Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: mountains of sand

with 21 comments

To meld last month’s Monday mountain meme with the moment’s New Zealand retrospective (and Lincoln’s birthday, for that matter), here from February 14, 2017 (which adds Valentine’s Day), are two mountains of sand we saw at the Te Paki dunes way up north near the tip of New Zealand’s North Island. The first of the two photographs, while a more-conventional landscape view, might make you doubt the location and think you’re at an oasis in the Middle East or North Africa. You may also be surprised to hear that a stream runs from right to left between the vegetation and the tall dune. This is New Zealand, after all, a land of lots of rain.

The other picture is a closer and more-abstract view that emphasizes the rippled patterns in the sand elsewhere in the dunes. If you’d like, you can contrast it with the scalloped sand on the level dune that represented Te Paki here last year.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 12, 2018 at 4:46 AM

21 Responses

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  1. What a beautiful country. I love the dune’s pattern. It’s amazing how these southern countries get the winters when it’s summer over here. The northern part, at sea level, does get subtropical but only in the summer. It still falls under a temperate weather zone, but seems tropical in some ways.


    February 12, 2018 at 9:35 AM

    • One thing that makes parts of New Zealand seem tropical is the high annual rainfall in the country as a whole. On our 2015 visit we chose February because it’s the warmest month down there. On the second trip we ended up going in February again because we attended a wedding; otherwise we’d probably have tried for spring or fall to experience a different season.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 12, 2018 at 9:57 AM

  2. These are both fascinating images.


    February 12, 2018 at 10:15 AM

  3. Love the scallop sand – makes for a great abstract!!


    February 12, 2018 at 3:55 PM

  4. The dune patterns are beautiful, Steve! Some of the most artistic patterns I’ve ever seen were in sand.

    Lavinia Ross

    February 12, 2018 at 5:29 PM

    • Amen to that, and they don’t last long. Some get blown away entirely while others take on new forms.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 12, 2018 at 5:42 PM

  5. When I first glimpsed the top photo, I thought not of the Sahara but of the Texas Panhandle, and the great sand and dust storms that sometimes roll across the plains. Your way of framing it’s really neat. Sometimes I see the vegetation as full-sized grasses, and sometimes as a miniature forest.

    The second photo’s a gorgeous abstraction. I saw the ridges as the sort of accordion pleats that used to be in fashion. That made me think of accordions, and I found myself wondering, “Do the dunes ever sing?” According to National Geographic, they most certainly do.


    February 13, 2018 at 6:48 AM

    • When the video that you linked to began, I thought to myself: I want to experience that. Then came the statement that the dunes produce sound only in the summer. Death Valley in July? Not for me, thanks. I would like to visit in the winter, however.

      Glad you like the framing in the first picture. The image extended a bit further down, but an area of shadowed vegetation at the lower right drew unwanted attention so I cropped in a little. The second picture, as you say, is the kind of abstraction I’m always on the lookout for. The tracks made by people walking and sandboarding kept me from taking pictures of parts of the dunes I’d otherwise have photographed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 13, 2018 at 7:28 AM

  6. That’s a lot of kitty litter.


    February 14, 2018 at 2:06 AM

  7. Oh you are right about that rain! 🙂 wonderful images Steve. The aspect in the second is special.


    February 15, 2018 at 1:15 PM

    • And yet on both of our trips we were fortunate not to have a lot of rain.

      The second picture was the only one I originally scheduled here. Later I added the first to set the scene.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 15, 2018 at 1:48 PM

  8. Love those abstract patterns in the sand, Steve – wow!


    February 15, 2018 at 4:55 PM

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