Thursday, 20 March 2014

NZ Photo Tour : Day 01 - Tekapo To Twizel : A Night Full Of Stars

Assalamualaikum wbt.

Sept 1st - Sept 2nd, 2013

The Church of the Good Shepherd was built in 1935. It was the first church built in the Mackenzie Basin. Perhaps I am not  exaggerating if I say the church is  one of the most photographed in New Zealand, and it is very much synonym with the name Lake Tekapo itself.

When we reached there, the church was closed and its door locked, so I was unable to take any interior pictures. But I've seen its interior images, in particular one windows framing the lake and the mountain range in the distance.  

We decided to stay well past sunset and wait for the stars to come out. And it was a worthy wait! Just after blue hour, the stars came out in full glory, and the milky way stretch vertically across the night sky. I could not adequately describe in words, nor my shots could do proper justice. You simply have to be there and experience for yourself. Trust me, you won't regret it!


The blue hour had just barely ended and the stars already came out in full glory

count the meteors!

The Aoraki MacKenzie is a "gold rated" Dark Sky Reserve. This reserve span the whole Mackenzie Basin and includes Aoraki Mt Cook National Park, Lake Tekapo, Twizel and Mt Cook itself, covering an area of 4300square kilometres.

What this status means is that a light-pollution free night sky is guaranteed. True enough, what light pollution there was came from infrequently passing vehicles, and the occasional (annoying, but hey, it's a public area) glare of torchlight from the tourist.

The night sky was full of stars, and the milky way band across the sky was so colourful! Really, I'm lost for words to describe the feeling.

There used to be this beautiful night sky in Malaysia. I remember during my early twenties (yes I'm old :p) I went night fishing at my hometown Kuala Terengganu...we just laid back on the sandy beach while waiting for the fish to take the bait..and just enjoy the stars. Sadly this is no longer the case.. *sigh*

would love to get inside and take a picture of the stars framed by the church's window!

And here's the timelapse that I managed to shoot that night :

 Tekapo Milky Way Part 1


Tekapo Milky Way Part II


 Tekapo Milky Way Part III   

Our original plan was to stay one night at Tekapo. However we were so engrossed with our shooting that we decided to look for lodging after the shooting sessions. BAD NEWS : all business closed early. By the time we finished shooting around 10.00 pm, all shops, campsite/motel receptions, were all closed. Even the fuel station was closed. We were so used to the 24hrs availability of shops and eateries in Malaysia, it never crossed our mind that it would be different in New Zealand.

After a brief dinner of scrambled eggs + bread and instant "bubur nasi" by Danial, our designated chef, we unsuccessfully tried to find any campervan site or motel that were still open. Overnight parking in town open area/public parking ("freedom camping") was prohibited so after our very first dump (discharging grey water) at the public dumpsite we decided to press ahead to Mount Cook as far as we could that night. It's approximately 100 kilometers from Tekapo so we hoped to cover maybe half the distance before stopping at any suitable place for the night's sleep.

Whether right or wrong decision, I for one do not regret it. Our campervan's gas heater failed to function (we were given a electric heater, but to use it we need to hook up to external power source) so it was a very cold night sleep in the campervan that night, but looking at the following images, I think it was worth it.

I was driving, and Jemang keeping me awake with his endless chatter and jokes while everyone else succumbed to the cold night. And about one hour into the journey, (somewhere on Tekapo-Twizel Road) Jemang excitedly pointed out that the Milky Way was right ahead!

Well, what else to do but stop and shoot? :D

The straight road was literally empty that we could lay down in the middle of the road without any worry. Of course we didn't do that but we certainly couldn't pass up the chance to strike a pose or two :)


We proceeded and a further ahead stopped again for another shot

the compulsory Light Saber post

the stars was so bright it was even reflected on the campervan

We moved ahead and about 1 hour later both of us started to feel sleepy, so we decided to stop for the night at any convenient location. We found a clear area by the roadside so we parked there for the night. But surprise, surprise, we were not so sleepy after all! Time for some more shots :)


Milky Way Over Lake Pukaki

unfortunately, no live Lupins, only dry ones. imagine the scene here during the summer!

Before finally climbing onto the bunk bed atop the driver's cab, I even managed to record a timelapse here :)


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