I’m on the committee of the fabulous Queenstown photography club. We had a request for someone interested in taking a photography enthusiast from Queensland, Australia on a guided photography tour while she was in Queenstown for a conference. I put up my hand. This would be the first client for my new venture into guided photography tours. It makes so much sense to combine my passions for photography, landscape and exploration and my creative and camera skills with visitors to our region.
I met my guest before dawn on Tuesday morning at her Hotel in Queenstown. After introductions we drove out through Arthur’s pass and turned up the road to Coronet Peak. Landscape photographers love sunrises and sunsets, so I planned to be high up with a grand view of both the Wakatipu and Kawarau Valleys and the surrounding mountains. The day before had seen snow falling to almost lake level so the scene was winter white and the light blue and cold. For a visitor from sun drenched Queensland we had really turned on something special.
My guest was happy for me to work out an itinerary. As she pointed out – “You know the place and you no doubt have many favourite spots. If you can show me a few and keep me busy for a day, I will be very happy”. And so it was. We watched and snapped for a good hour and a half from our position on a snow covered knoll as gradual light bathed the land first in gray and blues and later as hints of pink and apricot tinged the low hanging clouds.
Hands were numb by now, so we found hot coffee in Frankton before heading off again. Our route took us up the zig zag road to the Crown Terrace and on along the heart stopping Crown Range Road over the highest sealed road pass in the country. We marvelled at the patterns of snow clad, intersecting valleys highlighted along their edges by yellow tussock grass. The drive took us through Wanaka and along it’s namesake lake, stopping to shoot amazing glacial hills that always remind me of a layered cake. Passing the Treble Cone ski field we hit dirt road, driving between tall ranges alongside the braided bed of the Matukituki River. In the distance the triangular peak of Mount Aspiring glowed in the sun as we headed deeper in to wilderness and toward the Southern Alps.
We watched as deer fed on a paddock of swedes and dogs worked sheep that were being drenched. The car park at end of this road is the starting point for tramping tracks to a number of alpine huts and glaciers. There was enough time for an easy walk along the lower section of the track to the Rob Roy Glacier so my guest could experience the cold air, walk on ice hardened mud, discover icicles hanging from overhanging roots in an ancient forest of beech and photograph an ice blue river pouring over and around impossibly sized boulders.
Back at the car park we experienced the cold of night taking hold as high above, fast moving clouds glowed red momentarily before moving west. This had been a long day, but we covered a lot of ground and my guest got to photograph some truly special places. Playing host to a visitor, I was able to see with her eyes, the magnificence and the interesting while passing on some of the heart, the little things and the things you only know when this is home.
My client loved the variety of locations I offered, the relaxed pace, knowledge and guidance she received. I am offering tours for whole and part days north, south east and west of Queenstown. Tours can take in a selection of classic views or lesser known, favourite places of mine. You could even visit local Lord of the Rings locations. We can follow a theme or just aim for a photographic adventure.