Southern Lights Aurora

A Time Lapse from Central Otago, New Zealand

Hello, here is a time lapse taken of the amazing austral auroral display on 27-28 February 2023. As seen from The Snow Farm, Cardrona Valley, New Zealand

Made out of about 180 images taken automatically over approx. 4 hour period. And for this lot I was asleep tucked up in my 4wd camper truck. I’d tied the camera tripod down and it’s weather proof up to a point. And it kept doing a 15sec exposure every 50 secs until the battery went flat.

An image from earlier in the night

Creator and Sponsor of this Site:

Donald from iCommunicate Wanaka is Seeking Employment Aligned with Environmental and Sustainability Values.

Communicating and tech-ing sustainably – because the future is too important to leave to typos and outdated systems

Snow in May does not stay, so old timer skiers in Wanaka say

Chain fitting in the Cardrona Valley today, for going over the Crown Range Road to Queenstown

Fitting chains in the Cardrona Valley
Chain fitting in the Cardrona Valley today, for going over the Crown Range Road to Queenstown

A selection of photos of the early season snow around Wanaka- most of them are in the Cardrona Valley. Click on any image to begin a manual slide show…


New Zealand’s clean green image – a couple of points of view

New Zealand's clean green image personified in the Strath Taieri ~ photo Southern Light

For the third summer running now in Mt Aspiring National Park, I interact with many tourists intent on being the overseas equivalent of a New Zealand tramper.

Most know our “Clean Green” marketing ploy is not what it seems, and that New Zealand is perceived as just one big farm. To think otherwise ignores the profound “connectedness” the Internet has on the sharing of information world wide.

We’ve got an awful lot of work to do in some areas to live up to the marketing, but really I hope our motivation is otherwise with more of a flavour of health and well-being!


This aside ‘tho it’s kinda weird that politicians are still stuck in a retro ten to twenty year time warp, totally out of touch with our visitors. The inference being also out of touch with our landscape!

School group at Aspiring Hut
At the end of the NZ school year many schools opt to do a final school camp at Aspiring Hut in Mt Aspiring National Park.  

Also at the same early summer time, there are always a handful of oversea’s groups of student specifically here in the country to study our unique environment. These students are highly motivated also doing volunteer work for DOC ranging from Nelson to Fiordland

In this post I want to present two views – neither particularly extreme. Lets have the good news first:

Water quality good for summer swimming | Otago Daily Times Online News

Taieri River
Upper reaches of the Taieri River in Central Otago ~ photo Southern Light’s Donald Lousley

Water quality in Otago has been good so far this summer, Otago Regional Council (ORC) seasonal recreational water quality testing shows. Three sites have had alert/amber warnings at certain times since the summer round of testing began at the beginning of

Source: Water quality good for summer swimming | Otago Daily Times Online News

… which reinforces my experience that Regional Councils and associated environmental dept’s, ie Environment Southland, many farmers, and New Zealand’s Dept. of Conservation do an extremely good job not only keeping us safe, but in the facilitation of our summer enjoyment. Much of this work goes unnoticed and unsung!

White-faced heron
Healthy rivers also mean healthy habitats for our birds! 

This white-faced heron in the lower Cardrona river-bed near Wanaka is an Australian immigrant which began breeding in New Zealand only in the 1940s, none-the-less the lesson is obvious! ~ photo Southern Light’s Donald Lousley

By contrast, and almost on the same day, we have the below opinion on our “Clean Green Image”. After reading it please leave a comment with your views or experiences in your neighbourhood

Dialogue: An environmental crisis second to none – Environment – NZ Herald News

It’s the time of year to get close to nature. Forest & Bird has thoughtfully released a list of 10 places (“New Zealand’s hidden treasures”) where families can do just that. Except that none of the country’s numerous lakes, rivers or streams are named among them.

The Lord of the Rings actor and New Zealand tour guide operator Bruce Hopkins is not surprised, calling our rivers and lakes “gutter holes” and “sewer pipes”. He slams the “clean green” image behind the 100% Pure New Zealand promotion.

Acting Tourism Minister Paula Bennett has defended it, saying: “It’s an award-winning campaign that is working brilliantly for New Zealand with record growth in visitor numbers.”It’s not, and never has been, an environmental measure.”

Hopkins believes “we are leaning towards being deceptive around how we sell ourselves as a tourist destination”.

Source: Dialogue: An environmental crisis second to none – Environment – NZ Herald News

White heron
White heron – kōtuku  

Rare in New Zealand, with a population of just 100–120 birds, the elegant white heron or kōtuku posed for photographer Donald Lousley last winter at the bottom of the Snow Farm road in the Cardrona Valley.  

Kōtuku have a mythical status for Māori because of their rarity and beauty.


The nearby Cardrona Valley and a weather change

We’ve just had many days of settled weather in Wanaka and in winter this equates to either an inversion cloud base hanging over the town [where the temperatures actually are higher as one ascends – proved by going up to a ski area], or the skies stay clear and we have wicked frosts…
Hawea River frost and sunrise

And it’s when the weather is on the cusp of change that other possible scenarios present themselves as landscape photography opportunities. In this case it’s warmed up as cloud with accompanying wind comes in from the north west.

For this image, just a 20 min drive up the Cardrona Valley was all it took to capitalise on the change photographically speaking…
Mt Cardronai