New Zealand in February

Discussion in 'Geographic Location' started by Terry Hayden, Dec 29, 2008.

  1. Terry Hayden

    Terry Hayden Member

    Aug 19, 2004
    4x5 Format
    Greetings all,

    There is a good chance that I will be traveling to
    New Zealand in Early February.

    This is a totally unorganized venture, with no particular
    destination in mind - just see as much as we can in two
    weeks. Basically, fly in, rent a car, and hit the road.

    One basic question - is there a source for tmax-100
    readyloads there? Perhaps in Auckland? I can bring my
    own, but would like to avoid the airline x-rays as much
    as possible.

    Any pointers on dealing with Air New Zealand and carrry
    on baggage sizes ( pack with 4x5 Technika, couple lenses,
    tripod, etc)?

    How friendly ( or not ) are the customs folks with hand
    inspecting readyloads ( do they want to take the film out
    of those pesky paper sleeves to get a good look at it)?

    And, of course, any suggestions on "not to miss" points of
    interest. My general interest is in B&W landscape and
    historical architectural/archeological subjects.

    Also - being from the land of superhighways, what sort of
    travel goal is realistic for a first time two week jaunt? I know
    that the country is mainly two islands, but haven't a clue as to
    how long it takes to get from one point to another.

    Thanks for any comments, corrections, pointers.

  2. vdonovan

    vdonovan Member

    Jan 8, 2008
    San Francisco
    NZ customs are looking for drugs and agricultural products and they've got sniffer dogs to find that stuff. They may ask to look at your hiking boots and camping equipment (tents and ground cloths). Make sure they are all clean and don't have any dirt on them.

    Kiwis are friendly people but their cities are not that interesting from a historical or archeological point of view, Auckland especially.

    For me, a very interesting aspect of New Zealand is the Maori culture. Their artwork and architecture is beautiful. You might try to make some contacts ahead of time so that you can visit a marai (a Maori village) and meet some Maori. Of course you should ask permission when taking photographs.

    There are many Maori settlements around the North Island. Most tourists go to Rotorua, which I would personally avoid precisely because it is so touristy. I stayed at a Maori-run hostel near Dargaville and met some wonderful people and saw some beautiful artwork.

    You might rent the movie "Kaikohe Demolition". It is an excellent introduction to rural NZ, not to mention a great movie.

    For sheer scenery, not to mention excellent trekking, fishing, kayaking, and wine tasting, you can't beat the south island. The Nelson area at the top of the south island really has it all, and has some of the best weather in New Zealand.

    If I was planning your trip, I would fly into Auckland, rent a car and wander around the northern coastal areas for a few days. I would research in advance some Maori cultural centers to visit, avoiding Rotorua. Then I would fly to Nelson, rent another car and fill the trunk at the first winery I came to. Then I would head up toward the Nelson lakes with my fly rod and my Zeiss Ikon and you would never hear from me again...
  3. Seabird

    Seabird Member

    Jun 13, 2008
    Sydney, Aust
    4x5 Format
    From a technika using Kiwi who is now resident in Australia but returns to the motherland periodically:

    I've never had problems with customs coming into/out of NZ. I always take camera and film on the plane as cabin baggage and just put it through the scanner. Never had a problem with fogging - generally with 100 ISO speed films.

    Cant comment on 5x4 film availability in NZ, but I'd be surprised if any outlets have it in stock - particularly readyloads. (It's hard enough to find non-readyload T-Max in stock in Sydney, Oz so I'd have major reservations about availability in NZ). If I was you I'd be taking all the film I anticipated needing with me (and then some).

    As for locations: (disclaimer: I may exhibit some prejudice here as I was born and educated in Dunedin and mis-spent my youth tramping in climbing in the southern half of the South Island.) Skip the North Island entirely - unless you are interested in Maori culture - and spend your time down south where the mountains and lakes are. Particular places to visit would include:

    Milford Sound (but remember your insect repellant)
    Skippers Canyon (but remember a change of underwear if you are driving yourself)
    McKenzie Country/Mt Cook (but remember your sunscreen)
    Arrowtown (but remember your colour film)

    If you are interested in architecture than Dunedin and Oamaru are well worth a look - lots of old stone buildings etc.

    Bear in mnd that Feb is the height of the summer tourist season and accomodation may be hard to find in some places - I'd always recommend booking ahead.

    Hope this is slightly helpful. Feel free to ask any other questions


    Carey Bird (some of my NZ photos can be seen here)
  4. bnstein

    bnstein Member

    Oct 9, 2007
    Large Format
    I have found Air New Zealand to be pleasant and friendly. However in comparison to say US domestic (where I look forward to someone bringing a goat and some chickens to stuff into the cabin lockers), hand luggage is likely to be size enforced (1 bag 45" L+W+H) but unless obviously massively heavy *probably* not weight enforced. Check in luggage will have a weight restriction (from US prob 2 bags of 23kg) that will be enforced. Details are on
    I would agree with the comments above about the stuff to see/do, and add some volcanic stuff on north is. as well. Roads arent freeways; especially in crossing over the mountains it'll be slow going, but the country is not huge and the main limitation will be having time to do stuff when you get there rather than getting there. In South Island in particular the scenery along the roads is part of the sights and you may well be slowing yourself down to go take a look/take a photo.
  5. P C Headland

    P C Headland Subscriber

    Mar 24, 2005
    Multi Format
    First up, bring as much film as you think you'll need. Don't worry about the carry-on scanner x-rays, they will not damage your film. You can buy 4x5 sheet film in the four main centres, but I've not seem much in the way of readyloads (not that I've ever really looked, I load 'em myself...). Whatever you do find will be more expensive than the US.

    If you have two weeks, I'd recommed sticking to one island. Either of the two main islands will do, although most tourists would head to the South Island. There are plenty of photo ops in throughout the country, it will depend a bit on what sort of things interest you most. If you choose to go south, you may want to fly directly to Christchurch, or from Auckland down to Christchurch. Another option would be to fly down to Wellington, and take the ferry over to Picton, and pick up your rental car from there. Carry on limits are strictly enforced.

    While February is one of the busier months, at least you'll not be fighting the hordes of school kids, since the will be back at school. You should still book in advance for the more popular places.

    Give yourself plenty of time, don't rush, and enjoy yourself. No point in trying to do too much in the limited time you have available.
  6. Early Riser

    Early Riser Subscriber

    Feb 10, 2005
    Multi Format
    Air new Zealand and Qantas only allow carry on bags weighing less than 7 kilos or 15 pounds. They will weigh your bag. In fact departing from Auckland it's not the airline that weighs all the carry on bags but airport security.

    However Air tahiti Nui allows 15 kilos or 30 pounds for each carry on. So that's how I flew. I was there last April and even though I was flying first class, which usually means you don't get hassled, my bags were weighed by airport security and a serious hassle ensued. At the direction of the airline I ended up having to buy an additional bag and spreading out the weight. Even then airport security weighed the bags, which were now legal in weight, but now I had 3 carry ons, I told them that I was directed by the airline to do this, ultimately they called the airline and I was allowed to pass with the 3rd bag.

    As these regulations can change it is critical that you check with your airline. It is this hassle that is likely to keep me from shooting in NZ ever again.
  7. OP
    Terry Hayden

    Terry Hayden Member

    Aug 19, 2004
    4x5 Format
    New Zealand trek

    Thanks a lot guys - very helpful information.

    Can anyone suggest a particular location for checking
    out geothermal or other interesting and unique
    geological formations?

    After visiting Carey's website ( most excellent images )
    I definitely have Fiordland Nat'l Park on the list of points
    to hit.

    I will bring my own readyloads. Of course one trick will be
    to figure out what can fit within the listed carry on limits
    of both weight and size.

    Thanks again and keep the suggestions coming, I really
    appreciate it.
  8. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

    Dec 13, 2006
    Humboldt Co.
    8x10 Format
    I enjoyed photographing around Tongariro National Park -- if you like hiking, climb to the top of Mt Ngaurahoe, photograph the area between Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu (both are semi-active volcanoes).

    Also the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki on the west coast of the South Island are pretty is near-by Truman Cove. There are some good trails through the native forests there also.

    While I have only seen them from a distance, the Casle Hill area looks very interesting -- sort of like California's Alabama Hills in a greener location...just out of Christchurch towards the foothills of the Southern Alps.

    And a little farther east, any of the hikes out of Authur's Pass (not quite straight up, but close!) will take you quickly into high alpine meadows, and vistas. Beautiful!

    Too much to see, really. I spent almost 6 months bike-touring with a 4x5 and I could have easily spent another 6 months there (but for things like money, job, getting married, etc!).

    Have fun!

  9. ChrisC

    ChrisC Member

    Sep 22, 2004
    4x5 Format
    The central North Island is the best bet for that. Rotorua is painfully touristy, but that's for a reason. The volcanoes south of Lake Taupo are also really worth a look, and thankfully are nicely visible down the main highway of the North Island.

    You seem to have pretty good suggestions so far. My suggestions would be to drive straight out of Auckland when you arrive bound for Rotorua (3ish hour drive). Spend some time there and Tongariro National Park (where the big three volcanoes are) then head straight to Wellington to catch the ferry to the South Island. The ferry ride is worth it if the weather's nice, as it'll give you an amazing boat ride through the Marlborough Sounds. This should leave you with at least a week and a half to do the South Island.