On February 4th a group of enthusiastic photographers met with our group leader, Michelle Cast, Nikon pro Reed Hoffmann and driver, John, for an adventure through the South Island of New Zealand. We were headed to Mt. Cook National Park starting at Christchurch. Along the way we had our first chance at photography at the Church of the Good Shepherd. We spent the night at the Hermitage Hotel, were we all had incredible views of Mt. Cook and the surrounding mountains. Here there were opportunities for sunrise, sunset, star-view and mid-day pictures of the mountains and a great Zodiac ride in Glacier Lake to the base of the glacier.
Our next stop was in Queenstown on Lake Wakatipu. The weather turned out to be incredible and we had a gondola ride to view the skyline and meet the Maori dancers. Some members of our group turned out to be exceptional performers as they participated with Chief Pete in the Kiwi Haka. The next day some of us traveled on an off-road adventure in 4 wheel drive vehicles to Skippers Canyon while others took advantage of activities in town, including para-sailing. Skippers Canyon turned out to be not only an impressive place for photos, but a place that provided an interesting history of the area’s development after gold was found in the river, and, for the braver group members an exciting boat ride in the Shotover River.
Then on through the Southern Alps, Fiordland National Park and Homer Tunnel to Milford Sound. The launch ride and walk around the shoreline gave us a chance to take many pictures of the scenery, waterfalls and kayakers (who arranged to be near the falls in their bright yellow kayaks to provide some terrific shots for us).
We were fortunate that Pete agreed to be our model at the AJ Hackett Bungie Jumping site, where we were able to get some fantastic shots of courageous people plunging to the river below.
We stopped at many different lakes to capture sunrise and mid-day pictures of reflections and thick moss-covered rain forests, and walked the pathways going to the Fox and Franz Joseph glaciers, where the sunshine on the glaciers provided wonderful opportunities for the contrast in the pictures. As we neared the end of the trip we stayed along the Tasmin Sea and were able to capture the Pancake Rocks and Blow Hole, carved from years of the waves wearing on the rocks.
One thing that cannot be forgotten was the chance to photograph the different animals along the way; the sheep being herded by the three sheep dogs, the deer, and the cattle, and then the Kea birds who performed for us while feasting on the rubber gaskets on the bus.
The trip ended in Christchurch with our final show of pictures, with many pleasant memories of learning new techniques and ways to take memorable pictures, thanks to our very patient instructor Reed and tour leader, Michelle, meeting new friends, and remembering one thought that will stay with us forever …“Make the picture darker”.