The MacKenzie.

November 15, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

It was a internal discussion about how to title this blog covering Aoraki/Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo. It not only covers this blog but the gallery that these images are titled under in the websites navigation. So from 'Mount Cook and surrounds' to the MacKenzie District ended up with just 'The Mackenzie' as it really seemed to sum this area up...and its a big place with big wide open spaces and the big Southern Alps with New Zealand highest peak at its centre. This was a very fleeting visit over two days thru and back again on a return journey north. Over those two days passing thru managed a few not to shabby images...admitedlly a bit touristy but with a ancle injury had to be a bit careful about where to head to. The track at Hooker Lake will have to wait for a return expedition hopefully in the not too distant future. Anyways if i can explore in this fashion and really get to see the big views then so can you and one of the objects is hopefully to encourage others to do the same.

Aoraki/Mount Cook

So to start its the classic road side stop at Peters lookout on the access road into Mount Cook village...

Was really impressed at how nicely Aoraki/Mount Cook stood out with a clear blue bird day to go with the vivid Lake Pukaki's glacial waters. And  the mantra with photographers is to have a leading line running in from the bottom left into the scene to guide the eye so just waited for some tourists to motor into view just on command...well not really. Patience is a virtue so sometimes its just hurry up and wait for the right moment and don't slack off and check your phone as that is a fatal mistake. Note also the wilding pines in the front right foreground that have been cleared. There is also a little blurb about that on a info sign there explaining how that by doing that has improved the view of Mount Cook for our benefit as well as controlling a pest tree.

Mount Cook from Jacks Point.Mount Cook from Jacks Point.A well known spot for stopping to image Aoraki Mount Cook on the access road. With a cloudless blue sky day the peak of Mount Cook stands in contrast to the sky with a leading line of the road in with two cars travelling down the road.

As well as myself there was a group of landscape painters from Dunedin doing their thing Had a nice chat but no cup of tea with a few of them.

1602 peters painters  blog1602 peters painters blog Not a bad spot to be spending the afternoon at. 

Another spot to view up the lake is also on the highway at another park up. Seems that some of these spots are well used as vantage points judging by the amount of times people have been stopping. The roading guys have just made them usable by throwing mettle at them which is handy. This type of image is best made with a telephoto lens to help compress the far distant objects in closer to make them more visible instead of using a wide angle lens which throws the mountains into the distance.

Mount Cook in the distance.Mount Cook in the distance.Looking over Lake Pukaki at the peak of Aorangi/Mount Cook surrounded by the mountains of the Southern Alps in the South Island of New Zealand using a telephoto lens to compress the scene in a panorama. The road into the Mount Cook village had so many spots for being a crazy tourist...please do not be a idiot photog and try this stuff. The tourists drive like err tourists. The arrows are there for a very good reason.

Centre of the access road to Aoraki Mount Cook.Centre of the access road to Aoraki Mount Cook.With the access road in the centre of this panorama with the direction arrows in the foreground Mount Cook stands at the end of the valley with the road running into the distance. This was a 6 image vertical panorama hand-held so its a really quick series of images which we usually overlap by about 30% in a level plane from left to right. Many times getting these images to stitch together after making silly photo taking mistakes makes for a now polished routine to avoid those silly mistakes so its really quick if you set yourself up properly. There are some basics  such as keeping the horizon line straight also the camera perfectly vertical as well as getting enough space for your foreground with making sure the peaks have enough sky above them and not crowded in. The advantage again using a zoom lens is to compress Sir Cook in the frame so that the mountain seems closer but also there is a slight 2D effect between the foreground and background distances. All things to very quickly think about at the time...usually before i make these i already know how they will be processed in my head. 

There is so much to look at on this road. And here is another type  of road side photography ...

Roadside view of Aoraki/Mount Cook.Roadside view of Aoraki/Mount Cook.Taken from the side of the access road into the Mount Cook village with the road curving around and to the right with the mountain peak rising high above. The road coming in from bottom left and meandering thru the frame with Aoraki/Mount Cook dominating in the background. Even on a clear blue sky day a striking image can be don't always need the sunrises and sunsets and their vibrant colours. Don't be in any hurry at all when you drive down this road. So much to see for a new comer.

View of Aoraki/Mount Cook.View of Aoraki/Mount Cook.Looking over a hillock towards Mount Cook with a Kea flying high above with the ridge line in the foreground covered in felled wilding pines left to rot and native plants to one side. I had to include this image from the road in as it encompasses the varied landscapes from native plants, culled wilding pines to the dominate feature of Mount Cook. But also i discovered when this image came up on the big screen of the iMac was a lone bird flying high beside the mountain on the right. You can see the speck. Have the luxury of being able to zoom in and methinks its a native Kea. only image of one. So far...

Love them or hate them. Cairns seem to indicate at various points in the landscape the past presence of humans and their instinct for making mounds and structures with what's floating around...just like at the beach with driftwood. It must be some primeval instinct. 

Anyways this is Tasman Lake and you can see the glacier in the distance in the middle left with the surrounding alpine peaks.

Tasman Lake.Tasman Lake.A cairn beside the Tasman Lake with the glacier in the background on the left with snow covered mountains in the background on a blue sky day.

You can take a boat tour of this lake which gets you close and personal with the ice bergs floating in the lake. For a show of scale here is the little yellow boat  with 10 or so people in it looking minuscule...

Tourists at Tasman Lake.Tourists at Tasman Lake.A small tourist power boat beside a small iceberg in Tasman Lake with the glacier in the far distance and snow covered mountains in the far distance. It shows how small the boat is in the vast landscape.

There is another quick walk to a lookout up this valley as well as the much used Hooker Valley track but if you are either time poor or not hiking fit this area is a great option to get you near a glacier and its lake. The boat tour is probably a added incentive here to get up close and personal to chunks of ice. 

Lake Tekapo

It's a small village here and very tourist orientated but won't let that hold them back as it's a really stunning place. Thats why people come. To see grand landscapes which is totally different from where most people live in densely populated cities. 

At Lake Tekapo it's the Church Of The Good Shepherd that rules the roost with the lake as a stunning backdrop. Post covid the visitor numbers are down on what was normal so only encountered one tour bus full of Aussies who were a chatty bunch. Even so getting what photogs call a 'clean' shot of a place with-out people messing things up is difficult as you tend to have a messy uncoordinated view with people doing random stuff. Or in other words a balanced looking image. It also can become problematic if you sell a print with a recognisable person in the frame and they haven't given permission or signed a model release if you sell a digital version of that image. The only 'out' here is to sell the image as a 'editorial' shot such as to a newspaper for a news item. It's bit of a grey area so rather avoid it. This why if there are people in the image apart from myself i don't sell that image.

This leads on to these images from around the church. Recent advances in post processing software has made removing people so easy now and hence we have the classic view sans people...

Church of the Good Shepherd.Church of the Good Shepherd.At Lake Tekapo with the church photographed from the access bridge looking down at the church with the alpine grasses planting surrounding the building with no people in the image and the carpark removed and replaced with grass plantings to give a clean image without people and cars with the turquoise lake in middle background with the snow topped montain ranges in the background. Ok...this one is 'over the top' with changing stuff around. There is a carpark at the middle right hand side but just wanted to minds eye what it all could look like as if was just another building with-out the cars and stuff. Methinks it's called 'creative license'.

The church at Lake Tekapo.The church at Lake Tekapo.Looking from the access path at the Church of the Good Shepherd with the landscaped rocks and native grasses at the church with Lake Tekapo in the middle distance with the snow covered southern alps in the background with no people in the image with a blue sky day. This is the entrance way which has really been landscaped nicely to match the local environment and to accomodate the large amount of visitor traffic. Just look at that outlook will you...

Stairway to the Church of the Good Shepherd.Stairway to the Church of the Good Shepherd.Beside Lake Tekapo at the Church of the Good Shepherd at the steps leading up to the front entrance of the church with the landscaped grounds surrounding the stone steps on a blue sky day with clouds in the far distance. They do hold services here and weddings i believe. You can imagine the bride making the grand entrance on these steps.

Side view of church at Lake Tekapo.Side view of church at Lake Tekapo.Looking from the left hand side of the Church of the Good Shepherd at the church with native grass plantings in the foreground with the church middle distance and the snowy mountain peaks in the background with a blue sky cloudy day. The Church really does sit in the local landscape well.

Lake Tekapo church.Lake Tekapo church.Looking at Lake Tekapo from beside the Church of the Good Shepherd on its left hand side with native grass plants and the entrance to the church with the door closed on a blue sky day with no people in the image. Back of the church at Lake Tekapo.Back of the church at Lake Tekapo.Looking up from Lake Tekapo shore at the Church of the Good Shepherd with stone steps leading the way to the church with landscaped plantings surrounding the building with no people in the image.

A stunning place to visit. 

Will Finish this blog with probably my favourite image of Aoraki/Mount Cook from the second day. Really like how the cloud parts to show the peak of the mountain like a grand reveal with the lake in the foreground with some smoke from a burn off on the farmland . This image was made using a telephoto lens at 300mm for those wondering.

Aoraki / Mount Cook.Aoraki / Mount Cook.A telephoto image with Mount Cook rising above the turquoise waters of Lake Pukaki with a finger of farmland on the right hand side with cloud on the left of Mount Cook with the cloud parting for a view of the mountain peak rising high above the landscape.

All these images are available as prints except the one of the painting group at Peters Lookout. We print 'in house' on Canon fine art papers and send to you ready for you to frame and hang. 

Here is the link to the dedicated display page for these images

The Mackenzie image collection

Next up. A bit further south we go...


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