Turns out Naseby is internationally known as a centre for the winter sport of curling. One of my participants who hailed from Mongolia had cleverly planned his trip to take in my photography workshop and his curling event. Fortunately the drive was a picturesque one and we spent some time exploring an off road trail.
After leaving Naseby, things became more interesting with our plans. I would figure out our itinerary each day, depending on the weather report and light. This sort of flexible attitude was useful when my plans to shoot Milford Sound was scuttled by road closures due to a rockfall. We had decided earlier that scoring the ‘iconic views’ were unimportant so this was no hardship. Instead, we tackled the slog up to the infrequently photographed Key Summit, which I had not visited previously but had earmarked as a promising location from my research. It didn’t disappoint with stunning mountain views and a superb sunset.
Our next stop was the west coast, my favourite part of New Zealand. One reason why it appeals to me so much is that it is possible to photograph mountains, glaciers and coastline all within a short distance of each other. Even though we had put a low priority on shooting the well known views, we found ourselves at the popular Lake Matheson for both sunrise and sunset. After Milford sound, it’s the closest thing to what could be considered an icon in New Zealand. I’ve had bad luck at Matheson on New Zealand workshops, encountering poor visibility and pouring rain on all my previous visits. Despite our lack of motivation in shooting picture postcard locations, the moment a beam of warm light turned a shaft of low-lying mist into gold over the lake at sunrise, we were enthralled by nature’s incredible show. The mist lifted as an ethereal veil through which we could still view the mountains and their reflections; it was the most beautiful scene we were to witness on the trip.
Since it looked like we were in for another night of clear skies, I decided to return to Matheson in the hope of scoring some night shots with stars. I hadn’t seen any nighttime images of this lake so I was keen to take this opportunity. My star trail image was ultimately affected by lens condensation but the real treat was an exquisite sunset with calm waters reflecting the sweetest of alpen glows.