Friday, 22 December 2017

Weekend in Taranaki

In December my good friend, Meghan Maloney, and I met up in Taranaki for a weekend of photography. Meghan is from Cambridge and so we don’t get a lot of weekends to hang out. But I love it when we do – we are very in sync in terms of how we like to “do” photography, and how much we are willing to pack into a short amount of time!

I’d attempted a couple of trips to Taranaki over 2017 but each time I had been scuppered by the weather. So I was really hoping not to have to see out 2017 without a single picture of my favourite mountain.

I left Wellington after work on the Friday and drove straight to New Plymouth. Meghan and I met at Lake Mangamahoe hoping to get some nice skies for sunset. Unfortunately the weather was super hazy, and the cloud was pretty thick. We took a couple of photos before deciding we would try somewhere else. 

New Zealand, NZ, Taranaki, Mt Taranaki, Sunset, Lake Mangamahoe
Mt Taranaki and Lake Mangamahoe

We went to a road close to Lake Mangamaohe, a spot I had shot before, but Meghan hadn’t. This is a cool place to shoot as you can stand at the crest of the road and take wide shots down to the mountain, or you can stand back before the wee hill and use a telephoto lens to bring the mountain up and make it look imposing in the photo. This technique is called perspective distortion and is the effect of using a lens with a long zoom – basically the distance between the foreground and the background is compressed, making things at the back of the photo appear larger than would be seen with a wide-angle lens. Our eyes naturally do this (for example, it’s why the moon looks so big when it’s close to the horizon). Every so often when using this technique, I get the old “Photoshop!” accusation, but the effect is created entirely in the camera.


We got a little bit of colour at sunset, which gave us some nice orange tones to work with.

New Zealand, NZ, Taranaki, Mt Taranaki, Sunset, Kent Road, New Plymouth
Mt Taranaki, taken with a telephoto lens


New Zealand, NZ, Taranaki, Mt Taranaki, Sunset, Kent Road, New Plymouth, Road Shot
View to the mountain, taken with a wide-angle lens

Once we decided the colour was gone, we packed up and headed up Mangorei Road, to the start of the track up to Pouakai Hut. We donned our hiking boots and packs and started the hike up the hill, leaving the road end a little after 9pm on the last of the fading light. The track up to Pouakai Hut is relentlessly uphill, but not difficult tramping. It’s pretty much board walk and lots of steps for the first 80%, and a little bit rougher once you get out of the treeline near the top. Because of the easy navigating, it doesn’t feel too scary to do in the dark. We passed by Pouakai Hut, shrouded in darkness, around 11:30pm, remembering our night here a year earlier, when it was a howling gale and we had a short, restless, uncomfortable sleep on the hard wood floor of the overflowing hut. This time we decided not to risk not having a bed (turns out we would have been fine) and we had brought a tent fly to camp at Pouakai Tarn.

We arrived at Pouakai Tarn just before midnight. There was another tent already set up, which we knew contained fellow photographer and Instagram friend Tim Bond. If you love Taranaki, check out his page, he has some of the most beautiful photos of the region, including conditions at Pouakai Tarn I’d be tempted to sell a child for! Despite our best attempt to be quiet, Tim popped out to say hello and see what the clouds were doing for some possible astrophotography. After our fly was set up, we settled under the basic shelter and caught a few hours’ sleep.

We were up a little more than an hour before sunrise (I think Tim was unimpressed!) and set up to catch the light. There was thick cloud above us, but luckily it was high enough to not be covering the top of Mt Taranaki. Again, we didn’t get the epic skies we had come for, but we got some really nice golden light and some interesting cloud formations around the mountain. And, critically, no wind, so we got some beautiful reflections.

New Zealand, NZ, Taranaki, Mt Taranaki, Sunrise, New Plymouth, Pouakai Crossing, Pouakai Tarn
First light and Mt Taranaki at Pouakai Tarn


New Zealand, NZ, Taranaki, Mt Taranaki, Sunrise, New Plymouth, Pouakai Crossing, Pouakai Tarn
Funky clouds form over Mt Taranaki just after sunrise


New Zealand, NZ, Taranaki, Mt Taranaki, Sunrise, New Plymouth, Pouakai Crossing, Pouakai Tarn, Reflection
Reflection perfection at Pouakai Tarn

Edit: As it happens, one of the photos Meghan took on this trip was a finalist in the Sony Alpha Awards this year – I am super stoked for her achievement!

We also bumped into another Instagrammer, Jeremiah and his friend. Jeremiah had slept in the hut and told us that there were plenty of beds. Still, we were kind of glad not to have to get up even earlier to make the 30-minute trek to the tarn.
 
New Zealand, NZ, Taranaki, Mt Taranaki, Sunrise, New Plymouth, Pouakai Crossing, Pouakai Tarn, Reflection
Jeremiah marvels at the beauty of Mt Taranaki

We hung a little while at the tarn, before hunger really got the better of us. We packed up and headed down the hill (the hike down is a little quicker, but it always destroys my legs with all the steps) and headed off to a café for some breakfast. Afterwards we drove round to another area of the mountain, to visit Dawson Falls. The short, steep track down to the falls was pretty rough on the old legs that were already starting to seize up! We had hoped to also visit Wilkies Pools but by the time we had finished at the Falls, the weather had really set in and the rain had started. Very typical Taranaki weather!

New Zealand, NZ, Taranaki, Mt Taranaki, New Plymouth, Stratford, Dawson Falls, Waterfall
The road to Dawson Falls


New Zealand, NZ, Taranaki, Mt Taranaki, New Plymouth, Stratford, Dawson Falls, Waterfall
Dawson Falls


New Zealand, NZ, Taranaki, Mt Taranaki, New Plymouth, Stratford, Dawson Falls, Waterfall
The base of Dawson Falls 

We went for a curry dinner and had the amusement of watching the New Plymouth Christmas Parade pass by as we ate. After dinner it was off to Back Beach for sunset. This was somewhere I had never been, but Meghan says it’s her favourite beach in the area. I have to say, it was awesome, particularly the fun of running down the giant sand dune to get to the beach. 

At the beach, we were delighted to find amazing texture in the sand, and the golden hour light was really beautiful. Sunset was just ok, but I didn’t mind, just enjoyed being somewhere new and different.

New Zealand, NZ, Taranaki, Mt Taranaki, New Plymouth, Back Beach, Sunset
Back Beach reflections, New Plymouth


New Zealand, NZ, Taranaki, Mt Taranaki, New Plymouth, Back Beach, Sunset
Sand patterns at Back Beach


New Zealand, NZ, Taranaki, Mt Taranaki, New Plymouth, Back Beach, Sunset
Sunset at Back Beach


New Zealand, NZ, Taranaki, Mt Taranaki, New Plymouth, Back Beach, Sunset
Beautiful Back Beach

We slept that night in a campground, in a real-life proper tent with a floor and everything, which was luxury after the fly the night before. Sunrise didn’t look promising, so we chose to go to a nearby jetty, still in our pyjamas, in the early hours. After deciding there was zero potential, we turned around and went back to our tent for a few extra hours' sleep!

After a delicious breakfast we parted ways, very happy with how the weekend had gone. Taranaki, you know I will be back!


As usual, if you want to see more of my work, please visit Laurie Winter Photography

You can also subscribe to my blog for post notifications in the box on the right hand side menu.



Monday, 23 October 2017

A Whirlwind Roadie - September 2017

In September I found myself with a chance to take some leave, and the opportunity to make use of a Maui Campervan, so I grabbed my good friend Lynne and we headed South….

DAY 1 – Christchurch to Mt Cook

I arrived in Christchurch on Wednesday night, but Lynne wasn’t flying in until Thursday morning, so I made a short but winding trip out to Akaroa to spend the night. In the morning I spent some time at the famous little shelter on the pier, to watch the sunrise. Photography was tricky as there were lots of boats moored very close to the pier, which were moving around while I was trying to take a long exposure. Nonetheless I managed to get a few shots I was happy with.

Akaroa, jetty, wharf, Christchurch, Canterbury, sunrise
Akaroa Wharf at Sunrise


Akaroa, jetty, wharf, Christchurch, Canterbury, sunrise
Akaroa Harbour


After picking up Lynne from the airport, we drove to Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, where we basically had no luck at all! There for a day and a half, but it was drizzly the whole time and Mt Cook was completely hidden by cloud. To console ourselves, we headed to the bar for hot chips and beer. Once we returned to the camper, we watched with slight concern as a man tried for several hours to break into the car parked next to us. We assumed it was his own car, with the keys locked inside, but we weren’t brave enough to ask him! When we woke up, the man was gone but the car was still there.


DAY 2 – Mt Cook to St Bathans

With not much sunrise luck on Friday morning, we decided to move on somewhere new. On our way out of the national park, the weather finally started to lift, and we got our first glimpse of the majestic Aoraki.

We decided to head for St Bathans, which was somewhere I had never been before and really wanted to visit. We took our time, stopping to climb a big hill in Lindis Pass for a bird’s eye view, to admire the beautiful Clutha River, and see some cherry blossom trees in Alexandra. Also in Alexandra we stopped at a café where I had the most divine iced coffee ever, along with a traditional Southland cheese roll. That cafe is totally on my list to return to!

Canterbury, High Country, Lindis Pass, New Zealand, NZ, Otago
View of Lindis Pass


Clouds, Clutha River, Clyde, New Zealand, NZ, Sunny
Sunny skies over the Clutha River


Alexandra, Blossom Festival, Blossoms, Central Otago, New Zealand, NZ
Cherry blossoms in Alexandra

We arrived in the historic goldmining town of St Bathans in the late afternoon, and I was instantly in love with the tiny township, its hundred plus year old houses, the gorgeous Vulcan Hotel (which people say is haunted), and the absolutely beautiful Blue Lake. Lynne and I spent some time on the cliffs around the lake taking photos, before retiring to the pub for chips and beer (a pattern was forming here!). I was less worried about the ghosts, and more concerned that we would come to some strange fate at the hands of the most unfriendly and downright strange “publican” I have ever met. Turns out the lady has quite the reputation as several people asked me if I had met her when I shared pictures of St Bathans.

Alexandra, Blue Lake, Central Otago, New Zealand, NZ, St Bathans, Vulcan Hotel
Shores of the Blue Lake, St Bathans


Alexandra, Blue Lake, Central Otago, New Zealand, NZ, St Bathans, Vulcan Hotel
Blue Lake, St Bathans

DAY 3 – St Bathans to Dunedin, via the Catlins!

After sunrise at the lake, and a bit of time exploring the areas along the shore, we again jumped in the van and headed south. Lynne and I have a bit of a history of making up ridiculous car games, and this time we decided on a competition to spot the polling booth in each town we drove through, as it was the day of the election. It’s amazing how competitive and passionate two grown women can be when there aren’t small childrens’ feelings to consider! Our journey took us through southland to the Catlins Coast. We visited my favourite waterfall in the country, Purakaunui Falls, along two others – Matai Falls and the impressive multi-tiered McLean Falls. I still don’t have a shot of McLean I am happy with, which means I will just have to go back!

Blue Lake, Central Otago, New Zealand, NZ, St Bathans, Sunrise, Vulcan Hotel
Sunrise at Blue Lake, St Bathans

Catlins, McLean Falls, New Zealand, NZ, Southland, Waterfall
McLean Falls, Catlins Coast


Catlins, McLean Falls, New Zealand, NZ, Southland, Waterfall
Lower McLean Falls


Catlins, Matai Falls, New Zealand, NZ, Southland, Waterfall, Horseshoe Falls
Matai Falls, Catlins Coast


Catlins, Purakaunui Falls, New Zealand, NZ, Southland, Waterfall


Sunset was at Nugget Point Lighthouse, with a stop on the way for another delicious cheese roll (a new pattern was forming!). At the lighthouse, the skies revealed a little soft pink, and I met a lovely man who recognised me from Instagram. We then pushed through to Dunedin for the night.

Lighthouse, New Zealand, Nugget Point, NZ, Otago, Southland, Kaka Point
Nugget Point Lighthouse


Lighthouse, New Zealand, Nugget Point, NZ, Otago, Southland, Kaka Point
The Nuggets, Nugget Point

DAY 4 – Dunedin to Moeraki

Dunedin forecasts showed strong winds for the next morning, so we drove around to Hoopers Inlet, in the hope that the bay would be sheltered. Thankfully it was! The conditions were perfect with a calm sea but moving clouds. ** Edited: I was so glad I took the opportunity to photograph the lovely boatshed here, as it was destroyed in a storm in February 2018.

Boathouse, Dunedin, Hoopers Inlet, New Zealand, NZ, Otago, Sunrise
Hoopers Inlet Boat Shed


Boathouse, Dunedin, Hoopers Inlet, New Zealand, NZ, Otago, Sunrise
Sunrise at Hoopers Inlet


After the epic drive of the day before, we had a more relaxed day exploring Dunedin, and eating more cheese rolls. We took in the University buildings, along with the railway station, and enjoyed a relaxed coffee in the botanic gardens with friends of Lynne’s. Afterwards we visited Tunnel Beach, but shortly before sunset decided that the light was looking better further south. We parked up in a lovely spot at Ocean View Beach, and watched crazy clouds form. Was totally the right decision as looking north back to Tunnel Beach, there was little action going on. After sunset we made the drive north to Moeraki, for an attempt to photograph the boulders for sunrise.

Clouds, Dunedin, New Zealand, NZ, Otago, Railway Station, blossoms,
Blossoms at the Dunedin Railway Station


Clouds, Dunedin, New Zealand, NZ, Otago, Otago University
Otago University, Dunedin


Dunedin, New Zealand, NZ, Ocean View Beach, Otago, Sunset
Ocean View Beach, Dunedin


Dunedin, New Zealand, NZ, Ocean View Beach, Otago, Sunset
Waves and clouds at Ocean View Beach

DAY 5 – Moeraki Boulders to Christchurch

Photography at the boulders was a bit of a disaster – miserable weather and high tide ruining the fun. We did however have a flask of mulled cider that we had brewed the night before to warm us up, so all was not lost*. After sunrise we packed up, and made the not-very-exciting drive back up to Christchurch.

Koekohe Beach, Moeraki, Moeraki Boulders, New Zealand, NZ, Oamaru, Otago
Koekohe Beach, Moeraki Boulders


After this trip, I decided my time is best spent doing photography trips in autumn and winter, as spring conditions are just too variable. Let’s see what the next trip holds!


* We did actually eat some healthy food, and we didn’t have alcohol for breakfast every day

As usual, if you want to see more of my work, please visit Laurie Winter Photography
You can also subscribe to my blog for post notifications in the box on the right hand side menu.



Friday, 22 September 2017

Reflections: My Top 10 List

Anyone who follows my photography, in particular my Instagram account, will know very well that mirror reflection photos of beautiful nature spots are at the top of my list of favourite photo opportunities. I seem to not be alone in loving reflections. There seems to be an instinctual human attraction to symmetry and evenness. With those things in mind, I thought I would share a list of places I love to catch some great reflections.

NUMBER 10 – WELLINGTON CITY
Wellington is my home town; a harbour city that also happens to be one of the windiest cities in the world. It’s not naturally thought of as a spot to capture reflections, so while the reflections there on a good day may not be the most mirror-like, there is something particularly satisfying about catching them when they occur. When the wind speeds are around the 2-4km in Wellington, I try my best to get out and capture some harbour reflections.


Sunrise, Wellington, NZ, New Zealand, Harbour
Wellington Sunrise
Wellington, Sunrise, New Zealand, NZ, Lagoon, Harbour
Wellington Lagoon at Sunrise
Wellington, New Zealand, NZ, Night, Skyline
Wellington City at Night


NUMBER 9 - LAKE HAYES, QUEENSTOWN
Lake Hayes has long been a thorn in my side! On one of my first ever holidays to Queenstown I saw some amazing reflections at Lake Hayes. However it’s been several long years of waiting to get another chance. Each year I have visited the lake but there has always been a bit of a ripple. Things paid off this year at the Olympus Queenstown Winter Festival, where we scored an epic sunset and a lake calm enough for reflections. I also happened to see amazing reflects this year at the end of our family holiday, but we were running late for our flight and couldn’t stop. Hoping I don’t have to wait too long to see them again!

Sunset, Lake Hayes, Queenstown, New Zealand, NZ
Lake Hayes Sunset
Sunset, Lake Hayes, Queenstown, New Zealand, NZ
Beautiful Queenstown Sunset


NUMBER 8 - POUAKAI TARN, TARANAKI
Back in February 2016, when I was taking my fledgling steps along my photography journey, I decided I would visit Pouakai Tarn to catch mountain reflections. My goal was to get a lovely photo to give as a wedding present to two friends who were getting married. We rocked up in the evening, and watched the wind die as the stars came out. I got some shots I was happy with, though I would love to try again now that I know a bit more about what I am doing. Later I found out how notoriously difficult it is to get a cloudless, still day or evening to catch such shots. Luck was on my side that day, but several trips back to Taranaki and I have not been able to see this beauty again. Hoping the weather plays ball soon!


Pouakai Tarn, Taranaki, New Plymouth, Mt Taranaki, Stars
Stars Over Pouakai Tarn
Pouakai Tarn, Taranaki, New Plymouth, Mt Taranaki, Stars
Pouakai Tarn


NUMBER 7 - TONGAPORUTU BEACH, TARANAKI
Tongaporutu is a beautiful black sand beach north of New Plymouth. It is only accessible at low tide, which means on a nice day the wet sand can be reflecting the famous, ever changing sea stacks that the area is famous for. Because the coastline is eroding so quickly, the reflection luck can change in a short period of time. My first visit to Tongaporutu had some lovely sand reflections, but copious amounts of rock debris on subsequent visits has meant I have relied on puddle hunting for reflection luck. My most recent visit showed a noticeable increase in sand, so I am looking forward to some epic sand reflections soon.

Tongaporutu, Taranaki, New Zealand, New Plymouth, NZ, Three Sisters
Tongaporutu Beach
Tongaporutu, Taranaki, New Zealand, New Plymouth, NZ, Three Sisters
Sunset at Tongaporutu Beach
Tongaporutu, Taranaki, New Zealand, New Plymouth, NZ, Three Sisters
Sunset at The Three Sisters


NUMBER 6 - LAKE ROTOITI, NELSON
Lake Rotoiti is a fairly large lake, but towering mountains all around it means you can get some stunning reflections on still mornings. Conveniently there are three jetties dotted at points of road access, which photographers always love. It’s high on my list to catch some star reflections at the lake soon. Beware the sand flies though, they will try to kill you.


Lake Rotoiti, Nelson Lakes, St Arnaud, Reflections, New Zealand, NZ
Lake Rotoiti Reflections
Lake Rotoiti, Nelson Lakes, St Arnaud, Reflections, New Zealand, NZ
Sunrise Lake Rotoiti


NUMBER 5 - MOKE LAKE, QUEENSTOWN
A half hour drive out of Queenstown will take you to a world of hidden beauty. The smaller Lake Kirkpatrick greets you on the drive toward the much larger Moke Lake, which for some reason seems to yield reflections more often. Quite often the mist hangs low over the lake which can make it even more stunning. Conveniently the campground at the lake edge faces South, so some aurora reflection action could just be the icing on the cake!

Sunset, Moke Lake, Queenstown, New Zealand, NZ
Sunset at Moke Lake
Sunset, Moke Lake, Queenstown, New Zealand, NZ
Afternoon Sunshine at Moke Lake
Aurora, Sunset, Moke Lake, Queenstown, New Zealand, NZ
Aurora over Moke Lake

NUMBER 4 - WANAKA
My family have holidayed for a few years in Wanaka, and I am sure it has the best sunrises and sunsets in the country! Winter in Wanaka often means crisp, perfectly still mornings and evenings, which means that even though the lake is huge, there are some stunning reflection opportunities. The Wanaka Tree is a favourite of mine, but there are also lovely opportunities on the lake front as well around at Brenmer Bay.


Sunrise, Lake Wanaka, New Zealand, NZ, That Wanaka Tree
Sunrise at That Wanaka Tree
Sunrise, Lake Wanaka, New Zealand, NZ, Sunset
Brenmer Bay Sunset
Sunrise, Lake Wanaka, New Zealand, NZ, Autumn
Autumn in Wanaka
Sunrise, Lake Wanaka, New Zealand, NZ, Autumn
Wanaka Sunrise Reflections


NUMBER 3 - LAKE MATHESON, WEST COAST
Possibly the most iconic reflection spot in New Zealand, and one that both kiwis and people overseas will almost instantly recognise. Lake Matheson is tiny, which means that it is often perfectly still, although the ducks always will do their best to mess things up. The lake reflects the mountains, so often your biggest problem is having a view unobstructed by clouds. The downside of Lake Matheson is that there is not much ability to vary your composition due to thick vegetation and flax growing right to the lake edge. Department of Conservation have built some great viewpoints and the track to these is easy. This makes Matheson exceptionally popular for tourists and photographers alike.


Lake Matheson, New Zealand, NZ, West Coast, Sunrise
Sunrise at Lake Matheson
Lake Matheson, New Zealand, NZ, West Coast, Sunrise
Admiring the View at Lake Matheson
Lake Matheson, New Zealand, NZ, West Coast, Sunset
Lake Matheson Sunset
Lake Matheson, New Zealand, NZ, West Coast, Sunrise
Perfect Reflections at Lake Matheson


NUMBER 2 - MIRROR LAKES AND TARNS AT MT COOK
Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park has got countless reflection opportunities. Way too many for me to list here, and many I have yet to experience. Lots of these are easy to experience. Hooker Lake is one of NZ’s best day walks and on a still day the lake will reflect, but if not the small mountain tarn nearby is also a good option. Lake Tasman is often reflecting at morning and night and is a very easy short walk from the carpark. If you’re fit and don’t mind working hard for your reflection shots, Red Tarns and Sealy Tarns walks will reward you both with small, reflecting tarns, but also some of the best views over Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park.


Hooker Lake, Aoraki, Mt Cook, New Zealand, NZ, Sunset
Sunset at Hooker Lake
Aoraki, Mt Cook, New Zealand, NZ, Sunrise, Tasman Lake
Tasman Lake Sunrise
Aoraki, Mt Cook, New Zealand, NZ, Sunset
Mountain Tarn Reflections
Aoraki, Mt Cook, New Zealand, NZ, Sunset, Sealy Tarns
Sunset at Sealy Tarns


NUMBER 1 - TWIZEL: LAKE RUATANIWHA AND KELLANDS POND
My most favourite reflections spot so far would have to be in the Twizel area. Lots of amazing reflection opportunities close to the highway. Lake Ruataniwha and Kellands Pond are the easiest of several opportunities in Twizel (the Pukaki-Tekapo canals, Lake Merino and Loch Cameron also being pretty great). I have had lots of chances to photograph these beauties and the reflections on a still day are wonderful.


Lake Ruataniwha, Winter, Twizel, New Zealand, NZ
Lake Ruataniwha
Lake Ruataniwha, Winter, Twizel, New Zealand, NZ
Twizel Hoar Frost
Lake Ruataniwha, Winter, Twizel, New Zealand, NZ, Autumn
Autumn on Kellands Pond
Lake Ruataniwha, Winter, Twizel, New Zealand, NZ
Winter Colours at Lake Ruataniwha
Lake Ruataniwha, Winter, Twizel, New Zealand, NZ


Hope you enjoyed the list! Feel free to share your favourites or any places you think I might have missed!

Cheers, 
Laurie