Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: Te Paki

with 26 comments

On February 12th we saw but couldn’t get to some large sand dunes on the opposite side of an estuary from the highway we were on. Two days later on our way to the northern end of the North Island we made a point of visiting the Te Paki Dunes, which with some effort we climbed. Shown here is the most interestingly wind-sculpted section of sand I saw.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 1, 2017 at 5:02 AM

26 Responses

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  1. I really had no idea we had such large sand dunes in NZ until I saw your posts on the dunes.

    Gallivanta

    May 1, 2017 at 5:29 AM

    • We could say it never duned on you that your country has such magnificent heaps of sand. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence that all the ones I saw were on the North Island, or if the South Island has some good ones too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 1, 2017 at 7:15 AM

  2. I love this shot, Steve, because of the way in which it is simultaneously realistic and abstract. The patterns in the sand are simply mesmerizing.

    Mike Powell

    May 1, 2017 at 6:05 AM

    • I like the way you put it, Mike: “simultaneously realistic and abstract.” That’s the best of two worlds, a combination we photographers are only too happy to find.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 1, 2017 at 7:17 AM

  3. Those are incredibly beautiful!

  4. A commentary on nature’s artistry and majesty…

    lensandpensbysally

    May 1, 2017 at 7:04 AM

  5. I don’t spend a very large amount of time on beaches. That said, this is definitely the most unique collection of sand formations I have ever seen. Any idea what created these shapes?

    Steve Gingold

    May 1, 2017 at 5:05 PM

    • This dune is high and not close to the ocean, so as far as I know the only forces at work in shaping the sand are the wind and the rain. The rest of the dune looked the way I’ve seen other dunes look, so I don’t know why this section got sculpted so differently. Whatever the explanation, I’m happy to have stumbled on this unusual formation.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 1, 2017 at 5:13 PM

  6. Astonishing levels of sculpting – the finer detail, the next level up and of course the dune itself. I’ve never seen anything quite lie this. What a location!

    LensScaper

    May 2, 2017 at 3:02 AM

    • It’s a popular destination, with tour buses as well as cars taking people there. My challenge was to find stretches of sand that weren’t messed up with footprints and the trails of sandboards.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 2, 2017 at 8:33 AM

  7. I’ve never seen anything like this: at least in sand. The patterns are amazingly varied, while the overall effect is of similitude. It reminds me of water, when a strong wind blows against an equally strong tide. You get short, choppy waves that are smooth on the side facing the wind, and blowing spume. It could be I’m seeing something that isn’t there, but in a middle portion of the photo it does appear that the wind is blowing sand off the crest of the “waves.”

    This is one I could keep looking at for a long time. It has the same mesmerizing effect as the water shots from the ferry.

    shoreacres

    May 2, 2017 at 7:21 AM

    • You’ve made me wonder whether any contemporary artist has created a sculpture that mimics this type of wind-blown sand. It wouldn’t even take an artist. Two or more overhead photographs should provide enough data for a computer to direct a 3-D printer to recreate the surface of the dune.

      I’m not surprised that you have a nautical analogy to the dunes, given that wind is the main force in both. At other places, I’ve seen and photographed sand blowing off the crest of a dune. I looked at the much larger original photograph of this formation just now but didn’t discern any blowing sand. There could well have been some, but not that I could detect.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 2, 2017 at 8:46 AM

  8. Gosh .. it looks like a tough climb! 😃

    Julie@frogpondfarm

    May 4, 2017 at 3:48 AM

    • Walking uphill in sand isn’t easy but we made the effort and found it worthwhile. I hope you guys make it up there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 4, 2017 at 4:47 AM

  9. I’d sure love to go to New Zealand – AND Australia. I feel like I would need to allow two months to make a dent in the scenery! We just got back from a short road trip to central Oregon, where we saw the Painted Hills Unit of the John Day National Monument. The shapes there were almost as smooth and abstract as these are, but from totally different causes – I love this kind of abstract nature image! Pretty colors, too, the warm sand and the sky.

    bluebrightly

    May 6, 2017 at 4:09 PM

    • New Zealand has roughly the same area as Colorado, whereas Australia is about the same size as the United States (minus Alaska) and is therefore much more daunting to visit. I hope you make it to both, and you’re right that you’d need a couple of months to do justice to the duo. We spent one month just in New Zealand and still missed many things worth seeing.

      Thanks for the tip about the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, which I’d never heard of. The West in general is great for abstract images. I’m always eager to go back that way.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 6, 2017 at 4:32 PM


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