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.

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.

Mount Taranaki reflection

I had been seeing photographs from this tarn for many years and really wanting to go there myself. It is one of the most well known views of Mount Taranaki. The stillness of the water makes the reflection of the mountain so clear. Pouakai Circuit Reflective Tarn is not, as I had hoped, a short stroll off the highway. On the map, it looks like an easy enough day hike of 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) there and then the same back. It is uphill, all the way with around 700 metres (2,297 feet) of aviation gain. This took a 2-3 hours each way but well worth it for this photograph. About 15 minutes before the tarn is Pouakai Hut. A Backcountry Hut with 16 bunk beds, cold running water and a containment tank toilet. This could be an option for people wanting to photograph this view at dawn, dusk or even at night under the stars. Which is my plan for my next hike up to the Pouakai Reflective Tarn.

Mount Taranaki Summit Track

Mount Taranaki Summit Track

Having been to the Taranaki region of New Zealand a number of times I had always wanted to climb it. This is the largest mountain I have ever walked up. We had to start at 7am as it Mount Taranaki is 2518 metres above sea level. There was very low cloud when starting out and we couldn’t see the summit but we hoped it would clear up and as you can see it did. I’ve shared a photo from the main road which shows the iconic shape with snow at the top, which you can’t see in this photo.