Umpqua lighthouse trip 8/3/18

Went on another camping trip down to Umpqua Lighthouse State Park, on the Oregon Coast. we started off stopping at the Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene. The Owls were exquisite:

All of the raptors here have been brought from all over the states for rehab. The birds that can't be reintroduced into the wild for various reasons, end up as residents here. Birds of prey are my favorite, so I had a blast here, naturally.

who knew turkey vulture feathers were irridescent??

we made it to our campsite at the state park, and set up camp. We did a walk around the lake that was connected to our campground, and headed out to the lighthouse for sunset. 

once it got dark, we were treated to an awesome light show from the lighthouse, and then dazzling stars


We headed down to Coos Bay. Nice and sunny! It was low 70s on the coast on Friday, but Saturday was a little cooler, in the 60s. 

then it all turned to fog

with all the dunes in this part of the coast, brings in all the ATVs.

some weirdness on the coast...with full overcast there was no sunset or stars :(

It's Sunday. so we mosey our way up the 101. We stopped at Haceta Head Lighthouse, which was another cool, old lighthouse. Being near the sea lion caves, there were a bunch of sealions swimming around.

Some more from this park. Beautiful views everywhere!

Next up is actually probably my favorite spot on the coast! Cape Perpetua/Thors Well near Yachats, OR. the ocean is so dramatic here, and you really fee the power of the ocean here.

waves splashing out of the well


Cape Foulweather: known for its amazing whale watching - we saw some distant ones!

That's all for now!

day 31-34 West coast part 2

I left Haast to check out the glaciers (fox and Franz). Fox ( below) was a little underwhelming. This was also receding, and you couldn't get anywhere near it without a tour. It seemed like a tourist trap, so i skipped it. The parking lot to get closer was also full, so I moved onto Fox glacier.

Fox Glacier - rainforest to glaciers

Fox Glacier - rainforest to glaciers

I opted for a top 10 holiday park to pitch my tent down in Franz Joseph Glacier. Holiday parks give you a shared kitchen, showers, water, nice bathroom, etc. It's nice to have these things when dirtbagging around :). That night I hiked around Lake Matheson at sunset. This was a photographer's playground! unfortunately some rude people staked out the whole platform for 15-20 minutes and wouldn't move.

when the sun dropped, the sky turned all sorts of amazing colors!

I waited till about 10pm to head over to the glowworm dell in Franz Joseph Glacier. These were super hard to capture with how dark it was and how reletively little light they produced.  It was also super eerie walking through this forest surrounded by glow worms. I kept getting chills down my back like a ghost or something was watching me. I B-lined it out of there after that happened!

"Arachnocampa luminosa, commonly known as New Zealand glowworm or simply glowworm, is a species of fungus gnat endemic to New Zealand. Both the larval stage and the imago are luminescent. The species is known to dwell in wet caves, grottoes and sheltered, humid places in forests. Its Māori name is titiwai, meaning "projected over water"."


The next day I did the Tatare tunnels hike. It was super hot and humid outside, as it is in a rainforest. (This is one of the only places in the world with a rainforest and glaciers in such close proximity.) Inside the tunnels, it was nice and cool. There was some history behind the tunnels: 

"Pioneer miners drove a 500 metre tunnel system through from the Tatare Gorge to pipe water to the Waiho terrace. While the gold recovered did not cover mining costs, Franz Josef township was established on the operation site. From 1911 the sluice pipes provided water supply for the old Graham Hotel.
The high-pressure water drove a Pelton wheel in the town and generated electricity for a sawmill during the day and lights for the town at night. In 1938 water from the Tatare Tunnels powered a small hydro station in the Tatare Gorge until it was destroyed by a slip in 1982. "
Franz Joseph

Franz Joseph

Next up I headed out to Hokitika. Hokitika was a small town, but large compared to what I've been seeing the past couple weeks! Cell service was available in towns (Vodafone SIM), but the moment you left town it went down to no service. I took advantage in towns to do all my internet usage, and texting. 

That night, I was treated to another fantastic sunset. Look at those colors!

Right before I went to see the Hokitika Glow worms. These ones were behind a fence, and couldn't get close enough to get any shots that were worth sharing.

Right before I went to see the Hokitika Glow worms. These ones were behind a fence, and couldn't get close enough to get any shots that were worth sharing.

The next day I took a drive out to the Hokitika Gorge. Look at that water color! 

I headed out to Goldsborough Camping Area to grab a campsite. Hokitika is an old gold mining town. They also have a ton of Jade rock here. I picked up a couple of Jade necklaces-one for my sister, one for my mother. Maori Tradition has the gifter wear it for 24 hours. The different designs mean different things  If you would like to know the different meanings, visit 

My campground was also a trailhead for some gold panning trails. Below was the tunnel terrace walk.

I hung out on a beach relaxing most of the day and came to this old railroad section for another great sunset.

The next day I headed up to methport, er...westport. It was a boring sleepy town, but I wanted to see the seal colony. I was disappointed that there was only about 10 seals there, and very far away, at that. Nothing like Kaikoura!

A quick stop at pancake rocks:

Seal Colony:

After checking in with my airbnb host, I asked her where to find penguins. She referred me to this spot, cape foulwind (below) I did not catch any penguins, but did get another great sunset!

That's all for now! The next posting will be the final post. I'll be going through the jaw dropping Arthur's Pass, The steampunk town of Oamaru, (where I finally spot a penguin!) and swimming with dolphins in Akaroa.

Day 20-22 Queenstown and Te Anau

After exploring the Tasman Lake, I headed down to Queenstown, where I apparently got caught by speed camera going crazy fast. 






in a


100kph zone!!

I don't think I've ever eye-rolled harder in my life. BTW this was also on Christmas Day. WUT

A nice lady that didn't speak any English offered to take my photo. I'm not one for my photo being taken, but this was my favorite part of NZ and didn't have any of me, so I went with it.

A nice lady that didn't speak any English offered to take my photo. I'm not one for my photo being taken, but this was my favorite part of NZ and didn't have any of me, so I went with it.

Above- A pitstop on the way to Queenstown - Roaring Meg

I arrived at 12 mile delta campground, and it was pretty busy but I'm lucky I got there when i did! Apparently everyone in NZ and the rest of the world had the same idea as me as it became filled to the brim later! Oh by the way...Christmas in Queenstown is insane. They estimated 80,000 person surge, in a town that only normally has 15,000! So as you can imagine, traffic was a nightmare, as was parking, and places to stay? HA! Everything was completely booked except for one room that was $750 a night.

I was lucky enough to get approached by a fellow camper Sam to hang out with her boyfriend Ian on Christmas! We had some drinks, I had some quick and easy camp food for dinner and we ended up becoming pretty good friends! They were traveling from the UK. They bought a van, and are hopping around place to place to pick up work here and there. Living the dream!!

Ian and I went for a hike the next day at Bob's cove. The trailhead started at the campground and ended at the cove below. Super scenic!

Even though the rain held off for us, we were treated to a killer rainbow when we got back to camp! 

Even though the rain held off for us, we were treated to a killer rainbow when we got back to camp! 

That night, I took a drive out to Glenorchy. This is the town that Top of the Lake was filmed in. Elizabeth Moss stars in this crime/thriller TV series about a missing girl. Lots of mystery gets unveiled about the girl and locals. Very good watch.

The town was super desolate. Just me and a couple other photographers showed up for sunset. It's also hard to describe just how cold it was here. The wind was howling (enough to make white caps in some spots). It was probably low 50s out there. Crazy for middle of summer! The lake, Lake Wakatipu, is the longest lake and third largest lake. Because of the shape, it actually takes on tide changes!


 I said bye to Queenstown for a couple days, and headed down to the wonderful Milford Sound. I forget were the first 2 photos were taken. I wanna say it was an experimental forest or so? It was a good pitstop before I got to my campground in Te Anau. 

This little guy came onto my tent and chilled there for a bit. Side note- the Olympus 12-40mm 2.8 (my most used lens) does some incredible close focusing! Almost Macro territory.

This little guy came onto my tent and chilled there for a bit. Side note- the Olympus 12-40mm 2.8 (my most used lens) does some incredible close focusing! Almost Macro territory.

Sunset from my campground - Henry Creek Campground. Amazing. I hung out here on Te Anau Lake with a few other campers for hours and sipped my favorite NZ cider - harvest cider - scrumpy. I even jumped in. It was cold, but I was long overdue for a shower at this point, so i didn't mind too much, haha. 

Moon and the mountains @ sunset

Moon and the mountains @ sunset

That's all for now! I'll dedicate my next post to Milford Sound, and the Key summit Hike I did nearby. Jaw droppingly beautiful!

New Zealand Day 3 and 4 - Rotorua

Day 3 I took the 4.5 hour Intercity bus ride from Auckland to Rotorua. When I arrived, I immediately went to the Mountain Bike Shot (what else would you do when you're injured and cant ride bikes?) I chatted one of the mechanics at the shop (Sebastian I believe his name was.) Well, small world! We got to talking, and he lived in Portland as well, 12-15 years ago. So I bring up MBO (mountain bike Oregon) and it turns out, he helped create MBO, and some of the local trails, as well! Some of the trails were even named after him and his then gf. 

After chatting for about an hour, I headed over to my airbnb to check in. I was greeted with the sweetest boxer. Within minutes, I was giving him belly rubs, and became best mates. Steve's airbnb was conveniently located right next to the Redwoods! What a pleasant odd surprise to see California Redwoods in New Zealand, of all places. Apparently they were brought over and planted in the early 1900s.   Bonus: there are lots of tramping and mountain bike trails weaved into this beautiful forest.

I did two trails. Today I did the overlook trail, which was a nice, quiet trail that took you through the redwoods and to a viewpoint to look above the trees. The next day I did there red loop with Julian.

Above: some up close shots of the ferns and the overlook at the top.

Above: more shots through the beautiful forest.

Above: One of the longest, straightest, flattest trails I've ever been on. There was a walk in the treetops that I did not do ($25).

Now is where things start to get interesting. Rotorua has a lot of geothermic activity (I call it the yellowstone of NZ) with lots of boiling mud pools, geysirs, hot springs and hot pools.

Above: great sunset with the steam from a hot spring (too hot to get into)

Above: Lake Rotorua

Above: miscellaneous pictures around town

above: My buddy Julian joined me (living near Buffalo, NY - my hometown) on Day 4 

On the way to Taupo we stopped at Rainbow mountain (beautiful teal water). The boiling mud pools were in Te puia. The last picture was Lady Knox. We missed lady Knox erupting by a couple hours :(. Not pictured was one of the highlights of my trip. This was Kerosene Creek. It's a creek flowing with hot water! There was a mini waterfall flowing with ~110-120F water that you could stand under and felt incredible on my sprained neck! Thats all for now! Next up will be Taupo, Plimerton, and Upper Hutt. Stay tuned. If you want to stay up to date, please subscribe, and you'll be informed everytime there is a new post!