SOUTH ISLAND TRIP 2016: Day 1, 18 June

Napier to Lake Pearson, Canterbury

Early start to the day, up at 5am and finishing off the final packing for our 6:40am flight.  The one big bonus of the flight at this time in midwinter is the bonus of watching the sunrise in flight.  The sky was clear when we left Napier, but as we headed further south the high cloud appeared and we had a stunning dawn light show as we flew past Kaikoura and into Christchurch.

Picked up our bags and headed for the campervan shuttle area, and off to Apollo Campers to pick up our home for the next 2 weeks. Went through the necessary process of paper work and then out to our van (had a free upgrade to a 6 berth much space) and hit the road at 10am

Quickly got lost in the suburbs around the airport, but got back on track and headed for the nearest supermarket to stock up on essential supplies (mainly wine and chocolate, but we managed to fit some meat and vegetables in the trolley as well).  Quick coffee then off to the nearest hunting/fishing store (surprisingly called Ballingers Hunting and Fishing) for a quick fitting and purchase of a pair of chest waders (a nice warm neoprene pair on special for $100, ideal for all those cold lakes we were planning to shoot).  Next we headed across the road to get a pair of gumboots (wellingtons / galoshes for those non-NZer's reading this) for Liz then time for an early lunch.

On the road again and headed west out of Christchurch and up towards Arthurs Pass.  The original plan for the 2 week trip was to head to the West Coast of the South Island, and spend the  trip exploring the area from the northern end at Karamea to the southern end at Jackson Bay.  But in the last couple of days before leaving Napier it became clear that the weather on the West Coast on the first week of the trip was not going to be good (heavy rain and high winds), so we decided to stay on the eastern side of the Southern Alps (where the weather was forecast to be reasonable) until the weather improved on the West Coast.

From Castle Hill looking east

From Castle Hill looking east

So for our first night we planned to head up into the foothills of the Southern Alps and then head south from there over the next few days. So we drove across the Canterbury Plains and up over Porter's Pass, stopping at the stunning limestone rock formations at Castle Hill for an hour (along with about 100 other tourists), then on to Lake Pearson where we planned to spend the night.

NW Arch starting to form

NW Arch starting to form

At the north end of Lake Pearson is a free camp site for campervans run by the Department of Conservation (DOC) which consists of a large open area with willow trees, right on the shore of the lake, with a single 'long drop' style toilet. A stunning location to spend the night.

We parked up about 3pm and enjoyed the peace and quiet. As the afternoon headed towards sunset we could see the clouds of the Nor'west Arch forming over the lake.  These clouds are caused by a strong northwesterly wind passing over the mountains, forming thick high cloud on the eastern side of the ranges.  This cloud normally produces stunning sunsets as there is no cloud to the west of the Arch, which allows the setting sun to light up the clouds.

We weren't disappointed as the sky exploded with colour as the sun started to set, so we grabbed our camera's, I donned my waders, and we shot the sunset from the lake edge.

The clouds continued to glow for an hour after sunset in the darkening sky.  When it got fully dark we retired to the campervan for some food and rest for the night.

The photo below is taken at the height of the sunset colour, using a 6 stop ND filter which reduces the amount of light entering the camera, allowing a longer exposure to be used creating the smooth water look to the lake surface.


Sky of wonder  Lake Pearson, Waimakariri Valley, South Island, New Zealand  D800, ISO200, f7.1, 20sec, 17mm, Lee Little Stopper ND Filter

Sky of wonder

Lake Pearson, Waimakariri Valley, South Island, New Zealand

D800, ISO200, f7.1, 20sec, 17mm, Lee Little Stopper ND Filter