Kahuangi National Park

Kahuangi National Park

At the very north end of the South Island, Kahuangi National Park was my favorite stop of the first 3 days in New Zealand. I stood under a tree with the guide for about 20 minutes waiting for the rain to stop so I could capture this shot.

If you’d like to visit Kahuangi National Park, I highly recommend it. You can easily spend a day here hiking and taking photos as it’s the second largest of the thirteen New Zealand national parks.

Photography Tips

For this shot, I used the mighty Panasonic Leica 25mm 1.4 at f8 with a 1 second exposure to blur the water. It’s just a superb micro-four-thirds lens.

My portfolio shot is a two image panorama. Check it out shot and my other New Zealand landscapes in my portfolio.

Overcoming Fears: Crossing the swingbridge

Swinging over the Kohaihai River

Crossing the swingbridge over the Kohaihai River was one of the first challenges I faced on the trip. I’m not a fan of heights or bridges, especially not bridges that sway and move around when you walk on them. But if I wanted to photograph the Nikau Palm grove, it was necessary.

I managed to cross the bridge by taking several calming breaths before starting across and then walking very slowly so as to minimize movement. I was really nervous at first, but then it got easier once I really understood first hand that I wasn’t going to plunge into the river below.

For that effort, I was able to capture this wonderful photo (if I do say so myself) of the Nikau Palms. Totally worth it to me!

Nikau Palms

I’m curious…how do you get past challenges like this one? Is it through deep breathing like me, or would you want to hold hands with a partner while you crossed? Or, would you just say, nope, not for me!

Thanks for reading. See my portfolio of New Zealand landscapes.

Christchurch Botanical Gardens

Majestic New Zealand Trees

The majestic trees of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens remain in my mind. Not only are they huge, but there are so many varieties to enjoy.

Located in the center of town, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens are remarkably easy to visit by both tourists and local residents. There is also a nice cafe for a friand and coffee.

While I was there, I enjoyed walking the paths like the one below. It was a great way to start my sabbatical.

Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Also at the garden, I got my first taste of New Zealand ferns. So lovely!

Fern Diagonals
Fern Architecture

Crossing the Southern Alps at Lewis Pass

Tarn at Lewis Pass, South Island, New Zealand

This photo is one of the first I took after meeting my photography guide in Christchurch, New Zealand. It’s of the tarn at Lewis Pass., which is the northernmost pass over the Southern Alps in New Zealand. Looking at this shot now, it really appeals to me.

However, remembering back to that moment–I was standing in a bog while it was raining thinking at the time: what have I gotten myself into?! Am I going to have to endure ten days of cold, rain and wet feet on this photo tour? Having left Phoenix only a couple days before where it was 100+ deg Fahrenheit, this weather was a big of a shock.

On top of that, I’m a girl who likes taking pictures of bright colors and flowers. So I was also thinking, the mountains in the background are all clouded over…everything is all brown and dark green. He can’t be serious. Really?

And yet, there is a natural beauty to the environment even given the less than ideal weather that day. The trees do make a nice reflection on the surface of the tarn.

My advice to you — if you sign up for a photography tour, be prepared for all types of weather. Jump at the chance to walk through a bog, stand in the rain and snap photo after photo anyway. It will make for great memories, and you’ll be back behind your desk at work before you know it.

Sabbatical Dreams

I’m ready to go and see new people, places, and things. Drink some wine. Relax. Recharge. Talk with people about what excites them. I’m ready to jump into different cultures. Experience the unknown. To see what there is to see and report back.

I’ve been saving for this trip for seven years. It’s my sabbatical dream trip. I have 8 weeks off plus 1 week of vacation for 9 weeks time away from work.

I’ve wanted to go to Australia and New Zealand for awhile, but I reserved them for this trip so I had more time to explore. And then a little bit more dreaming happened, and I tacked on some island hopping in French Polynesia–Papeete, Mo’orea, and Bora Bora–to the end of the trip.

On the way home I’ll stop in Kauai for a few days to break up the long flight home. Then I’m back in Phoenix with a little time to relax at home and prepare to re-enter work life again.