Lake Matheson from Reflection Island

Famous for mirror views of Aoraki – Mount Cook Lake Matheson is a must stop for any landscape photographer travelling up or down the West Coast. Every time I’ve tried it’s been cloudy, raining or I’ve not had the time to walk around the lake. It only takes an hour or two at most. But that can be too much time for a stop on long 8-10 hour driving days on the West Coast. Shows I need to spend more time exploring on foot than driving past the beauty spots. You can’t actually see Aoraki – Mount Cook in this photograph due to the low cloud. Most of the Southern Alps are in cloud. Still I was keen to do the walk. My goal is to come back here in winter one clear evening. I’d love to photograph the Milky Way rising from behind the mountains. This is the view from Reflection Island which is more of a peninsula into the lake than an island.

Polynesian Spa at sunset

After long days of travel, with hours spent driving or walking around with a camera, a spa is the perfect treat. One of the best I’ve so far experienced in New Zealand is the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua. This was the second visit, this time at sunset. There are two natural springs that feed 28 hot mineral pools with geothermal waters. For the best experience the lake view private pools, shown above, are the way to go. You get this pool all to yourself for about 30 minutes. The water is 38.5 degrees C even in the evening. The perfect way to relax.

Lake Rotoura sunset

Lake Rotorua – Te Rotorua nui ā Kahumatamomoe is a large lake just north of the town of Rotoura. I’ve been here half a dozen times but found photographing the lake itself quite a challenge. There’s great views of the lake from the Skyline Gondola that goes up Mount Ngongotaha. This visit I wanted to capture the sun setting over the lake. This wouldn’t be possible from the nearby mountain. In the end I drove the east side of the lake. Overlooking Ōwhatiura Bay this is the view of the lake from the end of Owhata Road. Just below the sun on the horizon is the centre of Rotorua.

Tree on Lake Taupo

Single tree with no leaves, surrounded by the lake water with a tiny amount of stoney lake shore in the foreground.

Lake Taupo is New Zealand’s largest lake. Last year I was making the drive along it’s shores about once a month. Having seen photographs of this tree on Flickr and Instagram I was keen to find it. Unlike “That Wanaka Tree” it isn’t on Google Maps and I can understand why. It took me five or six stops and short walks along various parts of the shoreline to find it. It is practically in someone’s back garden. So like other photographers, I won’t be sharing this location publicly. The small island to the left of the tree is Motutaiko Island. This photograph was taken with one of my neutral density filters in front of the lens. This allows for a longer exposure time in the middle of the day. In this case 8 seconds long with an aperture setting of f/16. Giving the water this blurry appearance. Next time I’m in the area on a clear night, it would be interesting to try and get a star filled sky behind the silhouette of the tree.

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