Tag Archives: Pohangina

Space to Escape

14 June ’13

Last Sunday afternoon, Cat, Gran and I drove up the Pohangina Valley to check out the exhibition of  local artist, Jill Walcroft. I didn’t take my camera with me, so no photos in this post.

We’d driven up to County Fayre the previous Monday, Queen’s Birthday, in the hope of seeing the exhibition.  But sadly there had been some miscommunication between the venue and the person who organised the advertising – they’re not open public holidays.  It didn’t matter, it’s a lovely drive.  Especially at this time of year with the last of the autumn leaves still clinging to the trees.

This time we arrived to find several other patrons enjoying the afternoon tea on offer at the cafe, and Jill herself was there to great us.  She introduced us to her exhibition, Space to Escape.   Jill’s paintings range from flower mandala and  landscapes, to floral depictions and portraits.  Sales are going well, with about half the paintings already sold – a great result so far.

Jill Walcroft - Artist

Space to Escape

The painting that’s depicted on the flyer is my favourite, I like it very much.  In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that the colours in the painting would clash with the decor in my living room, I think I’d convince the Lovely Man that we should buy it!

While we were there we had a look at the historical photographs and maps that decorate the walls of the cafe.  I love old maps, it was fun trying to figure out what has changed up the valley in the hundred years since the maps where printed.  We indulged in a Devonshire tea – perfect fluffy scones with jam and cream. Delish!

The exhibition runs until the end of June – take the drive up to County Fayre and have a look – you’ll be pleased you did.

Small Holder’s 2013

1 Feb ’13

We’ve been attending the Lion’s Small Holder’s auction for years.

2011 – “Every January the Ashhurst Pohangina Lions Club holds its annual Small Holder’s Auction on Andrew McDonald’s farm. This is the Club’s major fund raiser for the year. Thousands of people make the drive from Palmerston North and surrounding areas to check out the livestock and chattels that are auctioned off in small lots.”

2012 – “Every year we take the short drive up the Pohangina Valley to attend the Lions Club’s Small Holders Auction. It is the Club’s major fund raiser for the year and always worth a look.”

Each year the event seems to get bigger.  According to the paper, it’s been running for over 30 years.  So this Saturday just gone, Nathan and I jumped in the Spitfire and tootled up the valley for a look.  (We’re liberated now that the kids can be left to their own devices for a few hours.)

Pohangina Lions Auction


I loved this wonderful old retro freezer.  I don’t know if it’s a runner, but as everything was made to last back in the day, I bet it is.  Hopefully it went to a home where it’s luscious curves will be appreciated.

Pohangina Lions Auction

Row F

 The organisers had set up rows A -H to lay out the lots for the auction; they had Continue reading

WeekFour – Small Holders

22 – 28 Jan ’12

Every year we take the short drive up the Pohangina Valley to attend the Lions Club’s Small Holders Auction.  It is the Club’s major fund raiser for the year and always worth a look.  And I’ve found that there are guaranteed to be some interesting characters, too.

I’d seen this gentleman a couple of times, and snapped him once.  As the morning progressed I spotted him again. He was a distance away and looking more or less in my direction, without the sun at his back which had been the case earlier.  I quickly framed my shot with the farmer as the subject – not entirely sure that he was looking at me.  I always feel a little intrusive taking photos of strangers, so I continued taking a couple more shots over his shoulder so that he wouldn’t be on to me.  Hmm, subtle eh?

White bearded farmer

A small-holder?

 F-stop                   f/8
Exposure time     1/200 sec
ISO                       ISO-200
Focal length         125mm 

The original shot had the whole torso of the farmer and a little bit too much of that nasty white sky.  I’ve cropped in closer for better composition, and I was delighted to find that he actually was looking directly in to the lens.

I’ve had to slightly lighten up the right side of his face and under the brim of his hat.  I also cloned out an official in a flouro lime-yellow vest over his right shoulder – too distracting.  One thing that was bothering me was his eyes, they seemed dull. I was thinking how much better the portrait would be if I’d had a flash to create some catch lights in his eyes.  I zoomed right in to see if I could figure a solution.  When I looked closely I discovered that there was a catch light in his eye not obscured by his hat.  The sky behind me was reflected in his eye, but only slightly.  Using the magic of Photoshop I isolated the area (barely two pixels high by about ten across) and simply lightened it up to make it more obvious.

I am pleased with the result.  I love his weathered, care-worn face, his amazing beard and fly-away hair.  I also like the low morning sun that side lights his features.  I hope that he’d be happy with this portrait should he ever see.

Week37 – Totara Reserve

10 – 16 Sept ’11

The forecast of a beautiful spring day prompted us to  plan a re-visit to the fragment of native bush in the Pohangina Valley.

Forest Giants

Recently I saw some photos taken looking straight up between a group of tall trees.  The wide angle lens used caused a curved effect, making the trunks appear to lean inwards over the viewer.  I was inspired to try some ‘up the trunk’ shots myself.

I’d taken only my 50mm lens with me, so I didn’t get the same leaning-in effect, but I still rather like the results.

Totara Reserve, Pohangina Valley

Luminous Leaves

Totara Reserve - Pohangina Valley

Looking Up

Totara Reserve - Pohangina Valley

Nature's Majesty

Walking amongst these giants, laying hands on the mossy bark, leaning against their solid living trunks to get these shots, I was awed.  We were dwarfed beneath their towering branches, and yet walking in the bush does not feel oppressive. Glimpses of fleeting clouds, the beautiful song of the tui, Continue reading

Week15 – Limestone Creek Glow Worm Caves

9-15 April ’11

I would like to apologise in advance for the poor processing on some the of following photos.  I’m learning how to drive some new software.  Bear with me, hopefully there will be an improvement by next week.

The Pohangina Valley

This weekend we decided to take the kidlets up to the glow worm caves at Aptiti.  Saturday had dawned blue-sky perfect.  We packed up picnic supplies, torches and gumboots and set off mid-morning.   The valley formed by the Pohangina River runs south from its headwaters high in the  Ruahine Ranges to Ashhurst, were the river empties in to the Manawatu .  It’s a beautiful, and I think under-appreciated, part of our country.  The views from the road as we wind north from home are spectacular.  At this time of year the the valley is changing to

The Pohangina River Valley - dressed in Autumns splendor

golds and reds as Autumn works her magic on the foliage.  The low morning sun glistens off the ribbon of river in the valley floor. The recent rains have created an almost obscene over-abundence of lush green grass on the farmland.

Tree Ferns, ponga

Tree Ferns, dinosaur fodder

The pocket of native bush that is Totara Reserve reminds us of what the whole region used to look like – one can easily imagine dinosaurs munching on the tree ferns and grazing on the jewel green mosses.


We stopped for a brief snack break on our journey.  There is a drive way and a grassed area that used to be the camp ground and picnic spot of choice at the Reserve.  This area was wiped  out in the floods of Feb 2004, it could have been repaired, replanted and rebuilt.  However, in Dec 2006  tragedy occured.  Three  children,  Keryn and Callum Langley and their cousin Michael Liengme were swimming with their families.  The bank above the river collapsed, trapping and killing the children.  This part of the river is now closed,  so says the sign erected by the council.  I don’t think the sign is necessary.  There is a feeling of sadness and neglect that has settled over that stretch of river, no one wants to swim there now.  So we stopped to snack.  We stood on the bank and contemplated the huge pile of soil and rock that still lies in the river where the children were swimming.  We enjoyed the sunshine and the birds singing from the totara tree tops, because life goes on.  And I thanked my lucky stars that it wasn’t my kids swimming in that river that day.

Limestone Creek and the Glow Worm Caves

Both the lovely man and I visited these caves as kids.  On separate occasions we stayed at the near-by Sixtus Lodge, an outdoor education center used by schools in the area.   We have vague memories of a scramble down the hillside, splashing through the creek at the bottom, and the dark mystery of the cave twinkling with the  little glow worms’ lights.

Kidlets at the start of the track down to Limestone Creek

A sign at the top of the track warns us to be careful, that this is a remote experience area.  And it reminds us to respect that we are entering private property.  It’s refreshing to just have a sensible warning sign, and then the freedom to use our own common sense.  No fences barring the way, no cotton- wool-wrapping to save the unwary from themselves.  We don our gumboots, arm ourselves with torches and head down. Continue reading

Week5 – Small Holder’s Auction

29 Jan – 4 Feb ’11

Every January the Ashhurst Pohangina Lions Club holds its annual Small Holder’s Auction on Andrew McDonald’s farm.  This is the Club’s  major fund raiser for the year.  Thousands  of people make the drive from Palmerston North and surrounding areas to check out the livestock and chattels that are auctioned off in small lots.  The turnout seems to get bigger every year – estimates run to about 3000 this year according to the Manawatu Standard..

The crowds gather, another paddock is opened up to park all the cars.  The guy on the gate asks, “Is there any one left in Palmerston North?”.  Townies and farmers alike meander through the rows of chattels, kids in tow.  Antique wardrobes, almost-antique  electrical appliances, fence posts, toys, records and record players.  Screen doors, shovels, toilet pans, and a trailer load of coal ranges.  A motor cycle, saddles, lamps, a radiogram, stationary engines, chairs, a trampoline frame and a stack of hay bales.  I’m sure I saw some of this junk – erm – fine merchandise last year.

Kids and Toys

One item among rows of goods up for auction catches my eye. A lovely tin rocking horse, his paint a little thin and patches of rust showing through.  Still, he’s in pretty good condition – no dents, he has all four legs and his rocker is in working order.   How many small children have rocked and rode to far-away lands on his little red saddle?  The elderly lady in the background (skirt and gumboots – has to be a farmer’s wife) somehow completes the picture.


Ghost of toys past


Next we move on to the livestock sale.  Here we can bid on a mama alpaca with

Continue reading