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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National Park wanders…

National Park wanders…

Home » Landscape » Category: "Tramping"

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

The Nacky from Natty Park…

The Nacky from Natty Park…

Had to use the Kiwi vernacular as the story headline. Its what the locals call their places.

This is Mount Taranaki from a photoshoot i was doing at National Park. The other shot i got that evening is the Mount Doom moon-rise. A very productive evening…

As per usual all the images are available as prints with-out the watermarks.

8156 nacky from natty sunset web#03 by M Handley.

The Nacky from Natty Park…

Sunrise at Mount Doom …

Sunrise at Mount Doom …

One local in the Schnapps Bar at National Park village mentioned a spot on the road to the skifeild at the top of the bruce which was just awesome for sunrises . Lacking the time to check it out the day before as it was already dark when i finished another shoot the alarm was set for another ridiculous hour again so set of with a bunch of mist everywhere . Hmmm … this is great but always looking for a plus still kept going anyways . Found what i thought the informative local was describing and set up . Bit chilly … its a mountain you know .

Well … that all went well .

Just absolutely really awesome …

Really happy with the efforts that morn …

If you click on the red and black outlined image you can see the mist that was rolling in from the valley on the left towards Ngaururhoe …

6025 natty park sunrise red web#02 by M Handley.

5997 natty park sunrise outline red web#03 by M Handley.

A Coromandel coastal wander …

A Coromandel coastal wander …

I found a track leading to a coastal reserve which is DOC land but the track was seemingly built by the locals . You can always tell a DOC track by the materials and construction . This area was full of surprises . The first was a small stream that ran over the cliff into the sea which had a muddy crossing and hunted for a way to see over the edge but no way to get a cliff side view for a image . Bummer . Anyways onward and the track takes on a heath robinson effect [ old slang meaning something made up to do the job ] with old thick sail rope to hang onto to keep ya from sliding away to the never-nevers … [ more old slang meaning some-where where ya don’t want to end up ] . Very effective …

Anyways following ma nose brings me to a cool coastal look-out . This is facing south down the Coromandel coast towards Whangamata …

Past that and down more slippery slopes … it had been rainy you know … and on to a just awesome cream sandy beach . And nobody else apart from a young couple who were soon gone . Just magic . A pristine Coromandel beach all to myself in the middle of the day … you wouldn’t normally read about it . 

Pohutakawas , creamy sand , a perfect curved beach , even a half decent wave going on and rock features . So cool …

Aparently there is another beach further on but will have to re-explore this trail soon and find it . 

But for now here is some visuals for ya … 

Just click on any image to make it HUGE ….

7449onemana tramp cliffs web by M Handley.

7576onemana tramp beach web by M Handley.

7471onemana tramp rocky web#02 by M Handley.

These images are from a iPhone just to illustrate my bad story-telling … well they are supposed to be worth a few hundred words hopefully .
2016-04-02 12.03.50 HDR-2 by .
Old rope and wire hand-rails …
2016-04-02 13.36.24 by .
Not to shabby a out-look …

Across the Kaimais …

Across the Kaimais …

A long story short …

The idea to tramp across the Kaimai ranges  just happened to come pass really quickly after checking out a topo 50 map of our neighbourhood . The Wairere Falls seemed a really interesting feature  being the highest falls in the north island as a goal but it did take some calculations as to how long it would actually take to tramp to make sure we could do it in a day . It does help a little that at the start of most tramp tracks there is a time indication as to how long travel times are generally but sometimes not totally reliable . This time it was – 6 hours . 

Before we even pull on any boots the basic preparations are always done – weather , the right maps , plenty of food and water , wet weather gear as weather does change , basic first aid stuff including emergency blankets , torches etc . 

To enlarge any image just mouse click on it . Featured images are at the bottom of the page . 

Every-one who heads out into the bush must always let a contact know what and where you are going . Check the bush rules on any DOC site . Over prepareing  is not a bad thing . 

As a rule we have a Topo 50 map which are easily obtained from outdoor shops such as Bivoac or Hunting and Fishing etc . Also i have a hiking  app based on the Topo 5o maps with gps on my iPhone which have found to be really accurate even with no cell coverage [ ihikeGPS NZ ] . Very handy for making sure you are on the right track . The next item on the agenda is a personal locator beacon . 

For this hike we started at whats called “the blade” by the locals . Its at the end of Whakamarama road [ half way from Tauranga to Katikati up the hill ] and gets you part way into the bush and some really interesting tracks lead from here .Its called the blade because years ago a bulldozer blade was left there for yonks until some-one stole it for scrap . There is a movement afoot to replace it .  There is lots of tram trails from the early logging days up there which makes for  a easy hiking base which are just awesome to walk if you have some hours to kill . Easy … 

The one we travelled is called the  Ngamarama Track which is part of the original “over the ranges” track called the Te Tuhi . It intersects the old tramways occasionally and easy to tell with the big cuttings thru some banks . Some pix to the right . All the images on the right i used a iPhone so as to get some illustrative shots for the story . 

As tracks go it was not showing much use at all . No crowds here . In fact we saw only one person all the time and it was on this track . But like all DOC tracks the orange triangles marked the way and that was a good thing as the grasses were getting a bit high . You have to watch where you put your feet . 

Talking about grasses the seed heads of one type  [ the name escapes me ] are really nasty . If you are a hairy male they really grab as you walk past . My gators weren”t that much use as when you brush past a bank they grab your arm hairs . Ouch … Makes for some seed pulling from ya socks after-wards ! 

Lunch at the junction of Ngamarama and the North South track . Yum …

From here we followed the north-south track northwards . There are no bridges as per the more used DOC trails  . Good tramping boots really are a very good idea . So is gore-tex …take my word for it !… No wet feet ! 

The terrain is really gentle but to keep to some sort of time-table you need to move along just in case . Just awesome to see some big Kauri trees – see pix to the side  . 

 Next way point is joining the Wairere track itself and following the Wairere  stream to the falls  .

The falls themselves are preceded by the chatter of groups of sight-seers . Bum . It is really pleasant to be walking with-out anybody around . Really quiet … so nice ! 

Its taken 6 hours to get to this point with breaks . Not bad . 

The feature images from the falls are at the bottom . 

The track down to the carpark and our handy family taxi service is a bit steep to say the least . Probably harder than the tramp along the top . Especially with most of  the  camera gear ! 

The path is not really formed – just well compacted over time around the rocks making its own pathway . The steeper bit has a wooden stair system . The stream at the bottom makes for some really good swimming holes and being a tad warm were well used . 

Some-how these wanders keep coming up . I only do tramps that lead me to a interesting place or some-thing worth photographing as a goal . A sort of destination thing …

A word to the wise . Make sure you prepare with good equipment , plan ahead and know where you are as well as some-one else knowing where you plan to be at certain times . People have been lost on the same track and needed helicopter rescue . Partly why i have a blue camera bag . You can see it from the air …

If any-one wants more info get in touch …

Happy wandering .


Old tramway cutting


Tramway cutting

Pulling those pesky seeds from the legs ...

Lunch at Junction of north-south and the tuhi



Amazing lattice like root formations

Always good to see the DOC signboard ...

Regenerating canopy ...







The track down to falls carpark . Not formed but trodden over time ...

3552 wairere rocks view web by M Handley.
Looking at the lip of the falls

3564 wairere edge web#03 by M Handley.

3574 wairere log web #05 by M Handley.
Driftwood ?

3593wairere top side-on web_ by M Handley.

3611 wairere face zoom web#04 by M Handley.
Up close and personal .

3621 wairere below lookout web_ by M Handley.

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