Sunday, September 16, 2012

Solo Trip to West Coast (Part II)

Cycling Trip (10-12 July)

It was one of the activities that I planned for this trip, which is to do return cycling trip from Rapahoe to Lake Brunner within two days (which finally done in three days). This was my first time doing a long distance cycling which is in total distance about 170km. I rented a bike from Wild West Adventure Greymouth for four days.

First Day (10 July 2012)

The destination of the this first day is Jacksons. Jacksons is a small settlement at the southern part of Lake Brunner and I will going to stay there overnight before heading to Lake Brunner the day after. The total distance between Rapahoe and Jacksons is about 75km.

Distance travelled for the first day, Rapahoe (A) to Jacksons (B).

I left my cabin around 7am in the morning. Since it was winter that time, it is still dark so I put on my high visible vest and cycling light.

Taking picture before cycling. I only brought two things with me; my camera bag with few clothes and a tripod.

Scenery alongside the road from Rapahoe to Greymouth.

In order to know the current location and distance from one place to another, I used a topo map and compass. Probably much better if I have a smartphone, but unfortunately I did not. It might be not useful that time since there are no phone coverage and the battery could get flat much faster during this cold condition. 

I usually stopped around for short break after cycling 10-20km and that time I took couple of shots around.

View of Grey River during sunrise.

Most of the settlements I went through are in the countryside area. Most of the people living here are working in the farms or mining area nearby.

This is quite unique ; A shared bridge of road and railway.

The last 40km cycling from Kumara to Jacksons was pretty hard and tiring for me. This was due to the road that are ascending uphill and not that flat all the way. Plus, when I reached a vast, open area of the Taramakau River plain, the hot weather and direct sunlight made me stop quite a lot to have a rest.

View around Taramakau River.

So vast. I seen a helicopter went across the river and it looks so small when it reached the other side of the river, showing how big this area of.

Finally, at about 4pm I reached Jacksons safely. Here, I was staying overnight at Jacksons Retreat. It is a camping site that located just opposite of the junction to Lake Brunner that I am going to go the next morning. There are a lot of facilities here like toilets, bathroom, a common room equipped with kitchen and many more. Because of the limited space that I have, I did not bring my sleeping bag and tent but I rented it here.The price was not bad, which is NZD35 per night.

Pose after finished the cycling for this day.

One unique things about this campsite that it has a barn as a place for tents and campervan. This is quite helping during the time where heavy snowdump or during raining season.

Ready to go to sleep. 

After solat and a brief dinner, I slept early that night due to the tiredness and I need sufficient rest so that I could start cycling again tomorrow around Lake Brunner.

Second Day (11 July 2012)

Map below shown the cycling route that I did for the second day:

Total distance travelled for the second day : 56km.

I woke up around 7am. While I am inside tent, I heard sounds like there was raining heavily outside. I also noticed that the canvas on the opening side was kind of wet. But when I went out, it was no raining at all and stars could be clearly seen. I discovered that the raining sound was actually came off from the streams around the campsite and the canvas was wet probably from condensation.

After solat and self-cleaning, I started cycling around 7.30am. The first light can be seen on the sky so I hurried up cycling in order to catch up the sunrise at Lake Brunner.The distance from Jacksons to Mitchells (nearest settlement at southern part of Lake Brunner) is about 17km. There was farmland on both side of the road.After about 10km cycling, I found that the sunlight disappeared and there was mist that time which limiting the viewing distance. Occasionally I met with big truck and cars that passed by that road so I need to be careful.

Within last 5km of the cycling to Mitchells, the sealed tarmac road changed into a gravel, narrow road. The farmland surrounding was also changed into thick forest. To be honest, I felt kind of scary due to this foggy conditions and also since there were no people and vehicle around there.But, being motivated to catch great images at the lake, I braved myself and continue the cycling.

Finally, after riding in the fog and surrounded by jungle, I managed to reach the shore of Lake Brunner. It was this moment where I found a group of trees called "Kahikatea trees" that live on the water, plus a group of swan cruising nearby. I went off my bike and discreetly going down to the shore to take the pictures below:



After taking few more shots there, I continue cycling to Mitchells. Fog was still dense so I keep cycling slowly.After about half an hour, I reached an area where there is a huge mansion beside the lake. It feel strange as that huge mansion seemed abandoned.

There is a boathouse with a jetty in front of that mansion. So I stopped and bring my bike on the jetty. After doing some evaluation on the composition of the jetty, I made few shots. One of them was putting me and my bike as the subject. Initially, I want to put a 10 second self timer, but I was afraid that the jetty gonna collapse since I am going to quickly run to my bike. So I used intervalometer instead and take few shots. After all, the picture below is my favourite :

Secluded Pier at Lake Brunner

I continue cycling. According to the initial plan, I was supposed to cycling from Mitchells to Kumara where I can get back to Greymouth that evening. But since the road conditions were too bad and I feel so exhausted cycling on this kind of road, so I decided to head back to Inchbonnie and then take turn to Moana in the northern part of the lake.This is why I spend three days instead of two as I was staying another night there at Moana.

The journey to Moana from Mitchells is about 30km and since the road was sealed so it was ease. The only things that made me exhausted was the dehydration. Just about I reached Lake Poerua, the fog was clearing and it was direct sunlight with quite warm temperature. So I made couple of stops to rest.

I did not take much pictures except when I reached the final settlement before Moana, which is Te Kinga.

Picture taken at Te Kinga.

Train from Christchurch I think, making way to Greymouth.

Finally, I reached Moana just before sunset. I wandering around to find a place to stay. I was lucky since I managed to find a cabin to rest that day. It was at Moana Hotel. The best things there was that it is near to the lake shore and I had a chance to make few shots of the sunset there.The price was good (probably because it was off-peak season), which is about NZD22.

View from my cabin.

Sunset at Moana. Beautiful.



After finished here, I went back to my cabin, having a hot shower before getting out to the pub nearby for dinner (that's the only place I have to eat). Like the day before, I went to sleep early as I have another 35km cycling to be finished before reaching Greymouth the next day.

Third Day (Last Day of Cycling Trip) - 12 July 2012.

 I woke up as early as 6am for shower and solat before started cycling again. 

Distance from Moana to Greymouth is about 35km. 

Since the hotel reception is only open at 3pm, I put the room's key into the mailbox outside the hotel. It was still dark that time so I put on my high visible vest and cycling light.

The road back to Greymouth from Moana was quite good since it is flat and not much hilly area. I did not take any pictures this day since my intention that time was only to get back to Greymouth safely. It was also raining heavily that day so I put my raincoat on. 

After two hours cycling, I reached at a place called Stillwater. This is where the junction to Greymouth is and there was only 15km before I finished this cycling trip.

Alhamdulillah, finally at 11.30am I reached Greymouth safely thus ending this cycling trip. I returned back the bike that I rented to Wild West Adventure Greymouth and returned back to Rapahoe with cab.

Final Day at West Coast, Friday 13rd July 2012

Although the checkout time is at 11am, but I woke up earlier that day and packing up stuff after Fajr prayer. Also I need to clean up my room since this is not a serviced accommodation and everything need to be done myself (that explained why it is so cheap to stay here).

Like the previous day, it was raining heavily that morning. After finished packing up stuff and settled the payment, I finally left for Greymouth. The owner of the place, Peter Fletcher was kind enough to give me a ride back to Greymouth with my stuff. 

Rapahoe Beach
Will come back here one day.

The Grey River that day.

Here, I met with one of my photography mates, Munzer Shamsul. He was on his trip around South Island as well and that time he was stopped by Greymouth after taking Tranz Alpine train from Christchurch. He later on headed up to Nelson and going northwards to North Island.

Me with Munzer. Picture courtesy of him.

I left Greymouth for Christchurch at 1.30pm with the same Atomic Shuttle that I ride with during the first day of the trip. The weather was not changing. It was heavy raining with strong wind struck over the region up to the Southern Alps Range. Shuttle stopped for a while at one of the skiing fields to pick up few passengers. Also another stop was at Arthur's Pass for 15 minutes.

The view alongside the road to Christchurch at Southern Alps Range. It was heavy raining that time.

Alhamdulillah, finally I arrived safely at Christchurch thus ending this trip. Here I was staying overnight at my friend's house and went back to Palmerston North tomorrow morning.

Insya Allah, if there are times and chances again in the future, I will be travelling again to some other places around New Zealand or around the world. Thanks everyone who read this entry and the first part for your time. 

I hope you guys enjoy reading these :)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Solo Trip to West Coast, New Zealand (Part I)

Assalamualaikum wbt and very good day,

During last winter break, I had a chance to travel alone to West Coast. West Coast is a common name for Westland region located in the western part of South Island which is from Buller in the north to the Franz Josef in the south. But I did not go to all of this part, just spending my time at the Grey District only which is around Greymouth, Coast Road and Lake Brunner. I was actually planning this trip from early of the year and Alhamdulillah, it went as planned.

Friday 6th July 2012

I took a shuttle from Christchurch to go to Greymouth. Actually I was in Christchurch a week earlier to attend the annual BERSATU Games that ended on Thursday 5th July. Shuttle departed at 7.30am and the journey took about four hours before reaching Greymouth. The sceneries alongside roads towards Greymouh were so fantastic, especially when we were reaching the Southern Alps Range but unfortunately we did not stop much so I couldn't take any pictures except from inside the shuttle and during short break at Arthur's Pass.

Atomic Shuttle that I took to get to Greymouth.

Southern Alps from inside shuttle.

As I said just now, the shuttle took a short break at Arthur's Pass. Arthur's Pass is a small township that located in the middle of this Southern Alps Range. During winter season like this, many people travel here especially those who are doing snowboarding and skiing at the winter fields nearby. According to the driver, for the last three days, there was a winter blast that made this area and its surroundings were piled up with thick snow.

Around Arthur's Pass.

Road across this town. Every morning, there is a truck that clearing the road from ice and frost.

Finally I reached Greymouth around 11.30am. From here, I took a cab to Rapahoe that is located around 10km northwards of Greymouth. For the whole trip, I was staying here at Rapahoe Beach Motor Camp. It is a camping area beside the Rapahoe Beach, and also has few cabins. The price was quite good, which is about NZD25 a day. There was no phone coverage  but a good things was there is WIFI so I can access internet from here.

View inside the cabin that I was staying for a week.

Bed was spacious, but it was so freezing cold at night even with the heater on.

"Cooking" appliances. There was a kitchen at the main hall outside.

Motukikie Rocks

Although just arrived, I decided to go to Motukikie Rocks that afternoon. This was because usually the weather at the coastal area is quite unpredictable. Moreover, that day was the best day to go according to the tide schedule where it will be low tide during sunset. For your information, this area cannot be accessed except during low tide only. 

Talking about Motukikie Rocks, it is located about 7km north of Rapahoe. Because I'm walking, I moved out early from cabin. The journey took about one hour and half by the Coast Road. 

View of Motukikie Rocks from Ten Miles Creek viewing point.

Finally, I managed to reach Twelve Miles Bluff where the Motukikie Rocks is located. In order to go down to the beach, I need to walk through a narrow and steep track in the bushes, and using ropes and a steel ladder down of the cliff before reaching the shore (this track is not really known to the public, and I was told by the locals here, few weeks before this trip). 

Beach at Twelve Miles Bluff. 

Corrosion caused by the tides and extreme weather here had actually crafting the rocks into unique, distinctive shapes of archway.

A unique rock structure.

Although the water are going off, but still there were waves that coming off, sometimes in a monstrous scale. It was hard to predict whether it is safe or not being here. The sea looks pretty calm at a time ; and a minute later became dangerous. I myself got wet up to the waist level as I tried move from one part of the beach to another. 

Another things that was quite scary that when I was there, I kept listening to the sound of stones that fall off the cliff. It was like the cliff could collapse anytime without warning. Just few weeks prior to this trip, I was told by the locals here that there was huge rockfalls at the southern side of the beach. So, I keep myself within proper range to the cliff for safety reason. 

Sun was about to setting down. After looking around for a good angle, so I set up my tripod and camera to take pictures.

Motukiekie Rocks

The picture above shown Motukikie Rocks as the subject during sunset. You can see at the foreground, there is a group of mussels where I was actually stepping on it to take this picture. I used two filters for this shot, which is GND0.6 and ND1.2.

Feel satisfied when I managed to reach this area.

Since it was getting dark, so I packed up my stuff to return back to my cabin. Instead of the track that I walked through before, I eventually walk alongside the beach to the north where there are a small settlement which has access from beach back to the road.

I was just realized that during the time I was at the beach, there were no one there but me. 

I need to walk back to the cabin so there was another 7km to be finished that night. Because I was exhausted, so I decided to have a short break at few places that have bench and chairs (viewing points alongside the road). Since there were no road lights, I brought a torchlight. It was clear, cloudless night that there were a lot of stars on the sky. So, I decided to take few good shots there.

Below are few first pictures of Milky Way that I took using my Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G lens. Because its maximum aperture is not that big, so I had to expose my camera sensor more than supposed to be.

Southern Paparoa Range at Night
Southern Paparoa Range at night.

Milky Way alongside the Coast Road

As you could see, there are some "trailing effect" of the stars in the pictures above.This was due to the long exposure that I made. Also, the picture a little bit soft due to the noise reduction that done during post processing.

Alhamdulillah, after about two and half hour I managed to reach cabin safely. Due to the freezing cold temperature that night (-1 to 2 degree Celcius), it was difficult for me to sleep so I decided to make editing and upload some of the pictures in my facebook.

Saturday 7th July 2012

The plan this morning was to go to Coal Creek Falls. Due to the tiredness from the previous day, I left my cabin quite late, which was around 11am. Coal Creek Falls is located about 4km from Rapahoe, which the closest town is Runanga. Runanga initially was a settlement for the workers in gold mines, and now it is inhabited by the workers of the coal mines nearby. 

In order to go to the waterfalls, I need to walk alongside 1km track into the jungle. It was not that hard since the track was flat and quite broad to walk. 


Alhamdulillah, the timing was right when I reached the waterfalls since there were sunlight directly to the falls, made the red colour on the rocks real vibrant. For the pictures below, I used a CPL and ND1.2 filters.

Coal Creek Falls


During summer, many people came here for swimming. During winter like this time, the temperature of the water could be around 1-2 degree Celcius.

Rapahoe Beach

That evening, I just taking a stroll alongside the beach outside my cabin. Weather that evening was good and I did capture few shots of the sunset. 



Sunday 8th July 2012

I have no proper plan for this day so I just went around to walk alongside the beach again. Only during afternoon, I will be walking to Point Elizabeth (4km from my cabin).

Instead of using ultra wide angle lens, I brought my telephoto lens to shoot landscape that morning.

DSC_0329 copy




Point Elizabeth.

Point Elizabeth is the end tip of Rapahoe Range nearby. Its elevation is about 100m and one of the best place to see sunset and sunrise alongside the Coast Road. Even Motukikie Rocks can be seen clearly from here.

In order to go here, I went through a walking track with the distance of 4km (8km return) through the thick forest of Rapahoe Range Scenic Reserve. Nikau palm (a unique plant species) can be abundantly found here. After about an hour walking, finally I reached the Elizabeth Point.

There is a bench and table where people can sit there after the tiring walk. Here, I met a Dutch guy who was travelling as well around West Coast. We exchanged our travelling stories and thoughts on photography as well. Great stuff indeed. I stayed there until sunset to take this picture. The view was so fantastic that I decided to recite Azan (call of prayer) loudly there (no one gonna heard me though)

View of the coast from Elizabeth Point.

The journey back was little bit creepy, as there were no people around and it was getting dark. I brought my torchlight to assist me walking in the darkness of the Rapahoe Range jungle. Sometimes I can heard something moving in the bushes, and it was real scary though. I keep walking fast but calm, also need to mind few deep pits beside the track. Finally when I see the road lights from houses at Rapahoe, I feel relieved since I already arrived back. 

Will be continued in Part 2.