New Zealand

 

 

That’s right. The long trip to get to New Zealand has started. I’m in Barcelona right now and I’ll stay here for thew night, since my flight to Singapore leaves really early. It’s bad for the extra night along the way but it’s good to get some rest before the 2 long flights I have to take until I arrive to Auckland.

And tomorrow will really be a long day. First, a 13 hours flight from Barcelona to Singapore. Then, 3 hours in Singapore, before I get into another plane for 9 more hours. Yep…I’ll be pretty much dead when I get to New Zealand but I’m sure it will be worth it :).

Some photos from today, just to start warming up.

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When we travel to such a far away destination as New Zealand (when traveling from Europe), we have to deal with the fact that a lot of the time will be spent inside airplanes. That’s what happened on the first day of my trip. I arrived to Auckland around midnight, which means that the first day of the trip didn’t really exist. That’s why I decided to put the first 2 days of the trip together in the same post.

Today it was the first real day of my adventure. At 9:00 AM I went to the Budget office to pick up my rental car and left Auckland, going straight to Cathedral’s Cove, the first place on my list. Tomorrow I’m already going to the south island, I had just one day to go to the 3 places I wanted to visit on the north island. The day started with beautiful weather (clean skies and over 20 degrees) but it got worse as the hours passed by and it ended with rain and 12 degrees. That’s New Zealand. I really thought that my day would be over by lunch time but at the end of the day I got a really great surprise, with a beautiful rainbow over the lake in Rotorua. The rain was not all bad after all :).

Today was also a demonstration that even when we plan everything in detail, things can still go wrong. I had planned a visit to the Rotorua springs in the afternoon and I knew that the closing time was 4:30 PM, so at 4:15 there I was. There was a little problem though…it did close at 4:30 but nobody could walk in after 3:45. Bad luck! But then I saw that the entry price was over 30 dollars so I didn’t feel as bad as I thought :).

Tomorrow it’s time to get yet another place and fly to Christchurch, the main city on the south island. Once there, I’ll pick up another car and a new journey will start. Hopefully the weather will improve!

The pictures of the day.

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Today I drove for almost 600 km, despite of most of the morning being spent flying from Rotorua to Christchurch. Considering that I’ll be in NZ for just a few days, I need to make the most of them. Just like yesterday, the day started really beautiful and got worse as hours passed by…but it didn’t get rainy so that’s a plus when compared to yesterday.

I start to understand why a lot of people come straight to the south island and don’t visit the other one. It’s truly beautiful and much more photogenic. It’s a very dramatic landscape. The bad thing is that distances take much longer to drive and everything seems very far away.

And prepare yourself for a lot of mountains and lakes. That’s what makes New Zealand famous after all. Tomorrow there will be more for sure and I just hope the weather holds up. We’ll see if I can get a better sunset than the ones the last couple of days :)

Two pictures from today.

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Today was an excellent day of photography. The weather was changing pretty much all day, from sunshine to cloudy and back to sunshine, but the landscapes were spectacular. i woke up really early and by sunrise I was already out and shooting, around 6 AM. Another long driving day, around 500 km this time, and if I keep this average, it will be my personal record of driven km on a trip!

When I arrived to Wanaka (where I am now), it was really hard to get to my hotel. There’s some cycling event happening in town…and with thousands of participants. The problem was that many of the streets were closed and I just didn’t have a way to get here. With the help of my GPS, I managed to drive through some secondary streets and finally found this place.

The bad moment of the day was when I realised that I forgot to visit a place on my list after being really close to it. That means that tomorrow I’ll have to drive some 150 km to go back there. Sometimes a little mistake can be costly, not only in money but most importantly, in time. I really thought that it was close to where I am today and not close to where I was yesterday. Oh well.

Tomorrow I have another very long day waiting for me. Another 600 km or so to drive and I’ll start with sunrise once again. No problem. That’s why I’m here anyway :)

And here you have some pictures of the day, as usual. See you tomorrow.

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What a long day! Too many km, even to me. After today, I’m over 2300 km. It was not a very productive day because the drive was long and I couldn’t stop that many times, or else I wouldn’t arrive to my destination. The weather was just fine but it’s amazing the differences in temperatures as the day progresses. 3 celsius at 7 AM and 23 celsius at 5 PM.

I’m in Queenstown and this hotel thinks that it’s reasonable to charge 30 dollars for one day of internet. What a ripoff! I’ll use the free 15 minutes to post this text and pictures online and that’s it. I can survive without internet for a couple of days.

This city is located on a spectacular place. Surrounded by mountains and standing on the shore of a huge lake, I’m sure it must be a special place to call home. One of the things that has been impressing me in this country is the way everything is kept so clean. Really. You can’t see garbage along the roads, for example. Something very common in most countries. It’s great to see the way they respect the place where they live.

Tomorrow I’m going to visit Milford Sound, one of the main attractions of New Zealand. If the weather helps, it should be a beautiful trip, allowing for some great pictures. The thing is that the weather in this part of the country is even more unpredictable than everywhere else.

Today’s photos.

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A day completely dedicated to Milford Sound. Some 200 km each way, on a beautiful but quite difficult road. It took a few hours to get there but the weather was perfect, even if a bit too perfect for photography. The journey was full of amazing scenery. It’s indeed a unique place.

The road includes a tunnel with a bit over 1 km, different from all the tunnels I have seen so far. What makes it different? The difference in altitude from the point you enter the tunnel to the place you get out of it. The inclination must be something like 10% or so and when we get out of it, we’re in a completely different altitude. Pretty cool.

It’s interesting that not even the most famous places in New Zealand are too crowded with tourists. Maybe the fact that this country if so far away from pretty much everything, helps to control the number of visitors. I didn’t visit a single place where I felt the need to avoid other people.

The plan for tomorrow is to visit and photograph some waterfalls. We’ll see how it works out. Another long drive, just like on all the other days :)

The usual pictures.

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Today I didn’t have much of a plan. I did have 2 locations to visit and after that I was kinda lost in the south of the island. Early in the day I saw the first traffic jam caused by hundreds and hundreds of sheep. 10 minutes stopped, waiting for 3 men and 6 dogs to make them all cross the road. There are more sheep than people in NZ and after watching this, I have no doubts!

Later in the day, I had a first person example of how nice the kiwis really are. And by kiwis, I mean the people of New Zealand. I was taking photos to a waterfall and my filter support fell to the river. I thought it was lost for good but a very nice lady saw what happened and jumped to the water, together with her two daughters, and they didn’t give up until they found it. Their effort was truly amazing.

A single week was enough to make me love this country. From all I have visited so far, and they are quite a few, it’s the first one where I could see me living at, if I ever had to leave Portugal. Everything is so well organised, so clean, so safe, everything just works.

Sadly, tomorrow will be the start of my trip back home. It will be painful to leave New Zealand and have to fly for so many hours. A sequence of 4 flights. Oh well. I guess it’s part of the job :).

Some pictures from today.

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Exactly 44 hours from the moment I enter the first airport to the moment I got home. The longest trip of my life!

Was it worth it? Oh yes! It was worth it because New Zealand is a perfect country for the kind of destination I look for. It’s a country with an intact nature, and like I said before, it’s organised, clean and safe. It’s a country where people just feel well. My visit was very very short and I wish I had at least another week to explore more of the country and with time to enjoy it even more. Nevertheless, those days I was there were really amazing, from sunrise to sunset. 3000 km in 7 days. I’m sure I saw the most I could see in such a period of time :).

The truth is that I didn’t see anything I didn’t like. Usually I write about the good things and also about the not so good ones but this time I really don’t have anything negative to say. Ok…maybe the number of mosquitos :) and the price of the internet in some of the hotels…but that’s it.

New Zealand goes right to the top of my favourite destinations. It’s too far? Yes it is. It’s expensive? Yes…but mostly because it’s really far and it takes a lot of flights (and money) to get there. But the thing is…if it wasn’t that far, probably it wouldn’t be as nice as it is.

Speaking about photography, it was a huge success as well, in my humble opinion. Due to the short time I had, I couldn’t worry too much about the light and about choosing the perfect time. I had to deal with all kinds of light and live with it. With that said, I really like the results.

Ohhh…and a last note on something I really liked. You know those safety videos they play on airplanes before taking off, right? People who fly know what i’m taking about. Well, most of them are quite boring and a lot of people don’t even watch them. Air New Zealand decided to do something about it and their video is spectacular! It’s based on the Lord of the Rings movies and it’s just too funny. An amazing way to make people watch the safety instructions while they also have a good laugh :) You can watch it here if you have a few minutes. It’s brilliant.

And here you have 3 photos I took on my return trip. Nothing too interesting, just something to give some colour to this post. Thank you all who followed my trip. I will post some more pictures in a few days, I think. See you then :).

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Different trips present us with different challenges when it comes to photography. In the case of New Zealand, it was quite easy to photograph the country with the equipment I took with me and I didn’t miss anything that I didn’t have there. Just like in all trips, the weather is very important for the success (or lack of it) of the photo work. Once again, I was very lucky and I did get very nice sunny days for most of the week, as you could see by the images I have been posting. The weather thing is not just luck though. It’s very important to prepare things properly and try to travel when the chances of good weather are greater.

Regarding the equipment I decided to take with me, of all the 3 lenses, I ended up just using 2. The 50mm, which is the one I usually use the most, didn’t take a single shot. Why? It’s all about the terrain and the type of landscapes that New Zealand has to offer. They are big, they are wide…and that calls for extremes when it comes to lenses. Wide angles if you want to show everything, tele photo if you want to focus on detail. No place for middle ground :). Of both the bodies, I ended up using the D800 more, naturally, but the D600 also got some decent work, specially when a tripod was involved.

When it comes to accessories, filters were used all the time, as usual…polarizers and neutral density mostly. I could also confirm that I made the right choice when I decided to take a backpack instead of a roller case. Just like I thought, both the flights from Porto to Barcelona and from Rotorua to Christchurch were operated by small regional planes and my roller bag would fit on the overhead compartments. It would be a serious problem. There was also a casualty :) I lost my infrared remote. It’s worth just a few euros but I missed it on a few occasions.

And to close the New Zealand trip for good, I leave you with some more pictures. I think that my selection of images was enough to show you what this country is all about and it’s amazing beauty. Thank you so much for your visit :).

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