Open Shutter: Spring Colour In New Zealand

11 July 2016

Only 15 months after a splendid two-week winter tour through New Zealand’s South Island, I was drawn back to the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’.

Flying into Christchurch, I set about re-tracing my steps – and making new ones – during an eight-day solo road trip in late spring. It was the first time I’d properly travelled by myself, but I was excited to make my own crazy and backwards schedule based on capturing every speck of beauty the country presented.


Photo: Andrew Tallon


Bright afternoon light on my first day was ideal for capturing the vibrant colours of lupin blooms on the southern edge of Lake Tekapo. These tall violet flowers envelop the lake’s banks throughout October and November each year.


Photo: Andrew Tallon


I spent the rest of the long spring afternoon exploring Lake Tekapo’s eastern banks. A gravel road took me away from the worn tourist trail and rewarded me with an epic scene of powerful winds pushing dust clouds north towards the valleys and ridges of Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park.


Photo: Andrew Tallon


I returned to my original position near the lupins just as the sun fell below the horizon. I ventured closer to the water and focused on capturing the vibrant reflection of dusk’s pastel pinks over the mountains and a rising full moon.


Photo: Andrew Tallon


The bright full moon prevented me from shooting the epic star fields I was after, so I rested up and made an early charge for Queenstown.

After checking in, I headed south to capture sunny blue skies along the shore of Lake Wakatipu. I never expected the best shot of the day would be one of my first! The image above was taken on the first bridge out of town; a classic display of spring colour on the widened delta of the Shotover River.


Photo: Andrew Tallon


I spent my final day in Queenstown exploring Lord of the Rings filming locations with friends, before driving up to the top of Coronet Peak. The ski fields were completely empty, and we had this stunning late-afternoon view of The Remarkables mountain range all to ourselves.


Photo: Andrew Tallon
 

I woke early the next morning to catch sunrise over Lake Wakatipu. I thought the heavy rain clouds would ruin my fun, but they opened up just enough to create a stunning showcase of colour that lasted barely a minute.

Stormy weather can be frustrating, but the humid air diffuses light perfectly, so it’s always best to position yourself nearby and hope for luck!


Photo: Andrew Tallon


So far the moon had proved a difficult customer, rising close to sunset and sticking around for all the dark hours.

On the way to Milford Sound, I situated myself by the reflective waters of Lake Gunn and grabbed my first chance to shoot a peaceful star field as the moon finally set at almost 4am.

 


Photo: Andrew Tallon


After an exhausting 24 hours of staggered sleep, I crashed hard in the car park at Milford Sound. I woke to dense, grey clouds blowing across the fjords.

I used the low light to capture a sombre long exposure, smoothing out the violent movement of the water and overcast sky.


Photo: Andrew Tallon


A cloudy night foiled my last chance to shoot star fields, so I was more determined than ever to capture great frames on Milford Sound before returning home.

I splashed out on an afternoon boat tour that took me along the fjord’s shoreline towards the Tasman Sea. Late-season meltwater could still be seen cascading down sheer cliff faces like the one above, which rose more than one kilometre above sea level.


Photo: Andrew Tallon

 

With an evening flight home already booked, I had one sunrise left before a full day’s drive back to Christchurch. This time the clouds were far more friendly, helping contrast the sky’s deep blues with the warm light of the first sun rays.

I was thrilled to have experienced a completely different side to New Zealand despite covering a very similar route to my winter trip. I turned up the music and drove straight to the airport, satisfied with a fantastic week of natural colour over some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes.

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This post originally appeared on Flight Centre Australia.