A few nights up the Hopkins & Huxley Valleys. The drive in is pretty easy with a decent truck, however crossing the river needs some skill, it has in sections a soft sandy bottom. If you go alone it's worth taking the winch, as we got stuck for a decent 4 hour stint. Huts are all in great condition with lots of animal sign about, and Tahr on the tops, but DOC like to come in and hit the hills up with the chopper so be sure to ring ahead before you go. You could spend weeks up here exploring.
Ahuriri Tahr Hunt/December
The start of the summer was spent with eyes closed in the sun, mainly, and the odd hunt. This valley never stops to impress, along with stunning views along the rugged scree slopes, there is also abundant animals to be had. Dan finally snagged a Tahr for the freezer and let some nice looking bulls appreciate the valley for a few more years. There was nothing better than cooling down in the river after a hard day putting two steps forward and going down four on those bastard screes!
Upper Caples Hunting/May
We recently got a hunting block in the Upper Caples on the famous Greenstone/Caples track. Safe to say we came back empty handed after putting more than the required hard yards in. Still, no a moment is wasted in the hills and it's always a pleasure to be away from insta-likes and snap stories..
"Time wears down trampers, like rivers wear down mountains. While time in the mountains, and rivers, rests the weary."
The Erye mountains are seldom visited, maybe its the location (An hour South of Queenstown) or the lack of tracks. Who knows. But that means more for us, and what a trip. We decided to head straight up and bivy on the tops for a few nights to see what was taking in the views. Nada, nothing! After a rather wet night in the bivy we headed down and across to Ashton hut to grab breakfast before a very wet wade out down the river.
There's nothing better than heading up a new valley mid winter, not knowing whats gonna happen (Beacon always takes 3rd wheel, don't worry..)
After crossing the Macaulay river in full flood, which is stupid, but we do stupid things, it's an easy track up to Red Stag hut (No fire) Heavy snow ensued the first night, making conditions in the hut bloody freezing (-8c) The hut is in a great state and looks to be used mostly by hunters. The valley is wide and the two creeks by the hut hold a decent amount of Tahr, but be sure to bring some crampons and axes.
Heli trip Milford/HeliTours 2016
Jumped in with Paul who owns Heli Tours for a quick trip over to Milford. As always it was stunning, with not a lick of wind. Can't thank Paul and the team enough, so be sure to look them up when you're in town.
Headed up to Top Hut, and you're right, it's at the top of the valley. We cycled up in the dark one night, the first time Dan had used clip in pedals.. Funny as fuck for me, not so much for Dan. 5 hours later and we reached Hagans Hut for the night, cracking place. The next day we headed right to the top and it was a beaut, windy though.
I love this place, I can't explain how much. I always come back to these shots and it evokes good times always.
West is best? Aucklanders are 50/50 on that one, and I sway more to the East myself but boy oh boy, those sunsets are to die for! This is just a collection of this summer on the West, an ode to everything that makes it tick and keeps me smiling.
Well well well, if it isn't the old girl we all have a love/hate relationship with. She isn't Welly, but she is good and these are the photos that are gonna change your mind.
The Boats of Romney Marsh/UK
It isn't always depressing and gloomy in Blighty, but, turns out on this day it was. Romney is known for it's sheep, and it's fishing boats. That's about it..
Winter fly fishing/2016
This place is dreamy, and to get it pumping and with this light is like a dream come true. I'd like to say I'd of planned it and knew the swell was perfect.. but, right place, right time!
Queenstown Airport/4 years past
For the past four years I've had the pleasure of working with some really genuine guys, passionate about the country they live in, proud of who they work for and not defined by the label of their job. I always had a camera to take a shot where need be and couldn't of asked of a more scenic place to call work. It'll be missed, cheers lads!
Huia & Whatipu/Auckland
I was lucky enough to spend my summers growing up around the mountains of North Wales, Snowdonia in particular. They aren't the biggest peaks going, nor the most famous, but they instilled a love for the outdoors in m that has only grown the older I've got. From classic peaks like Tryfan to the famous Snowdon, these peaks swarm with people during the summer months but come winter you'll be stood along a snowy ridge by yourself!
The Royal Australian Hawks made an appearance at War Birds over Wanaka recently, so I grabbed the camera and took a few shots of Maverick & the gang..
Dorset (or Dooorsat as they say) is my adopted home. My parents moved there, and even though I grew up in Wiltshire (about a 3 hour drive from any beach) I've always felt more at home here than my birthplace. A lot of people think the UK can be a bleak place, but sitting on a stone carved bench over looking Chapmans Pool on a windy day is something to behold, it makes you feel alive. And no matter what time of year it is you'll rarely bump into another person at St Aldhelms Chapel, or the Marines war memorial because this little section gets over seen for it's more popular but less attractive sister Durdle Door, and that's fine by me. Now forget everything you've just read..
This has to be the best kept beach in Auckland. Not only is it just 50 minutes away from Ponsonby, it also has it's own infinity pools (You'll have to find those for yourselves..) And home to Keddle House, which has the best views in town and it available for rent! The thing that puts people off is the steep walk down, but hey, don't be such a bloody wuss.
Heli around Lake Wakatipu/July
I've had a busy few months driving between the North & South islands and on the way the camera was well and truly earning it's keep, enjoy!
Top Hut Hunt/August
A easy trip up to Omarama saddle for a couple of nights hunting.
Some great huts up here with easy 4 wheel drive access, but alas, that's it's downfall. The first night we were greeted with some guys spotlighting most of the night, waking up to no sign of animals at all. Still, lots of ground to cover for the future, but as the tops are rolling, wind is always an issue. Top hut was in decent condition and is rather big, great fire too.
12 Mile Delta/August
Even on the darkest of winter nights it's good to get out and smell that fresh mountain air! A quick drive from Queenstown and I met up with Jakub for an evening fish at 12 Mile. Winter fly fishing can be a bit painful, its cold for starters and the fish are few and far between. We managed to stay for a few hours till all but the faintest of pinks had left the sky.
There's an anticipation when you are on your way to a hut. Even more so when you can drive in, because these huts can't be booked, and we as humans are a selfish bunch. The plan was simple, a night away in a nice hut with good friends taking in the silence, in other words no one else. We rocked up to the hut and I'm pretty sure everyone's faced dropped when we saw a car parked there. We got out, duly said hello and got comfy, waiting for a go on the outdoor tub. Skip a few hours and it seemed the oldies didn't like the company of strangers either, alone at last!
The Cook Islands/April
Kia Orana! The Cook Islands lie some 4 hours North West of New Zealand. Known as a tropical honeymoon destination there is more to these islands than cocktails on the beach and glass bottom boats. The Maoris also can trace their ancestors through these islands and on further up into the South Pacific. For those that get off the beaten track you'll find good waves, friendly people and empty white sand beaches.
The Nevis Valley Fly Fishing/March
High up the tops lies this gem of a river. Me & Jakub sent two days here with not another fisherman in sight, true bliss! Although the big trout were near impossible to catch the further up we headed the smaller and more fun the fish became.
Blankenese is a small borough in Western part of Hamburg. It has a long history of being a fishing village but these days is known for it's steep house prices and lack of roads, there being 4,864 steps to make your way around instead. It's also where the widest point of the mighty Elbe river is. The name Blankenese comes from the Low German blanc ness, meaning white promontory in the Elble river.
Isle of Man TT & Lighthouses/June
The Isle of Man TT has to be one of the most famous (and dangerous) motorbike races in the world. Even Rossi said you have to be crazy to ride it. Over the years this road course has taken the lives of many famous riders, and has also made some. The track is a 37 mile course that heads around the tiny island over the famous mountain pass. The Isle of Man is also where the Royal National Lifeboat Institution was founded in 1824 by Sir William Hillary.
Peter-Ording is tucked up on the West coast of Germany, near the danish boarder. Known as a spa town from around 1877 and later in 1953 a sulphur spring was found that further cemented it's beach spa name. The first of the stilt houses was built in 1911 and called itself "Giftbude" because, in the local dialect, "es dort wat gift" - "there's something available there", which, to the local population meant Cognac.
Scouting the Motoatpu River/September
Gili simply means 'Small Island' in Sasak. The Islands are located in the Lombok strait and due to thier proximity to Lomboks second highest mountain, Mount Rinjani and Bali's Mount Agung they are much drier than the surrounds islands. Since the late 80's the islands have been a hotspot for tourists and with the additon of fast boats in 2005 the numbers of tourists have doubled. The 3 islands (Trawangan, Air and Meno) are most well known for diving with Trawangan and hotspot of partying.
Diamond Creek Fly Fishing/February
The Cook Islands/Surf
Easy to get to, perfect reefs, warm water. What next springs to mind? Crowds. But here in the Cook Islands it isn't so. Most likely due to the price of flights to these islands. The main breaks are on the island of Rarotonga, the Cooks main hub and capital. Most are short and steep on take off and a bowl section at the end, so it's no surprise the local crew mainly all bodyboard. But it's all smiles in the line ups here, and hooting echos around when dropping in. One of the South Pacific's secret gems!
Breast Hill Track/November
On the North side of lake Hawea you can take this more serious climb up to Breast hill and on to do a round trip coming back down via Timaru creek track. With rain forecast I was expecting a long and wet climb, but the sun stayed out and I managed to knock a fair few hours off DOCs track time!
The Catlins are as remote as you can really get in New Zealand. Far from any town, with the only locals being farmers. This tends to keep the crowds down to just a hardy few in the winter, where empty barrels are abundent.
The Tasman Glacier is the longest in New Zealand. It is predicted that in the next 20 years the glacier will recede until it no longer exists. During the Christchurch earthquake in 2011 the terminal face of the glacier fell off and caused a Tsunami 11ft high.
The sad thing is, Aramoana was famous for something else before the surf to non locals. But this beach can be outstanding on its day, with quality banks all down the beach and plenty to go around, even with the influx of students during the excellent winter months. Cold water surf at it's finest.
Port Craig is located just over the boarder of Fiordland National park, right down at the very bottom of NZ. Back in the day there was a logging operation here accessed via a track, with an extensive tramway system at the port itself. Remains can still be seen everywhere and is part of the Hump Ridge track, there's also a DOC hut. Get surf lines this coast of your willing to hike in..
Tuatapere is a small town located West of Invercargill. It's here that the infamous Hump Ridge track starts, which takes you into Fiordland and back and is a 3-4 day tramp. Around the Tuatapere the coast is remote and cold, with big Southerly storms coming up from the polar region to form decent surf with lots of possibility's for those who are prepared to put some hard work in.
A short overnight trip up to Mount Bee on the boarder of the Eyre mountains. A 4WD track takes you up to a flat ridge line great for hunting and views. A hut offers a respite from winter conditions up here, the fire burns while we dry our boots and clothes. We wait for a lone dear, but only get rewarded with breath taking views.
Bali. Is there anything I can say that you havent heard before? Most likely not. But, if you want to get away from the crowds and australians that dominate Kuta, part with the cash and hire a scooter and take a 3-4 days to tour the whole island, and you'll soon be on a beach by yourself.
French ridge lies just beneath the Boner glacier, which in turn wraps itself around Mount Aspiring. After a steady walk from Raspberry flat to Pearl flat you cross the river to make a steep 1000m ascent to French ridge hut. The views from the hut are enough to take your breath away. For more experienced climbers, this is the start of the 4-5 day ascent of Mount Aspiring.
Lying off the coast of Africa but actually owned by Spain the Canary Islands are well know for their tourism and surf. Consisting of 13 islands with Tenerife being the largest. Direct flights from most of Europe and an warm climate all year round draw the surfing crowds in. But with crowds comes localism and it's rife here. Most of the set ups are reef breaks and heavy slabs, with El Fronton on Gran Canaria being one of the best, holding the IBA world tour.
Somes Island, also known as Matiu to the Maoris is a small island in Wellington harbor which over the years has been a prison during WWII and then a quarantine for imported animals during the 70's. Today all that remains of the war are the gun placements. It also a pest free island, which is unusual being so close to a bug urban center.
The Copland Track/February
The Nevis Road/March
The nevis road is a gravel track that stretches from Bannockburn in the North to Garston in the South. Only open for the summer months, this track crosses the river at least 10 times. Evidence of a gold mining past is littered through the valley flaw, and the fly fishing is excellent .
Called 'Puahere' in Maori, the Rees valley was well traveled to long before Europeans settled here. They journeyed here from the West coast in search of greenstone. Later on in the 19th century came the cattle drovers and gold diggers. Today it's the start of a few day walks and also the Rees/Dart track.
Queenstown Mountain Biking/April
What started off as just a few trails down the hill has now exploded into an international scene that hosts not one but two events each year. One of those is the downhill masters. each year 100's of guys and girls bomb down Ben Lomond for a chance to be crowned king (or Queen).
Saint Bathans is a former gold mining town in Otago. The lake was formed by sluicing during the mining years, and has carved out the shapes of the surrounding clay cliffs. Now a camp spot and tourist attraction, it also had Grahame Sydney in resident for a while.
On A Boat/December
Westland is the least populated place in the South island. With the highest rainfall in the country and sandfly's galore it's not hard to picture why. But on the other hand, the beach is flanked by the most dramatic part of the Southern Alps and blessed with some of the best hunting NZ has to offer. Now where's my gun..
If I had to live in Welly it would be here. Nothing beats watching the ferry's pass out into Cook strait and just around the corner you have Breaker bay, home to one of the cities decent reef breaks.
The sounds are an extensive network of sea drowned valleys at the North end of the South island. Sparsely populated due to it remoteness, most houses are only reached by boats. It was here that Captain Cook discovered 'Cooks scurvy grass' that was high in vitamin C and cured his crew of scurvy.
Waipapa Point & Surroundings/November
Waipapa lighthouse was one of the last wooden lighthouses to be built in New Zealand. Restored to it's former self in 1998, the light is now solar powered. It was erected due to the grounding of the passenger steamer Taraua with the loss of 131 lives. The last keeper was withdrawn in 1975.
Heli to Milford Sound/January
Queenstown is known for being the tourist center of NZ, and one of the most versatile ways to see around the Southern alps is by helicopter..
It used to be the capital of the South Island, and it used to be the largest city as well. But what Dunedin now lacks in size it makes up for in surf and scenery. One of the main draws is the beautiful Otago peninsula, formed by an extinct volcano, is surf. The great thing about this place is that no matter the wind or swell direction you'll be able to score somewhere. But unlike big surf cities the cold keeps the crowds away, so you'll most likely be sharing the waves with seals..
Mt Judah Track/October
The Track lies just outside of Glenorchy and is great for a 1-2 day walk circuit. It slowly creeps up the side of a farm track passing old mining huts and shafts, finally arriving at the hut after a few hours. From here you can cross and climb to McIntosh hut and over a saddle back to the car park, or stay the night and explore the old Scheelite mines near by.
Southland is a windy cold place, but don't let that stop you from exploring this highly overlooked region of NZ. It contains New Zealand's highest waterfall (Browne Falls) the deepest lake in the country (Lake Haruoko) one of the biggest hydro electric stations (Lake Manapouri) and also the steepest river (Wairaurahiri) So, not at all boring..
Bluff has a bad rep. Why? It's at the as end of the South Island, employment is low and the town has become run down. But this, I think, ads to it's charm. Originally called Campbelltown, but changed to it's current name is 1917, it's most famous for it's oysters. From the top of Bluff hill you are rewarded with panoramic views of Southland, from the humpridge track to the Catlins.
The Valley lies just to the West of Wanaka in central Otago. The river of the same name is home to jet boat tours, and off to the side is Treble Cone ski resort (take that with a pinch of salt, there are no 'resorts' here). At the end of the valley the road stops and the tramps begin. From here you can start the ascent of Mt Aspiring or climb to two very photogenic huts.
The weather looked great so we headed off to the Hooker valley for the day. Home to New Zealand's highest peak (which features in most of these photos) the track follows up the valley where once the glacier pushed through. It's an easy hour walk each way, and this also being the start for people climbing over the Ball pass, which crosses over in to the Tasman valley.
On the road to Wanaka from Queenstown you'll drive past the Pisa range. You might know it from the Snow Farm or that nice flat looking range from the Cromwell side. We decided to spend the night in Meg hut which really is one of the gems of the area. It's rarely busy and can be accessed by a short 2 hour walk from the Snow Farm turn off. You can actually carry on over to roaring meg in the Kawarau gorge and make it into a two day trip.
If there is one job in life I'm born to do, it would be a lighthouse keeper. Alas I was born in the wrong era, so now I just have the pleasure of seeking them out. Cape Palliser is one of the better ones I've seen and lies on the most Southern point of the North island. Named by Cook and sailed passed by Kupe (So legend says) it's also home to New Zealands largest seal colony.
For some reason lake Hawea doesn't seem to get as much media attention as it's brother and sister lakes just down the road, not that I'm complaining though, more for me..
Skippers is a well know 4x4 road just near Coronet peak in Queenstown. Made for the gold rush in the 1800's this road isn't for people afraid of heights. The road is narrow and windy and the remains of all the houses and old bridges give it a very eerie feel. But no matter what the weather it's always worth a trip in as the light is always changing the landscape.