One more from the road
The last voyage in our beloved ‘Dinkie’ leads us around the legendary South Island of New Zealand. Breathtaking mountain scenery, gorgeous empty stretches of coastline, starry nights and hordes of sandflies make this trip unforgettable. With heaps of new images in my portfolio, these were some of the most productive weeks in a while!
To escape the city, we spent a few days on the Banks Peninsula near Christchurch. Obviously being the only ones who could manage to make sense of the local freedom camping rules, we find an exclusive spot right next to the Akaroa Lighthouse, overlooking the harbor. Certainly one of the finest spots we have camped at in New Zealand so far!
In the company of our good friend (and ex-trainer/colleague) Tanja Vučković, we eventually start our trip by taking the Arthurs Pass towards the West Coast. Along the way we stop at Castle Hill, where scenes for the 2005 movie “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” have been filmed and climbers enjoy some of the best limestone boulders of New Zealand. Further down the road we go caving once more and follow the Broken River Stream for almost 600 meters underground. Fun!
Once we’re over the mountains and close to the ocean again, we’re greeted by masses of little sandflies trying to suck our blood. Our first bigger stop along the West Coast is the Franz Joseph Glacier, which we can only view from far away unfortunately. The walk through the Waiho River Valley is quite nice though and many waterfalls surround us along the way.
In the next morning we start an overnight hike to the Welcome Flats Hut, situated in the Copland River Valley. At the end of this 6-7 hours walk (one way), we find ourselves not only surrounded by scenic mountain ranges, but also nice hot pools to relax our strained muscles in. A treat every longer hike should offer in my opinion!
Following Highway 6 along the coast, we make our way towards Wanaka, where we want to spent a few days, enjoying this nice relaxed lakeside town and the surrounding landscapes. Of course I take the time to take pictures of the famous “Lone Tree” which is situated right at the lakeshore near the town center. It must be one of the most photographed trees in the world, which makes it a nice challenge for photographers from all around the globe to get that slightly different picture.
When the weather report predicts another day of sunshine, we start driving to Milford Sound. Being the most famous tourist attraction in New Zealand, we’re exited to finally see it with our own eyes. According to Maori mythology, underworld goddess Hine-nui-te-po released the sandflies in this area, because she feared visitors might never leave this beautiful place. Well…she was wrong! Visitors and sandflies alike swarm over Milford Sound day by day. Upon reaching the sound however, we forget about everyone else and dwell on this natural spectacle.
From Milford Sound we drive down to Invercargill to get some supplies and then follow the coast up north. Some really nice and peaceful camping spots next to the ocean await us along the way…
In the rather ordinary town of Papatowai, we find a true gem of exotic attractions. Blair Somerville’s “Lost Gypsy Gallery” showcases hundreds of clever and odd interactive artworks, made by the artist himself. Everything is created from natural or found objects and actually really hard to describe. So it’s probably best to just have a look at the following photos!
We spent the following days, walking along some great empty beaches, in search of sea lions, seals, dolphins and penguins. All of which are usually here to be seen in their natural environment.
The spherical Moeraki Boulders call for another sunrise shooting session and consequently quick framing skills. As you can see, I was a bit under pressure here. ;)
Soon again we start to miss the mountains and decide to take another detour to see Mount Cook, the highest peak of New Zealand with 3724 meters. The road to Mount Cook Village is as spectacular as they come and offers a new view towards the mountain on every corner. The whole area around Lake Pukaki is now definitely on the list of my favorite places in New Zealand.
On the way back to Christchurch we stop at Lake Tekapo, which is part of the UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve. Naturally I’m exited to take pictures in the night, even though the area is already stunning by day. We park our camper right next to the Church of the Good Shepherd while waiting for the sun to set. Being a small chapel in impressive scenery, this place is really quite special.
A while after the last rays of sunshine have faded, a great display of stars appears over the church. With the basic idea and knowledge at hand, taking a picture of the Milky Way above the church should be “a walk in the park”. I didn’t think about the crowds of Asian tourists though, trying to take pictures without basic idea and knowledge.
It turns out to be almost impossible to get a longer exposure of the church without having a wide range of artificial lights in the picture. Be it camera flashes, headlights of arriving or leaving cars, flashlights, mobile phones or even smaller floodlights to help focus on the building, nothing seems to be inappropriate here. It takes a good while and lots of frustration until I have some images I’m happy with. Instead of staying longer, we drive a bit outside of town to take some more pictures of our camper instead, which turns out to be a fantastic idea!
Back in Christchurch it’s time to say goodbye to our friend Tanja and subsequently also our dear motorhome. Being uncertain about how to spend the next seven months in New Zealand, we decide it’s best to sell before the winter starts.
And so it happens, that we are once more required to pack whatever we can into our backpacks and leave a cozy home for the excitement of unrestricted traveling.