New Zealand: South Island Gems


New Zealand: South Island Gems

The Lindis Pass Road

New Zealand is on a lot of people’s ‘must visit’ list and I’m no different. 10 years ago I climbed aboard the Magic Bus and spent a month travelling across both Islands, stopping en-route for one or two nights at each place to ‘see the sights’. This brief insight into New Zealand showed me enough to know I had to return one day…that day finally arrived.

This time I had 3 months and was travelling the length and breadth of the islands in a hire car & campervan. There are far too many beautiful places in New Zealand to include them all here. The North Island is home to Hobbiton – the movie set for Lord of the Rings, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Park, the infamous Tongariro Crossing, the art deco town of Napier and many beautiful beaches lined with vibrant red Pohutukawa trees.

Pohutukawa Tree

As a landscape photographer, it was the South Island that I was looking forward to exploring the most.

It’s very hard to drive any great distance in New Zealand without stopping and taking some photos, but the areas I found most beautiful and photogenic were the Otago and Canterbury regions South West of Christchurch.

The main SH8 road takes you into Mackenzie Country and to some really beautiful lakes, beginning with Lake Tekapo and closely followed by Lake Pukaki.  Both lakes are fed from large river systems, which are in turn fed by glaciers. As the glacier moves, huge pressure is put on both the ice and the rocks it picks up along the way. The rocks are ground into powder (rock flour), which is suspended within the water giving it a surreal milky turquoise colour.

Lake Tekapo

At Lake Pukaki I was confronted with a large expanse of beautiful turquoise water with the sun glinting off the surface. I had my first glimpse of New Zealand’s tallest mountain Aoraki Mount Cook which is visible at the far end of the lake.

Lake Pukaki

From here, the road winds through the small town of Omarama before passing into the Otago region, and becoming the Lindis Pass. I loved driving this bit of road; there are so many gorgeous textures and colours in the mountains and the road is lined with beautiful displays of Lupins and grasses.

The Lindis Pass Road

Joining the SH6 signed to Wanaka will take you past Lake Hawea.  On a still day you can see beautiful reflections on the surface of the lake.

Lake Hawea

Lake Wanaka is New Zealand’s fourth largest lake. The road travels along-side the Northern tip of the lake with views looking South over a vast body of water up to 300m deep.

Lake Wanaka

Travelling back on the SH6 towards Queenstown will take you to New Zealand’s third largest lake and my favourite, Lake Wakatipu.

Lake Wakatipu

Closing In

Lake Wakatipu is also New Zealand’s longest lake at 80kms, and you can drive its entire length.  The main SH6 road takes you alongside some of the lake, but if you take a detour along the smaller road out of Queenstown signed to Glenorchy, you can drive right to the tip of the lake. There is some really stunning scenery along this road and if you have time, it’s well worth the extra kms.

Towards the rain

About the author:
Cath Evans is a professional landscape and coastal photographer from the UK. She travels nationally and internationally capturing images for her own pleasure and others to enjoy which she shares on her website  www.cathevans.com
Cath runs holidays for photographers for www.tripodsatdawn.com where she enjoys sharing her passion and knowledge of photography.

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