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Thread: South Island Trip advice?

  1. #1
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    Default South Island Trip advice?

    Hi all,

    In a few weeks time I'll be heading off for a 3-week trip around the South Island. (late June to mid July)

    I've had a read around and found a selection of places that I'm looking at going to, but it would be great to get suggestions from anyone who's either a local or spent some time down there for great places to visit, experience, photograph and of course some cheap places to stay! (Student budget )

    The emphasis of this trip is mostly photography, but I will be spending some time getting out there experiencing what the SI has to offer.

    I haven't included my current list as I'd like to see what the suggestions are first, bearing in mind that it will be through the middle of Winter..

    Any other advice from driving the SI roads this time of year to places to avoid etc would also be greatly appreciated.

    Cheers,
    Michael


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  2. #2

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    Have a search for similar threads theres 2 or 3 good ones already.

    Will you prioritatise getting the shot over seeing it all?

    3 weeks is enough for a whistlestop tour round it all but if you want a good shot in a specific location you could wait a few days for it.
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  3. #3
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    Spending some time in Mackenzie is a must, Twizel is a good spot to base yourself, cheaper accommodation options, and if you get a clear day with a hoare frost, then you'll get some ace pics. The whole place is stunning, and IMO it's the best time of year to visit.

    In terms of driving, if you want to get up a few hills to get some landscapes, definitely get yourself into a 4wd with some snow chains, learn how to put them on before you need them, and don't hit the brakes too hard on the way down!

    Ski fields are well worth a visit if you want to get some good landscapes.

    There's lots of other threads on here about it. If you have an itinerary, post it up, and people will point you in the right direction.

    There's bugger all snow around at the moment though, which is unusual, but should be nice and cold and white by the time you get here.

  4. #4
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    My picks for along along the west coast...

    Spend a night in your tent at Lake Mahinapua, doesn't get any cheaper, then get up early for the sunrise.

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    Drive slow and keep your eye's peeled for the unusal - and be prepared to travel a km or two before you can do a U-turn

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    Okarito, well south of Lake Mahinapua and only about 15km's from Fox is worth a night. You may catch a white heron, a sunset / sunrise, the beach can be interesting, and kayaks are available for hire to explore the lagoon.

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    Punakaiki has a great backpackers, The Beach Hostel. From there you can kayak up the Porarari River, or walk the track under the limestone cliffs, crossing either the Porarari or Punakaiki rivers via the new swing bridges

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    Then further north Gentle Annies at the Mohikinui River mouth is a great place to camp with some good local walks. Keep heading up and you have Karamea and the Oparara Basin area.
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    Tell us where you plan on heading, then we can steer you But Gunns camp is a must, for a minimum of two nights, correction, three nights.

  6. #6
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    Default Great info, cheers

    Quote Originally Posted by rjd View Post
    Have a search for similar threads theres 2 or 3 good ones already.
    Will you prioritatise getting the shot over seeing it all?
    I should have checked first, pages of previous threads as it turns out... thanks.
    Yea I will be looking at staying a few days in some areas for a solid image.

    Quote Originally Posted by mrfinster View Post
    In terms of driving, if you want to get up a few hills to get some landscapes, definitely get yourself into a 4wd with some snow chains....
    I've heard they are a must, I'll definitely make sure I've got some.
    I guess my FWD won't cut it in some places, I might need to look into renting a 4WD for a day or two...
    Heres hoping that the snow starts coming down soon. I'd definitely consider moving the trip through to next winter if there is still an unusual lack of snow all the way up till a few days before I leave. The Ski fields is a good idea too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Prue View Post
    My picks for along along the west coast...

    Okarito, well south of Lake Mahinapua and only about 15km's from Fox is worth a night. You may catch a white heron, a sunset / sunrise, the beach can be interesting, and kayaks are available for hire to explore the lagoon.
    Great advice and pics, Lake Mahinapua looks interesting, worth a dawn visit. Thanks for that.

    Quote Originally Posted by wirehunt View Post
    Tell us where you plan on heading, then we can steer you But Gunns camp is a must, for a minimum of two nights, correction, three nights.
    I'll put up an idea of where Im heading in my next post.
    Are there many good photo opportunities at Gunns camp?
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  7. #7
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    Default Areas I'm looking at heading to...

    The most important areas at this point:

    - Katiki Lighthouse and Moeraki Boulders

    - Lake Mapourika - Westland
    - Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers
    - Aoraki Mt Cook National Park
    - Tasman River
    - Hooker Lake
    - Lake Tekapo
    - Lake Alexandra

    Others:

    - Queenstown
    - Lake Wakitipu
    - Arrowtown
    - Wanaka
    - Moke lake

    - Te Anau
    - Milford Sound
    - Fijordland

    Possibly:

    - Christchurch and New Brighton

    - Abel Tasman National Park

    - Golden Bay

    __________________

    There is a few more options, but I need to cut the list down more.

    I'll be looking into some waterfalls aswell that would make good images, considering how much of a focus there is on the Alpine regions and lakes.

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    Hey Michael,

    Jim, here based in the Wakatipu Basin i.e. Queenstown/Arrowtown. You've got quite a list there and to be honest heaps to try to accomplish in 3 weeks! But doable. But that will enjoy a fair amount of driving time and not a great amount behind the lens.

    Around the Wakatipu these are my favourite photo spots;

    Mt Crichton/Sam Summers Hut loop track off the Road to Glenorchy - great walk and a good mix of scenery and history. Fine in all weathers.
    Skippers Road - FWD will be fine here pending ice/snow on the road.
    Lake Hayes - reflections!
    Arrowtown - Chinese Camp, Sawmill Creek walk, Buckingham Street area.
    If you want some pictures of historical buildings try the Goldfields Park in the Kawarau Gorge.
    Bobs Cove walk, along Road to Glenorchy and of course the township and scenery around Glenorchy itself inc Paradise.
    Heaps of waterfalls in the Haast Pass (W Coast) to keep you happy.

    If you're coming to the Southern Lakes from the Moeraki Boulders suggest you go via the Pig Route i.e Ranfurly etc. Incredible light, clouds and very big skies.

    Not trying to plug myself but have a look over my blog http://jimpollardgoesclick.blogspot.com/ its predominately based around Central Otago and the Southern Lakes.

    Let me know if you want more info or more suggestions.

    Enjoy, Jim

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    If you have a fwd and a set of chains, you'll be OK to get up most ski field roads, just need nerves of steel and to drive carefully.

    Just some of the smaller ski fields in Canterbury mainly, can get a bit sketchy if it's very snowy or icy.

    The main benefit of a 4wd is that you don't need to muck around putting chains on as often.

    I wouldn't worry about the snow, it'll be around by early July.

    If you want to have a look round some of Canterbury, I'm sure a few of us on here would be happy to show you some places.

    I've got a shiny new truck coming in a couple of weeks, and want to take it out for a play and make it less shiny

  10. #10
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    Default Travel Plan..

    Quote Originally Posted by jimpollardgoesclick View Post
    Hey Michael,

    Jim, here based in the Wakatipu Basin i.e. Queenstown/Arrowtown. You've got quite a list there and to be honest heaps to try to accomplish in 3 weeks! But doable...

    Let me know if you want more info or more suggestions.

    Enjoy, Jim
    Quote Originally Posted by mrfinster View Post
    I wouldn't worry about the snow, it'll be around by early July.

    If you want to have a look round some of Canterbury, I'm sure a few of us on here would be happy to show you some places.

    I've got a shiny new truck coming in a couple of weeks, and want to take it out for a play and make it less shiny
    Thanks everyone for the great responses, it's been a big help.

    Jim, some great spots there, and photos on your blog, I've added a couple of those places to my intinerary.

    MrFinster: I'll be chuffed with a nice coating of snow for my alpine shots, and would definitely be keen to be shown a few places by some of the forum locals, cheers.

    I've got a route now that I think will cover everything I want to see in the time I have.

    Have a look and see what you think...

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    Michael
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  11. #11
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    If you're looking for alpine shots, then you'll be missing a huge chunk of the alps by not going round the East Coast.

    From Tekapo, head up towards Chch, stop off for a look at Mt Somers, Ashburton Lakes, then either back over Arthurs Pass, or up to Kaikoura, then back towards Hanmer and over the Lewis Pass. Some of the most stunning South Island scenery, and you get in amongst it on the road a lot more than Queenstown/Wanaka.

    Also, often if the weather's crap on one coast then it's OK on the other, so doing it that way, you can follow the clear days a bit more.

  12. #12
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    I'm planning a mini trip with my brother in Late August/Early Sept. The route is ChCh to Punakaiki over Arthurs, up to Gentle Annies, and then on to Sumner through Lewis Pass, and back to ChCh. anyone know the likelihood of Arthurs/Lewis being closed to traffic around this time?
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  13. #13

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    Its all down to chance Adam, if a big storm comes though they may be closed, cant realy say.
    Canon 5DmkII, 400L, Canon 17-40L, Canon 24mmf3.5 TS-E, Canon 70-200f2.8L, Tamron 90mm SP AF Di f2.8 Macro, Sigma 50mmf1.4 EX HSM, Nissin Di866 flash, Manfrotto 190xprob & Markins Q3t head, Lee filters, Lowepro Flipside 400AW, Yong Nuo rf 602 triggers.


  14. #14
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    Just take some chains Adam - pretty unlikely that it will be totally closed for anything more than a few hours, but there is often a chain restriction, and the road crew won't let you continue without them.

    I've got a couple of spare sets if you want to borrow some. I've even got a special set for gay drug dealer wheels, that I won't need when my new truck arrives.

  15. #15
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    I figured it is just a lottery...

    Gay drug dealer wheels? They should fit perfectly!
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    Michael, I would tweak it a bit

    Down the west coast to haast
    Onto Wanaka
    Over the Cadrona valley to Arrowtown
    Straight through Q'town to Glenorchy (have a coffee and a walk around if you must)
    Glenorchy to Te Anau
    Gunns camp, which is in the Hollyford valley on the way to Milford. You need a sleeping bag and food. Waterfalls etc to keep you busy till there coming out your aRse.
    Back through Te Anau and south.
    Then around to the Catlins, just a massive amount of stuff for a photographer here too.
    Up to Moeraki via Dunners
    Then up past the lakes, Waitaki, Avimore, Benmore.
    Through Twizel to Mt Cook if you must
    Tekapo

    Then I assume you've gotta get back north for home
    So Geraldine
    Then the tourist route up the side of the hills
    Kaikorai
    Picton

    Yes this skips Ranfurly etc, but that area has a week in it on it's own without even trying.

  17. #17
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    +1 for Gunns camp

    This is the view from the bridge next to the carpark at the end of the hollyford rd. Not far from the camp.


  18. #18
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    Default Never gonna win

    You've opened up a true can of worms on this one. Everyone has their own opinion on which are the best places. To be fair where ever you do end up its up to you as a photographer to find your own shots and make the best of it. You'll have to be pretty hard up to spend 3 weeks in the South Island and not see some amazing sights.

    My last input is that you're better off spending less time on the road than on it. i.e. don't try to cram everything in. Having said that I always find some of the best are taken "in the moment" from the side of the road.

    Enjoy

  19. #19
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    Hi all, I'm 11 days into the trip now.
    I had a good run (Photographically) down the West Coast, weather has turned nasty since Haast so I've spent the last few days in Queenstown.
    (Now in Glenorchy for the night)
    I'll be heading out tomorrow morning (regardless of weather) toward the dart river etc before driving back to Queenstown.
    Heading towards Twizel / Tekapo etc after that.
    Hopefully there are a few breaks in this weather! Although walking back from the bars in QT in snow was nice.
    If anyone wants to grab a coffee and have a chat (or head out shooting) feel free to flick me a txt: 0211235480
    Cheers,
    Michael
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    Good luck getting over the Lindis Pass! Have you seen how much snow is on the way for the next few days? Mt Cook is due to get over 3 metres. Should be some nice photos to be taken though.

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    I've booked a road trip for 22nd august. Going over Arthur's and back through lewis...
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  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by wirehunt View Post
    Michael, I would tweak it a bit

    Down the west coast to haast
    Onto Wanaka
    Over the Cadrona valley to Arrowtown
    Straight through Q'town to Glenorchy (have a coffee and a walk around if you must)
    Glenorchy to Te Anau
    Gunns camp, which is in the Hollyford valley on the way to Milford. You need a sleeping bag and food. Waterfalls etc to keep you busy till there coming out your aRse.
    Back through Te Anau and south.
    Then around to the Catlins, just a massive amount of stuff for a photographer here too.
    Up to Moeraki via Dunners
    Then up past the lakes, Waitaki, Avimore, Benmore.
    Through Twizel to Mt Cook if you must
    Tekapo

    Then I assume you've gotta get back north for home
    So Geraldine
    Then the tourist route up the side of the hills
    Kaikorai
    Picton

    Yes this skips Ranfurly etc, but that area has a week in it on it's own without even trying.
    I knew you had water falls comming out your backside.
    lidis will be a scream if it delevers the snow load.
    God made two great lights; the sun to rule by day and the moon to rule by night. He also made the stars.
    And He set them all in the heavens to give light upon the earth; And God saw that it was good.

    Ive seen the light and it is indeed very good



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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrfinster View Post
    Good luck getting over the Lindis Pass! Have you seen how much snow is on the way for the next few days? Mt Cook is due to get over 3 metres. Should be some nice photos to be taken though.
    The Lindis Pass finally opened late in the afternoon on the day I was going through there, so I was lucky.

    Mt Cook had an incredible amount of snow, the roads to the Hooker Valley and Tasman River were closed which was unfortunate.. being able to rent snow shoes from the Hermitage wasnt though!

    I've got video footage of Mt Cook village, but I need to find a programme that lets me bring the quality down from HD to 360p so I can upload it quickly.

    Heres some pics for the meantime...

    Lindis Pass:
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    Hooker Valley Rd:
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    Mt Cook YHA
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    I'll be putting up a pile of snapshots on my personal FB page, with all of my serious landscape work being slowly released on my main FB page and soon-to-be-created blog.

    There is however one shot that will be saved for the NZ Geo comp...

    Cheers,
    Michael
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    It was like that two years ago too. Save the video for email works for me on windows.

  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by weap10 View Post
    +1 for Gunns camp

    This is the view from the bridge next to the carpark at the end of the hollyford rd. Not far from the camp.

    sorry Im a bit slow on this
    back to gunns, this photo seems to be on one of the five days a year it aint frekin raining down the river,congrats you lucked out.
    God made two great lights; the sun to rule by day and the moon to rule by night. He also made the stars.
    And He set them all in the heavens to give light upon the earth; And God saw that it was good.

    Ive seen the light and it is indeed very good



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