There are many things that I like about this area; total lack of people is one of them.
Apart from a few farming vehicles, it will still surprise you when you meet with another freedom traveller heading towards you on this wonderfully narrow, dusty road.
Another nice thing is a beautiful silence. More often than not, in coastal areas you can hear boats’ engines reeving up but very seldom here…only birds echo through the air. But the main thing I’d like to point out here is my favourite one – it’s all about native bush here.
Not like in the Marlborough Sounds where sadly, as far as you can see, there is always a pine grove in a view, spoiling these beautiful Sounds. Luckily some great work is being done to eradicate this trees from these hills where they don’t belong.
In Whanganui however, no pines at all. You’re surrounded only by native coastal forest just like what it was hundreds of years ago. …and that’s something we must treasure dearly.
Thank you and Enjoy!
It’s interesting what pressure can produce.
Last several days I spent photographing Banks Peninsula near Christchurch. I wasn’t alone as I had a pleasure to drive peninsula’s roads and run the hills with one of the best polar – mountain photographer, not only in New Zealand but worldwide, Colin Monteath.
We had a great fun scouting places and looking for new spots to photograph.
Anyways; on one of the evenings, waiting for the sunset at a previously scouted location, the clouds kept hanging on and on and on, so we faced a decision – either to risk that the clouds open up the valley below or not, returning home empty handed.
As the situation erred on the side of clouds sticking around for the night, we quickly decided to move on and hurried to find re-placing frame for the photograph we could make.
It didn’t look very good and we were becoming reconciled that it’s going to be a dry evening but after some running around we came across this magical frame. It was just for a short moment but well worth the rush.
I love the beautifully soft hues of colours reflected from the sky in the rolling mist, as the sun sets on the West Coast.
Suddenly it felt like in Tuskany….
This photograph of Rolling mist over hills of Banks Peninsula at sunset, Canterbury, New Zealand is not online yet, but feel free to check our other images from similar locations under this link.
Photo: ©Petr Hlavacek – www.nzicescapes.com
Thank you and Enjoy!
Long days of summer have gone now but I’m really excited (as every year) about approaching winter’s short days and its brilliant photography light. Next to this marvellous light, white peaks around us, late mornings (for sleep in) and early evenings (to catch a dinner without a rush) these are some of few things photographers like about making photographs in winter.
I however do like getting around in summer too and this past summer hasn’t been different for me. After 11 years, I re-visited one of the best locations New Zealand has on offer – the Routeburn Track in Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Park … and what a fantastic trip I had.
It was a photographic bonanza. The weather stayed on my side, giving me plenty of blue skies and suntan, as well as those magical low clouds around Lake Mackenzie . This was really great as it allowed me to photograph an amazing rainforest surrounding it. The only sad thing was that the bush was bone dry, thus lacking that extra juicy kick and the lake was at its lowest everyone I spoke to could have recalled.
Despite this, I’m very happy with few keepers and I got home with.
For those of you who haven’t made it to Routeburn yet, I hope that these sample photos will help you to make up your mind.
Thanks and Enjoy!
A week ago I spent several days in one of my favourite areas, in Copland Valley, on the West Coast of the South Island in New Zealand.
Gorgeous Copland River runs through this beautiful valley which is penetrated with side creeks of all sizes; and they all have one thing in common – they are rough and wild.
Since these rivers, creeks and streams are in an area where the rainfall can exceed 500mm in 24hrs, one can only imagine the inferno happening when the heavy rain comes down and those massive boulders of bus sizes tumble down these creeks…
But on calm days, these creeks are not only very beautiful alpine gems to photograph but also great to wash down the blood and sweat from reaching them…not mentioning best water to drink!
Taken with Nikon D800E and Nikkor 16-35mm f4 lens and is a stitch of 2 vertical frames.
Thank you and Enjoy!
For more similar images from this area, please visit our online gallery of Rivers and Creeks.
Here the time comes again.
It seems that this post is developing into regular farewell to the departing year with a look over the shoulder to reflect on what one was up to in the year just gone…and I kinda like it with hope, that our friends and followers might enjoy this showcase as well.
And it was a busy year, I need to say. I travelled around quite a bit, re-visiting places I haven’t been for a decade, but also going new places and therefore it was very exciting year for me indeed.
Lets take a look at January.
I’ve been planning this frame of Franz Josef Glacier with daisies in foreground for a long time but never really happened to be able to go for the shoot in the right time of the year.
Last year I decided that I can’t miss mountain daisies on Alex Knob again. Unfortunately, when I got up the top it got quite breezy around the sunset time so it was quite difficult to get sharp image, as the daisies were moving most of the time. The shutter speed was slow in this low light and I had to improvise and shelter flowers a bit with my pack but with no much success. Eventually that evening, I managed to pull of a couple of sharp frames I’m happy with.
February was a similar story.
Roys Peaks were on my list for a long time, as well and is one of locations I haven’t visited before so I was really excited to go up. The views from there are quite extraordinary and are worth of every drop of sweat…and there is quite a few drops one sheds on way up…
This image is a summer version but I do plan going back around winter time to get a bit of the snow on tops. But in this frame, I really like those pastel colours of twilight together with steel blue lake which is being swept by winds, creating nice pattern on its surface.
Last year I visited one location more often then others. It was Punakaiki in Paparoa National Park in northern part of the West Coast. Punakaiki is one of those places where inspiration comes in buckets. Being not too far from my home, only about 3 hrs drive, no wonder I gave this place more attention last year and will continue to do so in the future.
Walking among limestone formations in twilight is truly exciting for photographer and one has to really concentrate on what to photograph. There is image everywhere one points the camera at but when I saw this limestone stack with so much detail in right light, the image was decided for me. Especially, when this photograph isn’t so profound like the others from the area.
For April I had planned my trip to Milford Sound.
It’s been soooo long since I was there last time so one can only imagine my hype when I hit the road. It’s a bit of a drive, around 13 hrs from my place but I decided to break the journey up and stayed a few nights in Te Anau, also one of the long over due location for me.
I stayed about a week in Milford as I wanted to do a few side trips as well. And this image is from one of those – Gertrude Saddle.
An easy hike up the saddle gives you an amazing views not only toward the Milford Sound in distance but also over beautiful Darran Mountains you’re totally enclosed by….what a tent door view…
In May I didn’t have to travel far.
Actually, didn’t have to travel at all as one of the best views of the Southern Alps is only a few minutes away from my home – in Okarito.
Oh boy, how much I love this place. I would go up as often as I can as the views from this popular lookout are just magic. I have many frames from this place but I really like this one. It’s not one of those chocolate box like versions and gives you a chill of that raw wintery evening of the rainforest and mountains after sun went behind the horizon.
In June, winter picked up its momentum and good dump of snow covered mountains.
And that’s a great time to visit one my another beloved places – Three Mile Lagoon. This time it was even more urging and exciting to go as this was my first shoot with my new 36MP camera. And how happy a man can be…
I have made a similar image before but in different light and because I love those pastel colours of twilight, I wanted to re-shoot this frame….magical location!
In July I was on moon hunting.
This image had been some years in making, as there is not too many opportunities to capture full moon next to the highest NZ mountains. Obviously, the weather is the boss here and if it gets stubborn, you gotta wait until next year.
I came in June but the clouds arrived so I packed up and went home…well, of course, I managed to photograph something else but there was no mountains and no moon. And so I went the following month again but this time I was lucky. There was no clouds around and the moon was closest to Mt. Tasman it ever gets. I have a few more ideas about this image so I will definitely be back this year again…
I love going places only a few knows about and not too many people photograph.
Charleston on in northern part of the West Coast was one of those places for me in August.
Time to time you can find a photo of the main bay in Charleston but I haven’t seen many of this southern coastline. I came to this spot several times as I wanted to have sunset and also sunrise versions as they are very different when it comes to light but both have its beauty. To me, this sunrise photograph thanks to the lit up clouds and ruggedness of the coastline in moody dark is the winner.
In September I was on a road again.
It’s been 7 years since I’ve been in Catlins last time so I couldn’t wait to get there. This eastern southern coastline lives kinda in a shadow of those hugely popular areas but perhaps because of it, it’s a joy to travel through and meeting with locals. Sitting in the bottom corner of the South Island, Catlins truly has some gems to show and the Nugget Point with its lighthouse is definitely one of them. In summer, the sun rises much more to the right, creating a lot of negative space if the sky is empty but I like its placement here, where it makes for a very pleasing and well balanced composition.
With October, I’ll be cheating a bit.
Initially, I wanted to use a different image for October, but then I changed my mind as I wanted to share with you another special frame. And because I’ve been quite busy at the end of last year I thought I could use image I took just on the beginning of November.
On the 1st November I travelled to Mt. Cook National Park to give hand to my friend Colin Monteath with his mountain photography workshop. He’s a fantastic guy and mountain photographer so please check his website at – www.colinmonteath.com
We had a blast and were lucky with weather. One of those nights we spent in mountains and it rained and snowed but it gave us a gorgeous morning where everything was dusted with fresh, thin layer of snow…just magic.
Shortly after I came back from Mt. Cook, in November I hit the road again, this time to the Nelson Region – Golden Bay.
There was one place in particular which I wanted to visit, actually two – Totaranui and Wharariki.
The image below is from amazing Wharariki with its famous arches on the beach. I’ve been here before but it was too long ago – well, 10 years to be exact…and here again, the adrenalin was running up my brain….how great it is to visit old places you love and always find them as new…..
And as a last image for December I won’t go far at all.
I chose to share a view from my lounge when the sun was setting on the boxing day.
Lets hope you’ve enjoyed my adventures and I look forward to catching up with you here next year again!
Many thanks for visiting my posts and all the best in 2013!
Despite this place being right on my doorstep, I’m quite ashamed to admit that it’s been a long 10 years since I visited this location last time. But this long gap won’t happen again, I can promise you that!
This said, you can well imagine my excitement planing my trip back into the wilderness of this spectacular western part of the Southern Alps, part of the Westland National Park in New Zealand.
Copland Valley is simply amazing. Jugged skyline of The Sierra Range on southern side of the valley keeps your mind in awe pretty much all along the way toward the first, well known hut – Welcome Flat Hut, which is reached after around 8hrs. A lot of the time you’re hiking along beautiful Copland River as it runs through this valley. River originates in Copland Glacier and gathers its waters from magnificent peaks of the Southern Alps, especially from The Sierra Range. And it is its glacial origins which gives this river stunning turquoise-blue colour of water.
It was late on a summer day when I took this photograph of the Copland River. As the sun went lower and lower, the Copland Valley lost its light completely and the blue chill of river gave the air its coldness. Combination of these qualities, warm sunlight on the peaks, coldness of the river and with addition of the juicy green rainforest made this frame for me.
This panoramic photograph is a merge of six frames, processed using Lightroom 4 and stitched in Photoshop CS6.
This shot is from last winter on Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand.
It was a beautiful day, as it always is on the West Coast and which is why you wanna be on ice, right?
I was on one of my explorations of this glacier. Since the glacier’s changing literally every day, you can keep coming back all the time and always see some new magic.
On this day, it was these turquoise fringes of the crevasses which caught my attention, as they were shining from a distance at me.
I love these ice colours but it is not easy to get around locations like this, especially in winter when every crack, deep crevasse or whole is covered with snow. These adventures can truly be deadly if you don’t know what you’re doing. I’ve been tip toeing around these crevasses, poking the ground in front of me before I put my next step down. I wanted to get as close as I could to get a nice wide angle shot with a lot of detail.
Standing on the slippery edge of the crevasse I made this exposure with my 12-24 mm wide angle lens at 12mm and with +1.3 EV exposure compensation.
Only very little of touch up on this RAW file in Lightroom was required to finalize the frame.
I hope you’ll like it as I do.
This seems to be a very nice way to share those past twelve months of photographic adventures with all our friends, followers and supporters. Therefore I also decided to point out 12 images, one for each month, which I feel very good about. Most of them are already online and you may have come them across on our stock website but even if so, I reckon these frames deserve to be showcased again.
In January I had some great times with my models on Franz Josef Glacier.
It is not common to be able to walk through this deep ice crevasses but on this occasion, we were very lucky to be here. Actually, this has been the deepest crevasse I’ve ever walked through. It might have been 15-20m deep at places and possibly 100m long. It was absolutely amazing and my massive and grateful THANK YOU goes to the Glacier Guides from Franz Josef, who made this possible!
It wasn’t easy to pick my favourite shot as the ice colours and patterns were changing along the way but this image has a great combination of being lost amidst the ice and “Alice in the Wonderland” feeling. Totally surreal place to be in!
In February, on one late afternoon I drove from Wanaka toward the West Coast. It was very dull and the sky was heavily clouded with no light at all and it started to rain slowly, intensifying into downpour. It felt like you were under some dark blanket. Except for one moment when a sudden burst of light broke through the black clouds. Luckily I was able to grab this image before it started to bucket down again.
In March I had my friend, a fellow photographer over to visit and we decided to take a heli ride over the glaciers in Westland NP. With doors off, we spent nearly an hour of the golden hour of the day flying over the Southern Alps and making images. For this image in the upper parts of the Fox Glacier I asked pilot if he could get as low and as close to these crevasses as he could, so I could emphasize them. They remind me of fingers pointing to the second highest mountain in NZ – Mt. Tasman 3497m which dominates the background. The orangy colours are partially from setting sun but they’re also enhanced by the dust which by the end of summer reaches NZ from Australian outback.
April was an exciting month, as I was able to visit one of the locations I’ve been having on my list for many years – the Ice Lake.
This lake is hidden behind ranges only a few km away from my home and is an absolute gem. It is also very difficult to photograph since the lake sits in between high ranges so not much light gets there and one faces a massive exposure differences. In this image I didn’t have many options but HDR.
Frankly, I’m just starting to learn a little about HDR as I’m not a huge fan but do understand its benefits, which I appreciated in creating this image.
May, that’s when the winter starts kicking in. And winter on the West Coast is just magnificent. Brilliant skies and best light. I love going on the glacier in winter because you get all sorts of frozen patterns in puddles made by melting water from the sunny days.
One of great example is here – frozen air bubbles in a small crack in the ice filled with water. Unfortunately, the limited colour space of your screen doesn’t show you the real colours of this image but just imagine intense blue-turquoise hues. Love it!
In June I visited another of my favourite locations – The Castle Rock Hut.
This hut is perched on the ridge overlooking Franz Josef Glacier with some spectacular views. Can’t wait to go back!
July was again – the glacier time. With fresh blanket of snow, everything looks so pristine and pure. Then all it takes is to walk and walk and walk around very carefully, looking for some nice frame to make an image. And if the sun and caves works together, some great images are to be had.
Using a small aperture gives you this nice starburst effect, which ultimately makes the image shine.
There is still plenty of snow on the mountains in August and it’s a great time to get some fantastic imagery done. This image was made on the Gillespies Beach with reflections of highest NZ mountains – Mt. Cook (3754m) right and Mt. Tasman (3497m) left.
The Tasman Sea is just a few meters behind my back so one has to watch ones back if the tide is high.
In September I was working on assignment to get the panorama of the Southern Alps with as little shadows as possible – sometime you have to listen to your client. Despite that brief, the image turned out quite nicely. We waited several days for some fresh snow to dust up the already warming mountains and that’s why I picked this image for this month, as it shows gently snow covered mountains with a lot of detail and all the beauty of Fox Glacier sliding down through the middle of the frame.
October was month of sunsets. One of these has been taken from Okarito lookout. Image overlooks the Three Mile Lagoon and leads your eye further along the coast south. Great skies made the frame.
In November I travelled a little north along the West Coast, to Punakaiki. This great location is famous for its “Pancake Rocks” and fabulous coastline. This image has quite common and popular framing of the location but despite that I pick this image because I like the light and sky in it. It’s been very windy evening and clouds were chasing each other and when the sun sinked below the horizon, it threw its last rays onto those clouds and gave us one more opportunity to make an image.
Lastly, in December I went with my friend for several days into the wilderness. We hiked toward the Copland Pass in the Southern Alps and needless to say, the trip was just brilliant. Not only we had a great swim in freezing cold waters of Copland River on scorchingly hot day but we came home with some great imagery, as well.
One of my favourite frames from the trip is this panorama of the Copland River.
Carrying on on Heaphy Track, we’re going to spend last night in Gouland Downs Hut – hut with an atmosphere. Aptly named after an area of Gouland Downs, this hut nestles right next to the densely in moss covered bush which after dark echoes with kiwi calls. It’s not uncommon to hear kiwi fossicking in night for food in bush behind the hut or even to spot them. I love this place!
The area of Gouland Downs is braided with rivers, streams and creeks, its karst terrain is covered with golden tussock which literally lits up when hit by afternoon sun and the native forest next to hut hides many caves and caverns to be investigated. There is so much to explore here that one would need to spend much more time here than only one night.
From photographical perspective this is paradise. With so much on offer, you’ll be hard pressed to put your camera down. I walked this hike twice and can’t wait to get back for more!
After spending second night on Heaphy Track, this time at James Mackay Hut, we still have a way to go. The track winds through variety of terrain before emerging from the bush and along the Saxon River onto tussocky Gouland Downs. From here its not too long before the Saxon Hut is reached.
Saxon River originates in Gouland Downs and is not a big river at this point but from a photographical point of view – it’s a beauty. Amazing brown colours of tea like waters which even taste like tea, running through juicy green, densely moss cloaked trees and rocks make for a great photograph. I was lucky that it was very fine drizzle on an overcast day, which allowed me to render colours and detail of this bush scene nicely….amazing spot!
Leaving Mt. Aspiring National Park in Harris Saddle, the track begins to drop down and zig zags on the Hollyford Face. From here some amazing vistas are to be seen with Lake Mackenzie in far distance at the bottom of the valley and, it may take around 3hrs to get to Lake Mackenzie Hut from an area of fragile alpine vegetation of Harris Saddle. After several zig zags, track enters beautiful, densely in moss cloaked Fiordland bush before reaching the hut. Remember, this is Fiordland, one of the wettest regions in the World and this amazingly green ancient forest is proof of it.
Result of the last glaciation, Lake Mackenzie, beautifully surrounded by this juicy green bush and grey rocks, is one of the gems in Fiordland. Its breath taking emerald colours, enhanced on my overcast day, are quite extraordinary and I could spend many days here just exploring and photographing. Can’t wait to be back one day again!
Back on track through the glacial U-shaped Hollyford Valley… After 4 days of hiking through the ancient rainforest of northern parts of Fiordland NP, Martins Bay is reached.
This place is just magic…it’s all yours here as you share the place only with NZ Fur Seals and rare Fiordland Crested Penguins, to whom this is their home.
I spend on the Holyford Track 12 days and I have met only 1 other person during this time (after 4 days of hiking) – its absolute “soul washing” and healing experience in solitude!
But Martins Bay also has an exciting past – Due to its location and over 100 years back, Martins Bay seemed very compelling and suitable to establish one of the gateways into the Southland. There was an attempt to colonize this area where ships and boats would be able to enter deeper into the Hollyford Valley following Hollyford river and Lake McKerrow. The harsh conditions of this rough environment however proved the vision not so great as thought and the plans for development were abandoned.
And I reckon it was a great decision so this area can continue to be one of the jewels of Fiordland where one can only be privileged to watch the sunset do its magic!
One of my favourite tramps is Hollyford Track. It’s quite a while since I walked it (2002) but the memories are just as fresh as if I was there yesterday. This multiple days trip through the rainforest into total wilderness can be made into sort of a loop but it would be very hard and demanding adventure coming back through the Pyke River. It’s around 4 days to hike to Martins Bay from the road end therefore for most people this trip ends after reaching the Tasman Sea. However, there are several options how to get there. One can hitch the ride on a jet boat and follow rivers and lakes most of the way up to the Martins Bay and walk back or vise versa. The plane flight can also be arranged and doing the same, walking in or out. But for some, it can be just an adventure for 10-12 days (depending on how many days you want to spend at Martins Bay) of walking in and out using just your legs. And this was my case.
One of the many nights is spend at Lake Alabaster. This is absolutely beautiful, remote place with plenty of solitude on offer. Lake lies in the northern part of Fiordland National Park and is around 6km long. Camping just beside the hut with lake views similar to the one I’m posting here is something not to be forgotten, ever.
After spending a night at Brewster Hut, it’s not too long to get to the Brewster Glacier, just around couple of hours of hiking.
Brewster Glacier is a magical place to photograph…the glacier melt water gathers and forms stunningly coloured terminal lakes. Yes, these lakes are freezing cold but their emerald colour makes them look amazing, with its source, the Brewster Glacier and Mt. Brewster 2515m asl, right behind it.
Despite of relatively not too difficult hike to the glacier, the hike shouldn’t be taken lightly. Especially during the unpredictable wether period. There is no track as such and you need to find and follow orange poles on the beginning and then just know the terrain and find your way through the steep slopes and scree, as the poles are not all the way to the glacier. Since the route leads along steep slopes with some moderate exposure which may be fine in summer but during the winter or low clouds, this can be quite dangerous. Other thing to consider is that the route runs through an avalanche path in winter. This avalanche hazard applies long into the spring so if considering heading that way, be extra vigilant and experienced, and definitely check the weather before you take off.
When you eventually make it through though, you will never forget it!
In this mini series of 2 posts, I’d like to introduce you to one of my favorite but not so well known corners of the Southern Alps – the Brewster Hut and Brewster Glacier.
This is a very special place to me. Not only because it is one of the jewels of the Southern Alps and photographers paradise but also because I’ve experienced some close calls while exploring it in winter, but that’s not what I’m going to talk about here.
Generally, people would hike up the ridge to reach the Brewster Hut and stay the night there. It’s quite short hike, around 3hrs, but it can be steep at places so if you’re not well trained, you might be just happy to spend the rest of the day around the hut. And no one can blame you as the hut’s location is spectacular and offers some superb views. On fine day, if looking south you can see all the way to Mt. Aspiring while just behind your shoulder is Mt. Brewster over 2500m asl itself dominating the skyline. Around the hut, there is many opportunities for explorations for everyone. After all it’s an alpine environment with beautiful rocky outcrops, fauna and flora and if you feel like, you can climb Mt. Armstrong nearby.
After spending night in the hut, you may want to venture further toward the Brewster Glacier but that’s something I’ll leave for the next week.
Last time, we hiked toward the Welcome Flat Hut to be rewarded with a bath in natural hot springs. These natural hot springs are located in the Westland National Park, approx. 20km south of Fox Glacier and it takes quite a few hours of exercise to get to them. But it’s all worth it. The hike itself along the Copland River and through the beautiful rainforest I talked last time about is rewarding enough but when it is all capped up with sitting in a hot pool while watching beautiful, snow covered 2.000 m asl peaks of Sierra Ranges, the world seems to be perfect. The hiking track is not difficult in dry conditions but during the wet weather period, venturing out toward the hut needs to be considered carefully, as many of the side creeks can be dangerous to cross.
The hot pools are part of the volcanic activity of this region. Two tectonic plates – Pacific and Australian – collide together, generating an immense pressure which heats the rock and boils the water. Water from the ground seeps into the depth of the Earth from the surface, is boiled and forced to return back up to the ground. After cooling down along the way, water temperature of these pools settles at around 57 degrees of Celsius. Just perfect for rejuvenating tired body after the hike!