More wanders at National Park…

More wanders at National Park…

The joys of wandering around mountains…

“The best laid plans of mice and men.” Thats a quote that comes to mind after a bit of planning to be at a certain area for a natural event which cannot be delayed and what do you know but the usual suspect called clouds come along to add their contribution. Bah…

The event was the supermoon arising last December and the plan was to image it rising over the upper Tama Lake at National Park beside Ngauruhoe. To get to the lakes involves a hike from the Chateau past Taranaki Falls and on to the lakes. Thats about 17km return which is not far off doing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing although there isn’t the major height to scale. Neverless the scramble up the steeper section once you reach the lower Tama lake vantage point can be a bit of a scramble carrying 18 kilos of photog gear and a bit of dinner and warm stuff for the night treck back.At least there was no wind which this area is renowned for as wandering with a heavy pack you do get pushed around a tad and on exposed ridges it pays to keep your focus on what is around you.

As is usual for these tramps you get to one seemingly end point and there is still another climb to go up…then another. Just love these character building exercises. But apart from the usual grumbles form the usual suspect the rewards to tend to pay off…mostly sometimes.The view point for the Upper Tama Lake eventually arrives into view and its really not bad. There is nothing like standing on a upper knoll with a half decent view to take in the grand vista. From Ngauruhoe past the lake around to Ruapehu past the lower Tama Lake and around to Taranaki in the distance to the west its not bad really. Almost time for a beer if i had brought one but had to function on some green tea and bush honey instead with the usual snacks while getting the bearings for this supermoon event. Its relatively easy today to plan this stuff with the apps we have to the point that i know exactly where the moon will rise between two ridges across the lake.  Awesome …that plan is working but the early warning signs of a bit of cloud start to show. Hmmmm.

This is the Lower Tama lake from the vantage point just before the climb up the ridge behind for the Upper lake. To get down there would be a decent side trip assuming you could find a good route. There is no marked track down so the assumption would be that going down is not encouraged. To explore this area more it would make sense to camp out…

But to even get to this place a lot has happened regarding the planning. Apart from just getting there the list of stuff in the bag has a few ticks –

  • food and water with small stove
  • maps and gps tramping app on phone to trace the route with spare power pac for recharging
  • thermal layers
  • alpine wet jacket and leggings
  • first aid kit including shock blanket and insect repellant – herbal of course
  • and most important – a personal locator beacon!

The gps is really handy to know where you are and how much further especially at night time where you lose the terrain as a reference.

 

The upper Tama lake colour is just striking against the volcanic terrain around Ngauruhoe and the plan was for the moon to arise to the right of the ridge on the right hand side of Ngauruhoe. I have a app for that…haha.

So now comes the cloud bank from the north east which is from where the moon will be rising. Bugger…to put it mildly. So plan B then. Often watching the clouds around Ngauruhoe just before sunset they can gather as if a small storm is brewing but after sunset they seem to magically disappear. That is useless for capturing the moon rise beside Ngauruhoe so back we go. And must mention that the insect repellant sure was handy with the clouds of flies around at dusk. Not sure why but the alpine flowers were out so that may have something to do with it.

Anyways was just hoping for something on the trail back and this is what i got. Pays to look behind aye…

Ngauruhoe shines under the Supermoon now that the clouds have stopped ruining the party….

But also apart from hiking 17 odd kms for that Supermoon shot there were other things to be checking on. The chairlift had just started for the summer season up the skifeild from the top of the bruce so for $30 odd bucks plus food money it was a bit of a change instead of tramping to get high for a view…pity about the hordes of sandflies. The air was thick with them as well as the last of the snow were covered with dead ones. Yay for herbal insect repellent.

Its really worth the dollars to get up there but no Ruapehu climb this trip. When the snow is melting that creates a under melt situation where the snow seems firm but if you put your weight on it you can sink like a stone into a cavity underneath. Not great with a heavy photog backpack. Next time then…

On the road up to the Chateau on the left are the Tawhai Falls which compared to Tama Lakes is a doddle really. But all the same as falls they are still worth visiting but be prepared to be surrounded with a few others.

Photographically speaking found getting a image that was pleased with was proving to be problematic so opted for the tried and true system of whats called bracketing three shots – one correct exposure, one at 1 stop under and one 1 stop over exposed – which when combined in whats called High Dynamic Range software gives far more latitude. The idea is that the camera cannot capture the full range of details between light and dark so by doing it this way you try to show what the eye sees rather than blown out highlights or black blacks with no detail. The challenge with this system is to keep it looking realistic to the very important person the viewer…

Here”s my attempt …

Tawhai Falls on the road to the Chateau…

One other item on the agenda was trying to get a half decent shot of Mount Taranaki from National Park. This has been alluding me for yonks and mountains being mountains the frustrations with getting a shot comes as part of the territory.

A last ditch attempt was made to rush around to the Turoa skifeild as there was a really good chance of getting a shot at that  altitude without much cloud. Ha…so what comes down as sunset comes closer- you guessed it – a nice thick ceiling of cloud. Hung around a bit longer to try and gauge whether it was coming or going then just threw the toys out of the cot and headed back down the skifeild access road. But wait…on the way down came out from under the cloud level and here was Taranaki with a magical sunset going on behind. What awesome luck…pulled off on a hairpin bend, out came the 200mm lens and a gap in the trees and this is the result…just pure magic.

To get the layers running up to Taranaki then layers in the clouds was just over the top.

Said a BIG thank you for that one…its really satisfying when it just all comes together after so many attempts [ and beers ].

 

 

Mount Taranaki from the Turoa skifeild access road…

Also Ruapehu looks good from any angle really.

Using crop lines just makes for another dimension with this shot…

Ruapehu with crop lines…

On the way north on the Desert Road just before the summit there are these Ruapehu Hebe”s growing in this grainy volcanic material and have many a time said to myself “must stop and photograph them”.

This time i did.

The way these plants survive in that climate and in that growing substance makes them a stand out. Ngauruhoe also makes for a special back study.

Every stay at National Park brings up something new or a different light shows things in a different way. Photographing in mountains is always going to have its challenges but if you persevere the rewards are there…you just have to look.

Ruapehu Hebe plants beside the Desert Road…

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Layers upon layers…

Layers upon layers…

Mount Taranaki from Ruapehu.

The intention was to chase that special sunset view of Taranaki from somewhere around Tongariro National Park because when the atmospherics are just right the sight of Taranaki is just magical at sunset.So with that idea as a plan A tried my luck at the Turoa skifeild carpark area as this point gets you reasonably high by just driving up the road rather than risk a vantage point from a hiking track.

The evening started with a bit of cloud but that soon turned to custard with a thick layer of cloud depending around Ruapehu. Bummer…thats not the plan. So after waiting for some intervention as i could see the glow of a sunset underneath the cloud layer, but no Taranaki, started to head down the access road and after a couple of minutes could start to see Taranaki with a just blazing sunset behind. Was quick to find a vantage point on a sharp hairpin bend out of passing traffics way and set up with a 200mm soon lens and managed to get this thru a gap in the  bush. Wow…just had to say thanks for that…as you do.

Its amazing where having a camera and a purpose has taken me. This has to rank right up there because to get layers like this is so very hard to do. What also ranks highly was watching the sun rise from a mountain top…especially with family.

Seems the journey continues…

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National Park wanders…

National Park wanders…

Home » Landscape » Category: "Mountains"

National Park or Natty Park as the locals call it is does have what seems as its particular weather all to its self. At one time the mountain ski field at Turn can be clear but then at Whakapapa its all socked in with cloud. No wonder there is two fields to choose from. At least one of them hopefully is open during a normal winter with changeable weather.

Was sort of lucky to get some lower level snow on the trails which gives some great contrast and having such socked in weather meant that the crossing wasn’t happening so there were more people wandering about looking for alternative sights. Jus some just don’t follow the code of no jeans in the changeable weather which is a bit of a no no. They get wet and you get cold…

Anyways this is a collection from this visit. All are available with out the watermark and if you want to see BIG just click on the image and it opens in a lightbox.

Click on a pointer and a sample image will show whats there…

Mahuia Rapids

Chateau Tongariro

Taranaki Falls

Schnapps Bar. National Park Village

Historic…

Historic…

Home » Landscape » Category: "Mountains"

The historic old jetty at Tokaanu is a bit hard to find as there is only a small sign post on the road and its a mettle track with copious pot holes for you to navigate.

Well worth seeing this piece of New Zealand history which provided service for the steamers plying the lake transporting passengers and freight from here to Taupo town at the northern end of the lake before any form of roading was constructed. According to the info board this jetty was built around 1870 so has stood the test of time with a helping hand.

 

Autumn at Tongariro National Park…

Autumn at Tongariro National Park…

Have assembled these images in a rough time-line as there was a early dumping of snow part way thru a visit creating a before and after scenario.

Keep scrolling down to the bottom as there is a few and to view a image large in a lightbox  just click on it…

Thanks for checking out and please do comment either here or on the Facebook page.

Cheers…

Lake Rotoaira on a still misty morning after a nite of heavy rain.

The mist was just hanging around Pihanga on the other side of the lake creating a other worldly effect which is symptomatic of a damp autumn morning. Makes for great atmosphere but not blazing golden sunrises …

Ngauruhoe presents a different mood in autumn before the first of new southerly storms bring a dash of snow to its slopes. The cloud using long exposure techniques creates a soft texture in comparison to the rough rocky volcanic slopes…

This is Girdlestone Peak on Ruapehu with part of the chair-lift of Turoa at the bottom.

This place on this occasion was just howling with wind. Had to shelter behind a ski-field building to try and keep the camera still long enough for a long exposure in the stiller wind gusts with some interesting clouds rolling thru at the same time. Bit of a juggle but success crowns effort mostly…

The Pinnacle ridge on Ruapehu…

With a light dusting of fresh new pre winter snow on its slopes the Pinnacle Ridge takes on a other worldly look with a long exposure technique to blur out the swiftly passing cloud cover. Almost a hard and soft texture effect which highlights the rugged aspect of the ridge-line…

Ngauruhoe pre snow with a passing cloud cap seems to take on a soft side. Don’t be fooled…its cold and windy up there.

Pre snow also makes for a harsh terrain image. Theres still beauty there tho…

The hike to the Tama lakes is not that hard. Its another 1.5 hours or so on from the Taranaki Falls and on this day the wind was just howling…literally. You can see the ice on one side of the bush on the right and the rocks…brrrr.

Ngauruhoe with a cap of cloud using a long exposure technique. A bit tricky in a howling gale tho…

The track to the Tamaiti Lakes from the Chateau end is really well formed. DOC has spent some money. Its a easy wander for a few hours and the mountain view is awesome…

The Wairere Stream which feeds the Taranaki Falls which are just below these rapids. Ruapehu stands proud at the head under a veil of cloud…

Ngauruhoe does seem to create its own weather when the others are clear. So needed to make a problem into a solution…make it look like a rock on the sea-shore…sort off.

And conversely at sunset the cloud takes on a whole different persona…

Never found out what these trees were. Anyways they produce a neat contrast between the sign of Autumn and the sight of a approaching winter with fresh new snow on Ngauruhoe…

A bit of fresh new snow on bare rocks creates some spectacular contrast as the snow is not deep with the ridge lines still clearly seen. A real change of season feel…

Pre-winter season is very busy at the Top of the Bruce with all the construction. Also the helicopters were taking advantage of a really still day…fun to watch.

Ruapehu at sunset at a different angle. You can see the Pinnacle rocks in the middle. Made this image from above the Taranaki Falls…

Hope you enjoyed these images of Autumn at Tongariro National Park over a interesting week-end weather wise.

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Exploring around the northern end of the Desert Road on the eastern side there are some old access roads for the power schemes. Some are sealed and curbed and some just bush tracks such as this one.

Just couldn’t resist a selfie…as you do.

Sunset wave on the Kaimais…

Sunset wave on the Kaimais…

This panoramic is a total of 12 images which were bracketed when shot for enhanced dynamic range, blended and stitched into this pano.

The original image is a reasonable file size…tho this file has been down sized for the internet viewing so wouldn’t print to well… and the detail was so good i could see individual trees on the skyline of the Kaimai Ranges. Shot all the frames using a zoom lens to cut out the water from the Tauranga harbour and concentrate on the hills and trees, the misty wave over the ranges and the sunset effect. Having the glow shining up like that was just awesome…seemed like a spaceship in the sky…haha.

Will do canvas prints of this…

As usual all prints are with-out the watermark…

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