Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Two Sunsets and a Sunrise

Anyone who knows me well, follows me online, or sits too close to me at work will know how much I have complained about Wellington’s summer this year. I have been hanging out to get out to take photos, and I have really noticed how often the clouds are low or the winds are high and it’s been as frustrating as anything! Thankfully it seems like this summer in Wellington really was just amongst the worst of the worst.

However! There was three days in February where the sunsets were insanely incredible. To get three in a row is a one-in-a-hundred-year type event (I am making that up, but it’s rare). The first one I missed. I had looked out the window and deemed it a no-go and then was absolutely heartbroken when the sky lit up and I missed it.

The next night looked good and I got myself down to Petone Foreshore and begged mother nature and any other super power I could imagine not to let the clouds evaporate or the low clouds roll in. As the sun set, my excitement levels were rising and I could tell it was going to do something pretty special. 

Petone Beach Wellington Harbour Sunset NZ
Sunset at Petone Wharf

By the time the colour in the sky deepened, I was quite literally racing up and down the foreshore trying to get good angles to capture the sky show. My aim whenever I go out to shoot is to try to capture as many angles as possible. I generally know that only a few will be “wow” shots so taking as many as possible is the way to go. One awesome thing about long exposure photography is that, once you let the shutter go, you’re free to just watch what’s happening in front of you for 30 or 60 seconds (sometimes more!) until you have to get ready for the next click. 

Petone Beach Wellington Harbour Sunset NZ
Burning Skies Over Petone Beach

On this particular night the colour hung in the sky for ages, and I was still shooting well after dark.

The next morning I decided to get up super early and catch the first train of the morning into the city, with the hope of catching a sunrise before work. As I headed past Wellington Harbour I could see the faint twinkle of stars, and the lack of clouds that signalled a clear morning (which is never great for photography). I power walked along the waterfront to my chosen spot and quite literally watched some long streaky clouds materialise in the west. These lit up an amazing pinky purple colour and I finally captured the city shot I have been after for so long, with the beautiful “Solace of the Wind” statue.

Solace of the Wind Sunrise Wellington Harbour NZ
Solace of the Wind - Wellington Sunrise

Behind me there was some beautiful soft peach light which made for a lovely image over the marina. It's really not often the sea is so still and reflective!

Sunrise Wellington Harbour NZ
Chaffers Marina, Wellington at Sunrise

My last shot of the morning was at the Lagoon with the iconic Boatshed in the background. After that one, I had to race off to work (and yes, I was late). As I start at 6:45am, the window of opportunity for shooting before work (yet also working with the earliest train) is only a couple of weeks of the year. So I was stoked to sneak this wee shoot in and get such lovely conditions.

Wellington Lagoon Sunrise NZ
Boatshed Reflections

That evening, I was pretty sure that there was not going to be a lot going on in the sky, but there was still no wind, so I decided to head to Oriental Bay. Wow, was I wrong. Even moments before the colour appeared I had text a friend saying it was going to be a giant dud…. But then the sky went crazy. Was quite a strange, vibrant pink colour and not quite as amazing as the night before, but still made for some good photos.

Wellington City Night Cityscape Harbour NZ
Oriental Bay Sunset

Wellington City Night Cityscape Skyline
City Sunset
I buzzed for several days after those three shoots, and was so happy to finally get a few pictures of my home city that I really loved. And all of my photography friends took great pleasure in telling me that I could now quit my moaning.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures!

If you would like to view more of my images please visit Laurie Winter Photography

Laurie :)

Petone Foreshore Wellington Harbour NZ
Petone Foreshore

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Tips for NZ Travels

I get a lot of requests for “tips” of places to go when visitors are planning their trips to New Zealand. So, I thought I would write up some of my thoughts – this is still a work in progress! It’s worth noting that some of these points are just my preferences and things will be different for everyone. I have also spent some time writing a specific list of places I have visited for photography, please contact me if you're interested in getting a copy of this.

Firstly, I want to recommend a very cool guide book, which is a little different to most. It’s called Frenzy Guide and there is a North Island and a South Island version. The writer has compiled a list of cool places to visit in all the regions, some of which are quite unknown or won’t appear in traditional guidebooks, and he’s very honest and humorous about what to expect. Often read in conjunction with the more mainstream books, as some of the most major tourist attractions are not in the Frenzy guides.

The books are available in print or cheaper if buying a PDF version. The link to buy these guides is:

I don't think there is a best time - New Zealand is accessible year round. Personally my favourite time to travel in New Zealand is in our autumn (March – May) and winter (June to August). Autumn tends to be a bit less crowded and less windy, and winter is when you will get lovely crisp still days, and amazing snowy peaks. Note that you can get ferocious weather at any time in New Zealand however! Summer is the most popular time and things will be busy and more expensive, but the reward is longer and warmer days.

If you are tight on time, I would say the South Island offers more bang-for-your-buck in terms of variety of scenery. The Queenstown Lakes district is probably my favourite area and very iconic in terms of how NZ is portrayed overseas.
From Queenstown you can easily make trips to some of my favourite places. Most of these I would say to allow at least 2 days in each:
-          Lake Wanaka
-          Mt Cook
-          Te Anau and Milford Sound
-          Haast and Lake Matheson (this one might take a little longer)

Some of the regions in the South:
·        Marlborough – beautiful sounds with amazing bays, also a wine region
·        Nelson/Tasman – sunshine capital of NZ, home to Abel Tasman area which is known for golden beaches and clear water
·        West Coast – wild, wind-swept and can rain a lot, but home to my favourite coastal drive in New Zealand. Also home to the famous Fox and Franz Josef glaciers and Lake Matheson
·        Canterbury/Mt Cook/Tekapo/Twizel – accessible parts of the Southern Alps, the famous Aoraki/Mt Cook national park, glacial blue lakes
·        Queenstown Lakes – collection of lakes set among mountains, also the gateway to Milford Sound and the adventure capital of NZ (jet boating, skiing, bungy jumping, sky diving etc.)
·        East Coast – Kaikoura (mecca for wildlife enthusiasts, whale watching, seals, birding) and Hanmer Springs (hot pools!) – note the main highway is closed after an earthquake late in 2016, so you need to allow more time to drive
·        Otago – amazing history and beaches around Dunedin, home to the Otago Rail Trail (cycle journey), lots of wildlife also (penguins/albatross colonies)
·        Far South – another wild area of NZ, more remote – Catlins, Southern Fiordland

North Island also has some fantastic options for travel and photography, particularly the north of the island. It’s more about the beaches and less about the lakes and mountains up here, but that said, you’ll find those too!
My favourite regions on the North Island are Coromandel, Taranaki and Rotorua.

·        Far North/Bay of Islands – warmer, with lots of beaches, bays and islands, Cape Reinga at the top
·        Coromandel – amazing beaches, the famous Cathedral Cove
·        Auckland – our largest city, also very beautiful due to all the beaches and bays (traffic can be difficult)
·        Waikato – farming area, some amazing sights including Waitomo, Raglan, Bridal Veil Falls
·        Rotorua/Taupo – home of Maori culture, also a geothermal area where you can see lots of natural geothermal activity
·        Hawkes Bay – Fruit growing, wide region, pretty seaside city. Te Mata Peak, Cape Kidnappers
·        Taranaki – Home to Mt Taranaki, a traditionally symmetrical volcano, and some wild beaches
·        Central Plateau – Home to three volcanoes, lots of great day hikes, including Tongariro Crossing
·        Wairarapa – one of the wine regions of New Zealand
·        Wellington – Capital City, a beautiful harbour city that is easy to walk around, but beware of the wind!

If you’re from overseas, you might find driving a bit more challenging than in your home country. Our major highways are single lane only in either direction for long stretches, with passing lanes when possible. The roads, particularly in the south, can be very winding with tight and blind corners. That said, roads are generally well maintained and sign posted for where you are heading. Weather can affect driving conditions meaning you must go a lot slower than normal. If you are driving a campervan, remember to pull over to let traffic pass if you are holding people up, this helps prevent people from making dangerous moves. And remember – keep left!

Campervanning and freedom camping has seen a real surge in popularity in New Zealand, and is a great and easy way to cruise around the country. Please note that a small minority of tourists have not been treating NZ well – leaving lots of rubbish, abusing privileges, not paying their fair share etc. There is some local push back around freedom camping and ongoing discussion. If you are travelling in this manner, please be respectful of our country by not littering (particularly toilet waste and related products!!), by paying for services where applicable, and by observing local by-laws around freedom camping. 

Have a read of this guide to freedom camping:

I'm hoping to add to and re-share this post over time, so please send me a message with ideas or things you would like to know!! As stated at the beginning, I have also spent some time writing a specific list of places I have visited for photography, please contact me if you're interested in getting a copy of this.

If you would like to view more of my photography please visit Laurie Winter Photography

Take care!