Aurora photos less Majestic with shed’s loss

The Majestic, a boatshed in Hoopers Inlet, on Otago Peninsula, has featured in aurora photographs...
The Majestic, a boatshed in Hoopers Inlet, on Otago Peninsula, has featured in aurora photographs seen around the world. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Photographers are among those mourning the loss of a humble Dunedin boatshed seen around the world.

The 95-year-old structure, named the Majestic, has become a popular foreground feature in many striking aurora photographs taken at Hoopers Inlet, on Otago Peninsula.

But Thursday’s storm, which delivered 108.4mm of rain, a gale-force southerly and a king tide to Dunedin, proved too much for the old boatshed.

The power of the waves and tide shunted the structure off its foundations, before it collapsed into the water.

When the Otago Daily Times visited yesterday, debris littered the shoreline and the only sound was the occasional creaking of the shed’s corrugated iron walls as they flexed in the waves.

Otago Museum director Dr Ian Griffin, an avid aurora chaser, said the damage to the old shed was nothing compared to the "really terrible" flooding in South Dunedin.

However, for an avid photographer and stargazer like him, it was still disappointing  to see the boatshed in such a state, he said.

The boatshed has featured in many photographs, including this one by Otago Museum director Ian...
The boatshed has featured in many photographs, including this one by Otago Museum director Ian Griffin, of an aurora in 2015.
"It’s terribly sad to see something like that, which is a piece of local history, in that condition. But it also shows the power of the elements around here."

Photos of the boatshed, often framed by an aurora, were seen around the world, and one of Dr Griffin’s featured on the cover of a single released by Dunedin band The Chills last year.

The boatshed’s appeal was due to its orientation, facing south, which meant "if you get an Aurora, it actually arcs over the boatshed", Dr Griffin said.

"What I think it adds is like a nice element of foreground interest. You’ve got the boatshed and then in the backdrop you’ve got Sandymount and the hills that go round the inlet, so it’s quite a nice backdrop.

"It’s become an iconic, must-see venue for people who like the night sky."

It was not clear whether the boatshed  would be rebuilt.

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

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