7 Week Break
At the start of July I took an extended break. In fact, the longest break I’d taken in my 21-year working career. The opportunity arose because my time on the Kaikōura earthquake recovery (which I wrote about in both my previous reviews; see 2017 and 2018) was beginning to wind down. Before new projects and commitments took over it was an opportunity to hit up some old and new spots around the South Island and hopefully, fingers crossed, use the luxury of time to capture some quality light. It was 7 weeks of absolute bliss.
The period consisted of heading out on the road in blocks of 5-7 days before returning home for a day or two to say hello to the family and backup data. The winter school holidays also coincided with this period, with those two weeks being spent with my family firstly in the Golden Bay area and then escaping the cold in Rarotonga. The second winter workshop mentioned above also happened towards the end of the 7 weeks.
As you can imagine I took a LOT of photos and videos. Even as I type this I’ve still only managed to do a first sweep through the images and process a few obvious keepers. Slowly but surely working my way through them!
Over Week 1 I spent my time gradually making my way down the central South Island, eventually arriving on the south coast near Tuatapere. From there I spent a bit of time mooching around Fiordland and managed to get a couple of good shots from locations I’d looked at earlier in the year. On the way back I spent sometime in the Mackenzie area capturing both frosts and nor’west storms.
Recent rain had filled Lake Hauroko and drowned the lower sections of this jetty
This primordial spot in Fiordland is a location I’ve tried to shoot several times in the past; this is the best light I’ve had so far (it was actually raining!)
Week 2 signaled the start of school holidays and so with a fully loaded car the family and I headed for Golden Bay. Although not quite what you’d call swimming weather the days were glorious and very un-winter like. I managed to slip out on a few mornings and evenings for photography, and finally made it to my favourite beach in New Zealand for a sunrise shoot (also got in another sunset there too!).
My very first frame from a sunrise shoot at the Archway Islands, Wharariki Beach
Ligar Bay was just a hop, skip and a jump from where we were staying – easy for sunrises!
After only a day at home we were on a plane to start Week 3 in the Cook Islands, catching up with two sets of friends and their families while we were there. Rarotonga was my first trip to a Pacific island and I was completely won over by it’s beauty and super-relaxed way of life. I didn’t take much of my camera gear but still came away with a snap or two.
In early July my family and I traded out the New Zealand winter for the warmth of Rarotonga
Week 4 was spent exploring the southern part of the West Coast. To the most part the weather was TOO clear and fine for photography and many of the days turned into scouting missions. But things got a little epic when Rach Stewart and Jack Burden showed up and we flew into a spot above Fox Glacier for an overnighter. Aside from the amazing landscapes we were very lucky to be joined by around 15 juvenile kea who were an absolute delight!
The West Coast has a habit of delivering some epic sunsets
During the 7 weeks I had several opportunities to capture my favourite alpine parrot (well, it’s the world’s only alpine parrot), the kea (nestor notabilis)
Week 5 saw me back in the Mackenzie Country exploring a few new locations. By this stage the mountains were looking a little more wintery and a couple of nor-wester storms blew through, preventing some of the drone shots I had in mind. But my luck improved when the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) decided to make an appearance on a crystal clear evening.
For around 5 minutes Lake Pukaki went still enough to grab this shot, then a nor’west storm kicked in for the rest of the day
Lady Aurora made an appearance while I was staying in Twizel during Week 5
During Week 6 our second winter workshop commenced and the snow well and truly arrived. As Week 7 commenced, I spent the last few days of my break exploring the newly blanketed landscapes around Aoraki-Mt Cook and the Mackenzie Country. I rounded out the break with some skiing at Mt Hutt, spending the sunrise and sunset capturing some spots close to the ski area.
Lake Pukaki in less calmer conditions
Early morning view from Mt Hutt, taken in the last weekend of my 7 week break
This 9-image panorama shot from my drone of the Rakaia River is one of the last images taken on my break