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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That Wanaka Tree at dusk

Silhouette of a tree with no leaves standing alone in the lake, reflected in the water. Snow capped mountains behind.

The most popular stop for photographs of the lake is That Wanaka Tree. I’d visited Wanaka but not seen this tree on the water. On the day I arrived in town I visited this spot three times. On arrival in the afternoon it was very overcast and gray. Then after sunset, pictured above. Then a couple of hours later at night when it was too cloudy to see the stars above. Each time I walked along the shoreline of the lake to the tree there were more than a dozen other tourists. At sunset maybe 40 or 50 people around. And that was in a time when New Zealand’s borders were closed to international tourists! Photography has been changed a lot in the last decade. First smart phones with good cameras. Then Instagram. This tree isn’t just pin pointed on Google Maps. It’s labeled with #ThatWanakaTree. This has taken a popular spot and turned it into a must see location with public toilets and a big carpark.

Storm approaching Pukaki view point

Storms can often make for some dramatic landscape photography. Waking up to a forecast of heavy rain and strong winds. I nearly chose not to drive up to Mount Cook Village. At points along Highway 80 the wind and rain was coming down on the car so hard we could hardly see more than a few car lengths in front of us. If there had been a safe place to turn around and head back to Lake Tekapo I probably would have. Luckily there was a small break in the weather at the perfect time. As we pulled into the Pukaki view point. You can see the rain storm coming down from the north towards the camera. I stood at this same spot along the road back in 2013. The Road to Mount Cook photograph shows the same road but in better weather conditions. You can even see the peak of New Zealand’s tallest mountain. We saw nothing of Mount Cook during this stormy day but it was still well worth the drive.

Lake Tekapo with Church of the Good Shepherd

The Church of the Good Shepherd from above wasn’t a photograph I was expecting to take. Seeing the new (to me anyway) MacLaren Footbridge. I wanted to see what the view of the church was from up there. From here you get a better view of Lake Tekapo and the mountain range behind the church. Zooming the camera in like this, the church looks bigger than it actually is. The lake doesn’t look like there is 27 kilometres (17 miles) between us and the northern end of the lake. The forested area of trees on the left side of the lake is Motuariki Island. About 8 kilometres north of the bridge this was taken from.