• Hooker Valley Track – New Zealand

    For so many years I have wanted to hike along the Hooker Valley Track in New Zealand.  I was fortunate enough recently to make my dream come true.  In April this year, on a perfect Autumn day, my wife and I set out to do the 8 km (5 mile) 4 hour round trek to the base of Mount Cook and Hooker Lake via the Hooker Valley Track and let me tell you … it was SPECTACULAR!


    Hooker Valley Track
    Mount Cook Road heading towards the Hooker Valley Track past Lake Pukaki.


    It was everything I dreamt it would be.  Besides the jaw dropping alpine scenery, I was also witness to avalanches (from a distance),  flowing streams, suspension bridges, wildlife, icebergs (yes, icebergs!) and of course seeing Mount Cook up close is something else.


    Hooker Valley Track
    You’ll find the trails on the Hooker Valley Track are well maintained. Just love that view!


    I chose to travel light in terms of camera equipment.  I took my Nikon D800 and Sony RX100 Mark 3 and a smaller lighter tripod.  This paid off in the end because I have gone on much longer hikes with a full camera kit and lenses.  At the end of those hikes my legs felt like jelly, on this hike I felt really good and still energetic at the end.


    From every angle, every view point, the landscape is just stunning.


    Hooker Valley
    Beautiful suspension bridges along the Hooker Valley Track. They’re bouncy and fun!



    Hooker Valley Track
    The Stocking Stream Shelter is at about the three quarter way mark into the Hooker Valley Track.



    Hooker Valley Track
    Mount Cook and the surrounding mountains reflect into the Alpine Tarn. Taken with my Nikon D800 and 14-24mm lens.


    Here are some tips regarding the Hooker Valley Track.  Firstly, make sure you take some food and water.  Just snacks would be enough to get you by.  I took a large Gatorade, a pre made sandwich, nut bar and packet of chips.  I found that more than enough to keep me rolling along.  Secondly, make sure you have sunscreen and a good quality brand insect repellent, especially in the early morning or late evening.  Thirdly, DON’T RUSH, I was moving along at a pretty fast pace going in on the track and I wish I would have walked slower because you come to the end soon enough at Hooker Lake.


    Nice place to stop for a rest and bite to eat don’t you think?



    Hooker Valley Track
    Icebergs float in Hooker Lake at the base of Mount Cook on the Hooker Valley Track.


    I would describe the hike somewhere between easy to moderate.  Let me put it this way, I saw 70 something year old people with walking canes passing me going back towards the main campsite, so my immediate thoughts of what lay before me fitness wise were instantly relieved.  I had trained for months beforehand, but in the end I didn’t really need it.  What you will notice is the hike in is a bit harder than the hike out due to the ever so slight upwards grade to the base of Mount Cook and Hooker Lake.



    Hooker Valley Track
    Long exposure shot with 10 stop ND filter, a stream flows off Hooker Lake. Mount Cook in the distance.


    Have you been to the Hooker Valley Track?  Perhaps you’re thinking of doing it soon?  If so, I’d love to hear from you and your experience in the comments below.  Please feel free to say hello.


    For more photos and adventures please follow my Instagram account @adrianalfordphotography or check out my Facebook page – Adrian Alford Photography.  Thanks for reading 🙂


    Hooker Valley Track – dream accomplished.


    Hooker Valley Track


  • New Zealand images now available to view

    Friends, it’s been a while since I’ve posted on my blog, but I am happy to announce I have now

    uploaded my New Zealand images under the Travel tab above or you can click here.  For the beautiful panoramas click here.

    I had so much fun while capturing these and also fine tuning in the post production process.  I hope you enjoy and please leave feedback if you wish.

    I have more adventures planned for the future so stay tuned.

    Your friend behind the lens


  • Day 5 Queenstown

    Such a beautiful day today.  Started out a little cloudy, but quickly cleared up to reveal stunning mountain ranges covered in snow.


    I decided to head to Glenorchy today.  A little town about 45 minutes away from Queenstown.  The mountains here are just stunning and combined with the aqua blue water of Lake Wakatipu made for some great shots.


    From here I headed to a place called Paradise.  This is one of my favourite places in the world because of it’s diverse landscape elements.  Lakes, wildlife, forest, waterfalls, long sweeping plains, and mountains.  Of course it is here that I am in my element.  I almost filled my camera memory card for the first time on this trip.  I was salivating as I saw the most amazing gifts of nature.  Snow frosted plants.  mirrored snowy mountains in lakes, rock solid frozen grass with icicles and suns rays streaming through tall ancient forest trees.


    What a magnificent trip it has been so far.  So much fun, wonderful weather and getting some great shots along the way.  Tomorrow is Milford Sound.  I’m going to try out my new Nikon 80-400mm lens and hopefully get some good wildlife shots 🙂


    Diamond Lake



  • Day 3 Queenstown

    An absolutely stunning day here in Queenstown New Zealand!


    The day began with a trip out to the gorgeous Wanaka via the short cut up and over the Alpine Ranges.  There were many stunning vantage points looking back over the valley, perfect for my first panorama.


    First things first, as I drove into Wanaka I visited my favourite little bakery that I had discovered years ago and ordered the usual.  Meat pie and cream filled donut (trust me I don’t always eat this bad).  From there I went across the road to Lake Wanaka.  If you are ever visiting the south island of New Zealand you MUST visit here.  The scenery is jaw dropping.  Very happy with the shots I obtained including a terrific collection of shots around this lonely little tree protruding from the lake.


    I then hit the road and headed back to Queenstown, but kept going to get to a small remote lake called Moke.  I can’t wait to put the panoramic shots I got here together.  Perfect mirrored image mountains for 180 degrees.  Got a little hairy going out to here due to snow and ice on the dirt road, but it was so worth it!


    In the evening I took the Queenstown skyline gondola to the top of the mountain which overlooks the town.  Beautiful sunset shots with colours of pink and purple in the sky above The Remarkables mountain range.  What a glorious way to end a magnificent day.  Just love this place to bits!


    Queenstown Evening



  • Day 5 Cook Islands

    AvaruaUp early again to do  more sunrise shots.  This time I found this perfect spot with a single palm tree low to the beach.  I worked around that getting various shots.


    Then I hit the road on the scooter.  I stopped at various locations around Rarotonga grabbing shots, including secluded beaches, Wigmore’s Waterfall, Black Rock (got a FANTASTIC panorama here with the aqua blue ocean), and around the main town of Avarua.


    In the afternoon, I took the GoPro diving and got some more great shots of star fish, coral and fish.  Well, when in paradise…


    And that was where my day ended abruptly as I strained my right foot/ankle while diving. Twisted the wrong way while standing up to get into my kayak (that’s life).  Had to rest up and go into repair mode pretty quickly.  It was lucky the injury happened when it did anyway as a large rain storm came in and swamped everything, so was still not able to get my elusive sunset shot or any shots for that matter.


    Time to rest up, repair, and oh, is that another cocktail calling? 🙂

  • Day 4 Cook Islands

    East RarotongaUp again early to do some sunrise shots around a group of large rocks I found.  Was a wonderful sunrise and am very happy with the shots I got.  I also had the GoPro Hero 3 doing a timelapse which I can’t wait to put together when I get home.


    From there I started doing more shots for the new Slim Birdy website.  Had lots and lots of fun!  Looking forward to seeing the website when it is completed with photos done by yours truly.


    Once that was done the weather became overcast.  I found this dramtic landscape (black jagged lava that had frozen upon hitting the shoreline many centuries ago) and began to take shots with my ND filter.  I got some terrific shots as the waves smashed up against the rocks.  I even got smashed myself, embarassing.. all captured on video too!


    Once again no good for the sunnset as was overcast.  Time to sit back with a cocktail and enjoy the evening in paradise 🙂

  • Day 3 Cook Islands

    Up to shoot the sunrise and beginning of the Adrian Alford Photography video which you will see completed mid 2013 on this website.  Basically the video will detail more about my photography, my techniques and some of the stunning places I get to visit.  It will appear under the “About Adrian” tab.


    Had to go into the main town of Avarua to get my Cook Islands drivers licence for the scooter.  Even though I have a drivers licence and international drivers licence they still require you to have a “Cook Islands” drivers licence.  There is one main road that goes around the circumference of Rarotonga so it’s pretty hard to get lost.  I had a bit of fun with the drives licence picture and nailed “Blue Steel” hehe 🙂


    I then went to Wigmore’s waterfall in the middle of the island.  It was this perfect little oasis and I got a lot of different angles.  The best part was when the sun came out and dappled across the waterfall and green mossed ledge side, beautiful.  The mosquitos were pretty thick though.  My camera and scooter were covered in them as they’re attracted to black.  I did however have some tropical strength insect repellent (which coincidentally had just picked up from a store) so that kept them at bay thankfully.


    Did more scouting and found some good spots for more shots.


    In the afternoon I made my way over to the deserted Taakoka island via kayak in the middle of Muri Lagoon.  Took the Gopro Hero 3 camera and found a perfect spot to go snorkelling.  Got some incredible video footage and stills of the different fish, corals and bombies.  The best shot however was when I surfaced and discovered a single yellow hibiscus flower floating in the middle of the ocean.  I got a terrific shot as it floated by (see insert).  I am now using it as my blog background 🙂


    Found the perfect beach to take another sunset shot.  Unfortunately the sunset was a complete dud this evening.  But will return to the same spot tomorrow and hopefully get a better shot.

  • Day 2 Cook Islands

    CoconutSPECTACULAR sunrise this morning so took full advantage with the silhouette of islands in the lagoon.  Lots of clouds with pink, orange and purple colours.  Probably some of the best sunrise shots I’ve ever taken.  These will be available to view and buy very soon from this website, stay tuned.


    I secured my scooter for getting around the island for the rest of the week.  Love my scooters, just so much fun!  They’re also economical, easy parking and they can get you into places cars can’t.  Great for photography.


    Shot pics for new exciting website soon to launch called slimbirdy.com.  I have a feeling this website will be a HUGE hit in the future, so keep your eyes out for that one.  It concentrates on healthy living tips, delicious recipes, fun exercise and much much more.


    In the afternoon I did a bit of scouting for locations, then shot a beautiful sunset on the western side of the island.


    Off to shoot night shots with bright stars over islands.


    Loving this place so much!  🙂

  • Day 1 Cook Islands

    Taakoka IslandAfter a long flight and arriving at 1am in Rarotunga, it was relieving to get to my accom at Muri Beach.  Given the late hour, I could not resist to go down to the waters edge in front of my bungalow.  I looked up to see the milky way in a bright cloudless night sky over the silhouette of a small island out in the lagoon.  Pricelsss moment.


    Upon waking I discovered an oasis lagoon with water so blue it was like someone had tipped coloured dye into the water.  I have been blessed with beautiful weather today to get my initial shots around the Muri Beach area.  Remote lttle islands lay within the lagoon so I grabbed a kayak and paddled out to do a recky for some potential shots on one of the islands.  Found some great spots.


    Once again luck was upon me and a group of young local children had a sailing regatta in the lagoon.  Their miniature sailing boats were too cute, and boy could they go!  Got some wonderful shots as they raced around the lagoon.


    Such a magnificent first day and I still have all week to enjoy.  Am really looking forward to it.

    Sunrise and sunset shots again tomorrow.  Have found some nice locations to shoot from.

    I also have a new best friend in a little cat who follows me around everywhere getting under my feet hence her nickname CIC.  Short for Cook Islands Cat.