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New Zealand Photography Tour – Day 4 – Mt Cook along Haast Pass back to Lake Hawea

New Zealand Photography Tour – Day 4 – Mt Cook along Haast Pass back to Lake Hawea

May 26, 2020

We woke to a dark and COLD morning at Mt Cook, but as planned we layered up and off we went for our little hike to our previously scouted sunrise location in Hooker Valley, looking towards Mt Cook. It didn’t take as long to walk as we had planned/thought, probably because it was so cold we needed to walk fast to warm up. Daniel scoured over some rocks and told me not to come as it was a little too sketchy and slippery to do so with Aria strapped to my back, so I hung out in the one spot so he knew where to come back to. I could see his headtorch moving away from me for a while and then it stopped. I knew he must have found his spot to shoot from. We waited for quite sometime and finally light began to come through. As usual I was getting very excited because we were out ready and Mother Nature was helping us out and giving us some beautiful colour. The image below is a Released Limited Edition titled “Enlighten”.

We met a lovely couple who had ventured out to capture some early morning shots too, so we walked back to camp with them and had a lovely chat on the way. Once back at our Motorhome we had breakfast and got organised for the day. We had big plans to see a lot today so it was good that we were up and about early so we could make the most of the hours in the day. We drove back along Mt Cook Road and stopped at various points along Lake Pukaki again as it was just amazing and the views were spectacular.

We powered through to Lake Wanaka and stopped in the township for some lunch and a play at the park for Aria. After lunch we went to see the famous Wanaka Tree. It was crowded and a little overrated with the water level so we hopped back on the road to head towards the Haast Pass.

Travelling towards the Haast Pass means we drive along the West side of Lake Hawea, crossed the neck and then drove along the East side of Lake Wanaka. We drove among some amazing sites, from the road winding along the lakes, to farmland with sheep, old bridges and Autumn Trees. As you can imagine we were in awe and took quite some time to stop photograph and take it all in.

After quite the drive we finally made it to Haast Pass. Wow, I don’t think we have been somewhere so beautiful in our lives. So lush and green, with amazing waterfalls and blue rivers! First stop was Fantail Falls, then along to Thunder Creek Falls and the name suits, they were thundering! The walk in was beautiful, an easy paved path walk among the trees. A bit slippery to get down to the waters edge, Daniel ventured up the creek a little to a little grove on the rivers edge, with a beautiful moss covered tree hovering over the shallow, super clear water.

After Thunder Creek falls, we continued through the Pass up to Roaring Billy Falls. The Pass got wider and narrower in parts, and was an epic, epic drive with misty clouds floating just above and off to the side of us. The walk into Roaring Billy Falls had Daniel entranced, the tree’s were gorgeous and covered with thick moss and lichen, and the ground with brown loam. Daniel had a ball taking photo’s here, although we felt the time pressure, as we had made the decision to head back towards Wanaka.

We really enjoyed the drive back towards Wanaka, stopping only twice at small slot canyons by the side of the road that Daniel had spotted on the drive up. As we continued down the pass, the light was closing in and it was clear that we weren’t going to make a decent campground for the night. Luckily we were self contained! It’s the best way to travel, and we drove along the two lakes until we found a safe, flat spot by the side of the road to stop for the night.

We heated up some Pumpkin Risotto and shaved some fresh Parmesan over the top. Easy, quick and delicious!




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