Haven’t done a travel piece in quite a while, so I thought I’d talk about a short photo expedition we did to the South Island not long ago. Living in New Zealand has many wonderful rewards, and while I love living on the North Island, flying down to the South Island now and then is a must.
I hadn’t been to Central Otago before, so it was great to finally get to have a look around after nearly 12 years of living here. We flew into Queenstown, the playground of the south, on a clear cool day and picked up our rental car and headed for Wanaka. The town is part of the Queenstown-Lakes District and lies 120 km (75 miles) south-west of Queenstown. It was originally settled during the gold rush of the 19th century.
Wanaka is primarily a resort town. It is one of a few areas of New Zealand that has four distinct seasons, and boasts outdoor recreation opportunities all year around, with world-class mountain biking, hiking, climbing, mountaineering, fishing, paragliding, and watersports of all kinds, as well as skiing. The town of Wanaka is situated at the Southern end of Lake Wanaka. It is surrounded by mountains.
The lake is a photographer’s dream, especially at dawn, when the eastern sky produces rich pink, purple and orange hues that are simply amazing. We were lucky to get this photo of a dragon shaped cloud one morning. It disappeared quickly, we had to work fast!
The town of Wanaka is the gateway to Mt. Aspiring national Park, which covers 3,555 km² at the southern end of the Southern Alps. We left before dawn one morning, intent on capturing the rising sun over Mt. Aspiring, but were thwarted by fog and 8 or 9 washouts we had to navigate through in our 10 year old rental car on the pothole-ridden dirt road that leads to the park. Still, we got many good shots of the mountain.
We also got many good shots of Lake Wanaka at various times of day and night. Here are a few.Here’s a long exposure night shot that we nearly froze getting, but it was well worth it.I highly recommend a visit to central Otago if you ever make your way to New Zealand. We’ll be going back down to the south island soon, it’s simply one of the most beautiful places on earth.