My Adventures

The EPIC Taranaki Weekend!

The famous tarn on the Pouakai Range, overlooking Mt Taranaki

The famous tarn on the Pouakai Range, overlooking Mt Taranaki

Trekking through Goblin Forests, surrounded in a bowl of clouds shooting dormant volcanos, climbing up cliffs with only a chain to pull myself up with and exploring black sand beaches with nothing but the company of a camera and the sound of the waves thundering the rock islands around me.. This kind of sums up my weekend in Taranaki! But heres the whole story..


In this blog I thought I'd talk about state of mind and how I look at life, cause I feel like I'm "living the dream" a bit, and I want to share how I've "kind of" achieved this state of mind haha

 I'm certainly just learning how to live life, I by no means claim to be an expert or anything.. But I've figured out a few universal laws that have changed my life so incredibly, so I'll throw them in with my story of this trip!

So to start with, I'll fill you in on what this trip was about..

This awesome company Choice Hotels (@choice_hotels_nz follow them on instagram!) employed 10 instagrammers from around New Zealand to take part in their #ChoiceNZTravelGrammer2017 competition, where they sent each of us to a different location around NZ to stay in one of their hotels for a weekend, all expenses paid, with jam-packed itineraries of heaps of epic adventures!

The name of the game was to have as much fun and take as many awesome photos as we could, and share them on our instagram, while tagging them in the post to grow their following.. They kept our locations secret until the week before we left, so I was super excited when I found out I was being sent to New Plymouth, where the epic Mt Taranaki lives!!

Shooting this mountain has been on my bucket list for a few years now, so it was literally a dream come true to hear that they had booked me in for a hike to the famous tarns on the Pouakai Range to get the dream shot of Taranaki reflecting in the water! Not only that, but I got the perfect sunset and weather conditions, had an awesome guide, Dave from Top Guides Taranaki, to hang out with who was a bloody good bugger, and I was getting paid to do it! Doesn't really get much better than that ;)

So skipping back to a month ago before all this happened, I've been watching a lot of motivational videos from a channel, Esther Hicks, who channels a higher being called Abriham (youtube Abriham Hicks, it will change your life) and gives extremely profound life advice on how reality works and how thrive in this physical dimension :) In short, everything in reality is a vibration, especially thoughts and emotions contribute to your personal vibration as they are who you are! You attract to you, things that match your vibration, so a positive mind set in life is key!

One video really resonated with me where she mentioned meditating on what you want in life and your goals, focusing on those things and putting excitement and positive energy towards them. She said even just the energy of the idea itself is enough to manifest it into your reality, without necessarily any physical action needed..

So I tried this out, meditating on the idea of having more awesome adventures, meeting great new people, making a living from my passion, getting a faster computer and traveling more. In the 2 weeks following that meditation session I hiked up mountains and got epic shots nearly every day with great friends, also met some amazing new people along the way that are now some of my best friends! I had 3 big print sales go through, sold a few images to a local social media site for a good amount of money and then ended up getting the new MacBook Pro at a discounted price, since I had some money now! Went on an epic road trip shortly after that and ticked off the travel wish, but also received an email from Choice Hotels about this weekends job!

So I can confirm this works, and is a super powerful tool to manifest your life into what you want! And I only really did that one good meditation session! It all just happened in crazy ways I could have never expected, which makes life all the more exciting! But I'll get back to the trip for now..

It started off with a radio interview with More FM Taranaki at 7:30am about the weekend & competition Friday morning, I was a little nervous but it went great according my mum who was listening in online haha! While this interview was happening, there was an incredible sunrise happening outside.. So as soon as we were done, I rushed out to the car and boosted down the road to shoot this amazing scene! Absolutely mind blowing sunrise that was all over social media!


I proceeded to have an awesome day, hanging with mates & editing photos, flew out of Queenstown at 4:30 and got some epic shots of Mt Cook and some other mountains on my flight up!!!

I arrived at New Plymouth airport to pick up my rental car, only to find out that you can't have a rental car without a full drivers licence.. So me being on my Restricted licence was in a bit of a pickle.. But I had a feeling that would be an issue and laughed it off, and the awesome car agency lady gave me a ride to my hotel :) I have been trying to train myself not to react negatively when things seem to not work out, holding a positive vibration is key! And every time things have aligned and worked out just fine :)

My hotel room was awesome and pretty damn fancy! I certainly made the most of room service while I was there! It was pretty cloudy the next morning so I didn't shoot sunrise, but after an awesome breakfast in the hotel, I took a taxi to Back Beach to explore this place..


I was absolutely blow away with how beautiful and picturesque this beach is! With black sand meeting lush green grass and Pohutukawa trees, surrounded by epic rocky cliffs with a few islands out in the ocean, but to top the place off is Paritutu Rock, this huge epic peak right on the beach! It is so amazing for taking photos of with an ultra wide angle lens, so I had a blast exploring the place and finding so many cool foreground elements to play with :) I stupidly didn't bring my tripod for this one, however I managed to get this selfie above by balancing my camera on a sign and holding it in place with the neck strap haha worked pretty well! I did have to photoshop out a bit of the sign in the bottom right corner though.. Again, staying positive attracted positive results!


I throughly enjoyed walking down to the beach, ditching my shoes and enjoying the sand in my toes, just to be super cleche' haha but its moments like these, taking in the small things in life and really enjoying the beautiful moments nature gives us every day, that really make me happy.. I try to bring myself back to the current moment and enjoy things like this as much as possible and really be thankful for every little thing life has to offer, this state of mind leads to some awesome things happening!


My next mission was hiking to the top of this rock.. It looked pretty high so was expecting it to take a while to get up there.. It took about 10 minutes to walk around the road to the start of the track, where it then said 30 minutes to the top. I managed to do it in 6 minutes with a small break to let people past on a very steep and narrow section! So really only 5 mins haha I think they should update their sign ;)

Seriously though the track up here was hectic! The first half was wooden stairs which I ran up easy enough, but then all of a sudden your climbing up the side of cliffs with only a chain to hold on to and pull yourself up! I loved it haha certainly took me by surprise.. The views from the top over the islands were so amazing! I also met a really cool couple up here and had a good chat! I even ran into them at the airport on my way home the next day too which was cool :)

I then decided hitching back to the city was my best option, as catching the taxi out here wasn't too cheap!! I walked along the road for a bit when that cool couple pulled over to pick me up! Although they had surf boards and everything stashed inside and offered to put them on the roof to make room for me, I refused to put them through that mission and decided walking was a good option.. Not 5 seconds after they drive off, another awesome guy pulled over to offer me a ride haha gotta love the generosity of the locals here!

Next was hiring a bike and riding along the coastal walkway! This was a pretty damn awesome way to see the place and it was a really enjoyable track. Even for me who's used to riding big downhill bikes down mountains, I really enjoyed this one! Sadly things were quite cloudy so I didn't get any great photos of Taranaki lined up with a bridge near the end which was my goal, but it was so worth the ride! I did get this cool shot below of huge waves and an interesting old house on a cliff though.. Best of all, the bike hire was only $10!!! I couldn't believe how cheap it was haha thanks to Cycle Inn New Plymouth for that one!!

After this I headed back to the hotel to post a quick photo and then meet my guide Dave for my hike up to Mt Taranaki, the main even't of the weekend!! The weather wasn't really looking too amazing for the whole weekend, I never even got a view of Taranaki from New Plymouth so I was slightly worried that it might be a bit of a flop.. But I knew that if I stayed in a positive head space it would all be fine!


The walk up to the Pouakai Range is flippin' incredible! Its a lush green rain forest with moss growing on everything, ferns lining the track and epic trees forming a roof over the entire track! They call it the Goblin Forest, and for good reason too! The above shot is my guide Dave taking on some of the many steps along the track, below is some of the incredible trees along the way, I so loved shooting in this place!!! Need to spend a whole day just in this forest I think..


Stay tuned for part two!

Nugget Point Mission

I've been reading a lot lately, something I never ever in a million years would have thought I would do! But lately books have been a huge part of my life (thanks Abi!) and I've been thinking I'd like to write a book or 2 myself one day..

This made me realise I should probably start small and get some practice by writing short stories on my adventures, cause sometimes I get up to some cool stuff every now and again.. So starting with my latest mission to Nugget Point with some good friends of mine, Jeremy and Sina, heres how the weekend went...


AS per usual for me, we left an hour or two later than planned so ended up slightly rushing to make it for sunset! There were road works along the last few km of road to the Nugget Point lighthouse and the road was just large rocks so Jeremy's poor car took a hell of a beating! He was adamant we would make it for sunset though and he didn't fail!

It wasn't a bad sunset so we were pretty stoked! I tried running to the top of a hill to find a good angle and decided a short cut over the long grass was the best option, my shoes paid the price...

We hung around talking, laughing and shooting as the light faded, met a cool couple and had a good chat too! Tried a few shots of these guys but didn't exactly succeed.. Jeremy pulling a pretty sexy face here when I caught him off guard haha

with clear skies we anticipated a good night for some astro and were not disappointed! after getting some cool shots of the Milky Way over the Lighthouse, lady Aurora decided to pay us a visit!

Sea Naa Web.jpg

A quick pano of the Aurora between the lighthouse and cliff we were shooting from;

After a good long time shooting in the cold, we decided we should probably go and find a place to sleep as we only had a couple of hours left before we needed to get up for sunrise.. We ended up finding a nice spot overlooking the ocean to set up our tents for about an hour and a half worth of sleep! I was shattered and never actually got around to setting mine up properly, so just slept on my yoga mat, essentially wrapped in my tent with my head poking out haha it was a truly awe inspiring, sleeping under the Milky Way by the sea, something I'll never forget!


Shortly after finally managing to fall asleep, I awoke to Sina telling me we need to get up.. I raised my head to the amazing view of some great looking cloud beginning to turn orange with the first rays of sunlight peaking out from below the horizon! It took a good few minutes to muster up the strength to get up, but the sky gradually lighting up more and more motivated me to grab my gear and start running! This was the first quick shot I took on the run to the Lighthouse;

I really wish I managed to get up earlier to have captured the best light and had time to pick some more awesome compositions but I ended up getting such a sick shot of the path leading up to the light house towards the end of sunrise anyway, so I shouldn't complain! This was the first decent shot I took as I was rushing up the path;

I really wanted a shot of the nuggets so headed to the viewing platform in front of the lighthouse to get that typical view, but it was super worth it...

This sunrise just kept on giving! The light was different every minute so I managed to get a couple of different shots, heres a hand stitched 2 shot panorama of the light getting under the low cloud and lighting it up nice and red, I decided on a kind of minimal processing style on this one, just adding a slight glow effect, I quite like it..

I decided I should run back up to the cliff to get a shot of the lighthouse and the nuggets but as soon as I got around the lighthouse I fell in love with the view of the path leading up to the lighthouse with the orange glow of sunrise behind it! I stayed here for a while and got a couple of nice shots but this one below was, for me at least, the winning shot of the whole trip! (Also at the top of this post too, I liked it so much I posted it twice lol)

We headed up to the cliff to get that typical view overlooking the point, but there was tonnes of tourists there all over the sketchy track up the hill, so I never really got any good shots.. But I did get this kind of cool silhouette of the lighthouse on the way back;

By this point we were pretty damn shattered! We had spent the best part of the last 11 hours shooting, so we needed some more sleep! We headed back to our camp spot and were loving the view over the ocean with the sun just rising in the sky, so we packed up the tents, chucked the air bed right on the edge of the hill overlooking the sea and the 3 of us fell asleep to a truly epic view! Sadly I never actually got a shot of our bed on the hill, but I did get one of the tent before we pulled it down;

After catching up on a bit of sleep in the sun, we continued on our adventure with a coffee in Kaka Point, then had a huge debate on wether we had enough time to visit Purakaunui Falls or not, which was quite funny having 3 very tired people trying to sort our lives out haha.

We decided that we wouldn't have enough time to make it to the falls as well as make it to Steam Punk HQ in oamaru before it closed, which was one of the main reasons for going on this trip, so we just continued on to Oamaru and had an hour to enjoy the weird attraction..

This place was pretty funky, heaps of weird sculptures made from bits of metal and junk, with a kind of Nazi/demonic feel to it haha got some cool shots around the place;

I quite liked the flare from the light on this Parana thing, it was good fun roaming around in this place, lots of interesting dark scenes to play with! My 6D was really in its element here with its low light capabilities!

The main reason we came to this crazy place was for one certain room they have.. Sina saw a cool photo from this place and was super keen to come check it out! I'll let the photos speak for themselves..

I think Jeremy got the winning shot from this room with some amazing multi-coloured skulls but I can't find the photo.. None the less, it was a pretty epic experience! I imagine a few people on different hallucinogens will have had a great time in this room in the past.. 

After a bit of fun here and staying a good 15 minutes after the place had closed, we headed to Dunedin to get to Tunnel Beach for sunset. I saw an awesome lone tree on a hill on the way and had to pull over to shoot it! Sadly there were a few other trees in the way which made it quite difficult to get a good angle, but I still quite like this shot;

We stopped at a little fish 'n' chip shop in some small town somewhere in some place called something at some time I can't remember, but had a great big feed and had heaps left over so I took my chips with me down to the beach!

I was stoked to finally get to shoot here after seeing a lot of epic shots of this place, I never realised how cool this beach actually was! I went prickle diving to try get to a good angle but didn't have much luck, this was the best shot I got after being stabbed in the legs a few thousand times..

Best seat in the house.. haha

I did get a few nice angles while roaming around, sunset wasn't too bad either;

I hung around in the grass while Jeremy and Sina headed out onto the point, I ended up yelling instructions at them to cuddle for a photo from a few hundred metres away over the sound of the wind and waves, which I'm surprised they managed to figure out what I was saying! Got quite a nice shot of them though..

There was an interesting cloud hanging out in the sky too which kind of looked a bit like a crab, so had to shoot a huge pano of it;

We then headed down a really cool stair case through a tunnel down to the beach which I never knew was there! It was quite a surprise and such an epic spot! The cliffs all around us were beautiful and had some really cool shapes, Jeremy posing to provide a sense of scale;

That pointy cliff hes staring at looks very much like a roman warrior from the side, with that crazy mow-hawk helmet thing and a big bushy beard, don't you think?

After this we were shattered and began our long drive home to Queenstown, as we wanted to be back in our own beds for the night and had a few things to do the next day, but it probably wasn't the best decision to drive 4 hours after so little sleep! I got a few hours of nap time in the car and drove the last stretch through the Kawarau Gorge which I really enjoyed and felt great doing! I always love driving that road.. Arrived home at 1:30am and a warm bed was a very welcome feeling after an intense few days!

To finish off, heres another few shots from the mission;