Inevitably when you shoot photography for a while you have your favourite locations to shoot, whether you are shooting a family portrait, a landscape location or a bit of astrophotography. These locations generally become your favourites because you know that they work for the look you are trying to achieve, but also because they provide some flexibility in the types of shots that can be achieved from a single location.
So below are my 5 favourite Hawke’s Bay photography locations that I find myself going back to again and again.
Te Mata Peak
This is the classic Hawke’s Bay photography location, and for good reason. If you park in the carpark on top of the hill you are treated to a range of shots and angles all within a few minutes walk of the car. The classic shot is normally the one from the northern edge of the carpark looking down into the lower Tuki Tuki Valley and the Craggy Range Winery, and this is still one of my favourite shots, but there are also amazing views towards Hastings, south to Mt Erin and southwest looking up the Tuki Tuki Valley or across to Mt Kahuranaki. And these are all available within 10m of the carpark area. And with a big more exploring there are lots of variations on these views. And also most of the locations work really well for sunrises and sunsets, and in really dramatic weather conditions. And then there is the rest of Te Mata Park to explore once you are done at the Peak itself.
Hawke’s Bay is blessed with two stunning sandy beaches on the East Coast; Ocean Beach and Waimarama. While they are not within Hawke Bay itself, they are easily reachable with a 30 minute drive from Hastings. My favourite of the two beaches for photography is Waimarama Beach, mainly due to three factors: Bare Island which provides an instantly recognisable feature in most photos taken at Waimarama, a rocky feature that is commonly called The Reef in the middle of otherwise featureless sand, and a small creek which flows out onto the beach at The Reef.
And as you would expect for a beach on the East Coast sunrise is the best time to shoot at Waimarama, especially at low tide when the wet sand reflects the colours of the sky. Be warned that if you go to Waimarama at high tide then there will be no sand visible at all; it is definitely a low tide location. Oh and it is a pretty good spot to capture the Milky Way rising out of the Pacific Ocean during the autumn months.
Peka Peka Wetlands
Since this area has been cleaned out and regenerated by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council it has become a go to location if I am looking to get some shots of water or reflections. Again it can be a bit of a 1 shot location, with the main curving boardwalk skimming over the still pool water providing the easy shot, but by wandering around the other parts of this location there are dozens of other areas to capture little pockets of water with reflections of reeds, or even to snap the swans, pukeko, swallows and rabbits that hang out in this location. Strangely for a location that is right by the side of the main road south and is easy to get to, 95% of the times I have visited this spot I have been the only person there. And again this is a great location to visit early in the morning before any breeze starts to disturb the reflections, but also works at most other times of the day, and night.
Another classic Hawke’s Bay photography location, this time with a 40 minute drive to get there. The southern end of the lake is the easiest to get to and has the best collection of lake edge and trees to be had here. It is an easy drive along the access road which runs along the southern shore to get to the camping ground, and from there a 15 minute walk along the eastern edge of the lake leads to another little bay, with a great view back towards the setting sun. Another great feature of this location is the early morning mist that often sits over the lake during winter and provides a real atmosphere to photographs. And again there is a large collection of wildlife on or around the lake including swans, ducks, scaup, pukeko, rabbits, cows and sheep.
Marine Parade, Napier
For something a bit different this location is probably my favourite urban location in Hawke’s Bay. Whether it is shooting the classic shot of the T & G Building with the Masonic Hotel next to it, or the equally ( modern ) classic shot of the Napier Viewing Platform, or even the Tom Parker Fountain, this spot has dozens of completely different locations and views within a 5 minute walk. And then there is the endless beach with concrete structures that appear and disappear depending on the currents and it’s ever changing patterns of shingle. Again this location works well at any time of day but shooting here in the morning or evening can be most rewarding with the city lights glowing and the soft light from the sky.