19-25 March ’11
The second half of my photography packed weekend.
Note – Please allow me to apologise for the somewhat haphazard layout of this blog post. The font, colour and formatting tools have gone haywire, I cannot get the look to carry through consistantly. 😦
The Lovely Man and I had been umm-ing and ahh-ing about what to do on Sunday. A drive over to Woodville, heading down Pahiatua way and back home via Marimer Domain? A trek up the Wharite Peak? Spend the day trying to drum up trade at the local market? Finally we settled on a plan. Pack up the kids and a picnic and head south.
We drove through the Manawatu countryside and up in to the Tararua ranges behind Shannon. It’s years and years since I’d been up there – I barely remembered the place. We arrived at the power station in good time, so elected to go on up to the dam. (Funny, it used to drive me crazy as a kid when my Dad wanted to stop and view every hydro-electric power station dam that we came across)
From Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand:-
Mangahao power station and damsLocated 10 km into the Tararua Range from Shannon. Water from the east-flowing Mangahao River is channelled through pipelines on the steep slope above the station. The drop is more than five times that at Niagara Falls in North America, ending at the west-flowing Mangaore Stream.
The Mangahao scheme, built between 1920 and 1924, provided electricity to Wellington, the Hutt Valley, Manawatū, Whanganui and Wairarapa. Mangahao, Arapuni and Waikaremoana power stations were the beginning of the North Island transmission grid.
Building the Mangahao scheme was hard work. All three construction sites – Mangahao and Arapeti for the dams and Mangaore for the powerhouse – were in narrow gorges. The Mangahao site was the worst – all accommodation was in floorless tents, it rained 200 days a year, mud was everywhere, and clothes were often damp and mildewed.The risk of sudden floods complicated construction in the 1920s. The river’s normal flow could quickly become a massive 510 cubic metres per second, sweeping away equipment and levelling earthworks. The tunnelling was also dangerous, and seven people died. Prime Minister Bill Massey opened the dam on 3 November 1924. At that time Mangahao was the country’s largest power station, but it is now one of the smallest. Today it has a capacity of 38 MW, compared with 360 MW for the Tongariro power scheme, for example. Mangahao is run by Todd Energy and King Country Energy. Annual national kayak and canoe championships are held on the Mangaore Stream.
The drive up to the dam was fun. Not far past the power station we went ‘off the grid’, so to speak. The Navman didn’t know where we were, anyway. A narrow, one lane logging track makes for fun times when you pass vehicles coming the other way. It seemed remarkably busy up there for a Sunday morning. Eventually we arrived at our goal, the Arapeti dam, a concrete edifice in the middle of the bush. It was so quiet up there. Hardly a breath of wind, and the only sound was bird song – heavenly. End of summer, the water level is dam low. The skeletons of the trees that were inundated when the dam filled are evident around the shore, along with bricks and building timbers left behind by the construction crew. And a whole lot of broken beer bottles. Old ones made of really thick, almost black glass.Exif F-Stop f/5 ExpTime 1/250sec ISO Speed ISO-200 Focal length 50mm
While this was an interesting place to visit, and we all had fun walking along the lake shore seeing what we could see, the backdrop of mud, dead tree stumps and logged hillsides was not very photogenic.
The boys had fun tossing stones in to the waters.Exif F-Stop f/5 ExpTime 1/250sec ISO Speed ISO-200 Focal length 18mm
After we cleaned the mud from the shore off our shoes we drove back down to the power station car park.
The Mangahao Power Station
I just love this building. It looks so danged industrial. Here’s a picture taken circa 1924
And here is my version. Almost 100 years on and it looks the same.Exif F-Stop f/10 ExpTime 1/160sec ISO Speed ISO-200 Focal length 18mm
I used my circular polarising filter to get the nice deep blue in the sky.
I especially like the details in the parapets and the stair railing.Exif F-Stop f/11 ExpTime 1/160sec ISO Speed ISO-200 Focal length 70mm For this picture I converted to B&W, upped the black level, cropped to square and then sharpened. All to bring out the rugged, worn but strong architectural nature of this stair rail.
I like this shot – close up on the fern frond, with the white water park’s slalom poles in the background.
It was getting on towards lunch time, and tummies began to rumble. We piled back in the car and headed towards the coast. After a quick stop in Foxton for a picnic at the playground we drove out to the beach.Exif F-Stop f/5.6 ExpTime 1/320sec ISO Speed ISO-200 Focal length 125mm Exif F-Stop f/5.6 ExpTime 1/320sec ISO Speed ISO-200 Focal length 100mm
We walked down the beach a little way, and had the place almost to ourselves.
We hadn’t come prepared for swimming. I really didn’t expect the weather or the water to be conducive. Wrong again. No wind, the water was warm enough that even I would have considered a dip. The kids paddled and played chasey with the waves.Exif F-Stop f/5.6 ExpTime 1/320sec ISO Speed ISO-200 Focal length 112mm
“Watch out for those sneaky incoming waves, guys!”Exif F-Stop f/5.3 ExpTime 1/320sec ISO Speed ISO-200 Focal length 86mm Exif F-Stop f/5.6 ExpTime 1/320sec ISO Speed ISO-200 Focal length 112mm Exif F-Stop f/5.6 ExpTime 1/320sec ISO Speed ISO-200 Focal length 125mm Exif F-Stop f/5.6 ExpTime 1/320sec ISO Speed ISO-200 Focal length 112mm
Shortly after this, Billy the Kid stripped down to tee-shirt and jockeys. Guess who got the job of carrying back the sodden sweatshirt and trou??