I next headed south to Franz Josef Glacier. Nowhere else in the world has
a glacier at this latitude advanced so close to the sea. I chartered a helicopter
to the top of the glacier where the ice formations, crevasses, and ice caves
are most prevalent. The key was to walk very carefully on the slippery ice while
photographing and incorporating the few other people in my group into the landscape.
Even with crampons on and a walking cane, the trekking was very tricky. A polarizing
filter was essential and I made a point of bracketing all of my photos due to
the ever-changing light that reflected off the snow and ice. The aerial photographs
I was able to get from the helicopter gave a great perspective on the entire
glacier and the mountains that surround it.
Cook--Traveling free without restrictions and being flexible
with your itinerary is key. It took three days for the fog and clouds
to finally lift off Mount Cook--but I sure was glad I had waited
so I could capture its beauty!
Heading farther south toward Fiordland I had numerous incredible experiences
along the way outside of Wanaka and Queenstown. Boating trips on turquoise lakes,
watching bungee jumpers outside of Queenstown, and incredible walks on invigorating
nature trails were all part of the daily routine. One day, outside of Wanaka,
I hiked the Rob Roy track, which led me past waterfalls and to a spectacular
glacier. I saw an avalanche take place right in from of me. And yes, I did get
Paparoa National Park--New Zealand is widely considered to
have the best hiking trails in the world. My solitary treks each
day were truly enlightening. The light was constantly revealing
itself in completely different ways.
The second week I arrived in Fiordland, a glorious collage of undisturbed
mountain-rimmed fiords, sleepy beachside towns, coastal forests, and dramatic
ocean bays. I based myself in the town of Te Anau and embarked on exciting road
trips along Milford Road, which led to the famous Milford Sound. I decided to
charter the smallest boat possible, knowing that would enable me to get closer
to the shoreline for dramatic shots of the high, sheer weather-scuffed cliffs
and peaks that surround it. Using my 20mm wide angle lens and shooting straight
up the cliffs gave the photographs the kind of perspective and impact I wanted.
The final leg of the journey led to me to the Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook National
Park areas. When I arrived at Mount Cook it was raining heavily, so rather than
trek that day I drove one hour to Lake Tekapo and based myself there for the
remaining three days. This proved to be a good move since the weather was perfect
here for landscape photos. The picturesque lake had snowcapped mountains in
the background and fields of lupine in the foreground.
Wanaka--The colors you photograph, whether they are soft pastels
or bright, saturated hues, have the power to inspire your reactions.
Springtime was the perfect time to be in New Zealand because of
the wild lupine that I found in many parts of the South Island.
Whenever I embark on long trips of this type I never make hotel reservations.
This gives me the freedom to come and go whenever I want when things don't
turn out like I planned. Eventually the weather cleared out at Mount Cook and
I was able to spend two full days on the Hooker Valley and Tasman Valley trails
that I had been looking forward to so much. Of the 27 New Zealand mountains
stretching over 3050 meters high, 22 are in this park, with Mount Cook the highest
at 3755 meters. Surrounded by the beauty of these dramatic mountains and the
ever-present glacier I was inspired to shoot nonstop the entire time. The greatest
challenge as I got closer to Mount Cook was staying on my feet--the winds
rose to 60 knots and higher!
Franz Josef Glacier--What
I loved about this national park is the phenomenal textures, colors,
and shapes of the glaciers. What a great surprise to have this
woman climb up out of the crevice, giving the image a new perspective.
My road trip around the South Island will always stand out as one of the most
memorable journeys of my life. Traveling around New Zealand is relatively easy
and it was comforting to be in a country where the environment and nature are
worshiped. One of the goals of my photography is to always try to preserve and
protect the last wild places on earth by showing people the great beauty we
could possibly lose. New Zealand reassured me that there are still countries
where you can go and explore and feel nature's presence everywhere you
At Daryl Hawk's website, www.darylhawk.com,
you can find out more about his travel, fine art, and commercial photography
as well as information about booking him for speaking engagements. You can also
order his recently published book titled "Distant Journeys," which
features his favorite 150 color images from his world travels.