Northland Summer

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HAPPY SPRING!

The first day of Spring always gets me right excited for summer time action. I know we have a long way to go in terms of weather, but hey, nothing like a little taste of last summer to keep the excitement alive. Here’s a little visual journal of a little Northland roadie in the height of summer, January 2019. Can’t wait for shorts, jandals and swims every day again!

First up was a special little spot in the Bay Of Islands. We are truly so lucky to know some beautiful people with a slice of paradise here. Situated above a little idilic bay, they have the perfect gateway to heaps of islands with stunning beaches, epic fishing, walks with incredible views and DOLPHINS! - will get into this later. Let’s begin…

P.s just quickly. Spike Ball = epic. Get amongst that shit.

This next bit was one of the coolest experiences ever. One afternoon we were chilling on the deck and we could see the dolphin tour boats out in the water and people were jumping in. Jord was like “let’s go out there!” and I was all like “fak yas batch” so we whizzed out there on the Teh Goose. We slowly cruised around as a pod of dolphins swum around. Making sure to keep our distance we could see they were heading towards a bay full of people. As we arrived at the bay they started totally performing for everyone. I jumped in with my camera with the intent to take photos, but got fully lost in the moment. I just completely forgot I was holding my camera. Everyone was cheering and clapping as the dolphins swam back and forward, jumping and making extremely loud squeaks while they were up in the air. I was in about 2 meters of water and they swam the length of the bay over and over again passing within centimetres of me each time.

I managed to fire off a few frames and a quick vid in the end, but was mainly just so stoked to have experienced New Zealand just being bloody awesome yet again. It was just such a cool scene. Beautiful sunny weather, clear blue water, kids on kayaks grinning from ear to ear. We are so so lucky in New Zealand. Dolphins still holding my favourite animal spot for 25 years strong. Being able to swim with them in my home country was a ridiculously special thing.

A++ would swim again.

Cheers to that. Back to regular programming.

The remainder of our time in the Bay Of Islands consisted of more islands, lagoons, rock pools and lots more beersies.

Oh and also some great boatman x drone work at a sweet little sand bar.

The time came for a a few members of our crew to head back to work, but Jord and I had some time up our sleeves to head further north and meet up with some road trippin’ mates.

First up was Doubtless Bay. Stunner of a sunrise spot. You’ll see my obsession with Bunnies Tails in full effect here. (Aka Lagurus ovatus - those little fluffy plants you see on sand dunes here in NZ). I’ve added some of these to my print shop here.

We then shot across to Ahipara. A sick spot where you can (or used to be able to if I’ve been informed correctly) drive around the rocks to epic swells that wrap around the peninsula. The first time we drove around I was a little sketched out and voiced quietly to Jord “are you sure this is legit?” “Fuck yeah, cattle trucks literally drive around here” he laughed back. Although I didn’t see any cattle trucks, I saw aaalll types of other cars ripping around. Mostly two-wheel drives and a couple of caravans (although would not recommend driving either around there!) Once around the rocks you’ll find a sweet adventure playground. Four-wheel driving, dirt bikes, surf and huuuuge sand dunes you can rip down on a boogie board (terrifyingly fun).

With that we started our journey back to Dorkland. Not without a couple of cheeky stops along the way of course. Dropped in to visit Tāne Mahuta and had a refreshing dip at Kai Iwi Lakes.

Fun fact:
Tāne Mahuta is the largest known living kauri tree and supports a 200 tonne ecosystem in it’s canopy. Including a Pohutakawa tree and a Totara tree.

SO excited to get back to the beautiful North this year.

91 days til summer people!

Check out a little edit I put together of it all below:

Bali

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Finally got our asses to Bali! As some of you would have seen, Jord and I eloped last April (just in little ol NZ) so figured we deserved ourselves a little a honeymoon! Direct flights from Auckland are between a sweet $700- $900, and it’s cheap as chips when you get there, so it’s easy to see why so many kiwis are flocking to the Island of the Gods.

Bali truly is a beautiful place that has a slice of everything I love. Beaches, clear waters, amazing sunsets, mountains, forests, and some of the BEST waterfalls I have ever seen. A bit of a photographers dream really. It’s no wonder so many of us photogs head there and you can now barely scroll through your gram without seeing a pic of this place pop up.

There is of course a very apparent dark side to Bali due to their rubbish issue. It really is everywhere. While it is widely believed that tourists are to blame here (I mean, they do contribute) it really boils down to an in-effective/non-existent rubbish collection system. This means that most rubbish created on the island, stays on the island. It’s disposed in rivers, buried in the ground, but mostly ends up in the sea. It’s not even an exclusive problem to Bali - it could be due to the number of tourists that visit that it gets a little more attention. And worthwhile attention at that. We saw so many businesses doing their best to tackle their waste problem. It has a long way to go, but the people there mostly spread a very strong a positive message to the locals and tourists.

Anyway, little dose of awareness there. You all know how I feel about the ocean, so just be mindful if you go and visit! Story time now. We spend two weeks experiencing, tasting and relaxing our way around Bali. Because it was our first time, we didn’t mind hopping around a little bit to see a slice of everything. Bingin Beach, Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan, Ubud and Canggu were our hits for this trip. Read on to see what we got up to!

BINGIN BEACH

We absolutely loved this spot. Easily the favourite of the trip. Super chilled, great waves and not too many people around. It also meant we were close to Uluwatu so we could hit Single Fin (epic to watch the sunset and surfers with a beer in hand) and Sundays Beach Club. A pretty trendy ‘treat yo self’ kind of spot that can only be accessed by cable car. While this spot is a little more expensive than the rest of Bali, it was so worth the luxury. Similar pricing to going to a nice bar in Auckland really. The food was A++, would eat again. Perfect swimming spot too. A day well spent if you can get down there for sure! Also do yourself a favour a get a Nalu Smoothie Bowl in Uluwatu. Thank me later. Throw in heaps of Bintangs and sunsets and you’ve got yourself a good time.

NUSA LEMBONGAN & NUSA CENINGAN

This was a seriously beautiful place, but man did we pick a seriously wrong time to visit. When we went to check-in for our ferry ride, we were told there weren’t going to be any boats run on the day we planned to come back to the mainland. In fact, no boats would be allowed on the water at all that day due to the name of a holiday I don’t remember. Not a worry, we can just come back a day earlier and have an extra day in Ubud - a blessing in disguise. Fast forward to that day earlier saw us on the beach at low tide with hundreds of other people trying to get off the island a day earlier. Low tide also meant that the ferry couldn’t come right in, so everyone had to be transferred on much smaller boats back and forth to the big boat. Including all of the luggage. These tiny little boats had so many bags piled on top of each other, I was convinced all my belongings were destined for the bottom of the ocean.

Communication was at an all time low and we couldn’t even figure out how the staff even knew how to get our bags onto the right boat. Due to the madness of it all, I think everyone was thinking along the same lines as us “how are all these people going to get transported across in time, how are we going to all fit, pretty sure they have overbooked the ferry.” This resulted in the classic pushy frantic nature you see in so many travellers in the world. If we weren’t stressed before, all that energy from everyone else panicking definitely put fuel on that fire.

Fast forward to now, we clearly made it off the island, didn’t sink and somehow collected all of our belongings. One of those fun travel days. We loved these islands, but the travel logistics alone made me feel like I’ve ticked that box and may never return. What made it all worth it was swimming with our first ever Manta Ray. Also insert frantic tourists here. Never seen so many people in one body of water in my life. Chasing one poor Manta Ray. I observed the pattern the Manta Ray was swimming in and hung around the back of the group and just waited while it came my way. This resulted in a really cool moment where I dove down and swum along side it for a few seconds. That was the “worth it” moment.

UBUD

Sekumpul waterfall

So we didn’t actually do a lot in Ubud, but more used it as a bit of a gateway to some of the things we wanted to further north. Hey hey waterfalls and rice terraces! First mission was Gerombong & Sekumpul waterfalls. About a 2 hour drive from central Ubud you’ll find 7 waterfalls in one area. We started our journey at about 5am to get there before the crowds and had the whole place to ourselves! Falling from a height of nearly 100m, Sekumpul is one of the coolest waterfalls I’ve ever seen. And I’m big on falling water.

I wrote a little caption on this a few weeks ago, but basically: water in motion produces abundant negative ions. It’s believed that negatively charged ions produce biochemical reactions that increase serotonin levels, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress and boost our energy. ⁣

The air around a waterfall can contain anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 negative ions per cubic centimetre. An office or car can contain zero to just a few hundred. They are literally nature’s anti-depressant. So as you can imagine, surrounded by 7 waterfalls makes ya feel pretty damn good.

The road on the way into the waterfall has a bunch of stalls/stops that have signs saying that’s where you need to buy admission. These are fake. Just keep driving until you get to the entrance. You pay the fee on the walk down. You’ll also be told that the only way to get down the path is with a guide. You absolutely do not need a guide. The walk is not hard to navigate. It’s just got some steep as shit stairs on the way back up. However, it’s cheap, supports the locals, they know some cool stuff and can handle a camera. Handy if you need someone to take some snaps for you. There’s a cool drinks shack on the way along the track - well worth a stop for an ice cold coconut on the way back up!

Tegallalang Rice Terraces

Another early start for this one. It’s the best way to skip the crowds and also means you make the most of your day. Mission in the morning, chill in the arvo. Perfection. If you walk yourself up to the back of the terraces (away from the main entrance and over the hill) you’ll find a pretty special spot that sees magical light rays beam through the palm trees as the sun rises. We were there in September and found the light was best between 7-7.30am.

Note there is an old dude there that likely owns the terraces and gates them off. If you give him some money he will let you go explore. Again, not a hard thing to do to support a local. We saw people ignore him and be completely dismissive and rude over what would be about $5-$10NZD. Pretty stink if you ask me. Imagine if you had something beautiful in your backyard and just had people walking all over it and ignoring you for “content”. It did get entertaining when he started throwing rocks at their drone.

Fast forward to about 8.30am and the red dresses started arriving, so we headed on out for a chill day and a little visit to the monkey forest. I’d like to take this opportunity to say: I fucking hate monkeys.

At first I thought they were really cute and had soft little hands. I let them climb all over me and laughed at their grabby curious nature. Until one started biting me. Then it bit me HARD. So I completely panicked (knowing well that the monkeys there don’t have rabies and are regularly tested) and I fuckin’ THREW that monkey. Far away from me. Bad idea. It screamed super loud and suddenly I was surrounded by hissing monkeys. You’re not meant to run in these situations because they chase you. So I’m just standing there freaking out with my bag raised as a soft, shitty, semi-useless weapon. One of these damn monkeys had a dead milky eye which tripled my fear. They eventually left me alone and I power walked the fuck out of there. I will never, ever return.

CANGGU

Last stop was Canggu. A relaxing end to the trip and somewhere to hang for my birthday! Canggu was cool. As in trendy as. And honestly, a little “sceney”. We really loved how Canggu was set up, it’s shopping and all the incredible food. We enjoyed the sunshine, massages, the surf and regular feeds at The Loft. Didn’t take my camera out with me a lot here and just chiiillleddd.

And that therein ends our honeymoon trip to Bali. Funnily enough, I was actually invited along to go back to Bali again with the amazing Carmen Huter… just three days later, lewl. I came home briefly to NZ to celebrate my birthday, do some washing, and then jumped on a plane again! Carmen was on assignment for Marriott Hotels and I was lucky enough to assist for her. Here’s some of what we got up to. In amongst all of our constant rambling. All images of me taken by Carmen - do yourself a favour and go check out her gram!

A super weird experience was visiting the Bali Swing. Carmen had seen images of a swing over a jungle and it looked incredible. So we showed the hotel staff and they said “oh yes Bali Swing!” and sorted us a driver. Upon arrival, we realised that this place was far from what we were expecting. The only way I can describe the phenomenon we saw is “CONTENT FARM”. Holy cannoli there were about 10 swings and a gizzillion gals in pretty flowy dresses swinging back and forward, while their significant other snapped away. Every once and while all the staff would yell in sync “WELCOME TO BALII SWIIINNGGG!” and scare the living shit out of me. Like, you do you boo. Enjoy your holiday whichever way you please. But how bloody interesting that this Instagram culture has created a place that is purely to get an image - there is barely any experience involved! What a spectacle it was.

After standing gob smacked and dumb founded for a little while, we decided to try make the most of being there and had a little swing ourselves. Fun-ish, yet so very odd. Look at us influencing and all. Also, super fun when the skirt you’re wearing flies up on the swing-back and flashes your ass to the line of people waiting behind you (definitely not pictured). What a fine moment during my influencer modelling debut.

We finished our trip at Sundays Beach Club. Hard day at the office that one!

And that’s that. Can’t wait to head back again soon and explore more of the island! If you have any questions about the places we visited, feel free to DM or email me! Ta ta for now!

My Samsung Welcome - West Coast, South Island

This year, I was presented with the honour of joining the Samsung New Zealand family. I had heard all about their famous new Galaxy S9 PRO+ camera settings through the media and the king of froth Mr Logan Dodds. I was on the fence for a while whether or not to switch from ye ol iPhone to a Samsung. I had been attracted to the idea of a smaller camera I could easily take anywhere for a while. For those that know me well, you will know that I'm actually a bit of a lazy photographer at times. In the sense that I find it a bit of a drag taking my camera with me everywhere, but then I HATE missing moments - especially a sunset. The idea that I could add a small tool to my kit that could capture professional quality imagery anywhere and anytime was a really exciting concept to me. So with the launch of their Galaxy S9+ and a push from seasoned Samsung user Logan, my decision to jump ship was too easy.

One of my main concerns with switching was that I would lose everything off my old phone. I had heard Logan talk about "Smart Switch" now and again but didn't realise how "smart" and easy it was going to be. I was actually very surprised I could literally plug in my old phone into my new Samsung and transfer everything over within minutes. Niffttyyy as.

Once I was all set up, Logan and I knew the best place for me to test out my new toy was no other than the South Island of New Zealand. A place both of us can't get enough of. The GS9+ has an incredible low light capability, so I immediately thought of Fox Glacier on the West Coast. I've always wanted to explore and capture ice caves, so I was keen to see how the GS9+ would handle the darker caves and winter light. And hot dang did it handle it or what! I was so so impressed. I even managed to capture one of my favourite images to date on my new phone!

Basically, the Galaxy S9+ has something called Dual Aperture that boasts two aperture modes; f/1.5 and f/2.4. The f/2.4 mode is used mostly for your daylight shots. Then when the sun has dipped a bit low, chucking it into f/1.5 lets in a huge amount of extra light. This aperture setting doesn't have an effect on your depth of field for landscape shots - it's more about additional light. In addition to this feature, you can have control over ISO (again for more or less light), shutter speed, white balance and focus! It's insanity that we can have this kind of control and quality in a phone! Me likey.

So I chucked my new phone in with my kit, plonked Logan and Jordan onto a plane at 7am on a Saturday, and we set out on a road trip from Christchurch to Franz Josef. Four fun days saw us frolicking in frosts, skimming rocks along perfectly still lakes, flying around in helicopters, exploring an ancient glacier, staring in awe at snow-capped mountains, losing our minds over perfect sunsets and eating too many pies. All imagery in this blog is an even mixture of shots taken with my DSLR and my new fave gadget: The Galaxy S9+. Blown away...

How do you end an insane day of natural splendour? MORE NATURAL SPLENDOUR. Lake Matheson round 2 people. Great success. This place is even more beautiful in real life. No photo’s I’ve ever seen have done it justice. We met some cool tourists on the jetty and I confused them by dipping my Galaxy into the lake to get some fresh perspective shots. As Mount Cook and Mount Tasman reflected a perfect sunset orange on the water, I took the opportunity to have a fiddle with all the white balance to help intensify the warm tones I was witnessing in real life. I found that setting it to 6500K (cloudy) helped bring out the sunset colours better. Stunneerrrr. One of the best sunset experiences I’ve had.

After that spectacular day of spleendoouurrr, it was time to head back to Christchurch. So strap in for a foggy start at Lake Mapourika, a little taste of the Hokitika Gorge, a fresh stop at Arthurs Pass and heap of “out the windscreen road” shots. All topped off with a river bed sunset surrounded by mountains. What.is.life.

That my friends, was our little journey to the West Coast of the South Island. As per usual, New Zealand, take a bow. Galaxy S9+, also take a bow. Thanks, Samsung for the opportunity and for becoming an exciting addition to my photography kit. Also churrs to Logan for taking me under his wing and showing me how to get the most out of the phone! Excited for the next adventure! Ta ta for now.

Chitwan, Nepal

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A welcome dose of nature after a full on 9 days in Kathmandu. We stayed at the beautiful Kasara Resort. It was stunning and included heaps of activities. One of which being an elephant-back safari. Going into this, I knew I was going to be torn whether or not to partake. Elephant tourism obviously involves some strong opinions thanks to countries like Thailand and Bali. It's not something that I want to get into too deeply but would like to quickly explain why I decided not to ride one here. 

Chitwan is one of the only National Parks in the world where elephant, rhino and tiger populations are increasing. While elephant tourism plays a very different role in Nepal, I couldn’t imagine any situation where I would feel good getting on or off one. It is true that elephant tourism actually has a positive effect on the conservation of many animals in Nepal, but I think the main point I learnt is not to confuse government-owned elephants with privately-owned resort elephants.

The government use the elephants to patrol the park for poachers and recording important data, and a small amount of tourism. The park rangers ride them through the park to blend in and be safe from predators. No rhinos have been poached in Chitwan National Park in over 3 years. These elephants are kept mostly unchained in large open fields and make a real positive difference to the increasing populations of endangered animals. I believe there are options to go on government-owned elephants safaris where the profit goes directly back into the park.

Privately owned elephants: These are mainly for tourism purposes. There are resorts that are truly dedicated to giving these elephants the most natural possible life in captivity they can, so just do your research. While I am aware that although the particular elephants I interacted with were rescued from India and were treated with love and care by their Mahouts, I wasn’t satisfied enough to justify climbing onto one. The resort keeps most of the profits from these privately owned elephants. The only amount that went to the park is a small entrance fee. So in my eyes, it was pretty heavily weighted toward financial gain. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but this is based on my discussions with the resort manager and a lot of my own research, including this article on Responsible Travel. I also went to see where the elephants lived when they weren't interacting with guests to make up my own mind. 

It’s a bit of a grey area really. It helps but it doesn’t. The elephants are cared for and have a better life than they did before and better than they would elsewhere - noting here you can't just introduce an elephant into the wild when it was raised in captivity. It isn’t like most of the abuse you see in Bali or Thailand, but privately owned elephants are still chained up on small concrete pads for long periods when they aren’t being used (otherwise they will literally go on a rampage and mow down the whole village). Moral of it all is to just make your own informed and ethical decision. Not one just for a photo to share with your friends on social media. There are other ways your money can help in the protection of the park and its animals. At the end of the day, it’s every traveller's right to avoid activities that they disagree with, but Chitwan should also be given the credit they deserve for helping with the conservation of several beautiful endangered animals.

(Nowwww I'm scared because I know what it's like to share opinions on the internet these days. I'm keen to hear your views if you have any, but take it easy!)

That aside, I completely loved the village, the river cruise, the jeep safari and the bush walk. Except for the part where the guide said if we see a tiger we were pretty much doomed. Keep an eye out for the snap of a tiger print in the dirt and a monkey print going in the opposite direction.

Next up was a safari which was my absolute favourite part of Chitwan. We saw 7 One-Horned Rhinos (critically endangered), too many Alligators & Crocodiles to count, a Sloth bear and some golden sunset goodness.

For the remainder of our time in Chitwan, I went exploring some of the village. It was amazing interacting with the locals and seeing how they live. Nepalese are such kind, welcoming people and loved having their photo taken!