyster catchers black and white and black ones can be seen feeding along the waters edge with other sea birds.

Archway islands - Wharariki Beach NZ
Archway Islands, Wharariki Beach New Zealand
Wharariki Beach - Puponga New Zealand
Walk along Wharariki Beach

Getting There:

From Collingwood follow the signs to Puponga, crossing a large single lane bridge over the Aorere River, through Ferntown and on to Pakawau, turn right, keeping the ocean on your right. Once you reach Puponga you can drive up to the Farewell spit lookout (there is a good coffee shop at the end of the road) Back out to the main road turn right 20mins and you will of reach the parking area where the trail starts.

Hiking track to Wharariki Beach.
Looking across to Wharariki Beach from above the car park

We stayed at the Collingwood Park Motel on the Main Street of Collingwood, very nice.

Red Fox on the Hunt

Red Fox hunting rodents under the snow
Watching this Red fox hunting for rodents was very interesting and entertaining  moving his head from side to side, listing to the rodents movements under the snow (about 2 feet deep) and then jumping up and nose diving into the snow and catching it on the first try, a warm meal on a cold winters day 
Fox jumping
     The Jump                           
Fox diving into the snow


The Dive
Fox and his pray
The prize

Mountain Lion at my door

Mountain Lion visit

Sunday afternoon visit from a mountain lion near Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

We get Foxes, Coyotes, elk even Moose drop in from time to time to say Hi, but this is a first, considering the open ground that is around us.

Thanks to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife for picking him/her up and relocating.
Mountain Lion,Steamboat Springs Colorado
Mountain lion in the shadows
Mountain lion steamboat springs colorado
Not a happy kitty
Mountain lion walking passed the window,Steamboat springs Colorado
Mountain lion walking passed the window

Water Drop Photography

Waterdrop Photography

I have started to do a little bit of splash photography in my spare time, Once you have the setup that you like, Backdrops, water value, Pluto trigger, and a flash, Camera and lens. using deferent food colors and water thickness, liquid additives like Xanthan Gum (found on Amazon) Milk, Rise aid and the list goes on.

waterdrop photography
Water drop Cocktails

This process can be very addictive, using 1 drop to start, then 2 drops to start getting the collisions going, adding a 3 drop makes things interesting.

2 drop heads, waterdrop photography
Two drop Heads

Watching the small screen on the camera to see what you getting after every shot and before you know it you have a total photo count of over 400.

Double crown, waterdrop photography
Double Crown
Editing was done in Lightroom and/or Luminar

Galapagos Islands

Quito – Galapagos

After flying in from Peru and spending only 1 night in Quito, 1 or 2 full days would have been be nice, as it’s (be warned) an hour drive into town to accommodation from the new airport in good traffic, (tip) Next time we would fly into Guayaquil as accommodations are a lot closer to the airport,unless you were going to spend more time in Quito.

Quito City at Sunset
Quito City at Sunset

Day 1
The Next day it was up early to catch the transport back to the airport, through quarantine with plenty of time to catch our flight over to the Galapagos with AeroGal (great airline) we won’t talk about American Airlines and their service and flight (never again comes to mind)
Coming in to land we had a great view of some of the islands and the clear waters that surround them, with images of Great Tortoises in my mind, but alas I was to be disappointed on this day. Baltra Airport is very new and modern, a short time later we were through customs and waiting to board the bus for a 5 min ride down to the pier.
As we waiting for the zodiacs to take us and our bags over to the ship, sea lions showing off around the pier and my first Marine Iguana making his way across the road, filled in the time.
Once on board we were under way to Sullivan Bay on Santiago island for a afternoon walk on the lava field and our first Galapagos sunset.

close up of lava field Sullivan Bay
Lava Field
lava cactus
Lava Cactus
Sunset on Sullivan Bay Lava field
Sunset on Sullivan bay lava field

Gear For The Trip

Camera Gear that we took for the trip: Canon 7D sigma 50-500 (this lens is heavy)was my main lens that was on the camera most of the time(400mm would be just fine) for landscapes and some wildlife shots I use a Sigma 17-70 great lens,Tripod, Samsung NX300 with 200 zoom light and takes great photos also a GoPro hero3 for underwater video and stills. One thing to remember is the Wildlife is not that afraid, making it easy to get close to them.

Marine Iguana taking in the sun
Marine Iguana taking in the sun (Samsung NX300)

Check out more Galapagos photos at Wild Frog Photography – The Wildlife Around Us

Redwood National Park – California

After a long 12 hour drive up from Southern California I got into Crescent City to meet up with a friend that had driven south from Idaho and we were both glad to be out of our cars.
The next morning it was into Starbucks for the morning heart starter and a look around the town, first stop was Battery Point Lighthouse, sitting on a small island just of shore, the tide was in so the only way over would of been to swim, “note to self check tide table next time,” would of been nice to get across, also check out the group of seals living in the harbor enjoying leftovers from the fishermen.

Battery point lighthouse in Crescent City - Northern California
Battery Point Lighthouse – taken from the breakwater across from the island

Redwood National Park – Northern California

Making our way down the coast on a very misty morning, stopping at False Klamath Cove for a walk out to the point and a look around Lagoon Creek.

false Klamath Cove next to the 101 Hwy
Looking down onto False Klamath Cove from the 101

Trees of Mystery is a self guided walk through the Redwood ($15pp) and a ride to the top of the hill on the Skytrail gondola very enjoyable (check out Paul Bunyan and Babe)

After the tress of mystery, Klamath was the next stop for fuel etc, just over the bridge (going south) turn right and take the Coastal Drive road that follows the coast for a few miles some great vistas of the coast and also a great spot to watch the salmon fisherman and seals competing for a feed (when in season) and the old WW2 radar station.

Northern California coast line look north from the Coastal Drive Rd
View from the Coastal Drive Rd – looking north

Elk Prairie was our camping spot for the next 2 nights, all I can say about it – it’s great camping under these giant trees another spot is Mill Creek, these two are a must stay. From Elk Prairie you can do the Cal-Barrel road, drive over to Gold Bluffs Beach (the road is dirt) and do the short hike to Fern Canyon and check out the Beach, there is also camping there.

Gold Bluffs Beach, Redwood National Park
Gold Bluffs Beach – Redwood National Park

 Also close by is Lady Bird Johnson Grove on Bald Hills Rd (great view at the top of Bald Hills Rd) Elk Meadows, watch the Elk feed in the afternoon/evenings.
Two of the Hikes I enjoyed the most were Damnation creek trail and Boy Scout trail both about 3 miles each way, there are also loads of smaller walks around if you just want to take is easy. Remember to put your arms around a tree and give it a hug (probably have to be a group hug unless you find a small tree)  enjoy. Now for that long drive back to work.

Misty morning hike on the Damnation Creek Trail
Misty Morning hike on the Damnation Creek Trail
Damnation Creek Trail meets the Ocean  - Redwood National Park
A misty morning at the end of Damnation Creek Trail

Redwood Sorrel at the base of a Redwood tree - Redwood National Park
Redwood Sorrel(Oxalis oregana) at the base of a Redwood tree

Redwood National Park – Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park – Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park

Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens

Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens San Marino
The Conservatory in the Botanical Gardens

A Great way to spend the day around Los Angeles for Art Lovers and Botanical Garden fans. 

Not far from Pasadena in San Marino you will find the the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens on 120 acres of well keep grounds. (not counting the work that is being done on the grounds)
 First off I’am not the Library, Art collection type of person, however I did walk through most of the indoor exhibits, but at a faster pace than most stopping at the more well know bits “Gainsborough’s Blue Boy and Lawrence’s Pinkie, Gutenberg Bible on Vellum. (well cultured now you say)

Bamboo and Graffiti in the Botanical Gardens
Bamboo and Graffiti

The Botanical Gardens was the part that I liked the most, from the Chinese Garden to the Australian Garden, there was an abundance of wildlife to check out, from local resident birds to the hummingbirds buzzing around in front of us, and the lizards that were scurrying across the walkways and between the cactus, stopping for a quick look up and then carry on their way. Not a bad way to spend 4 hours or so.

Koi fish and lilies in the ponds at Botanical Gardens
Koi fish and lilies

Next time, and there will be one, I would go on a weekday (gates open at 10am) take a zoom lens for the hummingbird and Lizard shots, tripod and my Gopro for some time-lapse, the photos here were taken with a Sigma wide angle 17 – 70 that I was testing and using for the first time (very pleased with it)

The Wildlife Around Us

Over the last month we have had this Coyote coming into our back yard for the shade. As long as you are on the tractor or using the mower he just walks pass and takes his spot under the trees for the hottest part of the day.

California coyote in our yard
California Coyote

Another visitor is the the Red Tail Hawk that can be seen in the mornings hunting squrriels around the property

Red tail hawk resting in tree
Young Red Tail Hawk

Zanzibar: The Spice Island


Just off the coast of Tanzania (Dar es Salaam) You will find Zanzibar one of my favorite spots to hang out in. You have the resorts in the North (Nungwi) or you can stay in Stone Town, where ever you end up staying, swap around so you experience both places. You can catch the ferry from Dar es Salaam and enjoy an 1 1/2 ride across, inside with Air/con or outside on a bean bag, once you get there fill out the paper work, stamp the passport and you are in. To fly over it takes around 40 min great views of the islands, when we landed on this occasion they never looked at our Passports.

Resort on Zanzibar near Nungwi
One of the Resorts Near Nungwi, Zanzibar

If you are going to be going to one of the Resorts in the north of the island you can catch a taxi van just out the front of the ferry terminal ask around, prices can very.
Once there you have beaches, diving, swimming Cold beer and great food, dinning next to the ocean you can look down and see lion fish in the clear water below. When you are tired of doing that GO AND DO a spice tour which I would recommend as this what Zanzibar is know for.

Stone Town

Staying only 10 min from the ferry Terminal at the Safari Lodge the place was clean handy to every thing and they do breakfast, With a Labyrinth of walk/bike ways, Stone Town was a great place to get lost in (in a good way) from the Spice market to the Fish and Meat markets too the Tinga Tinga paintings that can be found down every street.

local street in stone town Zanzibar
Streets of Stone Town, Zanzibar

In the evenings you can find locals cooking seafood on the waterfront (try the octopus) cooked as you wait and watch, as you walk along the waterfront you will come across the road tunnel once through, there is a ATM to your left that can be used, take the next street to the right and walk down to the beach and you can find them making boats by hand, taking the street to the left, you will pass Freddy Mercury’s birth place and some bigger shops (little park on you right has a ATM in it also) at the end of the street there is Africa House great place to watch the Sunset and have a cold one, check out the smoking room.

feeding Tortoises in Zanzibar

Catching a boat next to Mercury’s Bar out to one of the local islands (Bawe Island) were you can feed some of the Tortoises they have there, ranging from the young and small to the big and old.

local boy on the beach in Zanzibar
local Boy, Zanzibar

Things to Remember

Ladies look at what the local woman are wearing before you go out in your little shorts and tops it’s ok in the resorts but when in the towns cover up a little and you wont get the funny looks.
Carry water.
Enjoy the Local People their culture and the great food. 

Western Fence Lizard

fence lizard sitting on a post
Male Western Fence Lizard

Western Fence Lizard

What ever you like to call these guys, ranging from Western Fence lizard, Pacific Fence or California Fence Lizard they make great subjects to photograph sitting on their tree stump or rock soaking up the the morning sun as the males do their pushups to impress the ladies. You can get quite close to them and over time they don’t seem to mine you being around.
       On this particular day he was out sunning himself trying to impress everything that walked passed, after setting up the tripod and camera this little guy seem to get more friendlier and came out for longer periods of time enjoying the spotlight.
       I was using a Canon 7D and Sigma 50 to 500 zoom lens for these shots, photos taken in the morning around 8am, Setting ISO 800 | 500mm | f/14 | 1/400

male western fence lizard on tree stump
Male Western Fence Lizard

  Larger photos can be seen at Wildlife Around Us 
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