Escaping Auckland for 3 days

The Hokianga is one of New Zealand’s best kept secrets.  Colonial New Zealand, Maori Culture, scenery, ancient forests and surprises around every other corner, it isn’t always the destination but the journey. I have travelled this road numerous times and every time I discover new sights. It is a bonus to end up  in the Bay of Islands.

Recently I took an American photographer on a three day roadie north – she was not disappointed. This is a photographic  journey; enjoy. Continue reading


Auckland Kaleidoscope – an exhibitors view.

5 sold 1Exhibiting during the Auckland Festival of Photography  – is it madness or pure pleasure? Well it is all of that and more.  Exhibiting is a roller coaster of emotions… I often wondered why I had agreed to say yes!  But I am delighted I did.

Winter Gardens SMALL copyThe Winter Gardensimg_1174-1Queen Street Auckland

Initially 6-8 months out from the exhibition date   I made the decision to have an exhibition it seemed  easy enough back then.  I also wanted a solo show, my first. So I had months to think about it and so with a flippant yes I was committed. Continue reading

What is a good photograph?


Many photographers never reach their potential or receive the recognition they deserve, or think they deserve. What makes a good photographer? or a good photograph?  Simple question, well no it is a very complex question. Do you mean a recognised photographer or a good photographer? Do you mean a financially successful photographer or a good photographer? Do you mean  a photo you’d hang on your wall or a headline image from the newspaper?

Image from Exhibitions Gallery – Newmarket – looking upwards to the Phillips Fox building in Queen Street, Auckland.

Continue reading

Secret Garden in Atlanta Georgia

imageIn the heart of downtown Atlanta lies a garden covering an acre of land. Nearby a four lane road carries traffic at a frenetic pace backwards and forwards; allowing little time for motorists to catch a glimpse of the colourful flowering azaleas at the entrance to the longish driveway.image

The house has a slightly Dutch styling to it with ornate decorations on the highest point- step inside and immediately you’re transported to an art gallery- colourful and eclectic. Continue reading

For the Love of Horses


As a small girl on a farm in Central Otago  I often wandered into the paddock and straight up to this enormous old  semi draft horse called Sass and I would reach up and pat her (or him) on the nose! Sass had the very dignified name of Sassanoff which I believe was Persian in origin.  There was a pony called Pride in the paddock too, and from time to time my parents saddled her up and we all rode around. This photo from my first ever photo album shows my fear – well I’m hanging on to my big brother very tightly!  I rode again  as a teenager in North Canterbury where I bit the gravel road quite hard and later I rode a horse alongside the picturesque Hawkesbury River in NSW. But I never really learnt to ride properly;  the truth is I am scared of horses! Funny really as I am fascinated by them and think they are majestic creatures and highly  intelligent. Now as a grandmother I find myself intrigued with the wild horses in New  Zealand.


The Aupori Forest  Horses

SOME FORTY YEARS ago wild horses roamed in their thousands across the central North Island, from Aupouri and 90 Mile Beach in the north to Karioi, a location on the Central Plateau. The Aupouri’s famous wild horses,  are descended from animals believed to have been brought to New Zealand in the 1800s.


If you are lucky enough to see wild horses roaming the sand dunes of 90 mile beach you’ll never forget just how raw and beautiful this coast line truly is and seeing the  horses would be an added bonus. A local pilot (Salt Air) said they see herds that live around the Aupouri Pine Forest from their scenic flights from time to time, now that would be special.  It’s estimated that the herd consists of over 300 horses so it’s not uncommon to spot one if you’re in the right place at the right time.These horses have been living wild for over 100 years. Human hands have never touched most of them. Originally the horses escaped from farmers paddocks, but have since bred amongst themselves to form their own individual breed. Apart from the wild horses the entire region of Aupouri Peninsula heading up to Cape Reinga is a remote and beautiful area and simply quite stunning to view from the air or land.  In more recent years their numbers were decimated by amateur hunters who slaughtered them for sport, by rodeo and other domestic users, by the shrinking of their range due to encroaching farmland and forestry, and by natural attrition. I haven’t been able to ascertain current numbers. It would seem no one really controls and cares for the Northland wild horses, I hope I am wrong.

Below is the source of the official report on the far north feral horses for those who wish to do further research.

The Kaimanawa Horses 

Many of you will have seen this huge billboard on the Desert Road. It is possible to do a public trip, check the website.  From Auckland it is about 4 hours to drive to Waiouru;  however you must pre book in order to visit the Kaimanawa’sand there are only a few public  trips annually.  The Kaimanawa’s have their own unique story.  In 1979 their numbers were down to an estimated 174 and their range was constricted to approximately 50,000 hectares that constituted the NZ Army’s training ground in the region of the Moawhango River headwaters, near Waiouru, and some adjoining land in the north, east and south. They had de facto protection from the Army as a result of restricted public access to the military area; indeed it is clear that they preferred to take their chances with artillery practices rather than with the general public and its’ amateur gunslingers. But some poaching continued even on Army land, and does so to this day; well so I  read.


I have been out to photograph the Kaimanawa horses three times now, once in winter and twice in summer. The winter trip was my favourite despite the sub-zero temperatures and early morning start!  A lot of snow on the very high country  proved great fun and the scenery was spectacular. I love this snow tussock drooping  under the  weight of winter. Don’t tell anyone but the Army escort vehicle got stuck in a snow drift  and we ‘girls’ had to push them out to the amusement of all but the driver!!

On a recent trip we were guests of Tommy Waara from Raetihi. To me Tommy is the ultimate horse whisperer. He had bought two stallions, now geldings, and within months he was riding them and they were obeying commands etc. “Te One” in particular was docile to the extent he told him to lie down and stay and ‘Te One’ did and he walked off leaving the horse, returning later  he climbed on his back and the horse stood up. Tommy told us he just sat and talked to his two horses for three weeks initially, before training and now they are eating out of his hand!

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 A very handsome Kaimanawa stallion.


In 1981, facing almost certain extinction, the horses were declared protected animals. The main region for wild horses these days, the centre of the North Island. The area the horses inhabit in the central North Island is known generally as “the Desert Road” and it rouses strong feelings of like or dislike. For people who prefer routinely lush scenes of bush and lake, or the undulating green tidiness of pasture, the Desert Road is arid, colourless and vaguely menacing. You can apply to buy a horse  email check requirements at Kaimanawa Horses. 


Mt Ruapehue

 An ‘outhouse’ for musterers with a million dollar view. 




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You can support the Kaimanawa Heritage Horses trust by becoming a member:

Family $60.00 Life $300.00 or just a one-off 060991006081200 Pukekohe branch  ANZ.

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Anyone wishing to order photographic prints please email for prices.

All photos are copyrighted 2015  

The trust sell calendars every year to raise funds.The 2015 Kaimanawa Heritage Horses calendar is still available. It has 14 months, from December 2014 to January 2016. Calendars cost $15 + $2.50 postage. go to the website.

If you really love horses check out Kelly Wilson’s new book For the Love of Horses – a great gift for anyone who rides, teenage girls will love this. 9781775536765