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.
Flying to New Zealand
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.
Nikau Walk, Pirongia
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.