I like to get into the wilderness for days at a time, but over the last year I have also been discovering some amazing places much closer to civilisation. I want to talk about a few of them in this blog post and the opportunities that they offer for photography.
The Oparara Basin
The Oparara basin is on the West Coast some 20 minutes drive from Karamea up a steep and windy gravel road. We took a guide but you can drive yourself. The basin is home to a number of natural limestone arches, as well as caves, sinkholes and other karst landscapes. There is also terrific bush, particularly near the top area where the caves are.
This particular shot is not a particularly original composition but does give a good impression of what the scenery is like. Probably thousands of people have a variation of it as it is from a popular viewpoint. If you want to get some original shots you will have to go off-track and wade up and down the river a bit looking for new angles.
Just minutes out of Waitomo, and right off the main road, a short walking track loops through stunning limestone scenery. This has to be one of the best short walks in New Zealand, with caves tunnels, arches, holes and crazy paving everywhere!
This shot involved a small amount of bush-bashing to climb down to the stream from the track. There must be a million photographic opportunities in this small but perfectly formed reserve.
This walk is in Pureora Forest Park and starts close to the visitor centre. It contains some of the best podocarp forest in New Zealand. The sheer size, density and variety of podocarp trees is incredible. The experience is completed by the number and variety of birdlife that can be seen and heard all along the track. If you want to experience the best of New Zealand bush, this walk is second to none. It is amazing to think that this forest was saved from the brink of logging destruction – with miles and miles of cleared farmland just metres away from these forest giants.
Conditions in the forest were not good for photography when I visited. However capturing the beauty of this place would be deceptively difficult in any conditions.