Auckland: Hour by Hour

00:00 – Midnight alarm to get some tickets for the FA cup semi-final, it took half an hour but we got some. Back to bed!

07:00 – Today was a day run against the clock to try and fit in as much as we could on our last day in Auckland. We started with a flat white each from Shaky Islands then we took a taxi to re-pack our box of stuff that’s going by ship back to the UK; nothing we need to wear soon and as many heavy things as we could fit in.

09:50 – Once that was done, we headed to Ponsonby. We’d heard lots of good things about this place. It’s a couple of miles west of the city centre. It has a reputation for some of the best food, coffee and some of the chicest shopping in the city. We started at Mary’s Café for brunch – we’ve had a lot of breakfasts of combinations of halloumi, eggs, avocado and toast but this was the best of all of them. The ingredients were all fresh and tasty and beautifully cooked. Ponsonby is also Auckland’s hipster central and mid-morning is when the locals businesses come out for their coffees and meetings, while we enjoyed our brunch we heard a lot about ‘value propositions’, ‘product-based content’ and ‘customer led exposure’.

The eating, drinking and shopping places are spread along Ponsonby Road – the main thoroughfare. We walked past a number of tempting looking cafes and restaurants. Florence tried on some clothes but they didn’t work out – which is just as well as the prices were dear. The Open Book, a second-hand bookshop, filled seven rooms of an old house, Florence bought a novel by a New Zealand writer that covers a lot of aspects of Maori and current societies.

11:45 – We went back to the hotel, dropped our bag off and walked down to the waterfront to take a ferry to Devonport.

12:15 – The ferry runs every half an hour to Devonport during the day, more often in rush-hour. It’s only twelve minutes across the water from the city centre. The atmosphere is very different, people seem to have a lot of time (no-one’s rushing), there are lots of cafés, little shops and restaurants. We had planned to base ourselves here when we first arrived in New Zealand but the flight delays leaving Tahiti meant that we missed out on Devonport. We picked up a couple of self-guided walk leaflets from the library – the first one took us along the waterfront past a number of old wooden houses overlooking the harbour, some lava flows from old volcanic eruptions and a monument to some of the earliest Maori landings in the area. The second walk highlighted some of the old buildings on the main street; the most interesting was an old movie theatre.

14:15 – Return ferry, everybody seems to walk faster the moment they are back in the city centre. We headed for the Art Gallery, we’d had brief look inside when we first arrived but didn’t have time to look round properly. We were short on time so we only looked at the permanent exhibits, these include mainly contemporary New Zealand and international work as well as a room of 18th and 19th century European works. The most interesting for me were a couple of paintings that commented on the treaty signed between the British and the Maori in the 19th Century and a mural-sized work that looked like an impressive abstract from a distance but close up had many details covering recent global conflicts, nuclear testing in the Pacific and many other global issues.

16:30 – We returned to the hotel to shower and finish packing.

17:45 – Met up with Tony, a former colleague of Florence’s, for a quick beer. We haven’t seen Tony for many years but it was good to catch up and find out what’d happened in those years.

19:00 – Back to the hotel to collect our bags and check out. We took a taxi to a pub in Mount Eden, a suburb few miles from the centre, to meet two friends – J&S. The pub has a huge selection of beers and is reputed to serve excellent food – an ideal local. It would be a great pub in London!

20:45 – Taxi to Auckland international airport. We spotted a final example of Kiwi humour on a warehouse near the airport: ‘Always give 100%, unless you’re a blood donor’. Our New Zealand adventure is over. Singapore, the last leg of our trip, awaits.

Our long exposure to the South Island is over

Taking photographs of sunrises and sunsets catches up with you eventually. We all looked tired this morning. Granted, a few of us also had a bit of a late one last night.

The forecast was for clouds this morning, so no sunrise shoot for us. We spotted a bit of pink in the sky when we got up, but relished the extra sleep.

At 8am, we drove to the airport. The first of our group was leaving and we all went to say our goodbyes.

We had breakfast at the now very familiar Boat Shed. Earl grey, flat whites, berry smoothie and avocado bruschetta. The food seemed rushed and not quite up to the usual high standard. Nice, but my least favourite of our three meals there.

Andy went to pick up the bags we’d left in storage nine days ago, and we drove to the airport.

We had just under two hours to kill so we browsed the shops and had a soft drink… and a hot cross bun. Finally! We’ve seen hot cross buns for sale ever since we got to New Zealand, close to seven weeks ago.

I collected a couple of New Zealand Passenger Departure Cards. We’re leaving the country tomorrow and I thought we could fill these in in advance. Maybe it’s because I’m tired but the forms don’t seem to make any sense. Question 7: How long will you be away from New Zealand? Choices: ‘XX years’, ‘XX months’, ‘XX days’ or ‘permanently’. Question 8: Which country will you spend the most time in while overseas? Andy and I wondered whether these were for New Zealanders, so I went to ask at the check-in desk. Nope. They’re the right ones for us. Very confusing.

We boarded our flight for Auckland. Originally, we were supposed to leave at 4.50pm but we brought this forward so we could have more time in Auckland. We both feel that we’ve neglected that town a little.

The couple sitting behind us started talking to the couple across the aisle. Funnily enough, they live roughly in the same area of Auckland. The woman across the aisle is a police officer, and she explained that right now burglaries and substance abuse/trafficking were keeping her busy. They also talked at length about who was dating who at the moment. I enjoyed eavesdropping on their conversation. Lessons in small talk.

After collecting our bags, we remembered the breakfast we had at Wayfarer the day we left Auckland for Napier; those bagels were good… so we decided to have a late lunch. Matched with a green smoothie. Good food. Fortified, we walked 16 mins to an Icebreaker outlet shop. We were looking for bargains. Most items were discounted by a third. A few things caught my eye, but this time we left empty handed.

We picked up a taxi to our hotel, and once more got caught up in the now famous Auckland traffic. Close to 1.5 million people live here, making up 32% of the NZ population.

Keen to do some walking, we went off to explore Viaduct Harbour. We had blue sky and the temperature was in the mid-twenties, a sharp contrast to Queenstown this morning where the sky was grey and we were cold. I was window-shopping for a yacht. The area is residential, and full of trendy bars and restaurants. We were pondering what to do next when we came across Coley & Punch. We took a seat at the bar; we pretty much had the place to ourselves. The cocktail list was impressive. Andy had an Old Fashioned and was impressed when the barman burnt the orange peel. I had a creative twist in the Margarita and it was delicious. They know what they’re doing! Sophisticated and unpretentious. Andy was hoping we would stay – they have ‘about’ 328 whiskies on their menu – but I dragged him out in search of food.

We wanted to try Elliot Stables, an indoor food market. We’d heard great reviews. There was still an hour to go before the place was due to close but already half the stalls were shut, and there was no atmosphere. So we left. And then stumbled across The Tandoor, a fast food Indian place, which describes itself as serving ‘The Street Food of India’. The portions were small which is exactly what we were after and tasty. The Balclutha Indian still wins… this was cheap and tasty.

Tucked up in bed before 10pm. Big day tomorrow. We have 3.5 days of sightseeing to fit into one day. Wish us luck!

Captivated by Glenorchy


Last sunrise of our trip so we have to be up early. It’s about 45 minutes drive to the Church of the Good Shepherd – we visited a few weeks ago but in the afternoon so this was a new opportunity. Florence decided a few more hours in bed were a better option.

We arrived at the church about 6:30am; there was already a crowd gathered so I walked along the lake looking for some different views. There was a lot of mist coming off one of the corners of the lake, which looked like it might catch the first sun. The sky is very clear in New Zealand so almost as soon as the sun’s over the horizon, the best light’s gone. We drove back to Twizel and straight to Poppies for breakfast. I met Florence appearing from the mist having photographed some large machinery left over from building the dams in the area. I had scrambled eggs and a flat white, and a second flat white for good measure.

The final leg of our journey took us back to Queenstown via a section of road that we hadn’t travelled on before – yeah! On the way, we talked about American politics, music, photography and many other less important things.

We arrived at our hotel about 1pm. Queenstown looked busy on the way through so we decided to have a late lunch in Glenorchy at the far end of the lake before looking for sites for our final sunset. Glenorchy Café does some really good food; we had Vege sandwiches – these came with rye bread, brie and lots of salad and roasted vegetables – very tasty! Our leader suggested that a place just down the road had amazing carrot cake; Florence went to investigate and returned with the last slice – it didn’t disappoint.

After lunch, we headed to the lake. The standard view of a group of willow trees didn’t appeal to me so I went for a walk to look at some other views. Nothing worked for a while but I found some other trees I liked and tried a few angles of those. Once the sun had gone behind the mountains on the far side of the lake, we drove to an area of lagoons with boardwalks over them to look for locations to see the sunset over the mountains. The boardwalk is narrow, just wide enough for a tripod, a tricky maneuver if anyone wanted to pass. The perfect view would have meant standing in the lagoon a few feet from the boardwalk so I had to compromise. The lagoon is a beautiful place. A couple of people from our group are staying on for another week so they’ll be going back to spend some more time at the lagoons, lucky them!

Our final evening meal was at the Glenorchy Hotel, a fairly basic bar on one side and a cosy restaurant on the other. I had a Greek salad and we shared a New Zealand cheese board. A number of bottles of Roaring Meg Pinot Noir were consumed around the table. Roaring Meg was a bar maid at one of the local gold mining town in the late 19th century, she now has a wine and a creek named after her.

Our driver/leader spent a lot of the journey back to Queenstown dodging suicidal possums and rabbits on the road. Possums were introduced here from Australia and have thrived. They’re now officially a pest – Kiwi policy is to squash them at every opportunity; we’d heard rumours of bars giving you a beer if you’d got one. A hawk was feeding on some fresh road-kill and only just got out of the way of the van in time.

A few of us stopped in the hotel bar for a last drink before retiring – a long day.


I think it’s getting easier to get up early. The alarm was at 5.45am for a 6.15am departure. It certainly helped that the sunrise shoot was only 40 minutes away.

We went back to the location we scouted last night; the east shore of Lake Pukaki. There were nine of us there, and we spread out soon enough under the watchful eyes of a herd of cows which came to see what we were up to.

I wandered around the edge of the lake, and kept going. That feeling of wanting to know what’s around the next corner. Always.

With the sun coming up, the light hit parts of the mountains. Other parts remained clouded in mystery.

I could have spent more time there. It’s an incredibly beautiful spot; hardly visited. And for a while, it was just me, the sound of ripples and a few birds. So peaceful.

I walked back to meet the others and pottered on the beach, looking at the rocks and the strata.

Too soon, it was time to go. I stayed back a few minutes and took in the view in solitude.

We were back in Twizel by 9am. On the way, we passed a small arm of the lake where the water is a deep glacial blue. Think blue Gatorade.

Breakfast time! We went to Poppies again. All very tasty – smoothies, tea, flat whites, muesli, poached eggs on toast. There was a fire on, and it felt so cozy that a few of us stayed behind. Our photographic leader offered constructive critiques on Andy’s landscape images. We all learnt a lot from that session.

With a couple of hours to kill before we set off again, we chilled in our room and then went off to explore downtown Twizel. We went to Shawtys for lunch (Twizel’s best restaurant according to Lonely Planet) and as the weather’s nice, we sat outside for our golden harvest soup – a thick root vegetable soup which was very tasty. We made a quick dash to the supermarket to see what we could get for our picnic for later.

We drove to Mt Cook Village, and parked the car at the beginning of the Hooker Valley walk – yes, the very walk we did a few weeks back. But today, we had a lot more time. Andy and I kept a steady pace, and had time to enjoy the walk. It’s beautiful; most of the track is through alpine tussock. And it was much less crowded and windy than last time we were here. We followed the Hooker River for a while. The water has this odd light milky grey colour. I learnt that this comes from the ‘suspended glacial rock flour in the meltwater’.

When we got to the glacier lake, we were surprised to see that the iceberg was further away, back next to the glacier. And there were bits of ice scattered throughout the lake. In the distance, I heard a couple of rumbles. A small avalanche or a carving maybe. From the shore, we have unobstructed views of Aoraki (Mt Cook).

Andy and I had some snacks and then I left him to it. He stayed back for sunset. I wanted to take my time, and I didn’t fancy the walk back in the dark. So off I went.

The journey back was so peaceful. Just me and the sounds of my feet on the track. The silence was deafening… until I heard another – louder – rumble. The echo was quite something. I continued on my walk taking a short detour to go and check out Alpine Tarn, which there was no time for last time. At first, I was disappointed but after climbing a few stones, I found the view – Mt Cook reflected in the tarn. I resumed my walk. It felt like a proper adventure. With the visibility dropping all the time, I picked up the pace and kept going; I had no torch with me. Suddenly the path was ‘lit’ again. I had turned a corner and the rest of my walk was by moonlight. The stars started to show and the first constellation I saw happened to be the Southern Cross. How fitting.

Back at the White Horse Hill campground/car park, I made for the communal area, and watched the last episode of The Replacement whilst waiting for the gang to return.

Once we got back to our chalet, Andy made us a snack and a cup of tea.

An early night; an early start tomorrow.

Waves, Rocks and Lakes

5:15 departure this morning, this is becoming a habit! It’s about an hour drive to the boulders – yes the ones we were at for sunset last night.

The sky was getting light when we arrived so the group spread out along the beach to do their respective things. I headed for the small stream a little way away from the boulders to look for reflections of the colors in the sky, Florence headed for patterns in the sand.

Once the sun was above the horizon, the light changed very quickly so I concentrated on the birds on the beach for a while then headed back to the boulders. Once we’d done the proper pictures, we tried the obligatory tourist shot with feet sticking out of one of the hollow rocks.

We returned to Dunedin, checked out and went to The Perc Café for Breakfast. This place is so good; the coffee is one of the best we’ve had in New Zealand. I had halloumi and avocado on toast, Florence had smashed avocado with poached and a side of halloumi – all lovely.

There was one more coffee shop we wanted to try on the way back to the hotel so we got some flat whites – they were good but not as good as Perc!

Long drive north today, we stopped in Palmerston to refuel. There were statues of gold prospectors and the town’s favourite cat next to the main road.

We passed Moeraki yet again – the sixth time for us on this road – and stopped in Kurow for a ‘technical break’ and refreshments. Kurow has produced five All Blacks, most recently Richie McCaw and the town museum has a display devoted to their local, and national, hero. The lady in the museum also told us we shouldn’t miss the dam up the valley – the second largest earth dam in the southern hemisphere.

We arrived in our destination, Twizel, at about 3:15pm. We just had time to have a shower, get the laundry on and meet the motel’s cat before our sunset excursion.

We drove past our campsite from a couple of weeks ago on the shore of Lake Pukaki and carried on in search of a particular tree in preparation for sunrise. After a few false starts, we found the view and had a wander round so we know where to put our tripods when we arrive in the dark in the morning.

We then drove back to the far side of the lake for our final location of the day, Peters Lookout, with a view of Mount Cook over the edge of the lake and trying to use traffic trails as foreground interest.

Dinner was another pleasant surprise. Poppies doesn’t look much from the outside, or the inside, but the food was really good. We’ve been meaning to try a New Zealand whisky for a while and there was one on the drinks list amongst the Scotches – Cyril’s 20 Year Old – it’s very good!

Erosion, time and concretion

The weather didn’t look promising for our sunrise shoot so the executive decision last night was to skip it and stay in bed longer. This was justified when we woke up and it was raining – always good to be vindicated.

I didn’t fancy another average breakfast at the hotel so I stayed in the room and did some research. Andy went off to breakfast; apparently the pancakes were good.

We checked out at 10am, and piled into the conference room. That’s a lie; there are only 10 of us and the room was huge. We started looking at three images taken during the trip and our tour leader showed us how to process them using different software to make them even better. This was followed by a few brave souls showing some of their images for some constructive criticism and some pointers on how to process them. We finished by watching a YouTube video of Portlandia.

We left Balclutha around lunchtime and headed for Dunedin. We passed a really cool little town which I’d spotted the last time we were on this road – Milton. There isn’t much to it but it looks both interesting and quirky. A few of slogans on building walls caught my eye. ‘BE HAPPY’ and ‘That’s the spirit’ being two of them. I wished we could have stopped there and got a bit of time to explore.

As happens with journeys like these, conversations in the van tend to get surreal. Today’s best line is that Fight Club is really about Buddhism. And don’t you want to get hold of a copy of it and watch it again now. We do.

At some point, we were driving along Greenwich Street. When we got to Dunedin, I noticed that our hotel is very close to London Street. Hmmm, there is a sense that this trip is coming to an end. Which reminds me… how’s the crowdfunding campaign going on?

So we had two hours spare in Dunedin– a luxury.

We used these to: get lunch at Potpourri (a weird name for a restaurant if you ask me). It’s vegetarian and food was simple but tasty. I had a salad bowl and a green smoothie and felt very virtuous.

I went to Countdown to get some supplies to get home; we’ve discovered an amazing brand of cereal bars and I can’t get enough of them. I met up with Andy in Strictly Coffee Company.

That took about an hour, so we went back to the Dunedin Public Art Gallery (Andy had a moment with his pencil sculpture) and revisited some works we rushed last time and then explored a couple of back streets. One of them – being the one where our hotel is – has an annex of the Art Gallery. Rear Window is a small window of what used to be a shop front. It contains rotating contemporary art, more often than not by local or New Zealand artists. How fun is that? The current exhibit – A Nest in Town – is by a Dunedin based artist called Motoko Watanabe. Made from textiles and organic materials as ‘an analogy for the architecture of the natural world’ (source).

At the appointed time, we met up with the group again and headed north to Moreaki. Initially, we were scouting the site for sunrise tomorrow morning, but as we got there, gaps appeared in the clouds and we had superb light. I pottered about and found my favourite group of boulders.

I had looked up a place for dinner and a bar to check out (we’re meant to try NZ whisky this evening) but we opted for the group meal instead at Ironic. Now… Andy enjoyed his meal, mine was just average. Not a great food day for me. Now, that’s ironic.

4.45am alarm call. See you there.

Enchanted Forests


5:15 alarm for a 5:45 departure to Nugget Point, a peninsula sticking out onto the Pacific Ocean where the east coast becomes the south coast. It was just getting light when we arrived and as we walked out towards the lighthouse on the headland, the wind got stronger and stronger. There were two potential views, the group divided themselves about 50/50 between the two. We walked beyond the lighthouse to a platform overlooking the headland and the rocks beyond. As the sky lightened in the east, we debated where the next land would be if you went straight out to sea – the answer appears to be the Antarctic Peninsula on the other side of the world.

Some fur seals played in the water below us, a few pups looked for shelter from the wind on the rocks above the waves.

The wind was so strong that the planned long exposure shots of the sunrise were impossible so we got what we could and headed back to the van. I took a few minutes to photograph some waves hitting the dark sand beach below us – Roaring Bay.

We got back to the hotel about 9:45, which left is with 15 minutes to get breakfast. The food and service made Fawlty Towers look slick, they were out of pancakes, out of bacon and we had to beg for coffee.

The sky was blue and almost clear so we took a few hours off until the forecast clouds arrived then headed out to look at a couple of waterfalls.
The first, Purakaunui Falls, were a short walk form the car park. The river fell down a series of wide ledges. The water levels were quite low – because it hasn’t rained much – but it was still impressive. We politely took turns with our tripods in the river to get the best angle. The trees and plants surrounding the river were a rich green colour; the forest had a musty smell – a bit mushroomy.

On the way to the second falls we passed Florence Hill Lookout. The coastline in this area has high cliffs and large beaches; the view here was over Tautuku Bay, a long deserted sandy beach.

We’d planned to have a quick lunch at the Frog café near the second falls. It’s closed Wednesday afternoons from April 5th – bad timing!

We carried on to McLean Falls. These are about 20 minutes walk through another dense lush green forest. The path crosses the river as it bubbles over lots of large rocks and boulders. The lower falls are quite a compact cascade in a deep green ravine; the upper falls have a large drop at the top and lots of smaller twists and turns on the way down.

It was about an hour drive back to town so we decided to drop our bags off and head straight to dinner.

Balclutha is quite a rough and ready town which traditionally existed mainly to service the farms in the area. It does however have one of the best Indian restaurants in New Zealand. One family produces really good take-aways and sit-down food. Service was a bit slow bit the food was really good. If you’re ever in Balclutha check them out!

Déjà vu

A leisurely start this morning. We skipped the sunrise shoot (the t-shape jetty), and so combined with an early night last night, we got about 9.5 hours sleep and we both feel a lot better for it. Clearly needed.

We had breakfast at the Sandfly Café. I’m glad we had the opportunity to try this place; I’d read that they do good food there and bizarrely, we hadn’t had the chance to try it out on any of our previous five visits to the town. We had coffee, smoothie, toast, muffin and poached eggs and avocado. Another great breakfast.

Heading northeast, we left Te Anau – for the last time? – and drove through some of the places we’re now very familiar with: Mossburn, Riversdale and Gore, where we had a convenience stop. Remember Gore? Andy and I walked to our favourite coffee place in town… that being the one and only coffee place we’ve ever tried in Gore. The rest of the group followed us there, and I thought – too late – that we should have tried to get free flat whites for bringing so many customers in 🙂

We continued on our journey until we got to Balclutha, the ‘big river town’. Whatever that means. We’re here for two nights. So… we got into our room, dropped our bags and went to town. We had lunch at Café 55 – probably the worst lunch we’ve had in NZ. We asked for a cheese roll… this came as a slice of white bread (to Andy’s disgust) with a slice of cheese, all rolled up and grilled. Nutrition value = none. Taste = none. But it was a small lunch as we had a big dinner on the cards so it didn’t matter too much, and the entertainment value was high.

After lunch, we went scouting a location for sunrise. It didn’t work out but it was a great drive down the Otago Peninsula. The light was amazing, and I finally managed to get close to a sheep!

Our ‘we’ve been here before’ story continued when we found out that our sunset shoot was a pier in St Clair… followed by a pizza in the restaurant we went to (for pizza) a few weeks ago. This has become a standard joke on the bus, people jokingly asking if we’ve been ‘here’ before; the answer is invariably ‘yes’. It is unfortunate to go back to so many of the same places, and at the same time it’s great to have the time to explore properly. This trip was meant to be split between the east and west coasts of the South Island, but is now concentrated on the east coast only so repetition is almost inevitable.

The pier and the reflections were awesome. Andy worked on long exposures. I concentrated on graphic b&w images of the esplanade and the stairs.

Tasty pizzas and pinot before our drive back to Balclutha.

1/125th f/8

We left the hotel at 4:30 this morning and headed to Milford Sound. Because of the geography of the area – all the mountains run north to south – we’re staying in the nearest town to New Zealand’s biggest tourist attraction but it’s 120kms away. The road only goes to Milford Sound; we don’t see any traffic going the either way. The tunnel under the mountains responds to approaching traffic during the night but we still had to wait a few minutes for a green light.

The car parks were empty apart from a few camper vans staying overnight, waiting for the first boats. The first coaches don’t arrive from Queenstown until midday so all the morning boats are relatively quiet.

We headed out across the rocks and mud flats looking for variations on the classic view down the Sound towards Mitre Peak. Most visitors would consider a clear blue sky a bonus but this is one of the wettest places in the country. We had a cloudless sky on our first visit so we were hoping for a bit more weather action today but we were out of luck. It’s still a very impressive site when the sun hits the peaks.

We retired for breakfast about 8:30. Three of the group were taking a cruise on the Sound at 10.30; the rest of us went up to the Chasm, the waterfall we’d visited last time we were here. This time we had plenty of time to look around and get the pictures we wanted.

We returned to Milford Sound to collect the cruisers then began the 120kms back to Te Anau. Most people slept on the journey, I listened to a podcast and almost stayed awake.

We had an hour off to rest, change, have a cup of tea etc before our afternoon activity – a walk in the forest. We were driven to the start of the Kepler track – one of the many long distance walks in the area – then walked a short way into the trees. The forest floor is thick with ferns, moss and other greenery. The huge trees feel like the forest has been there forever. There are many fallen trunks and stumps being slowly reclaimed. There is so much to look at that it’s difficult to make any sense of it photographically but with some help from our expert guide, things start to become clearer. Time passes quickly and soon two hours have gone. We had the option to go back to the t-shape jetty for sunset or stay in the trees for longer, Florence and I opted for the trees. We were near the edge of Lake Te Anau so as the light faded we could still watch the turn warm pastel shades over the water. Florence concentrated on the rocks on the beach; I took some long exposure shots of the lake.

The plan had been to reconvene later for a group meal but the sunset crew had had enough for the day and gone back to the hotel for an early night – without shooting the sunset in the end. Most of the group only arrived in New Zealand at the weekend after long flights so aren’t as used to this time zone as us. We had dinner alone in Te Anau’s best restaurant. Florence ordered the sweet potato soup from the starter menu as a main course, the waitress asked if she’d like a main course portion, this arrived as two bowls – serving options are obviously limited. I had a roasted vegetable creation with parsnip puree – very tasty.


The alarm went off at 4.30am for our 5.15am departure.

Our destination for our sunrise shoot was Lake Wanaka – location of our recent flying exploits. It was pitch dark pretty much all the way; we timed it perfectly right as the light set the sky on fire just as we reached our sunrise location.

A tree.

Not just any tree, a very famous tree. It is said to be one of the most photographed trees in all New Zealand. It has its own Facebook page, and to date 10,380 posts on Instagram.

Funnily enough, The Guardian had an article about that very tree only a few days ago. It makes fascinating reading, and I for one couldn’t agree with it more and Gilbert van Reenen’s words resonate with me.

There were close to twenty photographers there this morning.

Andy and I have been discussing this very subject recently. Do we want to take the view, or create our own images? The landscape around us is spectacular and Autumn has brought us a softer light to work with. We’re still debating this one.

Maybe the difference is taking the photo as a landscape photographer and not as a result of social media and the ‘oh look, I’ve been there and here’s my selfie with the tree’.

Ignore me. I’m just annoyed that people are hurting a tree for narcissistic tendencies.

The colours in the sky were beautiful, and it was peaceful. We had clouds in the sky I’d never seen before; pancake shaped.

We stopped in Wanaka for breakfast. The Beanie Café didn’t look much from the outside but the food was very tasty. And the best bit? Our breakfast came with a bit of parsley which resembled the tree. A coincidence?

The journey back took us via the bra fence again. Back in Queenstown, we checked out of our hotel and went off in the opposite direction towards Glenorchy.

We stopped by the side of the lake. There’s a very old derelict pier, and that made a good foreground to the lake and the mountains. It was a lovely spot, and I was happy to shoot abstract. Lots of stones and driftwood to keep me busy. Swatting away the usual sandflies, I looked up in time to see the rainbow.

I did enjoy our morning’s excursions. Being in one place and having time to look around.

For lunch, we went back to The Boat Shed and just like yesterday, the food was awesome.

And then we were back on the road… to Te Anau. The drive seems shorter every time; this being our fifth time now. We checked into our hotel and got ready to go out for our sunset shoot. Andy managed to get himself a cup of tea.

Our sunset location was just out of town, a t-shaped jetty over Lake Te Anau. The light fizzled out so the group left for an early dinner. We stayed back another fifteen minutes or so and walked back into town.

We stopped at The Redcliff Café – a replica settler’s cottage – for a glass of Otago Pinot Noir.

Back in our room. The usual frantic hour – downloading photos, writing and uploading the post, getting our stuff ready for the morning and showers.

You won’t believe our start time in the morning…