A Hideously Long Drive

Introduction

Holidays and I don’t always get along so well. Regardless of the number of hours of planning, or how good things look on paper, something always goes wrong. In the case of my Easter 2014 camping trip, I drove 240 km further than planned (as if 1,200 km hadn’t been enough to begin with), and I forgot the tent poles (sorry, again, guys). As you can well imagine, a tent without poles is like a car without an engine: a bit useless. So, visiting the Catlins, camping in Fiordland, then camping in Central Otago, and coming home, turned into: visiting the Catlins, a restless and mosquito-laden night in Fiordland, driving to a campsite in Central Otago, getting back in the car after a quick look around, and driving home.

Somehow, photos occurred along the way. I’ve posted some below, with a little bit of text in between.

The Catlins

I like the Catlins. The scenery is nice, the roads are fun, and the camera gets a good workout.

The sunlight struggles past storm clouds at Nugget Point. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 12-50 mm. 1/400 s, f/8, ISO 250.
The sunlight struggles past storm clouds at Nugget Point, the Catlins. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 12-50 mm. 1/400 s, f/8, ISO 250.

The weather is also interesting. It’s certainly the first time I can recall being blown against a hillside and having a face completely soaked by the rain. Then again, the severe weather warning implied that the weather would be severe. It missed out the part about it being fun at the same time, though…

Cannibal Bay. We were not eaten, nor did we eat anybody. We ate crisps instead. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 12-50 mm. 1/80 s, f/8, ISO 400.
Cannibal Bay, the Catlins. We were not eaten, nor did we eat anybody. We ate crisps (of the potato-derived variety). Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 12-50 mm. 1/80 s, f/8, ISO 400.

After getting the car caked from rims to roof with a mud-sand compound, we ventured onwards, hoping for a burst of rain to clean the car. I wound up doing this manually, however, as it turned out the mud-sand compound, when dried in the wind, was completely resistant to any level of water. Once some level of vision was restored, we aimed the car roughly at Fiordland, and went for it (whilst obeying all traffic laws).

Part of the Purakanui Falls, in the Catlins. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 12-50 mm. 1/15 s, f/5.8, ISO 400.
Part of the Purakanui Falls, in the Catlins. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 12-50 mm. 1/15 s, f/5.8, ISO 400.

Fiordland

Fiordland is stunning. Native rain forests of lush greens are densely packed into deep valleys, which open out into vast vistas encapsulating raging rivers, waterfalls, and snowy peaks. Oh, and there are some fiords, too, to justify calling it “Fiordland”.

Lake Monowai, Fiordland, in the morning. It was very foggy. Olympus Om-D E-M5 with Olympus 12-50 mm. 1/25 s, f/8, ISO 100.
Lake Monowai, Fiordland, in the morning. It was very foggy amongst the trees. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 12-50 mm. 1/25 s, f/8, ISO 100.

We arrived at Lake Monowai in the dark, discovering shortly thereafter, that we were in for a restless night spent between the car, and the forest floor. Fortunately, it did not rain until after we woke up. There were a lot of mosquitoes, who didn’t fare well when they targeted me because: a) after many trips to Cambodia, I’m capable of swatting insects whilst being sound asleep, and b) I covered myself with a waxed cotton jacket, and they feasted on the wax, which hastened their demise.

Lake Monowai shortly after sunrise. The fog took quite some time to lift out of the valley. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 12-50 mm. 1/20 s, f/8, ISO 100.
Lake Monowai shortly after sunrise. The fog took quite some time to lift out of the valley. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 12-50 mm. 1/20 s, f/8, ISO 100.

After re-packing the car, we drove on to Manapouri and Te Anau, then eventually wound up in Milford Sound. It was much too cloudy and wet (and short of parking spaces) to get out and look around, so we headed back to Te Anau, via The Chasm.

The river running down into The Chasm. The chasm is a series of large craters, carved into the soft rock faces by the many waterfalls the river forms. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 12-50 mm. 1/40 s, f/8, ISO 400.
The river running down into The Chasm. The chasm is a series of large craters, carved into the soft rock faces by the many waterfalls the river forms. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 12-50 mm. 1/40 s, f/8, ISO 400.

The hill climb out of Milford Sound was epic, with torrents either side of the road, and jets of water cascading down rock faces either side of the valley. I’ve always felt Fiordland is better in the rain for this reason, though it’s a pity it was too heavy to see Milford Sound.

Looking up from the carpark at The Chasm. The water was raging down the mountainsides the length of the Milford Road. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 12-50 mm. 1/50 s, f/5.6, ISO 100.
Looking up from the carpark at The Chasm. The water was flowing down the mountainsides the length of the Milford Road. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 12-50 mm. 1/50 s, f/5.6, ISO 100.

Central Otago

As much as I try to explore Central Otago, it’s a large place, and I invariably miss some things. So, this was my first visit to Mavora Lakes.

South Mavora Lake, Central Otago. The sun was starting to leave the valley at this point. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 12-50 mm. 1/125 s, f/8, ISO 200.
South Mavora Lake, Central Otago. The sun was starting to set behind the mountains. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus 12-50 mm. 1/125 s, f/8, ISO 200.

The lakes are vast, and very popular for tramping and camping (neither of which we had the time or gear to do). It was lovely nonetheless, and I look forward to visiting again for a proper overnight stay (with tent poles to go with the tent).

Conclusion

Roadtrips are fun, and I enjoy doing them, both for the driving, and the photographing. Issues aside, it was an enjoyable trip, and I look forward to revisiting all these places. However, the next time I venture out, I’ll be taking more time to see places properly (and taking more photos in the process). Given the choice between 1,430 km in two days, or 1,430 photos in two days, I know which one I’d much rather pick.

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