Te Mata Peak

Sunny landscape looking up towards three triangular peaks with grassy hills in the distance on the left.

Looking up at Te Mata Peak is nearly as dramatic as the view from the top. This was taken about half way up, past the Peak House cafe looking south. You can just make out Te Mata Peak Road off to the right. Due to the camera angle the actual peak is on the left of the three tallest looking parts of the mountain. The other two are lower but from this low angle look higher. The Te Mata hillscape has a legendary story. Many centuries ago the people living in pa (fortified villages) on the Heretaunga Plains. They were under constant threat of war from the coastal tribes of Waimarama. At a gathering, a wise woman suggested that the leader of the Waimarama tribes, a giant named Te Mata, could be made to fall in love with Hinerakau, the daughter of a Pakipaki chief. Turning his thoughts from war to peace. This mission was quickly accomplished. Te Mata fell under the spell of the beautifully Hinerakau. The people of Heretaunga had not forgotten the past and wanted revenge. They demanded that Hinerakau make Te Mata prove his devotion by accomplishing impossible tasks. His last task was to bite through the hills between the coast and the plains. So that people could come and go with greater ease. Te Mata died while eating his way through the hills. His half-accomplished work can be seen in what is known as The Gap or Pari Karangaranga (echoing cliffs) and his prostrate body forms Te Mata Peak.

Craggy Range Winery

View of winery buildings from above, surrounded by trees and vineyards with ponds on each side and a straight road in front.

There are more than 200 vineyards and 70 wineries in the Hawkes Bay region of New Zealand. Craggy Range is a family owned winery producing a large collection of wines. This photograph almost looks like it could be from a drone. It is actually taken from about half way up Te Mata Peak. I didn’t get a chance to visit their cellar door and taste any of their wines. Another thing to put on my list for next time I’m in the Hawkes Bay. They also have a restaurant and a small number of cottages and lodges for guest accommodation.

Hastings from Te Mata Peak Road

Hilly grass covered landscape with windy single track sealed round and Hastings city in the distance.

The first stop on my road trip around the North Island was Te Mata Peak. This is the view north from the top of the peak at nearly 400 metres above sea level. In the foreground is Te Mata Peak Road winding up the mountain. This is the one road up and down the mountain for cars. At the top there is parking for around 20 cars. In the distance is Havelock North, a suburb of Hastings. I had intended to walk up the mountain. There are many hiking and biking trails. It takes at least 2 hours to do the walk. On the day this was taken I didn’t have the time as I wanted to explore more of the near by towns and villages.

Tree on Lake Taupo

Single tree with no leaves, surrounded by the lake water with a tiny amount of stoney lake shore in the foreground.

Lake Taupo is New Zealand’s largest lake. Last year I was making the drive along it’s shores about once a month. Having seen photographs of this tree on Flickr and Instagram I was keen to find it. Unlike “That Wanaka Tree” it isn’t on Google Maps and I can understand why. It took me five or six stops and short walks along various parts of the shoreline to find it. It is practically in someone’s back garden. So like other photographers, I won’t be sharing this location publicly. The small island to the left of the tree is Motutaiko Island. This photograph was taken with one of my neutral density filters in front of the lens. This allows for a longer exposure time in the middle of the day. In this case 8 seconds long with an aperture setting of f/16. Giving the water this blurry appearance. Next time I’m in the area on a clear night, it would be interesting to try and get a star filled sky behind the silhouette of the tree.

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