All of those photos are shot on a Sony a7rII and ZEISS Loxia 35mm, 50mm & Batis 25mm
These lakes were one of the many places we visited on a whim, because of a sign that pointed to them. The area is so tranquil, I imagine we could have easily spent a whole week there, swimming, kayaking and trout fishing, or just lounging on the sandy beaches.
As Chris and I were on the road up to Cape Reinga, he suddenly said “What’s Giant Te Paki?”. The recurring signs leading to it caught his attention, so on a whim we decided to follow them and find out. Several kilometres of gravel road later, we emerged at a sight even I had not expected to see in New Zealand. In front of us was what looked like a giant desert. It turns out Te Paki are giant sand dunes. So what next? Climb them of course. It was hard going and the sand was almost too hot to touch even though it was only a few hours past sunrise. At several points, we were so far into the dunes that we could only see sand and sky in all directions. At other times we were walking over rocks that looked something like the surface of Mars.
Eventually you drive so far north in New Zealand that there are no more towns (the last one was 100km ago), no more houses, no reception; no one really bothers to live somewhere that remote. There’s just bush and rolling hills, and one main highway meanders between views of the West coast and views of the East coast, until you can see both at the same time. Then you know you’ve arrived at Cape Reinga. We got to Cape Reinga at the same time as several tourist busses transporting a ton of tourists, which I found particularly odd as we hadn’t seen driven past more than 3 cars in the last 3 hours. Cape Reinga is where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean crash together. It has significance to Māori culture; Māori belief is that the spirits of the dead leap off the land and return to the underworld.
When it rains in New Zealand, it really rains. It’s as though the skies open up and pour buckets of water relentlessly until everything and everyone is soaked. Our Bay of Islands trip was dampened by this surprise downfall, which made us very glad to be sleeping in the SUV and not in a tent. At night we tucked ourselves up in a duvet listening to the rain and wind battering the car outside. During the day we donned our raincoats and trudged through the little townships despite the poor weather, enjoying moments of dryness inside quaint cafes and on the ferry ride between Paihia and Russell. It’s hard to believe that Russell, a small town of about 50 colonial style houses, was once New Zealand’s capital.
All of those photos are shot on a Sony a7rII and ZEISS 35mm, 50mm & Batis 25mm
There’s this beach in New Zealand, called 90 Mile Beach. Except it’s not 90 miles long, in truth it’s actually 88 kilometres, or 55 miles. Still, it’s really long, and really straight. It’s a recognised public highway, and sometimes the only available one up to the top of the North Island if State Highway 1 is closed due to flooding.
Driving a car down a beach with the windows down and the sea breeze keeping you cool on a hot summer’s day sounds pretty idyllic. So we thought as we made our way there with the Mercedes GLE350. It hadn’t crossed our mind much that it’s probably not a very smart thing to do with such an expensive car. Until we were standing at the beachfront, and saw the strip of soft pillowy sand at the entrance, and witnessed many other cars (albeit most not 4WDs) slipping and sliding and scraping the bottom of their vehicles on large rocks as they emerged onto the road. There’s also the very real danger of the tide coming and causing our car to sink and disappear forever.
After weighing up all these risks, Chris and I decided that not going on the beach was a cop out, but attempting to drive all the way down to Cape Reinga (which requires exiting the beach by driving through a river) was tempting fate too much. So we summoned our courage, hopped in and rolled slowly but steadily down onto the sand. So far, so good. A quick check to confirm we weren’t sinking once we hit the firm sand, and then Chris got out to snap some photos while I enjoyed the scenery. 5 minutes later we were already back on sealed road again, frayed nerves but proud of the fact that we have now officially driven on a beach. All in all the GLE handled our offroading stint like a champion, and I’m sure it would have coped just fine driving all 88 kilometres.
I love how NZ beaches all have some unique quality to them. West coast beaches often have sooty, black sand and wild crashing waves. Rarawa beach, halfway between Kaitaia and Cape Reinga on the East Coast, has pure white sand the texture of powdered sugar, and gently ebbing waves. It’s truly a peaceful place, and our DoC campsite was just a short walk away over some sand dunes.
Spirits Bay campsite was a definite highlight of our roadtrip. 20kms down a gravel road, completely isolated and far away from civilisation, we made our camp at the DoC site at the edge of the beach and set off exploring. Spirits Bay sand is covered in millions of broken up shells that crunch under your feet and give the beach a pale pink colour. We crossed a river and hopped over a fence and were surrounded by curious horses. There we watched the sunset, wondering at how surreal and beautiful it was and hoping that this moment would last forever.
All of those photos are shot on a Sony a7rII and ZEISS Loxia 35mm, 50mm & Batis 25mm
New Zealand is a country for travellers and backpackers. I've never seen more backpackers in any other country. You would simply miss way too many great things if you stayed in the same place all the time. On our last New Zealand trip we spent three weeks travelling around the North Island. We slept in the back of the car, ate fish and chips in quaint little towns near the ocean and hiked through amazing landscapes. In those three weeks, we were lucky to have the use of a Mercedes Benz GLE350. An SUV that turned out to be a truly amazing travel-companion. It took us safely along a route of over 4,000 km. The first week of our trip was spent in Northland, everywhere between Auckland and the northern most tip of New Zealand, and even just travelling and driving through those amazing and unique landscapes is worth telling a few stories about.
The distance between Auckland and Cape Reinga is 400km. It takes at least 6 hours to drive though, because there is rarely a straight road where it’s possible to get up to the maximum speed of 100km/hr. There’s a high chance of being slowed down by a tractor or a herd of livestock crossing the road. This isn’t a bad thing of course, because having to drive slowly means having time to take in the scenery and enjoy the open space and coastal views.
Chris calls all the tiny towns north of Auckland “Wild West towns” because of their run-down, patched together charm, and the fact that they’re usually only one street long, with an average of 10 houses, one corner store, a fish and chips store, and a petrol station if you’re lucky. Artist galleries are common too, I guess because many artists choose to remove themselves from the hustle and bustle of city life and seek inspiration in those charismatic little communities. We took a car ferry between two such towns, joining each side of State Highway 1 over Hokianga harbour.
Of all the North Island, Northland is the place to go if you want to escape civilisation. The night sky is exploding with stars, because the nearest light source is often 20km away. The day sky is a misty, pale blue colour that a practised eye will tell you means we’re near to the ocean. It’s always windy and the air tastes of salt. Most places are only accessible by a rough gravel road, filled with pot holes. This was no problem for the GLE, we set it onto offroad mode and went on our merry way.
All of those photos are shot on a Sony a7rII and ZEISS Loxia 21mm, 35mm & 50mm
As a born and bred Waikato kid, my beach of preference has always been Raglan. The laid-back atmosphere of the town and the wild, usually empty beaches provide an escape from the stresses of everyday life, and is only 35 minutes drive from Hamilton. But since we went to Raglan several times on our last trip (see here), I thought we could try a different West coast beach, and so we ended up at Kawhia. The road to Kawhia is a stunning combination of native forest and rolling hills with the coast on the horizon, and we stopped many times to admire the view.
Like Raglan, the ocean beach at Kawhia has sooty black sand, caused by molten lava from the nearby volcanoes hitting the water and shattering into billions of fragments. It’s magnetic, so be careful of your cameras and phones! The rough black sand gives the beach a natural, untamed look; it’s a whole different experience to those pristine white powder beaches that are overcrowded with tourists baking in the sun.
The beach is also thermal, meaning that if you dig a hole in certain places, hot water bubbles up through the sand. We saw plenty of people digging their own hot tubs on the beach, but in the 30 degree heat we were more interested in cooling off in the waves instead.
After a few hours exploring, we were getting hungry. For some reason, all of the places in Kawhia that sell fish and chips seemed to be closed. A friendly resident saw us wandering up and down and asked if we were looking for somewhere to eat. He pointed us to the Kawhia Hotel that does takeaway fish and chips that are “the best in town”. We ate them next to the wharf with the seagulls circling hungrily, a delicious end to a perfect day trip.
All of those photos are shot on a Sony a7rII and ZEISS Loxia 21mm, 35mm & 50mm
Are you brave enough to travel the long journey to escape from European winter into New Zealand summer? We made this 50 hour trip, taking us through China to Auckland and finally Hamilton, NZ. We traveled from frozen streets at -8°C to 99% humidity with 29°C. On the first days you usually end up completely jet-lagged, but that doesn't mean that you have to stay on the couch all day. Here is little inspiration for the time-shifted visitor of the Waikato-area.
I don't think there are many longer haul trips than Europe to New Zealand. Basically if you fly much further, you’ll be flying back towards Europe. I’ve done this journey more times than I can count on all my fingers, but it doesn't get much easier. One thing I can really recommend, is finding out if your airline offers a complimentary hotel with a longer stopover. A hot shower and lying flat in a bed for a few hours is so worth it. My carry-on always includes a complete change of clothes, plenty of moisturizer and a tablet loaded up with movies in case the TV screen on the flight refuses to play ball, as was the case on both my long haul flights. Maybe I’m just unlucky but those screens are always dodgy, and a 13 hour flight is no fun when you have nothing to kill the time.
It takes around 4 days to adjust to the 12 hour time difference, but I find that there is something special about those precious few mornings when we wake up before even the first Tui bird song or cicada chirping, when a thick mist lies over the fields around our house and the air is fresh and chilly, laden with the scent of fresh grass.
Late summer is the best time of year at Matangi. The sun is shining nearly every day. Fruit of all kinds are falling from the trees and the vegetable garden is enthusiastically producing fresh ingredients for dinner. I love wandering out to the veggie patch to pick herbs and lettuce and mixing them straight into a summer salad. Chris is particularly fond of the large, sweet grapefruit that he calls “the best damn grapefruit I’ve ever eaten”. Roses are in bloom around the property and the cicadas drown out the sounds of cars passing.
This trip was a particularly nostalgic one for me. I spent my childhood living in the tiny country community of Te Pahu on the foothills of Mt Pirongia, where we had all the space in the world to run and play and be free. We walked alongside the bubbling Kaniwhaniwha stream, where I remember swinging off the old knotted rope into the water and climbing up onto the rocks to dry off in the sun. We used to take school trips down to the stream to study the wildlife in the area, and we were told of the Maori legends about the sacred volcano looming in the distance. The track leaves the river and meanders through native bush, the trails flanked by Nikau Palm trees, hence the name. I know that I’m home when I can smell the dense, rich sub-tropical forest, where the air is cool and dew drops hang from the fern fronds despite the 30 degree heat beating down on the canopy above.
This was our first hike after hibernating through German winter. My friend Alex runs the track every day. While he didn't even break a sweat, we emerged at the summit of this small volcano red in the face and out of breath. The view was definitely worth the effort. Kakepuku is teaming with wildlife, from pheasants to moreporks (a tiny NZ native owl), tui and kereru, and even a baby hedgehog on the footpath. The hike features a mystical ancient Ponga glade with charcoal black tree trunks.
If you're thinking about bringing a lot of photography equipment with you - don't do it. I did and ended up short of breath while ascending the long stairway just before reaching the top with my heavy backpack. And when i finally made it, i didn't miss any of my lenses but i missed some more water instead (i was dumb enough to leave the second bottle in the car so i could carry more lenses). If you're a very fit person, you'll be fine but if you have average fitness don't underestimate this 90 minute hike. Anyway you are able to see some typical New Zealand forest while climbing Mt. Kakepuku and New Zealand forest is nothing like European forest. It's proper bush and can get to points where no sunlight get's through anymore. You'll also notice another very characteristic New Zealand noise: The cicadas sitting in the trees, accompanying you on your walk. Those bugs are one first catchy memories i have of this land.
It's been nearly two years since I shot those photos but i still feel like they're worth showing. I shot them in New Zealand, in the area of Rotorua. It's a little town based on a big lake that we tried to drive around as far as possible (basically until we were in the middle of the woods and rising night got us a little scared). But Rotorua has more. It's got a Maori Village, wonderful landscapes and i really loved that awesome breakfast at the "Fat Dog".
After not really being able to shoot many photos during this year, i'm really looking forward to the beginning of next year. In the middle of January we'll be off to New Zealand again. This time for about 6 weeks and we've got many things planned so this will be the time for some new pictures!
Although those photos are already over a year old, I felt like it's worth posting them (as well as some other unpublished New Zealand photos). This is again a "traveling to..." post. Most of you have anyways seen the famous places in New Zealand on other photos. What really took my attention was driving to those locations on endless highways and through changing Landscapes. My girlfriend had to stop many times while we where taking this 5-hour-ride from Queenstown to Milford Sound because I was so fascinated by what I saw out of the car window. Sometimes, i even just snapped photos right out of the car 😉 As we got closer to Milford Sound, the landscapes changed more and more from open fields to big mountains disappearing in the clouds with curvy streets. Looking at those photos really makes me wanna be on the street again. Lately it feels like i'm spending all my time in my office, processing wedding photos. So i guess i have to try to get out a bit more to show you guys new stuff!
Maybe you remember my blog-entry about Glenorchy? Not only that little town was blowing my mind but also the surrounding area. The drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy is filled wit great views, mountains, a big lake and a lot of wind! Basically you can stop every 10 meters, get out of the car and have new stunning view. If you're very adventurous, you can drive through Glenorchy and further into the mountains, mostly over gravel roads. You will cross a giant dried out river and a forest that's very well known as "The Forest of Middle Earth" from the "Lord of the Rings" movies. And at the end of all that, there is a sign, saying "Paradise". A village with about 3 houses. Paradise's population definitely has more horses than people and if you drive further, your at then end. Simply at the end. No more roads, you can't go any further. You see a few sheep behind a fence but that's it. Well done, New Zealand.
Words by Tamsin Kreymborg
There are many places I have yet to explore in New Zealand. Despite being born and raised there, and staunchly proud to call myself a Kiwi, there are areas I haven’t had the opportunity to see. I’m sure there are countless natural wonders that frequently enchant the eyes of foreigners, that I don’t even know exist. Until recently, Glenorchy was once such place for me. I recently took my German boyfriend to New Zealand to visit my family, with the promise that we’d travel around the country. Chris is a photographer, so he didn’t need very much encouragement.
A friend of my Mother’s recommended that we drive the Queenstown-Glenorchy road, up to the north end of lake Wakatipu. With a free day in our Queenstown itinerary, we decided to do it. Neither of us spoke much during the 45-minute drive. Words cannot describe the breath-taking landscape through which this narrow road twists and winds. At the point where the sealed road ends, and our travel brochure advised us to turn around and head back, we encountered a most pleasantly unexpected village. Glenorchy is a small cluster of homes, perched at the north end of lake Wakatipu, and sandwiched between noble, imposing mountain ranges.
Turning left, the road gives way to a camping area, from which a wharf extends into the water. Glenorchy is a windswept place, and this day was no exception. Trees are permanently deformed by strong winds, and the wharf is worn from the elements. It is rustic and captivating. Next to the wharf sits a humble little cottage, painted red and its doors opened wide, proudly offering visitors information on the history of the town and the lake.
Walking back into the village, we came across the one and only cafe, a place to warm up and dry off. Except "The Trading Post" is more than just a cafe; alongside the nice lady selling fair-trade hot drinks and homemade cakes, there’s an eclectic collection of coffee table books, children’s books and classic novels from New Zealand, as well as 100% Kiwi-made cosmetics and toys.
Outside, the nearly empty roads feel somehow safe and far away from stress. Life seems simple, and separate from all things negative. It’s easy to imagine residents in Glenorchy spending their days chopping firewood, and in the evening driving their boat out on the lake. I’m sure they cook with fresh organic vegetables from the garden, or maybe hold a barbeque party on the street. It is a small community that isn’t interested in the problems of the world.
As we crossed the road to the gas station, a rickety "Open" sign squeaked eratically, and a cat crossed the road without losing a thought to the possibility of being run over. We wandered across to the tourist centre, which looks like an original Western Saloon. It felt like we’d arrived at the end of the world and, contrary to expectations, it is beautiful and peaceful.
Glenorchy is clearly a close-knit community. As one elderly lady’s purse fell from the bicycle basket in front of us, we wanted to rush over to help, but before we could react a woman appeared from the nearest house, wearing yoga pants and exclaiming "Oh Barbara, what's happened?". It is a little paradise. Funny, because a few kilometers further up the gravel road, we actually did arrive at a place called "Paradise". I can well imagine that a typical Glenorchian would take his picnic there and go swimming at Diamond Lake. Glenorchy, Paradise and the Diamond Lake in fact provide the backdrop for the critically aclaimed mystery series, "Top of the Lake", which incorporates the stunning landscape and township artfully into its story line.
Since our visit to Glenorchy, we’ve often shared fantasies about moving there, buying some land and building our own little house. How nice would it be to live modestly and simply, and to have bold, unashamed nature literally on our doorstep. If someone is looking for us in 20 years or so, they probably won’t find us in Germany. Maybe they’ll find a "Sandbox Studio Photography" logo on one of the the letterboxes in our favourite little village at the bottom of the world.