The 4 Coolest Places in New Zealand (That I’ve Photographed)

Do me a favor, close your eyes and picture this. You’re lying in a bunk on a boat, rocking back and forth, listening to the waves lap against the hall. And as you drift off to sleep, you hear thunderous rain pounding on the decks above you and roaring wind lashing against the size of the boat. Early in the morning, you’re woken up when the captain blasts the ship’s horn. And although it’s before daybreak, you leap out of bed, grab your camera gear, and you go charging upstairs to the upper decks of the boat. And when you get there, you find the rain stopped, but clouds obscure the world around you. Then as the morning develops, the clouds begin to clear and the tops of vile high peaks, rising straight out of the ocean start to appear. And you see that overnight. The rain turned into snow and those peaks are dusted with a fresh coat of white and has all of this registers in your brain. The sun eases over the Eastern wall of the world and light beams plunged down through the atmosphere and it looks something like this.

Greetings, my excellent friends. It’s no secret that I love New Zealand. I spent over a year of my life exploring and photographing. What is one of the most astounding countries on the planet. And it’s never far from my thoughts, but New Zealand is lodged even more firmly in my brain right now because they just announced that in the midst of this global pandemic, they have effectively stopped COVID-19 within their borders. If you’re a Kiwi, you can now go pretty much anywhere and do pretty much anything. And you don’t have to wear a mask. It’s a big leap, tremendous achievement. And so I wanted to celebrate New Zealand by sharing with you four of the coolest places in this country that I’ve had the great fortune to visit and photograph.

I’ve been all over the North and the South islands of New Zealand. And while they both have a lot to offer this South Island is what pulls me back over and over. Thanks to its rugged good looks and it’s vast wild spaces. And that wild place that I mentioned at the top of the video, it’s called doubtful sound. It’s in Fiordland national park and it’s one of the magic places of the world. And if you go there, I highly recommend that you do what I did and you stay overnight within the Fjord itself. You won’t regret it. And while I could gush on and on and make an entire video just about Fiordland, there are a couple other things that I wanted to show you.

Let’s move inland to a place called Mount aspiring national park. Man, as I like to call it is a stunning place full of rivers and forests and sexy, sexy mountains. And in my opinion, it’s one of the best places in New Zealand to hike because of its sheer size, the variety of scenery, as well as its relative accessibility. And in 2018, I got to access a very special part of the park in a very special way on a gray rainy morning, a small helicopter lifted off from the wee little town of maca Rora carrying me and my bag of gear 17 miles up the Wilkin river and depositing me on a gravel bar about half a mile from a place called the top forks hut. I spent the next five days living in the hut in near complete isolation. I spent my time hiking beneath massive hanging glaciers and eating rehydrated Shepherd’s pie next to a crackling fire.

It ended up raining most of the time that I was out there. And so I didn’t have the best light or conditions for photography, but that didn’t stop me from exploring and grabbing shots. Whenever the light did peek through because of that, I spent more time wet than dry and my feet were in the river. As often as they were out of it. It’s a very wild place back there. And I found that plunging headlong into it was the absolute best way to experience what it had to offer. And when it was all over, I hiked 10 miles back down the Valley to a little landing alongside the Wilkin river where a jet boat picked me up. Pearled me the rest of the way down the river. And back to my car, you could file that under, did not suck

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I cut my teeth in photography, shooting seascapes in Santa Cruz, California. And while I live in the mountains, now the ocean has carved out that really special place in my heart. So whenever I get an opportunity to visit a unique beach, I jumped at the chance and there aren’t many beaches, more unique or more beautiful than far Riki beach. I stumbled across this marvelous stretch of sand. When I was doing research for my very first dedicated New Zealand photography excursion way back in 2012. And it was love at first sight. And since then, whenever possible, I make it my mission to get back to firearm. Kiki. What makes it special to me is a couple of things. First of all, you have these towering stands, stone islands are called the Archway islands and they sit just off the coach.

And these things are huge. This arch right here, you could actually fit an entire soccer pitch underneath it. Second, the beach itself is made of this wonderful mix of black and gold sand, which formed in these marble jigsaw type of patterns. So if you’re an abstract photographer, you could happily spend a lifetime here. The sand is also beautifully reflective and the beaches incredibly flat. So a lot of the time after a wave rushes out, you’ll find yourself with this absolutely perfect mirror, smooth finish stretching off into the distance in front of you. 

And this can cause problems from a photography standpoint, but it also means that there are no sand flies there. And that’s a trade off that I will happily take every single time. But that doesn’t mean that there’s no wildlife. In fact, if you’re there at the right time of year, you can often find baby seal pups playing in the little title pools there on the beach. Now, if I were Ricky, it’s not really close to anything. It’s at the very end of a long quiet road in a long quiet part of the country, but it really is worth the effort to get there. I’ve never seen conditions changed so fast as they change and farro far-reaching every single time that I’ve been there, I’ve had rain, rainbows, clear skies and incredible light shows often within just a few hours of each other. Plus the sheep are really cute too.

Finally, I’d like to take you back to the mountains to an extraordinary place called out Rocky Mount cook national park. This is one of my favorite places in the entire world. And I’ve had a lot of really cool experiences that I could tell you about. Like the time that I woke up inside a cloud at Tasman Lake, and I got to experience being inside a full 360 degree fog low, or like the time my friend Jessica and I got stuck in the Mueller hut for three days during a blizzard. And we ran out of food and we had to get rescued by a helicopter after the weather cleared out. I could tell you about those times, but instead I wanted to tell you about a neat little place called Sefton bib. Now, if you’ve been to Mount cook, more likely than not, you’ve hiked the hooker Valley track and this track for those of you who don’t know, it’s just gobs.

Smackingly beautiful. It passes under huge peaks. You take suspension bridges over these wonderful glacial rivers. The track carries you past unrivaled views of our Rocky Mount cook, which is the highest peak in New Zealand. And finally it deposits you on the shore of a Lake that’s full of icebergs. I mean, it’s pretty freaking cool, but somewhere along that track, if you know the right place to turn off, you can follow a stream bed to a pile of talus, to a little cleft in the hillside to a very rough track that leads you up the mountain side to Sefton bef sift bib or bivy. It’s one of the maintained huts within the park. And I really mean it’s a hut. I mean, it’s just four walls, a roof and an outdoor toilet with the world’s most insane view. And this hut is normally used by mountaineers who are trying to climb Mount septin or the footstool.

And although I’m not enough of a Mountaineer to really tackle a serious objective like that, I do like to get up into the thick of things and Sefton bib it’s in the thick of things. So let me try to give you a sense of exactly where this is. Sefton bibs sits on a tiny spur of rock, surrounded by glaciers. Here’s a view of the mountain side as seen from the park village. And as I zoom in more and more look for a tiny orange stuff. Okay. Yeah, there it is. That is sifted bef pretty amazing. And for peer, you have a commanding view over the park, as well as easy access to some enormous glaciers. Now, when I visited, I only had enough time to spend a single night in the hut, but you better believe I was running around like a monkey chasing bananas, taking as many pictures as I could have this unique and wonderful place.

Now at one point is safety. If you ever have a chance to visit the bib, you should expect a very strenuous climb to get up there. And I recommend that you bring crampons and an ice ax as well. If you’re going to get on the glacier, that’s absolutely mandatory. And if you don’t have any glacier travel experience, you got to go with a guide or somebody who is experienced. I don’t want to be responsible for you being as dumb as I once was. All right, that’s going to do it for this video. If you enjoyed this virtual photo tour of New Zealand, please like, and leave a comment and subscribe. If you haven’t, that helps tell YouTube to show this video to other people which helps me grow the channel and make more videos. I really appreciate it. This is Josh Cripps signing off. So until next time travel well, be safe, love the landscape respected and as always happy shooting.

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