south island 2016

SOUTH ISLAND TRIP 2016: Day 15, 2 JULY, and Wrap up

We woke up for our last sunrise shoot for the trip at 6:45am, got ourselves organised as quietly as possible so as not to disturb our neighbours then drove out of camp and east to New Brighton beach.  We parked up and wandered down to the beach to a stunningly clear morning, with a few wisps of high cloud, and a low tide.  There were a few photographers on the beach with us and a few more joined us as it got towards sunrise.  We spent a couple of hours on the beach shooting from different locations then wandered up to have breakfast at Salt on the Pier.  I have included a few shots from our time on the beach to show some of the different images we captured.

"Why so early?"  D800, ISO100, f8, 1.3sec, 14mm

"Why so early?"

D800, ISO100, f8, 1.3sec, 14mm

Pier Study 1

Pier Study 1

Pier Study 2

Pier Study 2

Pier Study 3

Pier Study 3

After breakfast we had a brief wander around New Birghton shops then back in the van and back to camp to park the van.  We caught a bus into town to the new bus station then walked around the central city streets looking at the new buildings going up, and the empty areas still awaiting redevelopment.  We wandered around the Restart Mall in it's new location, then jumped on a tram to go around the full loop.  It is great to see the trams back running again, and to see so many new buildings in the CBD.  But it is strange to see so many buildings still to be demolished, and still lots of empty spaces between the new buildings.  And is a real shame to see that the Cathedral is still awaiting it's rebuild due to ongoing interference from self appointed 'heritage' lobbyists.

Trams back on the Christchurch streets

Trams back on the Christchurch streets

We walked back to the bus station then caught a bus out to Merivale Mall where we caught up with Facebook friend Jonathan Manning for a coffee, cake, and chin wag.

We walked back towards town to Ken's Cameras to talk to them about collecting a free print that I won in a Facebook competition, and we agreed that I would send them an image and they would organise the print, even though the couldn't remember me winning  competition (thanks guys, and the print looked stunning!).

We jumped back on a bus to Northlands Mall to buy a suitcase for the waders as they wouldn't fit into our current bags, and they were worth hanging on to, then we walked the 10 minutes back to camp.

Rested for a bit then headed out at 4pm in the van and drove to the Botanical Gardens for sunset.  As it was winter the gardens were not at their most colourful so Liz and I both decided to shoot some of the buildings in the gardens.  I wasn't blown away by my efforts, but was pretty happy with my rare foray into Architectural Photography.

Ilex, Botanical Gardens

Ilex, Botanical Gardens

We wandered back to the van and drove to Cranmer Sq, parked and walked to the Christchurch Casino for tea, and an investment in the Casino coffers.  Headed back to camp at about 8pm to relax.

DAY 16:

We decided that Day 16 of our trip was a non-photography day, so it consisted of packing up / cleaning out the van, driving to Apollo to return it, shuttle to the airport then back on the plane to Napier.

Heading home

Heading home

WRAP UP:
We drove a total of 2,800kms on the trip, stayed 15 nights, 6 at powered campsites and 9 at free / DOC camps with no power.
The total cost of the trip was around $4,000 including flights to Christchurch and the van rental (which we got an amazing deal on due to the time of year) , so that worked out to about $260/night for everything
We took around 3,600 photos (2,200 for Andrew and 1,200 for Liz)

The best part of the trip (and the reason for the trip really) was to be able to spend time exploring the West Coast of the South Island, and we found some amazing places that we had never heard of before we started planning the trip.  And being able to camp right of the shores of some of the most amazing lakes in New Zealand (Clearwater, Camp, Tekapo, Wanaka, Paringa, Mapourika, and Kaniere) was just the icing on the cake.

Time to start planning the next one...

"Hidden Sun, Catching Crab"  D800, ISO100, f16, 1/400sec, 210mm

"Hidden Sun, Catching Crab"

D800, ISO100, f16, 1/400sec, 210mm

SOUTH ISLAND TRIP 2016: DAY 14, 1 JULY

We woke up at a very chilly 6:45am , packed up the van and drove out of camp and back down to Klondyke Corner to see the sunrise.  The sky was perfectly clear after last nights cloud and rain, but that just helped to keep the temperatures low.  Suited up with waders (as much for the warmth as for the dryness). As we left the van we could see the soft light of predawn starting to light up the peaks of the mountains around us. We split up and shot in different areas, I spent most of the next hour lying on the exposed shingle in the middle of the Waimakariri River, trying to get the reflections of the mountains in a small pool of water (see the photo at the end of this blog for the result).  During this process I learned that the frost gets thicker as you get closer to sunrise, and that neoprene waders will freeze to rocks and make it hard to stand up!

Soft Peaks

Soft Peaks

The sun rose about 8am, and cast a nice warm glow to the mountain tops all around us. I shot for a bit longer whilst Liz retreated to the relative warmth of the van and started making some breakfast.

Frozen Sands, Waimakariri River

Frozen Sands, Waimakariri River

Ice patterns

Ice patterns

We headed off about 9:15am and drove east then south back to complete the loop of our trip at Lake Pearson.  The lake looked quite different to the night we spent here 2 weeks earlier; there is much more snow on the mountains around the lake.  We stopped to take some photos then carried on our way.

Waimakariri River from Paddy's Bend

Waimakariri River from Paddy's Bend

Closing the loop, Lake Pearson

Closing the loop, Lake Pearson

The road was generally clear but as we rounded the corner and headed up to Porters Pass there was quite a lot of frost and ice around, but not too bad on the road itself.

We carried on over Porters and down to the Canterbury Plains and made our way through to Christchurch and checked into our camp for the next 2 nights (Top 10 Christchurch) and parked up.  We went for a walk to the Northlands Mall for some serious retail therapy and some lunch, then back to the van at about 1pm

We left the camp and drove to Avonhead to visit John Foster and Robyn Hay (FB friends) at their house.  Again it was nice to catch up with fellow photographers and chat about photography stuff (and the coffee was good too!)

We left their place about 4pm and drove across town to Shag Rock (Rapanui Rock) in Sumner for the sunset, then had dinner at the Beach Bar in Sumner.  Back to the camp at about 7:30.

Shag Rock

Shag Rock

"There's a place I go"  Mt Harper, Mt Davie and Mt Stewart lit by the coming dawn, Waimakariri River valley, Arthurs Park National Park, New Zealand  D800, ISO100, f8, 2.5sec, 38mm, Lee Litle Stopper ND Filter

"There's a place I go"

Mt Harper, Mt Davie and Mt Stewart lit by the coming dawn, Waimakariri River valley, Arthurs Park National Park, New Zealand

D800, ISO100, f8, 2.5sec, 38mm, Lee Litle Stopper ND Filter

SOUTH ISLAND TRIP 2016: DAY 13, 30 JUNE

I woke up at 3am to shoot the Milky Way over Lake Kaniere only to find quite thick fog blocking the view.  I walked down to the lake anyway and shot some frames, the stars were faintly visible through the fog, but not quite what I was hoping for.  Back up the the hill and back to bed for a bit.

The Misty Way

The Misty Way

The alarm went off again at 7am, looking out the window we could see it was still foggy, so we lay in bed for a bit longer, struggled out of bed at 8 and walked down to the lake.  Still a lot of fog around but starting to clear as the sun rose above the hills behind us.  Got a few shots then back to the van for breakfast and headed off about 10am.

Lake Kaniere

Lake Kaniere

Camp site, Lake Kaniere

Camp site, Lake Kaniere

We drove back down to Hokitika then north on SH6 for a bit, then turned off towards Stafford and parked up at the Tunnel Terrace walk. This walks goes through 2 tunnels used for channeling water during the gold mining days and a loop circuit through regenerating bush, and took about 1/2 hour. 

Back in the van and back to SH6, and headed north to Kumara Junction then onto SH73 towards Arthurs Pass.  The road up to Arthurs Pass leads up the Taramakau River valley, which was a bit windy (in both the weather sense and the direction sense), then up the Otira River valley and up the climb to the pass itself.  Thankfully the traffic was light, as the van struggled a bit up the steeper climbs as we got closer to the pass.  We finally reached the top of the pass and stopped for a look over the viaduct and down the valley to Otira.  We nearly lost the doors to the van due to the wind whipping through the pass.   Back into the safety of the van and then dropped down into the township of Arthurs Pass at about 1pmI don't think Arthurs Pass town will ever win a beauty award, but it has all the facilities you need in an alpine town.

We grabbed some lunch at a cafe and watched the rain start to fall outside, caught up on some internet, then back to the van and drove 50m down the road to the camp for the night ( basic DOC camp with toilets next to the camp site, and sandwiched between the main road and the railway line).  We found a spot (no one else there at that stage) and relaxed for a bit and watched the rain.

We went for a walk when the rain eased off over to the information centre then up to a small set of falls just off the main road, "Avalanche Creek" falls.  Then we went back to the van at 3pm, grabbed the computer and chargers and headed back to the cafe, and traded a couple of coffee purchases for free power.  

Avalanche Creek Falls

Avalanche Creek Falls

Back to the van about 4 and headed south to Klondike corner (major roadworks going on between the village and Waimakariri River bridge to straighten the road).  Managed to get a few shots as the clouds rolled around the mountains and the sun set.

The Mighty Waimakariri River

The Mighty Waimakariri River

Back into the van back to Arthurs Pass and our camp (full now) for dinner and relaxing, and watching the freight trains rumble by.  A chilly night with frequent interruptions from the trains passing through.

"Horrible Pink"  Waimakariri River and Mt Horrible, Arthurs Pass National Park, New Zealand  D800, ISO100, f8, 4sec, 36mm, Lee Little Stopper ND Filter

"Horrible Pink"

Waimakariri River and Mt Horrible, Arthurs Pass National Park, New Zealand

D800, ISO100, f8, 4sec, 36mm, Lee Little Stopper ND Filter

SOUTH ISLAND TRIP 2016: DAY 12, 29 JUNE

We woke up at 6:30am, and drove the 10mins to Lake Mahinapua for sunrise.  This is only the second time we have had to drive anywhere to shoot sunrise on this trip, as every other location we have stayed has had stunning scenery right on the campervan's doorstep. 

Lake Mahinapua and the Miserable Mountains

Lake Mahinapua and the Miserable Mountains

Lake Mahinapua Sunrise

Lake Mahinapua Sunrise

We hung around at the lake until just after sunrise, then back to Hokitika for some breakfast at the same café we had lunch at yesterday. 

Worlds Famous signage, and a convenient puddle

Worlds Famous signage, and a convenient puddle

After breakfast we wandered around the shops some more, got more groceries then headed in to the Kokatahi Valley (the scene of the famous Stanley Graham murders) and in to the Hokitika Gorge at 11:30.  Parked the van then walked down into the stunning gorge, with pale blue water running between the rugged rocks.  Took a few photos (well maybe more than a few) then walked back up to the van

Hokitika Gorge

Hokitika Gorge

We headed back towards Hokitika then turned east at Kokatahi and headed in towards Lake Kaniere, initially along a nice straight road, but then turning narrow, gravel and a bit windy in places. We stopped at Dorothy Falls, parked the van at about 12:45, and walked the 2 minutes to the falls themselves.  The falls are set in a lovely little area in the bush, and we spent about 1/2 hour here shooting.

"Falling for Dorothy"  Dorothy Falls, Lake Kaniere, West Coast, New Zealand  D800, ISO100, 30sec, f7.1, 17mm, Lee Little Stopper ND Filter and Circular Polarising filter

"Falling for Dorothy"

Dorothy Falls, Lake Kaniere, West Coast, New Zealand

D800, ISO100, 30sec, f7.1, 17mm, Lee Little Stopper ND Filter and Circular Polarising filter

Back on the road and through to Lake Kaniere (we came in the back way), found the Hans Bay camp (Doc camp on the hill overlooking the lake) and parked up.

We walked along the side of the lake and down a side track to Canoe Cove, a lovely little beach bathed in sunshine.  Again the lake levels were quite high so only a little piece of beach was visible. We sat in the sun for a while (is this winter?) then walked back up to the road and back to the camp, about 1 1/2 hour round trip.

Local flora / fungi, Canoe Cove

Local flora / fungi, Canoe Cove

We wandered back down to the lake for sunset, and chatted to a man (and his dog) who had just bought a property nearby and was planning to build a house (and was originally from Hawke's Bay), and a couple in a campervan who were touring the West Coast looking for a place to live.  The peace was shattered somewhat by a couple of carloads of teenagers who arrived and started to set up their tents, at full volume!

We wandered back up to the van and had some dinner and relaxed.  The skies were clear so the plan was to get up early and shoot the Milky Way over the lake...

"Turning Purple into Gold"  Lake Kaniere, West Coast, New Zealand  D800, ISO100, f8, 14mm, 1/40sec

"Turning Purple into Gold"

Lake Kaniere, West Coast, New Zealand

D800, ISO100, f8, 14mm, 1/40sec

SOUTH ISLAND TRIP 2016: DAY 11, 28 JUNE

We were up at the usual time of 7am, waders on and then we headed out along the edge of Lake Mapourika to catch the sunrise.  The lake was very high so I spent my time standing on what was normally the top of a bank on the edge of the lake, knee deep in water.  The sunrise was very nice, with sunlight hitting the top of Mt Tasman in the distance and mist rolling around the lake.

"Lighting Tasman"  Lake Mapourika, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand  D800, ISO100, 62mm, 30sec, f5.6, with Lee Little Stopper ND Filter

"Lighting Tasman"

Lake Mapourika, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

D800, ISO100, 62mm, 30sec, f5.6, with Lee Little Stopper ND Filter

We headed back to the campervan for some breakfast, then rolled out at 9:30am continuing on our travels north.  We stopped briefly at Lake Ianthe (so many beautiful lakes on this stretch of the coast) and then on through Hari Hari and Ross, before stopped for a look around Lake Mahinapua.  This again was a bit of a scouting mission for the sunrise shoot the next morning, but it looked stunning even in the midday sun.

Lake Mahinapua, like a mirror

Lake Mahinapua, like a mirror

The soft light of the West Coast winter, Lake Mahinapua

The soft light of the West Coast winter, Lake Mahinapua

We stayed here for about 1/2hr then carried on north to Hokitika.  We have been through Hokitika a few times in the past, and I have to say it is looking much nicer than I remember it being, and has a real nice feel to the town.

We had some lunch at about 12:30, had a walk around the shops, then stocked up on groceries.  At the north end of town we found our camp for the night (Shining Star beachfront accommodation) at about 2pm.  We plugged in, powered up, did washing etc and relaxed.

As the sun started to sink towards the sea we walked 5 mins through to the beach to shoot the sunset (it is ironic that, even though we had been driving up the West Coast, this was one of the few opportunities we had had to shoot the sun sinking into the Tasman Sea, as a lot of the road we were following was located inland).

There were some large storm clouds brewing to the north and west which blocked a lot of the sunset, but provided some stunning moody images.  The hard part was staying out of the way of the pounding surf.

It was nice to see how well used the stretch of beach was, even on a dull and windy evening.

We walked back to the camper for some dinner, and enjoyed our evening of electricity and internet.

The Tempest  Hokitika, West Coast, New Zealand  D800, f13, ISO100, 48mm, 1.6sec, with Lee Little Stopper ND filter

The Tempest

Hokitika, West Coast, New Zealand

D800, f13, ISO100, 48mm, 1.6sec, with Lee Little Stopper ND filter