NZ Day 4: Long day driving

The day 4 was really a great travelling day. After beginning the day with a helicopter flight, we moved on with an ambitious day of travelling that some would call crazy, and then we pushed it a little further.
I wanted to include Milford Sound in our journey, and being at an awkward place, it’d be very difficult to accommodate it in our short one week trip without going at least one extreme driving day like this. Firstly I thought we’d push on and camp overnight at Queenstown and move on to the Milford Sound, but then we changed plans and pushed on to Te Anau in the same day to make the most of the day.
It was one of the most arduous day at driving I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a few rough driving days. The distance covered was about 514 Kms, which doesn’t sound too much, at least to me- but the driving conditions through the wet roads of the western rain forests and frequent and treacherous mountainous curves and slopes weren’t helping a bit.
Well, the roads were long but eventful, scenic and interesting as ever. We’ve already talked about our first stop at the Fox Glacier so let’s move on and enjoy further trip.
The humblest was this first stop, which was just a look out point by the side of road that didn’t keep us for more than 10 minutes from continuing our trip, but I fired a few clicks with my Canon anyways.

Don’t miss clicking on the pictures to see full-screen panoramas.

The vast flowerbeds:

In South Island early summer the flowers are everywhere. See as far as you can on the mountain slopes and if it ain’t green, its either a flower or ice. Wonder how it’d look a bit earlier in the spring.

Beware trying to take pictures amongst the flowers though. This area is infested heavily with the sand-flies. The little vile things are really vicious and bloodthirsty. I had just gotten down to try and take some flower shots a minute, and I was covered in more sand flies than Indian population. I was scratching the bite marks even unto a month after the day. Teaches me to put insect repellent at all times. Plenty of them got into the camper van as I was stupid enough to leave the door open for that one minute too. Believe me, it took us hard work for 30 minutes of flapping 2 towels in camper van later to even reasonably reduce the sand-fly concentration in the van.

These two poor flower-shots dedicated to my scratchy arms and lower back:

Waterfalls and rivers:

Water-water everywhere in this part. The summer means the streams and rivers flowing from the glaciers are at their best and fullest. Also, the Southern Alps create a wall for the clouds from the western Tasman sea, and so the west coast is lush green with almost daily drizzle.

I am usually averse (read: lazy) to editing the pictures and apart from stitching panoramas and putting a water-mark I hardly alter them but I just tried a little tweaking for a couple of these slow-shutter speed shots and liked the outcome. Hope someday I will edit my images better, or hope someday I will take so bloody good pictures I won’t need to tweak them at all.

It took a tripod (a very basic cheap- fibreglass one), a remote wireless shutter release and Neutral Gradient grey filter to get some slow shutter speed in these brightly lit parts.

and then I just had to get myself in a picture as Radha insisted that I be on the other side of the camera at times too.

The deer farms:

The deer are farmed in New Zealand for the meat, fur and skin. We see them on sides of the road as we go. Despite being in a farm, the deer are clearly not domesticated animals and haven’t warmed up to humans. Even slowing down of the camper van caused them to anticipate us and run to furthest corner of their fenced farms. Also, the clearly tagged deer didn’t look much like Wild-life in the photos.
And yes, I clearly need a lens with longer reach.


Wanaka is a beautiful sleepy little town by a lake amongst the mountains. Its apparently growing in tourist activity these days and is trying to grow up to be more like Queenstown by offering more and more adventure sports activities in the lakes, streams and mountainsides nearby and making the most of it. Wanaka is also supposed to be a great place to dine gourmet and have some local produce into you. This little lake-side town is so beautiful it could be a destination for a few days by itself. Pity the one thing we were short on was time and all we could do in Wanaka was a brisk walk by the lake side, a dinner in one of the local restaurants. Venison Sausages, Local cheeses, Antipasto etc for starters and Rabbit Cacciatore,, New Zealand Lamb roast with mint jelly as mains were had. Yeah!!!!

Leaving Wanaka we went on through the Brown Mountains pass through Arrowtown and Queenstown and pushed on to TeAnau which was to be our destination for tonight. We are returning to Queenstown for a stop over on return trip, so we didn’t waste time looking around there, more so because the evening was draping us very slowly in the shade and we wanted to make the most of the good visibility till late in this area. It can be bright with clear visibility for driving until 10 at night in summer in this part.

This area has lakes that look like ocean, dramatic clouds and vast landscapes with air so clear you can look to the furthest point on the horizon and may be beyond.

Just crossing to the other side of the Brown Mountain ranges, we  saw the other side of the slopes, the Arrowtown in the basin made by the surrounding mountains and a cap of dense clouds on it. This was a magical place, as sun was setting and it was just below the clouds, shining between two mountains to light up the valley brightly, while everything around us outside of the valley was in the shadow and night had already befallen on our side.
The pictures that are attached below are taken from the same vantage point- look at the difference in the lighting and you’ll appreciate what I’m talking about.

The Bright basin of Arrowtown:

The dark part of mountains where we are standing and watching this beautiful phenomenon

And just then, again it started raining lightly. I fired flash to play with the rain-drops reflecting the lights and making these funny spots on this picture:

Well, after this I was tired enough and just pushed on to reach TeAnau camping grounds without stopping anymore. Thankfully we didn’t run over any of the millions of rabbits that swarm the area by the road sides at dusk.

We’ve got another beautiful day of driving and shooting tomorrow on the way to Milford Sound tomorrow.


2 thoughts on “NZ Day 4: Long day driving”

  1. Thanks, but the sand-fly encounter was not an act of bravery but rather of ignorance. If I know the amount of them that'd be there, I'd have used the insect repellent.

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