Recently, I got the chance to head down to the Denniston plateau – a piece of land that is currently being eyed up by coal-miners – to marvel at the ‘Persian carpet of biodiversity’ that the famed photographer Rod Morris talks so fondly about.
I’ve been a macro-photographer for four years now, and as you may have guessed, it’s a rather unglamorous affair. Photographers spend hours wriggling around in the undergrowth in search of bugs, slugs, beetles, and in my case – spiders!
The utmost stealth is required to prevent your chosen subject from vanishing from the scene, so it’s a whispered, slow-moving affair. Every night, after darkness fell, Rod Morris and I would venture into this bonsai landscape, and return with pictures of the fascinating and sometimes fearsome creatures that lay beneath the shrubbery.
Unlike the Waikato, the weta and spiders were particularly aggressive. They would rear up or display their back legs to defend themselves, however if we waited a while, they’d return to their daily business.
Leaf-vein slugs, jumping spiders, powelliphanta snails, forest geckoes and Denniston skinks were just some of the creatures that slipped, crawled and leapt past by my lens, as rolling fronts of fog and spells of searing heat, soaked and then steam-dried us.
After four days of snapping these midget creatures, I returned to my hometown buzzing. Snapping pictures alongside an esteemed wildlife photographer and profiling an unknown micro-cosmos made this excursion a trip of a lifetime .
Below are some of my favourite creatures found on the Denniston (click to enlarge the image) -