Kakacophony

I must confess it, I’ve had this article in mind for quite a while. Before I even arrived in New Zealand, I knew I would write an article with this title.

The pun was easy. New Zealand kaka (Nestor meridionalis) are parrots, and as such, I expected them to be noisy. My first encounter with them, in Hahei, confirmed it, but I never got to see them up close. When they flew over the property, though, their cackling voice echoed loud and clear. I was eager to meet them again.

I was looking forward to visiting Zealandia for this very reason. In the hills of Wellington, a huge fence closed an area of 225 hectares, creating a sanctuary free of pests where native fauna can thrive. Most of the birds are similar to those in Tiritiri Matangi, with a notable difference: the Kaka.

I heard them before I saw them, of course. As I walked along the lake, then in the forest, I heard them screech high above. Then I arrived to the feeders.

New Zealand kaka (Nestor meridionalis)

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What’s in a pic: Common redshank

In my first What’s in a pic article (two years already, check it out here!), I described how I used noise reduction to enhance an image. I also presented other tools and techniques, and now that I read the article again, I find my old self quite… naive. A lot has changed in how I approach photography and post-processing, that’s for sure!

In today’s article, I explain the thought process behind the picture of a Common redshank (Tringa totanus) I took on Kylmäpihlaja. Please see my last piece here for more pictures of this beautiful place and its inhabitants.

It started with this shot. I liked the light, warm and soft, and the foreground elements coming from bushes positioned between me and the bird. I liked the background too, but I wanted it more blurred, less distinct.

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A Midsummer night’s dream

In this flurry of New Zealand-related articles, let’s take a break and go back in time, to the most beautiful country in the world: Finland.
These days, I’ve found myself missing this place. First came the northern light pictures all over social media, and then the autumn colors in the forest. It’s not that New Zealand is bad, but Finland… awww, there’s something special about that place.

In the beginning of July, I spent a weekend on Kylmäpihlaja. This small island, located out of Rauma, in the Bothnian Sea National Park, is home to a lighthouse, and birds. Lots of birds.
I had been there about a year before, with my friend Bjørn, but we had spent only a few hours on the island, in the middle of the day. The profusion of birdlife had made me want to spend more time there.

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Calendar 2019 for sale!

Hi everyone, here’s an article a bit different from the previous ones: I’m selling calendars for the upcoming year!

Each month is illustrated with images I’ve made. Among them, 7 bird images and 5 landscapes/cityscapes from Finland, France and New Zealand. Made of glossy high-quality paper, this calendar will look good in your house, or make a perfect gift to your friends and loved ones.

There’s a unique price of 28€ that includes shipping fees; I can also send invoices in New Zealand dollars.

Now with the schedule (please pay attention, it’s important ;)).
To guarantee this price and be able to manage everything before I go offline on a trip to the Subantarctic Islands, I need to know about your order very soon! Therefore, if you’re interested, don’t delay and fill in the form at the following link TODAY: https://samuelbloch.weebly.com/calendar-2019.html

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Steam and birds

After an enchanted stay in Matamata, among owls and wizards, I move south and east to Rotorua, on the shores of Lake Rotorua.

This town is known for its ubiquitous thermal activity – and indeed, when I arrived, I saw steam come out of the sewers. I should have expected it, but… wow, so unsettling! Then I started to understand the importance of it: spas and baths make use of it, but not only, for every motel advertises their hot pool, and most houses (if not all) use geothermal energy for heating.
In return, the whole town bathes in rotten egg smell. It didn’t bother me too much, but when I got out in the morning, it was always a shock. It reminded me of Turkey, Iceland and Chile.

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Matamata

The day I arrived in Matamata was glorious: blue sky, warm air, and just a few big white clouds to add depth in the pictures. I checked in at the Matamata Backpackers hostel, a recent venue with a relaxed atmosphere, where I would stay two nights.

Reasons to visit this small, otherwise boring town are twofold: Wairere Falls, and Hobbiton.
The former is the highest waterfall on the North Island, an impressive 153-meter drop with a path leading up to the top. The second is the world-famous movie set, featuring the hobbit holes from the beginning of both Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies by Peter Jackson.

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Dear diary #4

25.09.2018 Rotorua

I hitch-hiked from Matamata to Rotorua, where I settled at Heather and Roger’s place. I had met them in Tiritiri, and they had invited me to stay at their place… so I did!

Rotorua is a thermal town, with steam coming out of the ground in many places, even in the center, and a constant smell that punches you in the face when you get out in the morning. The museum is a picturesque building, much more recent than it looks like, but it’s unfortunately closed due to ongoing earthquake-countering work.

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Gold mines in Karangahake

The original plan was pretty complicated: hitch-hike to Waihi, rent a bike, ride hard to Karangahake Gorge, ride back, get a hitch ride through the gorge again to Paeroa, where I had booked an Airbnb. I feared I wouldn’t have much time to see the gorge well, and taking pictures while you’re on a bike is not easy, but it sounded doable. Also, I didn’t have anything else to do.

But a timely encounter on the road changed it all – for the best.
Anton picked me up from the roadside, and told me he was going to Paeroa. That was great, it would take me very close to my destination. However, as we talked, I mentioned the gorge, and he said that was actually where he was going, to visit his daughter Anita at Riverside Accommodation.

Hurray, can I come? 😀

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Coromandel

I left Celia and Victor on Saturday morning. I was a bit sad, for I had felt at home for a week, but I was looking forward to new adventures. After another easy hitch-hike along the rugged coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, I arrived in Coromandel Town at 11. I checked in at the hostel (Anchor Lodge, quite a poor one), bought some food, visited the visitor info desk, and on a walk I went!

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