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!
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.
It’s been a while since my last images release last September, yes, time passes by fast, and I wasn’t wasting my time.
Rather, it was the opposite. I spent quite some time on the road chasing the light and visiting many new places, as well as going back to those favourite ones.
New locations in magnificent Mt. Cook National Park has been visited, stunning beach of Totaranui, Wharariki and much, much more fell a target of my camera…and then, long days were spent in office processing and uploading all those image files onto our stock site.
As a result, you can now found several hundreds of new photos added and spread throughout galleries on our website and where they are now all available for licensing.
To view samples of these new images showcasing coastal areas of Golden Bay on top of the South Island, as well as new locations in Mt. Cook National Park and Abel Tasman National Parks , plus much more, please visit our image gallery New Stock Coastal and Mountains Images from Totaranui, Wharariki, West Coast, Mt. Cook and Abel Tasman NP .
All Photos: ©Petr Hlavacek – www.nzicescapes.com
Thank you and Enjoy!
In several grows, they are also scattered on the South Island, as well. Some of those spots on the Mainland is Nelson area and places on Banks Peninsula near Christchurch. On the West Coast you can see these beautiful, juicy green Nikau grows near Karamea on top of the West Coast, in Punakaiki and some are even occurring as far south as Okarito.
They grow up to 15m tall, with fronds up to 3m long.
Thanks to their distinctive, sharp look and vibrant green colours, these beautiful palms are great subject to photograph. The best time to photograph them is on dull, overcast day and ideally after the rain, which adds the extra shine and deepens the colours.
It is often said to use polarizing filter to get rid of reflections but in this case I prefer no polarizer at all.
It’s that shiny wet and cold dark green colour which make this photograph for me.
This photo was taken in Punakaiki with Nikon D800E and Nikkor 24-70 f2.8 lens.
Photo: ©Petr Hlavacek – www.nzicescapes.com
More images of Nikau Palms in New Zealand are available from our gallery Nikau Palms Stock Photos from native forests of West Coast of New Zealand
Thank you and Enjoy!
I guess every photographer has a list of places he/she wants to photograph.
My list stretches over many pages but often I’m forced to postpone/re-plane some locations for variety or reasons.
With this place it wasn’t any different until last year, when I finally managed to visit this, one of my “on the top of a list” locations –
the Ice Lake at my backyard in Whataroa Valley on West Coast of South Island in New Zealand.
I’ve been planning this trip for many years but somehow didn’t manage to make it up there until last year…and what a place! I knew that it’s a quite a special location but reality exceeded my expectations.
Alpine garden of herbs and berries with fascinating rocks around a small lake tacked under massive, steep ranges of the Southern Alps with hanging glaciers truly reminds of Peter Jackson’s hobbit film location. It’s not easy to photograph there, however. All area the lake is in is very enclosed and the place doesn’t receive much sunlight, especially when days are shorter and sun lower.
I’m not HDR photographer I have to say, but in this instance I didn’t have many options (D800 wasn’t in my hands at that time). To be frank, I actually haven’t tried an HDR image before, so I was quite keen on trying it here.
For this image I merged 7 exposures to create this 1 frame using Photoshop CS5.
Taken on Nikon D300 with Nikkor 12-24 lens
Photo: ©Petr Hlavacek – www.nzicescapes.com
More images of Ice Lake in New Zealand are available from our gallery Alpine Lake Stock Images from West Coast of New Zealand
Thank you and Enjoy!
It’s well know that there is some decent rainfall on the West Coast. Must be, otherwise we wouldn’t have any rainforests, glaciers, wild rivers etc here.
With an annual rainfall of up to 16m at places, the West Coast of New Zealand belongs among the wettest places on Earth.
That sounds quite frightening but it’s actually is not too bad, as everyone thinks. Due to the predominant weather patterns, the South Island faces the weather coming in from the Tasman Sea and it’s the West Coast which receives all the water load. As the front passes through, the clear weather usually follows and we all here on the West Coast, bath in the sunshine…which very few people know …and we’re very happy to keep it that way!
This image has been taken on a track near Franz Josef Glacier in area where the precipitation can reach up to 7-8m annually. Hence lush, juicy green mosses, lichens and overall temperate rainforest vegetation.
More images from native forests of New Zealand are available in our photo stock galleryNATIVE FOREST of New Zealand
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.
Yesterday I got back from a tramping trip in the hills.
Partially scouting trip, together with my beautiful model and partner, we hiked up into the Southern Alps in New Zealand to spend a night under the stars…and what a blast we had!
The weather was great but it couldn’t be said about Fox Glacier township below us. The whole time the town was under heavy blanket of clouds while we had blue skies above our heads.
Incredible 360 degree views and vistas from atop of Mt. Fox are truly hard to beat.
Highest peaks of the whole Australo-Asia (Mt. Cook and Mt. Tasman) on one side with Tasman Sea on the other side just take one’s breath away.
These are some of the best locations New Zealand has on offer and I’m always thrilled and shaking by excitement when I plan to venture into these spots.
It won’t be long before I’ll be back here!
Mt. Cook on right (3754m) and Mt. Tasman on left (3497m) from near Mt. Fox in Westland National Park, West Coast, New Zealand.
Love this place – Enjoy!
I’ve been wondering for quite some time how Franz Josef Glacier looks under the moonlight. As you know, there is only 12 or 13 full moons in a year and not each of moon’s appearance is on a clear sky for maximum light. Also, I might not always be able to chase it…but eventually, I managed.
Couple of days back it looked like its going to be a good full moon and because I was around, I decided to give it a go and hurried up to climb the hill and spent a night under the stars…and what a night it was!
I’ve been just starting and experimenting with night photography so I was very excited to see what can be captured. I managed to get several exposures ranging from 30 to 40 min but I can see that there is much more potential. It was full moon and that’s why I went up – to get well illuminated glacier but next time I might go somewhere in the middle of the moon cycle. That should allow me to add some nice, stronger star trails into the frame, as well, as this time the sky was too bright.
Since this image is not online yet, the link from it will take you to our STOCK galleries where you can explore more on New Zealand’s landscapes!
Linking up with last post from Watering Cove on Abel Tasman Coastal Track, this post is from well known and visited grounds of Totaranui. Stunning beach of this place has been a draw card for kiwi families for decades and it’s no wonder. The seclusion of this area at the northern part of the Abel Tasman Track with great camping facilities makes it quite a special place. Pristine waters, rock formations to explore and golden sand of the beach… it’s a heaven….
If you find yourself walking this track, this beach offers you amazing relax for your weary legs and you just need to make sure, that you book your place in Totaranui for more then one night to make most of this fantastic location! There is a whole lot to Enjoy!
P.S. It’s a pure coincidence but if you’re heading that way now, we might bump into each other, as we’re heading that way too, right now!!!
In this set of posts and upcoming southern summer, I have something for beach lovers.
In the upper left corner of the South Island, there is a hidden paradise. Yes, I’m talking about Abel Tasman NP, the smallest of New Zealand National Parks, where one can find some of the most pristine and scenic beaches in New Zealand.
Obviously, next to hiking and tramping, the biggest activities in the park would have to be sea kayaking. Hiring a kayak or taking a guided tour on kayak will enable you to explore hidden gems of the park together with small pristine beaches often unaccessible on foot.
The area of Abel Tasman NP carries suggestions that this land has been occupied by indigenous Maori people for some 800 years but it’s been named after Dutch explorer Abel Tasman who is considered to be the first European who made in 1642 contact with this area.
This image of the golden beach at Watering Cove shows the pristineness and beauty of this park, which truly is a mecca for not only New Zealanders but holiday makers from all around the world.
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!
Heaphy Track is one one of my favourite ones. It also belongs to an exclusive group of “9 Great Walks” in New Zealand and traverses Kahurangi National Park in top left corner of the South Island. With its 82km, it’s the longest track of these “Great Walks”.
Why I love this tramp? Simply because at one starting point you are on the West Coast by the Tasman Sea, then you climb through juicy green bush and along rivers ans streams, cross alpine plateau with its karst landscapes before finishing in Nelson Region near Takaka.
The variety of scenery is amazing. Starting on the coast, the track begins to wind its way through beautiful Nikau palm grove and follows the remote coastline before it turns uphill towards karst, alpine landscapes of the park.
These Nikau palms are usually common up in the North Island, whereas down south its a little too cold for them. Therefore it is only this corner of the South Island where they grow, with an exemption of a small grow, little further down in Punakaiki.
In the image above, I photographed these Nikau palms on the rainy day with heavy overcast. Yes, that’s the best time to go out into bush to make some great images full of detail because the low contrast and diffused light allows for that.
As it rained quite heavily with some brief breaks, all the bush was beautifully rich in colours. It is well known that polarizing filter reduces reflections which is often good to get rid of but in this instance I choose not to use it as I loved that shiny, steel like sheen on the palm leaves, together with its rich, dark green colour.
…and of course, I also have a polarized version of the shot…..
Next time we get higher up to explore some karst scenes…
Routeburn Track is one of the most beautiful hikes in New Zealand and I reckon also in the World. It is also one of 9 Great Walks in New Zealand, spanning across 2 national parks – Mt. Aspiring and Fiordland.
The scenery of this hike is just jaw dropping. Usually walked from Queenstown side to Milford Road, it takes between 2-4 days to complete this 32km long and well formed track.
Crystal clear waters of the Route Burn running through beautiful beech forest shortly after the start near the head of Lake Wakatipu makes for brilliant photo opportunities. The track continues climbing gently toward the Routeburn Flat and further to Routeburn Falls Hut. From here the track is completely in the stunning alpine environment and continues to climb to Harris Saddle before leaving Mt. Aspiring NP and entering Fiordland.
But we’ll go there next week…
In the meantime, enjoy this photograph of the Route Burn which I took when in awe over the clarity of its cold, blue waters. The shiny “silvery”rocks contrasting with juicy green mosses and beech forest just took my breath away and I was lucky enough to have a bit of an overcast day helping me to maintain enough detail in the forest shadows as well as in the Route Burn.
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.
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!
With an annual rainfall of up to 12,000mm on the West Coast of the Southern Alps, it’s not a surprise that the rain forests here are lush and green. These forests belong to a group of temperate rain forests with vegetation made up of coniferous podocarps and broadleaf evergreen trees, with rather cooler temperatures, usually around 10 degrees C. These are some of the factors distinguishing temperate rain forests from tropical ones.
Some of the best examples of the temperate rain forest on the West Coast of the South Island are easily to be seen in the Westland National Park, on a beautiful track toward the Welcome Flat Hut, not very far from the Fox Glacier Village. Hiking for several hours through the juicy green bush, as we call it here, offers not only soothing on one’s soul but also a reward at the end of the day – natural thermal hot pools by the hut. But I’ll post about this feature next time.