2022 in review

A year of two halves… again!

In so many ways, 2022 has been eerily similar to my 2021. Just like the first half of last year, through to around July I managed to get out on several new adventures. And just like the second half of last year, my camera was then put away for long periods as my day job became all consuming.

As the last few days of 2021 came to an end I found myself exploring a few new spots around the Haast and Fiordland areas. What better way to bring in the near year than waking up in one of my favourite spots: Milford Sound / Piopiotahi.

A hidden canyon in the Haast Pass area (click image to order print)
Another one of the impressive canyons in the Haast Pass area
Upper Hollyford River with a view of Mt Talbot (2105m)
Lower Hollyford River
Accessing this view of Lake Manapouri involved both a hike and kayak trip in the dark

Late on New Year’s Day I met up with Lee Cook in Te Anau. Ahead of us was a 4-day adventure in the Lake Adelaide basin, located in a remote corner of Fiordland National Park. We’d read about the arduous and untracked nature of the terrain, but nothing quite prepared us for how physically demanding it would be. As is always the case with such trips, the memories of exhaustion have since faded and only the rewarding memories remain. A detailed trip description is located in my A Brief Guide to Lake Adelaide.

The Lake Adelaide basin viewed from near Barrier Knob (captured on an earlier trip)
Our camp site near Lake Adelaide (click image to order print)
It was fantastic to see a good number of kea in the Adelaide basin (click image to order print)
Video highlights from 4 days in the Lake Adelaide basin

In late February I set off on an off-track overnighter to link the Bealey and Otira headwaters in Arthur’s Pass National Park. However, things didn’t quite go to plan. Following a brutal scree climb on the Otira side to ascend the ridge between the catchments, my hopes of finding a suitable spot to pitch a tent were thwarted by razor sharp rocks and a complete lack of any remotely flat ground. I made the call to descend into the Bealey but soon encountered even steeper scree among towering bluffs with numerous dead-ends and scary drop-offs. Picking my way down safely was a slow affair and eventually I ran out of daylight.  It wasn’t until midnight that I eventually got back to my car and made my way back home.

A couple of weeks later I went on another overnighter to climb Mt Oakden (1,633m), located on private property on the western shore of Lake Coleridge. This trip also involved untracked climbing through steep rock and scree, but thankfully the summit area has plenty of opportunities to pitch a tent. With thick cloud rolling in on both sunset and sunrise I didn’t quite get the images I was hoping for. However, it was a great scouting trip and I hope to head back at some stage.

No place for a tent; the ridgeline between the Otira and Bealey catchments
Cloud rolling around the summit of Mt Oakden at sunrise
What a view!

Memories of those photographic disappointments completely evaporated in April with a 3-day hike around the Mt Wakefield area, Aoraki-Mt Cook National Park. Over three glorious autumnal days I experienced some of the finest weather and light I could’ve possibly hoped for. Read the full trip in my A Brief Guide to Mount Wakefield. Following a series of questions on my Instagram Stories from the trip, I produced a full breakdown of all my tramping gear, and their weight, and posted this in My adventure gear list.

Mount Sefton (3151m) viewed from a high point near Mt Wakefield  (click image to order print)
The Tasman Valley lit up by a nor’west sunrise (click image to order print)
Video highlights from a 3-day trip in the Mt Wakefield area

Over Queen’s Birthday weekend (early June) I set off in the motorhome to hit up a few spots on the West Coast. One morning had a fantastic sunrise but inclement weather made the rest of the time a fizzer. I attempted to make my way into a canyon I’ve long hoped to explore, but high flows meant I’ll have to return another day.

Winter soon set in. Since 2016 I’d not managed to time any trip to coincide with a rare hoar frost event, so when the conditions set up in late June I set off from Christchurch at 3am in the hope of getting some shots before it all melted.  A truly magical morning followed, and by around lunchtime, it had all disappeared.

The very next day we were off on a @purephotoadventures.nz workshop, spending 7 days with a great group of photographers at our favourite spots around the South Island.

Sunrise on the West Coast near Motukiekie (click image to order print)
Hoar frost on trees on the shore of Lake Ruataniwha (click image to order print)
Over the morning the fog came in heavy at times…
…but gradually lifted by late morning (click image to order print)
Lake Camp was a new addition on our @purephotoadventures.nz itinerary (click image to order print)

Almost immediately after the workshop I headed off on a 5-day solo adventure into the upper Rakaia. It’s a place I’d long dreamed of reaching, but it’s a challenging trip to implement due to unpredictable weather and the number of unbridged river crossings. In the end I got pretty lucky with a great weather window, save the last day which involved walking out in a blizzard. Read all about it in my A Brief Guide to the Upper Rakaia.

The Upper Rakaia: a spectacular and not often visited corner of the Southern Alps (click image to order print)
A frozen arm of the lake at the terminus of the Lyell Glacier (click image to order print)
Video highlights from my Rakaia trip (and my favourite production yet!)

And that’s about the time the adventures dried up. In the last half of the year my day job work really ramped up and I found myself spending a lot of time in Wellington. I haven’t even found time to review and edit all the images I captured in the first half – hope to get to that eventually!

In late October my wife and I got away for a week to the lower North Island in the motorhome, visiting a few spots neither of us had ever been to.  Time for photography was slim but a few great spots were scouted for next time.

My first visit to Mount Taranaki (2,518m) (click image to order print)
Quite why I’ve waited my entire lifetime to visit Castlepoint Lighthouse, I’m not sure!

As 2022 draws to a close I’ve got a few photography plans scheduled over the Christmas break and I’m already thinking about next year’s adventures. Significant workload in my day job remains a real possibility so I might have to try and tick off a bunch of things within the first few months: watch this space!

As always, big thanks for reading and for your support. Hoping your 2023 is a wonderful one!

Read my previous years in review: