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Saturday 23 February 2013

Blessed Be The Light

No, I didn’t find religion in case you were wondering. It’s all about light for me. For a few glorious moments this morning standing at the head of Milford Sound, I felt blessed, happy to be alive and full of wonder. Milford Sound on New Zealand’s South Island is like that. I did shoot last night. But I won’t show those images. It just didn’t happen. We went to bed early and got up in the darkness. It was clear and the tide was out. As the light came up it was perfect for reflections. I have struggled to get images most of this week. This morning it felt great to shoot, especially here! Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand - Click for larger
 Falls Creek Waterfalls, New Zealand
Falls Creek Waterfalls, New Zealand - Click for larger
We are booked on the latest afternoon cruise. Think Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park, AB with hordes of people arriving on buses. The afternoon boat is usually less crowded so hopefully we will have room to move around. I usually don’t go for the tourist stuff but we are here and may never be again. So why not? We feel rushed a bit with just a little over a week left on the South Island. It takes a long time to get places with mountain switchbacks and narrow winding roads. Sometimes it takes 2 ½ hours to go 100 km. We will continue south and then head up the east coast back to Picton to catch the ferry back to the north island. Time sure is flying by. Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand - Click for larger

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Saturday 16 February 2013

The Beach

At the end of the road at the top of the south island we have a campsite that is about a 20-minute walk from one of the most spectacular beaches in the world. Wharariki Beach is wild and pristine yet the trail starts in a field of grazing sheep. Wharariki Beach, New Zealand
Wharariki Beach, New Zealand - Click for larger
Photographer on Wharariki Beach, New Zealand
Photographer on Wharariki Beach, New Zealand - Click for larger
Low tide was at 7 pm last night, which was perfect for photographing the arches and caves dotted along the coast. The Farewell Spit to the north is a sand spit that juts out into the ocean and can only be walked for about 4 kilometers. From there you need to ride a horse or go with an eco-tour operator to get to the tip. I think we will spend our time at Wharariki beach. It’s located about 5 km south of the spit.  Variable Oystercatcher
Variable Oystercatcher - Click for larger
This beach was on my “must photograph” list. It was difficult to photograph here though. The wind last night was so strong I had to hold onto the camera and tripod to keep it from blowing over. The strong gusts of wind mixed with sand and sea spray is tough on cameras. From here we will make our way down the west coast to Milford Sound.

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Sunday 10 February 2013

Follow Your Nose

I’ve noticed many common expressions in New Zealand. “Follow your nose” the man said as we asked for directions. The people here are laid back. That is if you can find someone who is actually from here. I think we have met more Canadians than anyone else. We did get to chat with some locals at a campsite last night. They were very sweet and friendly. There are two cultures that seem to dominate here in New Zealand - the beach and the café. Drive down any main street in any town and look for the crowd around a sidewalk Café and you will find great food and coffee. I’m still trying to figure out how to order coffee. Sometimes I get a Canadian style, sometimes I get an espresso, or sometimes it’s more like a Greek coffee from the Danforth in Toronto. It’s all good.

We are really enjoying our time here and had a fun experience at Hot Water Beach. You dig a hole in the sand at low tide and it fills with hot water. Low tide was at midnight but we could find hot water by 10 pm. As we dug a hole the surf would fill it in. Finally I dug enough to get a hot pool. It was burning hot. When the cool water from a wave mixed with the hot it was very pleasant. The beach was filled with flashlight toting, intoxicated people from all over the world. We walked back to camp in the dark with a billion stars over our heads.

We got up the next morning at 5 am and hiked to Cathedral Cove in the dark. When the light hit, we felt like we had landed in paradise! It’s a wonderful place.

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand
Cathedral Cove, New Zealand - Click for larger
Cathedral Cove, New Zealand
Cathedral Cove, New Zealand - Click for larger

Today we visited Wai-O-Tapu (Sacred Waters) Thermal Wonderland in the Rotorua area. It is a very touristy place with a geyser. Normally it erupts for over an hour however currently there is a drought and they said it would only erupt for one minute. We decided to skip it and shoot the Champagne pool. Everyone else rushed to the geyser so we had the pool to ourselves. Clouds of sulfur fog washed over us. At times it was hard to catch your breath.  Champagne Pool, Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, New Zealand
Champagne Pool, Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, New Zealand - Click for larger

Not sure where we will end up tomorrow. We are making our way toward Wellington to take the ferry to the south Island.

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Tuesday 5 February 2013


Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland, New Zealand - Click for larger
It was a rough ride over. I found myself in the washroom on the plane with my pants down when the worst of it hit. The turbulence was severe at times. Somehow I managed to hold on. I made it back to my seat just in time to close one of the overhead compartments as it flew open. After a couple of hours the turbulence mostly smoothed out. Our flight from Vancouver to Auckland was long but we managed okay. The plane landed at 4:30am, more than an hour earlier than scheduled. We were happy to find our hotel room was available, and were checked in by 6:00am. We will have the next couple of days to have a good tour of the city.

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