Considering how close this incredible place is it was time to revisit the South Island of New Zealand since I hadn’t been back in over 14 years. It’s truly an amazing place that I feel is generally still quite raw. This trip was partially to re-visit some amazing locations and gather some location imagery for future campaigns shoots, and partially just to get lost and have a break.
Travelling around the island in a campervan was a breeze. The country is practically designed for this type of exploration with their amazing campgrounds, scenic roads and overall friendliness to this nomadic style of travel. Loaded up with some basic foods, toilet paper and diesel, the road-beast was ready to roll. Because there was no reliance of hotels and motels, picking roads less travelled and towns neglected by the tour buses was going to yield the most incredible results.
Having never been a huge fan of over commercialised cities and “attractions”, New Zealand really caters to allowing yourself to disconnect from all of that and just enjoy the visual buffet presented.
Having shot many campaigns and lookbooks in Australia I wanted to see what our neighbours offered that we simply could not back home. The first thing that jumped out are obviously the mountains. An incredible ridge of rock almost stretching the entire length of the South Island gives a great canvas to create stunning imagery and perhaps sell a mood that would be difficult to produce elsewhere.
Logistically the remoteness of some of these places makes larger campaigns also more costly and difficult to access, but I feel plenty can be achieved without necessarily bringing 8 tonne grip trucks. New Zealand appears to be quite friendly to international crews and accessing certain areas for image acquisition. At the same time, there are certainly zones which are just off limits due to their cultural significance or simply to preserve them from people stomping all over them. So important in my mind. I can’t stand coming to shoot at locations and finding other crews left gaffa-tape, drink bottles and other crap just strewn everywhere. That’s a rant for another day.
Temperature and weather conditions in New Zealand can vary quite a lot with the South Island home to dramatic snow-capped mountains and the occasional blizzard that’ll freeze you to the bone. Summers are mostly mild and more predictable. Personally I prefer the shoulder seasons where it’s not too warm and foliage is starting to change colour. The streams are incredibly clear here fed from the mountain glaciers – but also equally cold, so brave is one who takes a dip in these waters.
Roads in New Zealand are mostly really great. The definitely have those car-commercial roads here, you know the ones. A sweeping drone shot of the latest Volvo or Renault hugging the curves whilst lakes and mountains fill the scenic background. Let’s just say the campervan wasn’t hugging the roads as much as wobbling along them.
Some of the locations can’t be access by vehicle at all. The landscape is simply too rugged and requires horse or simply walking. This makes it quite difficult to carry enough product/gear to facilitate a full fashion photo shoot. To be honest though, I feel the requirement to go that far off the beaten track is mostly not necessary. Roads can take you to most locations, and even though some may be unsealed, you can still drive crew and gear along them without having to go full 4WD mode. For the locations images here no horses were required.
Other than the 3hr flight to New Zealand, Tasmania does hold some mild similarities which I’m yet to explore. Although, I do quite enjoy the vastness of the South Island. From a photography perspective it’s just a magical place to explore. I can’t wait to get back here and actually shoot. Now just need even more clients to consider this as a photography destination so it can become a second home.