WWPW2014 – Queenstown

View over the lakeTaken me far too long to write this post. Life and a mild fear of not being good enough lead to some serious procrastination. In the meantime however I’ve upgraded my photo editing rig and spent some time getting slowly better at editing.

Worldwide Photo Walk 2014

I’ve been on a few of Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photo Walks over the last few years, always local events and I haven’t had the guts to upload my photos for the competition side of things. This year I decided to take myself out of my comfort zone and used the WWPW2014 event to do it. How? Head somewhere different, shoot something different.

Queenstown, New Zealand

So a quick look over photowalks that had been registered in easy/cheap to travel locations turned up a small one registered in Queenstown, New Zealand. I had been to New Zealand once before on a short work trip but didn’t get to see much of the place. Many of you may know Queenstown as its reputation for being an extreme sports destination but I was more interested in the landscape which friends and family had described to me as being beyond stunning. The WWPW2014 nicely fell into the Queenstown off season allowing for a reasonably cheap combination of flights and accommodation.

Damn shiny

The Walk

I kind of suspected this might end up being a solo walk as only three people, including myself, had registered for it and an attempt to contact the walk leader a fortnight before hand was met with silence. Sure enough come 7AM on the day no one was at the start point. Just me enjoying the sunrise. After waiting for 30 minutes I set off on my own but was pleasantly surprised to run into the other registered walker, Philip Green.

Philip turned out to be a very knowledgeable and friendly Queenstown local and it was a blast doing the rest of the walk with him. We did the walk was planned along the edge of Lake Wakatipu and into the botanical gardens. Despite the lack of a group it was a pretty good time. I should mention that Philip runs a wine tour business called Appellation Central which if its run anything like how he conducted the walk is more than likely an excellent experience.

Here are the shots from the walk I thought were worth showing:

All Things Strive

Fisheye Lake

Golden Dawn

Half Flower

Philip got this great shot of a Black Shag that seemed to pose nicely for him as we sat there:

The Day After

As I was in Queenstown for the weekend I had booked myself a bus tour with the BBQ Bus out to Milford Sound (misleading name as it’s actually a fjord) which happily turned out pretty well. A lot of tour companies won’t run a tour if only a single person is booked but these guys were more than happy to do so for me anyway and I got a great trip with an awesome driver, Marty.

Marty as it turns out is a passionate wildlife conservationist who had played a pivotal role in helping save some of New Zealand’s most endangered bird species. He provided a great deal of detail about the area, was highly informative and amazingly helpful. A truly generous man with his time.

Milford Sound is one of the wettest places I’ve ever been and has hundreds of tiny waterfalls, low lying mists, sheer steep walls as befits a glacier carved valley. Not being a landscape photographer none of the shots I took I felt really did the place justice and if you’re ever in the area I’d highly recommend visiting it.

Duck on Lake Wakatipu

Dawn before heading to Milford Sound

The Chasm on the road to Milford Sound

Stirling Falls at Milford Sound

Much closer and wetter to Stirling Falls

Cheeky water drenched kakapo demanding food from drivers

Planning For Next Year

So was the effort of going to New Zealand for WWPW2014 worth it? Absolutely. Despite the low turn out and the short time I had there it was a pretty great experience. Met some really nice people, got a few decent shots out of the literally hundreds I took while there. All in all not a bad little trip.

The question now is do I do it again for WWPW2015? I’m thinking yes. Pick another walk out of town and head there, maybe with a larger group this time around. Get out of my element, see some new places and just try to enjoy it. If I get some good shots out of it then even better.

And for those of you wondering if you should be involved in WWPW2015 even if you have no interest in the competitive side of things I highly recommend giving it a go. It’s more about meeting other photographers, talking with them and sharing ideas. It may also encourage you to try something new, which isn’t easy for a lot of us but the pay off can be worth it.