Travelling New Zealand – Catlins and Moeraki
June 8, 2016 | Travel | by Michael Breitung
After visiting Milford Sound the next stop during may way around New Zealand’s South Island were the Catlins.
It was a long drive and the minute I reached the coast and could read the sign “Welcome to the Catlins” I found myself in a heavy rainstorm. Winds from the sea blew spray agains my campervan as I drove towards my destination for the next two days, Porpoise Bay.
After the wet welcome, the weather stayed unsettled the next days. The first evening I used a short gap in the storm for photos down at the wide beach. In Summer one can spot dolphins playing in the waves here. Unfortunately I wasn’t that lucky. But I was able to capture some dramatic cloud formations and part of a rainbow in the distance.
Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark II | Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 | Lee 0.6 Hard GND + Hoya HD Polarizer
Exif: f/11 | 16mm | ISO 200 | 0,5s
The following day I went hiking and scouting. With all the rain I explored some of the nearby woods, which contain some beautiful hiking trails. But my main objective was to find a good view for the next sunrise, either at nearby Curio Bay or again at Porpoise Bay. In the evening after watching some Penguins at Curio Bay I found a rocky outcrop on the south-western end of Porpoise Bay. The tide in the evening was still too high to get down onto the rocks, but checking my tide-tables told me that the next morning I could safely venture down.
And I got some great light that morning. After a moody twilight the incoming tide threw large waves against the rocks in front of me and as the sun peeked through the clouds it was pure magic.
Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark II | Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 | Lee 0.6 Hard GND + Lee 0.6 Soft GND
Exif: f/11 | 17mm | ISO 100 | multiple exposures between 10s – 20s
Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark II | Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 | Lee 0.6 Hard GND + Singh-Ray 0.6 reverse
Exif: f/11 | 23mm | ISO 100 | multiple exposures between 1/8s – 6s
The Catlins are well known for their waterfalls. I didn’t have enough time to visit them all, but I had to go and see McLean Falls. I had seen many beautiful photos of this waterfall and I wanted to add it to my portfolio. As I arrived I was surprised by the amount of water. The rain of the previous days had clearly left its mark. It was a real challenge to get out into the water and then balance on one of the larger rocks while trying to take a photo.
Just as I had setup in the middle of the river I recognized that I had left my lense cloth at the shore and with all the spray in the air this was the most important piece of equipment that day. So I had to climb accross the rocks to the shore and back into the river again before I could finally settle on a composition. It was really intense, the roaring water, the damp air and the pouring rain, which started just as I began taking photos.
McLean Falls : Prints Available
Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark II | Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 | Hoya HD Polarizer
Exif: f/11 | 32mm | ISO 100 | multiple exposures between 1/8s – 3s
I left the Catlins then and drove up to Otago, to a small coastal town called Hampden. On my way there I made a stop at Nugget Point Lighthouse but it was hard to get a good photo of it in the rainy weather. Up in Hampden though the weather began to change and I had a beautiful sunny day and also the next morning proved to be almost clear.
I had timed my visit with the receeding tide occurring in the morning. This was crucial because I wanted to photograph the Moeraki Boulders and with the water retreating I had a footprint free beach for my photos. I was also very surprised to be the only person at this nowadays quite popular location.
Moeraki Boulders : Prints Available
Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark II | Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 | Lee 0.6 Hard GND
Exif: f/11 | 30mm | ISO 100 | 2s
Moeraki Twilight : Prints Available
Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark II | Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 | Lee 0.6 hard GND + Singh-Ray 0.6 Reverse
Exif: f/9,5 | 20mm | ISO 100 | multiple exposures between 30s – 297s
After a relaxed walk back to the campsite in Hampden and a breakfast in the sun it was time for the last part of my New Zealand adventure. I still hadn’t seen Mount Cook and I had only two days left. I didn’t even care about the forecast this time. I had to give it a try.