Tristan shares his top tips and favourite NZ photography spots
As some of you may (or may not) know that Tristan Cullen, the passionate owner of Habitat Tours and the main guide for both Tawharanui and the Waitakere Ranges day tours, is also a keen photographer.
Many of our guests arrive on our Auckland tours with a powerful camera packed and ready for the trip, and that’s about all it takes to start a tour-long conversation about photography.
Some of the most common questions Tristan hears relate to his favourite spots in New Zealand to spend time behind the lens, what he likes to photograph most, and when to shoot!
Here are a few insights into the world of an avid New Zealand photographer:
The best NZ places for photography
The wonderful thing about New Zealand is that no matter where you find yourself, if you’re not already in a beautiful place, you can travel perhaps 20 minutes in any direction and find yourself somewhere phenomenal.
Head off the shore from Auckland central, for example, and you’ll discover the Hauraki Gulf and its inviting seascapes dotted with islands on every horizon. Dolphins are not unheard of around the Gulf area, and you’ll be spoilt for choice for beach and coastline photos at any of the small and large islands.
Within Auckland itself, there are countless places to capture both the metropolitan side and the natural side of the city. Take a stroll along the waterfront and be inspired by the sails against the bright blue ocean, or take a walk up some of the higher points such as Mt Eden or Mt Victoria in Devonport for breath-taking views of the city and surrounds.
Head just north of Auckland and you’ll find more of Tristan’s favourite spots, such as the stunning coastlines from the Harbour Bridge and all the way north of that. Of course, with gentle farmland slopes that dip to meet the ocean and views of Little Barrier Island, Tawharanui is a constant focus of Tristan’s camera.
Tristan’s perfect photography day out
The perfect day would be at the diverse and impressive Waitakere Ranges. At Muriwai Beach, a gannet colony of approximately 1,200 pairs nests year for half the year, making for a mesmerising mix of birdlife and rugged coastal New Zealand.
A little further inland, the rainforest scenery is something not to be missed – especially after a recent rainfall. The stillness, water droplets, and mist at places such as Cascade Kauri make this a magical place ripe and ready for a keen photographer to visit.
The Karekare Falls near Karekare Village is another special spot, and many visitors to the country may have already seen some of this thriving yet remote landscape in the movie ‘The Piano’. Another waterfall, that of Kitekite at Piha, offers stunning beauty set in native rainforest to finish a perfect day of photography.
The best times for photography in NZ
It can be tough to choose one season, as each month seems to offer new delights to the photographer’s eye with a new mood, colour range, and light for every season.
That said, a winter’s day does offer many of the features a photographer craves; freshness, clarity, a lack of people and distractions, a certain moodiness from the raindrops, and the enchanting mists of winter. That setting is simply tough to beat – just don’t forget your umbrella and raincoat!
Tristan Cullen - Passionate Conservationist