Autumn is my favourite time of year for photography and each year (since I started taking photos) I like to spend a week or so in the South Island to try and catch the beautiful colours. This year I decided to spend some time in Tekapo, Twizel, and Wanaka and was rewarded with some beautiful light during my stay. Here's a summary of my trip:
Day 1 – Wanaka
I flew into Queenstown to some overcast and dreary skies and then drove to Wanaka. Being only an hour away the conditions there were much the same, so photography wasn't looking promising. Nevertheless I spent the afternoon scouting for potential locations for sunset and sunrise. Unfortunately the weather didn't improve and sunset proved to be a non-event. No photos today.
Day 2 – Wanaka/Tekapo
The next morning wasn't looking much better. Still, you never know what can happen so I made my way out to the lake to try and get some shots of that lone tree in the water that's pretty famous (I'm sure every photographer who's been to Wanaka has a shot of this!). The light didn't really turn up this morning but I took some shots anyway. When nature doesn't provide you with amazing colours, you can always try and black and white photos.
After sunrise, it was time to drive a few hour's north to Lake Tekapo. The conditions there were marginally better than in Wanaka, but it was still pretty gloomy with a lot of low-lying clouds hiding all the mountains.
With about an hour to go before sunset, things weren't looking great. I had a look out my motel window and all I could see was a blanket of grey. However towards the west I did see a gap in the clouds along the horizon – maybe there was hope after all, so I decided to head out to the lake just in case. As I arrived I could see the sun was just about to peek through those gaps in the clouds. I quickly got set up and before long the magic started. Once the sun broke through it illuminated the lake, beautifully lighting up the autumn colours against the dark backdrop. The snow on the mountain was also a nice bonus – it's unusual for this time of year and only lasted about a day before it melted.
The next hour or so produced some of the best light I've experienced, and I was really glad to be at such a beautiful place to capture it.
Days 3, 4 – Tekapo
I spent the next few days shooting around Tekapo.
Day 5 – Tekapo/Twizel
One last beautiful sunrise at Tekapo before leaving for Twizel.
I spent the afternoon wandering around Lake Pukaki. I really love the autumn colours in this area.
Days 6, 7 – Twizel
Twizel has some great little lakes and pond all within a small distance from each other.
Day 8 – Twizel/Wanaka
Twizel is very close to Mt Cook, so I tried to get some sunrise photos of NZ's highest mountain. Unfortunately the mountain was hidden by clouds this morning, but the view was still worth catching.
On the drive back to Wanaka, I encountered some dramatic light at Lindis Pass.
And finally back to that lone tree in Wanaka for another attempt. This time I got some better light.
All in all it was a great trip. You can never tell what sort of weather and light mother nature's going to throw at you, but this time she was kind to me.
You can view more photos from Chris Gin's trip on his website, Flickr, or Facebook.