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!
Usually when somebody asks me to shoot photos of a car, i send them to Daniel but this time i was in New Zealand and it was my girlfriends brother so I shot a few frames of his 1968 Vauxhall Victor Estate 3300 FD which is apparently the only one in New Zealand. I also shot a short movie-clip for him. Nothing fancy, only a short driving sequence, you can find it at the end of the article. The light was so nice that I decided to take a few stills out of the video and use them as photos here.
Finally some new photos from New Zealand! These beaches near Raglan were the first trip we did, on the second day already. It's on the west coast of New Zealand and you'll surely find some surfers in the photos of these massive waves. All these photos were taken on one of our last days because Tamsin had to go back to that place with me by sunset. But totally worth it! It got a little bit foggy from all the splashing water and the sand wich created perfect lightning conditions. It was really a nice and quiet place to take a little sunset walk.
One of the most interesting places, i've been so far. A pretty big forest area with many, many, many very high trees. Kind of different then the ones we have in Germany and also pretty different than the typical New Zealand forest. This place is pretty close to a town called Rotorua, a thermal area on the north island.
I know which question is on your mind now: "Is it really worth it?" But definitely: Yes. The Hobbit movie set was way better than i expected. It actually simply looks like in the Lord of the Ring- and Hobbit-Movies. It's not made of plastic or anything. You walk through a real little village where everything is made of wood and the details are worked out really pretty. I couldn't believe how much effort they put into this whole set. Nothing looks fake at all. You can even have a free drink at the "Green Dragon" Hobbit-Inn and sit next to the lake where Bilbo and Gandalf were watching the sunset. You can walk around the field where Bilbo had his birthday party and look up to the Baggins' hole. But better take a look at the pictures yourself 😉