Friday, 13 December 2019

2019 Autumn Roadie

As a photographer, autumn is my favourite time to travel around the beautiful South Island, so I usually try to plan my longest photography trip of the year to coincide with autumn colours.  The bottom of the South Island often has lovely settled weather in April, and if the timing is right it turns on amazing shades of golds and blues.

I love to take a campervan on my roadies as much as possible, as it allows me the flexibility to follow the good weather and not have to pack up a room every day! I’ve been trying out the various campers that Maui has to offer over the years. This time I had a Maui Cascade campervan, and it was my favourite so far. It was a great choice for a longer trip – big enough to be spacious and functional, but not so big that it was at all difficult to manouver. Although there were just two of us travelling, the four-berth cascade allows us heaps of room to spread out, and a big double bed each. I was a big fan of the cosy pull-down top bed, which I referred to as “the loft”!

For the first part of my trip I had my friend Meghan with me. We had decided we wanted to stick to the Queenstown and Wanaka area, and visit some places that neither of us had been to and photographed before. On our first day we visited a local waterfall, and shot sunset at the lagoon at Jacks Point. The next morning we saw the sun rise from Bob’s Cove.

Queenstown, Crichton, Loop, Waterfall,
Waterfall on the Mt Crichton Loop Track

Remarkables, Sunset, Jacks Point, Lagoon, Queenstown
Golden light on the Remarkables at sunset

Bobs Cove, Queenstown, Sunrise, Laurie Winter
Sunrise in Bob's Cove, Queenstown

On our second day, we were treated to a return scenic flight to Milford Sound with Glenorchy Air. The 45-minute flight each way takes you over two different flight paths, and we had perfect weather to see this region from the air. We flew over locations such as Skippers Canyon, Lakes Wakatipu and Te Anau, Lake Quill and Sutherland Falls, the Routeburn, Hollyford and Milford tracks, Lake Erskine, Eglington Valley and Mount Tutoko. This was honestly best scenic flight I have done in my life. Such phenomenal scenery and so many places I saw that I wish I could get to via feet or car!

Milford Sound, Glenorchy Air, Queenstown, View, Laurie Winter
Views on our Glenorchy Air Flight

Milford Sound, Mitre Peak, Summer, Autumn, Beautiful, Laurie Winter
Beautiful Milford Sound in Autumn

Admiring the base of Bowen Falls

Aerial, Milford Sound, Glenorchy Air
Milford Sound from the air

Glenorchy Air, Views, Milford Sound, Laurie Winter
Incredible views on our flight

Over our five days in the area, we also visited Glenorchy, Wanaka and its famous tree, Rob Roy Glacier, Glendhu Bay and Lake Alta up on the Remarkables ski field.  We actually were a little bit early for the best of the autumn colours, but it didn’t matter as we had such lovely weather.

Remarkables, view, sunset, Lake Hayes, Queenstown
Sunset over Lake Hayes from the Remarkables

Maui, Cascade, Campervan, Glenorchy, Laurie Winter
The Maui Cascade - such a dream to drive!

Milky Way, astrophotography, Lake Wanaka, The Wanaka Tree, Laurie Winter
Milky Way over the Wanaka Tree

Rob Roy, Glacier, Track, Views, Wanaka, Matukituki Valley
Stunning views on the Rob Roy Glacier Track

Mountains, Snow, Wanaka Tree, Autumn, Lake Wanaka
Autumn sunrise at the Wanaka Tree

Midway through my break, Meghan went home and I picked up my friend Kristin. On our first night, we climbed a huge hill behind Moke Lake for sunset. We planned to head into Milford and explore some new areas, driving to Te Anau the night Kris arrived and then continuing on to Milford Sound the next day. We had a lovely four days in the area – hanging out with some friendly kea, photographing beautiful rivers and waterfalls, hiking to Lake Marian. We also had an absolutely beautiful sunset in Milford Sound itself. One of my trip highlights was climbing Gertrude Saddle and taking in the absolutely epic views – a tough hike but an amazing reward.

Milford Sound, Cruise Ship, Sunrise, Patterns, Reflections, Laurie Winter
A cruise ship and sand patterns in Milford Sound

Admiring the views at Lake Marian

Marian Falls, Fiordland

Milford Sound, Sunset, Mitre Peak, Laurie Winter
Burning sunset at Milford Sound

Views for days from Gertrude Saddle

Before we headed home to Queenstown, we spent a lovely morning just relaxing in the sunshine at Lake Gunn. Our legs were pretty tired after so much walking in the area, so it was really nice to just hang out for a while. Then it was sadly time to head home to Queenstown. We had one last sunrise at Moke Lake before the trip came to an end.

Maui, Cascade, Camper, Lake Gunn
Maui Cascade Campervan at Lake Gunn

Lake Gunn, Reflections, Sunrise, Laurie Winter, Milford Sound, Fiordland
Serenity at Lake Gunn

Trip Highlights
·        Flight to Milford Sound – a must do in Queenstown!
·        Walking the Rob Roy Glacier Track – amazing chance to get up close to a glacier
·        Climbing Gertrude Saddle – a tough hike that can only be done in good weather, but the views are incredible

Places we stayed
·        12 Mile Delta DOC campsite (Queenstown)
·        Wakana Lakeview Holiday Park
·        Henry Creek DOC campsite (Te Anau)
·        Milford Sound Lodge
·        Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park

For more of my photography please visit my website

Friday, 1 November 2019

Trying out the new Britz Evolve Campervan

I was lucky enough to be one of the very first customers trying out the new Britz Evolve Electric Vehicle, and what a pleasure that was! It’s so great to see a campervan company considering the environment and I know Britz has big plans for an electric vehicle fleet. It’s definitely a good thing to lower emissions while embracing New Zealand’s clean electricity resources.

Day 1 - Queenstown to Wanaka – 116km (no need to charge on the way)
We arrived in Queenstown, did some grocery shopping and then got on our way to Wanaka. We arrived just as a strong southerly hit with high winds and some rain. Not ideal in the middle of summer! The winds actually brought down lots of branches in Wanaka, and we watched some of the famous poplar trees being felled the next morning.

We stayed at: Wanaka Kiwi Holiday Park

We charged: overnight at the holiday park

Day 2 – Local activities in Wanaka
The next morning dawned absolutely beautiful and still. After spending some time on the lake front in the morning, we decided to head out to Mou Waho Island. This is an island in the middle of Lake Wanaka that also has its own lake on it that you climb above to get a glorious view. After spending some time on the island, we joined a 4 x 4 trip on the private Mt Burke Station. This trip took us way up into the high country above Wanaka, where there were sweeping views over the lake, and a gourmet picnic with all local produce, cheeses and wines. Both tours run over summer and are delivered by the wonderful people at Wanaka Water Taxis - highly recommend their trips!

We stayed at: Wanaka Kiwi Holiday Park
We charged: overnight at the campground

Wanaka Water Taxis, Lake Wanaka, Wanaka, Sunrise
A still morning at Lake Wanaka

Wanaka Water Taxis, Lake Wanaka, Wanaka, Sunrise, Mou Waho
The view from Mou Waho Island

Wanaka Water Taxis, Lake Wanaka, Wanaka, Sunrise
Wanaka 4x4 Adventures with Wanaka Water Taxi

Wanaka Water Taxis, Lake Wanaka, Wanaka, Sunrise
On top of the world in Wanaka

Day 3 – Wanaka to Lake Tekapo – 201km (charging stop in Omarama)
After a stunning sunrise at “That Wanaka Tree” we hired kayaks and went to explore Ruby Island, which takes about 45 minutes by kayak to get to. Afterwards we had a delicious lunch at Relishes CafĂ© – my favourite in Wanaka. Then it was time to get on the road for the big drive to Lake Tekapo. Getting up and over the Lindis Pass takes almost the full charge of the campervan, and we were nervous we would run out of power! However, it was a good lesson to trust that Britz had the distances sorted and everything was fine. We charged in Omarama and then visited the shores of Lake Pukaki for sunset. Then it was on to Lake Tekapo.

We stayed at: Lake Tekapo Holiday Park and Motels
We charged at: Challenge Omarama roadside charger and overnight at the campground

Sunrise, Wanaka, Lake Wanaka, That Wanaka Tree
Wanaka Tree at Sunrise

Sunrise, Wanaka, Lake Wanaka, That Wanaka Tree
Lake Wanaka looking amazing at sunrise

kayak, ruby island, wanaka
Kayaking to Ruby Island

Mt Cook, Aoraki, Sunset, Clouds, Moody, Lake Pukaki
Moody Mt Cook and Lake Pukaki

Day 4 – Lake Tekapo to Queenstown – 206km (charging stops in Omarama and Cromwell) 

Whilst we originally planned on spending two days further north, we changed our plans on the back of a really bad weather forecast. After checking out the drive to Lake Alexandrina and the last of the lupins at Tekapo, we headed back to Queenstown. The length of the journey required us to stop twice to charge. A full charge at Omarama, where we whiled away the time at the blissful Omarama Hot Pools. Then it was over the Lindis Pass again, followed by a second charging stop at Cromwell (where we didn’t do a full charge knowing we only had to get to Queenstown 60km away).

We stayed at: Creeksyde Holiday Park
We charged at: Challenge Omarama and ChargeNet Cromwell roadside chargers and overnight at the campground

Chruch of the Good Shepherd, Sunset, Lake Tekapo
Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo

Chruch of the Good Shepherd, Sunset, Lake Tekapo
Moody Skies at the Church of the Good Shepherd

Britz, EV, Evolve, Lake Tekapo
The Britz EV and Lake Tekapo

Britz, EV, Evolve, Lake Tekapo, Lupins
Britz Evolve amongst the Lupins in Tekapo

Day 5 - Local activities in Queenstown
It was a very hot and beautiful day, so we decided to head to the “beach”. We had breakfast in the stunning Wilson’s Bay, before heading to Bob’s Cove and taking the short hike to the look out which gives amazing views over Lake Wakatipu. Afterwards we headed back to the cove’s beach and took a very quick dip in the freezing lake. After lunch we drove out to Glenorchy, and then stopped at a secret waterfall on the road back to Queenstown.

We stayed at: Creeksyde Holiday Park
We charged at: Overnight at the campground

Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, Sunset
Stormy Sunset in Queenstown

Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, Bobs Cove, Lake
The Beautiful View from Bob's Cove Lookout

Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, Bobs Cove, Lake
Amazing Queenstown, Bob's Cove

Lake Face Creek Falls, Waterfall, Queenstown
Secret Waterfall in Queenstown

Day 6 - Local activities in Queenstown
After a very lazy morning we went for a drive to check out the bungy jumpers over the Kawerau River, followed by seeking out fresh Otago raspberries and a lovely picnic at the reserve at Kelvin Heights. We had time to pay a quick visit to a friend in Jack’s Point before heading to the airport to return our vehicle.

We charged at: No charging required, just local driving

Thoughts on the Britz Evolve
We were really excited to test drive this camper, and it did not disappoint. Was a pleasure to live in, and a real talking point amongst locals and tourists who were really keen to know more. The Evolve campervan is new and modern with everything you need and lots of clever features to make life on the road easy. It was also easy to drive, surprisingly gutsy and so spacious inside (but also compact so manoeuvring and parking is easy).

There were some minor hiccups getting sorted at the campgrounds as we were their first customers, but these were quickly ironed out. Travelling in an EV does require a more relaxed pace, so it’s ideal if you have time to explore the small towns at your charging spots, or spend a couple of nights in each place you stay.

Whilst we were a bit nervous on our first long drive, by the end of the trip we felt like EV pros and we were really confident with how and when to charge.

Note: Britz supplied the Evolve for me to trial free of charge. The opinions are my own.
If you would like to hire the Evolve for your own holiday, you can do so here: Britz Evolve

For more of my photography please visit my website