NZ Adventures May 2006

(Train piccies down a few)

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The horrific city that is Auckland
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Local flora
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The extinct volcano Rangitoto
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Generations
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Auckland cranes
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Meanwhile down in trainland, a pair of DCs lift the TranzAlpine away from Cass alongside Lake Sarah on Friday May 5
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Autumn coalie
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The morning of Sat May 6 dawns cloudy in the east with the TranzAlpine skirting the Waimakariri with DC 4513 and 4628 on the business end
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Crossing the Taramakau river near Jacksons
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Rolling onto the Greymouth line at Stillwater
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And near the end of the westward journey at Omoto
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Magical Lake Brunner
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A few days later on Thurs May 11, I take three identical shots north of Wellington (big eejit) - firstly at Southwards
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Near Otaki... DXs 5137 and 5097
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Ohau I love this spot (badaboom)
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Gotta love the view near South Junction as the bankers bring a late running 221 south - the first time I've ever seen the bankers in action: 4398, 1267, 5068
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Back on the mainland on Sat 13 May, my first real exposure (if you'll forgive the pun) to the new Faded Vomit paint scheme near the Mt White bridge
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Over the hump at Cass as the fog lifts (5206 and 5229)
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The mighty Waimak
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More tasty viewing from the Mt White bridge
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Serene Lake Sarah
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A week or so earlier, Euan McQueen, Evan Batchelor and I were discussing diesel liveries (in a rather non-cerebral way) and Euan let slip a liking for the bumblebee scheme. Having only really known the fruit salad and cato blue schemes, I've always liked the bright red over anything else in pictures, but on this trip, bumblepairs really grew on me
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Two shots for the price of one and I quite like both of them... 5419+5195 on a late running 847 chugging down the Cass bank 
Over the hill at Otira, the weather is not so good. I hear 842 call train control with the news that it's touch and go up the Otira river valley in the rain with speed down to a crawl and one loco out of sand. The bankers are asked to couple onto my 847 and run out to Aickens to assist. So here's a dilemma: head west at full speed in the slim hope of catching 842 battling the grade before it reaches Aickens; or tootle out ahead of 847 and pop 5 locos west of Otira...? I decide to play the "safety", but the two options rapidly turn to no options -  the bankers take forever to couple on and get revised instructions, the skies darken, the light drops dramatically, and the drizzle starts. Crap. The sensible option would be to put the camera away, but hey, electrons are free so lets crank up the ISO, pop the 50 1.4 on, run off a test shot.. cripes, that's horrible. Well, here comes the train, and down comes the rain... Bugger it, might as well press the button and try for something arty since we've come all this way...

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Last ditch shot of a desperate man - hell that's not at all a bad way to end the day


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After a reasonably peaceful night at an Otira dosshouse, the weather isn't much better the next day as 842 drops off the Otira tunnel grade into Arthur's Pass. That loop trackwork makes the model railroader in me cringe
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Get out of the bloody way - the bankers come off 842
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Eastward with two bumblebees including my favourite 5195 which is sporting a DF-esque square-topped nose after its major rebuilding following a swim in the Selwyn river
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After crossing 803 at Cora Lynn, 842 drifts down beside the Waimak through some nice Autumn colors including red rosehips growing wild on the cutting. Purty
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Yellow headed graphite snake slithering up the Cass bank
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Over the hill, The Tranz approaches Greymouth with weather no better on the west side
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An immaculate little Morry at Ahaura
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Errrrr... a shed
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And some Austins at Dobson. Guess the trains were a bit thin on the ground then
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Hey, there's one... A pair of anonymous DCs bring a massive 30 wagon X1 coalie creaking across the Grey river bridge. I've always loved this bridge, which looks like it's made of matchsticks, but here it's in its last weeks of service with a new C shaped concrete bridge just out of frame to the right nearing completion. This will allow these 83X Rapahoe trains to run straight through to Stillwater without having to reverse in the Greymouth yard
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The weather is still dull as 847 leaves Moana behind 5172 and 5425
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847 continues her unglamorous journey north in the rain near Redjacks
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Jackass-style longish exposure while pacing in the dark at 90km/h... ho-kay...
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A brake glitch forces a stop in the rain near Ikamatua. Bad for the driver, good for me... :)

 

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Waiting for a crossing with 846 at Reefton with many hours still to go before reaching Ngakawau
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Monday the 15th dawns clear (yay!) and a short wait scares up 843 rumbling over one of the picturesque bridges just northwest of Te Kuha as Wekas explore the undergowth around me
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I follow the train right to Ngakawau, but don't find myself in the right place at the right time for a shot although I can report that it's gorgeous up by Granity on a nice day. So it's time to read the paper, watch the waves crash in and take some piccies of Pukekos
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In the darkest recesses of the Buller Gorge, a pair of vomit bonnets head north on 845
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Here's the other DX with the flat-top nose job, 5229 on 844 heading under the overbridge at Waimangaroa at noon
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845 finally makes its way through a lovely scene at Waimangaroa 
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West Coast main road - a single lane blasted out of a rock face at Hawks Crag in the Buller Gorge
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Continuing that West Coast bridge theme, here's 833, which has been diverted to Ngakawau (normally they are the 84X trains, with the 83X's going to Greymouth) crossing one near Mawheraiti that is just a few feet above the paddock
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844 again on another bridge near Mawheraiti. 5229 and 5448. I never write down the numbers but you can usually pick them off one of the full size images. Neither of the DCs crossing the old Cobden bridge above have cabside numbers left and the leader doesn't seem to have numerals on the numberboards either - maybe covered in a coating of coal dust. I can see 4640 on the headstock above the coupler, but the trailer is a mystery!
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And closing the trifecta of Mawheraiti bridges, here's 833 again
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844 again near Raupo. This is the one time I could have used the 300 plus the 1.4 if only it wasn't sitting at Mum's house
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Lake Brunner dusk

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Lake Brunner dawn.... what a gorgeous place...
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Great frost this morning so lets see what DB can screw up. If 845 was 5 minutes later, I could have got a decent shot of this bridge at Te Kinga
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Nice shot of a loco with a pole coming out of its head
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Going away - Kaimata
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The fog lifts closer to Greymouth as evidenced by 832 here at Dobson. Could've sworn I had more height and better light on this one dammit
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832 again nearing Stillwater with 5477 and 5460 in charge
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And at Stillwater gaining a track warrant through to Otira
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So now it's time to head back to explore a possibility near Moana. While waiting, this Weka fossicks around in the undergrowth by my feet
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And this is what all the waiting was for as 833 powers west. The location held promise, but there's no height... so here is the first shot I think I've ever taken from up a tree. I really don't like that lemon yellow - faded and dull from day one 
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Here's another shot I've always wanted to take - the Tranz near Kotuku. This place encapsulates the beauty of the West Coast for me with water, native forest, and mountains. If only it was raining that encapsulation would be complete 
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DB miscalculates the available time and falls for the easy tunnel shot instead of the one he really wanted
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Near Omoto calling for clearance from a track gang that seems have gone awol. 4559+5293
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That bridge again with the locos reversed for the return trip. Falling into a digital false sense of security,  the exposure was set to get shadow details without blowing out bright bits using a test shot histogram, but when the train came along, the sun reflection off the shinyish loco sides was just-so to clip the extreme highlights here
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Another slow train, this time X85 from Reefton, which was set up for a nice S curve shot approaching Greymouth until the shadows encroached
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Moron vs train on the way back from Hokitika. Eventually he realizes the train isn't going to reverse
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The Hoki branch. One of NZ's last hokey branches
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The very last of the sun at Rutherglen
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After a visit to the rellies, it's off to Moana for the night. 5195 and 5419 leave Moana lit by the car headlights and handheld at ISO 1250. Nasty grain, but something different! 
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Next morning is foggy at the leaning lean-to at Rotomanu
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And Te Kinga
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King Coal at Moana
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West Coast Humour
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A nice spot just out of Otira. Shame about the road, but that was going to be hard to move
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This didn't turn out quite as planned and I'm not sure why I left it in here. Its the thought that counts I guess..
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I just love these snorting five loco departures from Otira
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This isn't the planned shot of an emergence from the Arp end of the tunnel, but the camera was quickly raised again after the last DX lit up. Here is a 100% crop in grainy Sasquatch style proof
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At the Bealey with not enough height
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And crossing the bridge with the wrong angle
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And that cliché at Cass
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And that other cliché at Cass
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I don't think I've ever done The Spot That Glen Anthony Made Famous before and I do like this one
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Non-cliché at Cass 
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This is an abortion of the planned shot thanks to those damn shadows. Whoever heard of an empty train taking this long to get from Staircase anyway. Bah humbug
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On a less grumpy note, here is a rental car stuck in grass that cunningly concealed a sizeable hole. A full 6 inches between the solid ground the fully extended right rear wheel must be a record for me. A short walk, a Real Man's 4x4 and some friendly West Coast Real Men (no chardonnay's here folks) sees me out and able to sensibly trade in for a slightly more capable girly 4wd Ford Territory for the second half of the trip!

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