I’ve spent a couple days down in Wellington, took the long way (ie driving ~ 10h) to get all the wonderful scenery that New Zealand has to offer. The weather was dreadfull and I got caught in a storm all the way to Taupo (where I stopped overnight), and then again the next day when closing in on Wellington. I even had to do some fording in a Ford, on some actual flooded roads... Here are (some of) the pictures I’ve taken, with some commentary on top. All taken with a Fujifilm X-A1. Lenses were XC 16-50mm (atop Mount Victoria), XC 50-230mm (all the bird shots) or XF 35mm (all the panoramas were taken with it, and stitched in lightroom).

Two pictures of the same scenery atop Mount Victoria at different times of day. THe first shot is actually an HDR (done in LR). As usual, for the second one, my favourite (and only, ah!) tripod was used, Gorillapod Hybrid.

Let’s move on to Zealandia, as they call it, a EcoSanctuary. It’s located in the middle of Wellington and houses endangered endemic species of New Zealand thanks to an 8.6km long fence that keeps the undesirable out (read: cats, possum, stoats, ....). This green heaven houses Tuataras (the mini dinosaur reptile, not the car), several species of Geckos and Lizards as well as endengered birds (once again, only birds used to live in NZ). The one pictured above is a Shag (That’s a really Groovy name, Baby).

This is a Tui. A bird know for its singing (it makes some really weird sounds, metallic sometimes), that’s considered to be as smart as a parrot as it can replicate human sounds and words (they used to be trained by the Maoris). It’s not actually not endangered. But it’s always nice to spot one. Oh and here’s one fucking with a Kaka (source: Wikipedia).

Speaking of Kaka, here’s a couple of them (I’ve already posted a pictured of these earlier in the week). It’s parrot, it’s a forest parrot, and they are smart. They are from the same family as New Zealand other annoying parrot, the south-island only Kea, which is a mountain parrot know for its ability to open your backpack and steal your stuff or for trying to enter your car by eating the rubber seals. The Kaka is a really wonderful and vulnerable (alas) bird. They’ve been introduced to Zealandia a bit more over a decade ago, and are know seen all over Wellington (though they still come back to the park to breed, eat, sleep).

The Takahe is a flightless bird, it is bigger than a chicken and critically endangered. Thanks to New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (they make some incredible work), the bird was brought back from the brink of extinction (around a 100 left 30 years ago), to not-so-close-to-that-dangerous-cliff now, around 260 are alive today, scattered across several sanctuaries (on remote islands, or on the mainland). The Department of Conservation is fighting hard to keep New Zealand endemic species alive: pest control, predator-free islands, sanctuaries, ... This is these effort that also brought back the Kakapo (a flightless parrot) from near-death with less than 60 alive in the 80’s to 126 today.

To finish with the bird, I give you a not vulnerable at all bird, the New Zealand bellbird. Zealandia also houses some Kiwi birds but since they are noctural, I haven’t seen them as well as Wetas (those creepy mouse-sized grasshopper).

Speaking of Weta, here’s a sculpture made by the artists at Weta Workshops, the masterminds behind most of the special effects of the Lord of the Rings. This is part of the Gallipoli Exbihition at Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum. It’s a wonderful and heart-wrenching exhibit that’s on till mid-december, so if you’re in New Zealand before then, it’s absolutely a must see. And the museum entry is free for everyone.

The sculptures were bigger than me (and I’m 6ft3) and with detailed I had never seen before. Amazing work.

This propeller is seating next to Te Papa.

This is a New Zealand Fur Seal resting and sun bathing near the Red Rocks in Wellington.

And before leaving Wellington, here’s a view from next to the first wind turbine installed in the country. HDR done in LR.

On the way back to Auckland I took an even longer way and followed the west coast. This is inside the Cape Egmont (near the Taranaki) lighthouse.

As always, larger version (and the rest) of these pictures can be found on my Flickr :