lake

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. 

....

108

.....

kph

....

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!

Day 15-19 Rakaia Gorge, Tekapo, and Mount Cook

I dropped Julian off at the Christchurch airport (flew CHCH to Auckland to SF to NJ to BUF!). I start my journey here out solo, and mainly tent camping (which is super easy! most hotels/airbnbs were booked up around the holidays...not so easy. The next few weeks were incredible! There's a reason everyone says to spend the majority of your time in the South Island. I will attempt to show you how dramatic and beautiful the South Island is. 

I camped at the Rakaia Gorge campground for the first night. The water was really that blue! I explored the area and had found my own special lunch place with nobody around. 

I took the backroads to Lake Coleridge. I didn't have any cell coverage, but I had maps downloaded. This was a scenario where It looked like it could be cool based on the map, and was pleasantly surprised! 

I went on some short walks in the area. I was the only one around for miles! Just me and the sheep/cows. You simply can't find that kinda peace and quiet in the states.

From Coleridge Lake, I drove a few hours west to get to Lake Tekapo. Talk about jaw dropping! I headed to Lake McGregor Campsite, set up camp and headed out on a "shingle" road to explore some of the area. I was truly in my happy place. What was even more exciting? The region is reknowned for lack of light pollution, which make it some of the darkest skies in the world! The weather here was pretty warm, despite being in the mountains.

At the campground (which got completely full BTW), the campground host had this unique duck following him around. apparently one day he showed up, and he started feeding him, and the duck hasn't left his side. He squacks people away if they get too close to him! The guy was even petting him.   

At the campground (which got completely full BTW), the campground host had this unique duck following him around. apparently one day he showed up, and he started feeding him, and the duck hasn't left his side. He squacks people away if they get too close to him! The guy was even petting him.

 

I timed it perfectly to get a new moon while I was in the area. I also didn't have any clouds in the sky! I had to wait until about midnight for the skies to get completely dark. But when it did, it sure was mesmerizing! Above is my rental car, my little backpacking tent under a zillion stars! Unfortunately Milky Way season is in the summertime (same as the states) so I missed out on the galactic core, BUT did get to see some new constellations!

Lupine fields near Tekapo

Lupine fields near Tekapo

The drive to Lake Pukaki was about an hour. This was probably one of my favorite places in NZ. Hands down the most beautiful place I've ever been to. Despite the crowds at the village/campground/hikes, it didn't even bother me. It also spoiled me, and that nothing will ever compare to this place :D 

The first day (above) I did the Hooker Valley Track. It was 70s or 80s and the sun burns fast here! There's apparently a big hole in the ozone over NZ/AUS that makes skin burn really fast. Skin cancer is a big problem in NZ.

IS THIS REAL LIFE? 

IS THIS REAL LIFE? 

More Crazy Dark skies! My older camera struggled on the star shots. I'm sure my newer cam would've handled the noise alot better. If you're curious on my setup, I used an Olympus EM1 and Laowa 7.5mm F2. 30 second exposures @ F2 ISO 1250. I used my MeFoto Roadtrip tripod and used a remote shutter as well.

This was Tasman Lake. You climb tons of stairs to get to this viewpoint, but it's worth it! There used to be a huge glacier there, but it has receded quite a bit. 

One of my favorite photos (I was pulled over)

One of my favorite photos (I was pulled over)

Kea Point trail - I didn't see any Keas, but it was still incredible!

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!