To pay tribute to my 30th birthday I decided to celebrate big and treat myself to an extensive trip to the other side of the globe. I packed every single piece of camera gear I own in a massive piece of carry-on luggage and embarked with my boyfriend on a 4-week photographic journey through one of the most diverse and contrasting countries I have ever seen, New Zealand.
We started off our travel with an extended drive through the countryside and immediately got to see the beautiful landscape the country is known for: soft rolling hills, lush meadows dotted with grazing herds of sheep, fields that invite the traveler to lay down in the grass and gaze at the sky.
What inspired Sir Peter Jackson to build a whole fairy-tale Hobbit village didn’t fail to impress us and we thoroughly enjoyed a couple of relaxed days in the Waikato region on the North Island.
Next our minds were set on a more active endeavor: The Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a spectacular volcanic mountain pass that holds the title “New Zealand’s best one-day-hike”. During our ascent through knee-deep snow we realized that not only the scenery is breathtaking and highly unusual but that Summer in New Zealand offers some extreme weather as well.
The wintery conditions transformed the volcanic craters and surrounding mountain ranges into a surreal, painting-like scenery and made for an unforgettable experience!
However, our most memorable adventure on this trip had yet to be taken place. To explore the coastline of beautiful Abel Tasman National Park we stowed a tent, camping equipment, food, fresh water and an awful lot of camera equipment into a sea kayak and paddled out into the ocean. For a few days we paddled up and down the coast marveling at seal colonies and sleeping on the beach.
Waking up at dawn being the only two people witnessing the magnificent sunrise in such a remote and pristine place we felt like true explorers. I couldn’t have wished for a better and more special birthday gift!
To round off our vacation we went to see a very special geological curiosity. At Moeraki clusters of perfectly round boulders lie scattered on the beach were they are slowly being eroded by the tides. The large boulders – some of these spherical concretions rise well above waist level – have inspired many local Maori legends.
When we arrived there on a cloudy night at moonrise we certainly understood why. What a perfect finish to an unforgettable journey!
In retrospect I would advise any landscape photographer to visit New Zealand. It truly is a magnificent place and offers a tremendous amount of diverse and contrasting natural beauty. And make sure to take your time – four weeks is not nearly enough to explore this country!
About Franziska Liehl
Franziska Liehl is a landscape photography enthusiast from Austria. Having started taking pictures as a child she is living and working in Munich nowadays were she regularly explores the surrounding Alps with her camera.