New Zealand or Aotearoa (as they call it in Maori) has been on my must-see list for a long time, as a photography destination. Tucked away (along with Australia) in a remote corner of the planet, New Zealand’s natural beauty got into the limelight primarily after the screening of the super blockbuster “Lord of the Rings” trilogy movies (with their prequels, the “Hobbits” following them on the big screen). J.R.R Tolkien’s epic masterpiece The Hobbit (& two of the Lord of Rings series) was written by him in the interregnum between the two World Wars, and he completed the third part of Lord of the Rings in 1948. His imagery, of the characters/creatures and the landscapes they were set in, were in part inspired by the old towers and geography around where he stayed in England. But the Master of ‘High Fantasy’, Tolkien’s majestic & dark visions of his fantasy world, probably were way off scale to the surroundings he was actually in. Until renowned Film Director, Peter Jackson came in around 2003 and chose, quite correctly, New Zealand, to film all the three movies (and later the three Hobbit movies). 

In terms of sheer atmosphere, mood and sublime grandeur of naturescapes, I have hardly found anything comparable to Aotearoa’s natural bounty…having seen a bit of Canada, the US and Australia. Another country that people say has that mythological epic-ness to its landscapes, is Iceland, another country on my bucket list.

This was a weeklong (Sunday to Saturday) trip concentrated on the southern part of South Island, consisting of mostly the regions of Otago (Moeraki on east coast and Lake Wanaka/Queenstown on the west), Southland (Te Anau/Manapouri & Fiordland National Park)) and very briefly touching the region of West Coast (Haast Pass/Mt Aspiring National Park). This was probably my most heavily planned trip of all time, with each day and each spot (along with latitude-longitudes) being extensively mapped out and listed down in sequence. Landscape/Nature photography requires a strange mix of proper planning along with willingness to be flexible at short notice. 

As timing (golden hours, blue hours) is so critical, advanced planning and sticking to that time, is key but weather always plays truant and so things on the ground may change at short notice or things in the itinerary may change, which necessitates changing plans and prioritizing spots to shoot, at short notice. Another factor that helped with this overzealous detailed plan was the taking over of part of the planning process, especially the logistics and staying/eating/transport part, by a friend of mine (from high school) who lives in Dunedin. A monk and a yoga & meditation teacher of a socio-spiritual organization (for 20 plus years), she (read her story here) accompanied me on the trip. Being a monk, she had strict dietary restrictions that disallowed her from eating outside. So we decided to take pots n pans and grocery, to cook in airbnb’s and hostels with shared kitchens, along the way. The prospect of sharing the long tiring drives through the week, was certainly another positive.

Being in the southern hemisphere, May is the last month of Autumn in New Zealand (temperatures through the week ranged from -5/0 to 12/13 degrees centigrade, on few days) and a relatively low volume season for tourism. Helps when you are trying to save on car rentals and staying costs. Dunedin was the starting point of our trip and I landed in Christchurch as my entry point into New Zealand. From Christchurch it was a short one-hour flight on a turbo-prop airplane, to the tiny regional airport of Dunedin. The mythical grandeur of the landscape of this country becomes apparent within minutes of being on the flight. Meandering maze of rivers snaking their way through vast lands, coming down from distant faintly visible mountain ranges. This particular one to the left, is a shot of River Rakaia.

Sunday (Day 1)

First day started with a pre-dawn dash to the famous and peculiar, Moeraki boulders, about 1.5 hours drive north of Dunedin. Koekohe beach has these big spherical boulders (alone or in clusters) that form a fascinating sight for any 1st time viewer.

Geologically most of these boulders took about 4 million years to form, with their smallest formations starting about 60 million years ago. Catching sunrise in the backdrop of these smooth and shiny round rocks, on a partially cloudy day, was a good treat to begin the trip. After that it was time to be back in Dunedin and get ready to leave for our journey west and north, to Queenstown, via Highways 1-94-6, a longer but more scenic route that grazes the side of Lake Wakatipu as it climbs up, winding along the lake, and then down to Queenstown, a resort town of South Island and a tourist paradise.

The town lies on the lake’s north eastern bend and is a dazzling sight to behold at night, as you approach from the south along the lake. By the time we reached the “Devil’s Staircase” lookout point on Lake Wakatipu, it was sunset time. Stopped to take some shots of the evening sky with some beautiful colours around the ‘Remarkables’ mountains and Lake Wakatipu as foreground. From there we called it a day as it was getting dark and checked into our respective airbnb's/hostels at Queenstown.

At this point, before we go into the next full day’s journey through some stunning roads and towns, will divert a little bit and talk about photography and my thought process about it all, something I don’t write about in much detail, usually.

The Creative Process

Photography is like any other art, a form of expression. But unlike a writer or a lyricist or a poet, the expression is non-verbal, perhaps more akin to painting or music, but with its own quirks and uniqueness.

A recent article in the New York Times comes to mind…about a French aristocrat turned commando, Count Guy de Montlaur whose squad was one of the first to splash unto the beaches of Normandy. Their mission was to take out a seaside casino serving as a Nazi base. The battle was fierce and only 40 of the 177 commandos survived in their successful attack as they took the base. But what’s relevant here is the fact that decades down the line, long retired, Montlaur, a skilled painter, started painting. None of his children or relatives ever heard him talk about that day in Normandy. He simply was unable to narrate or talk about the horrors of that fateful day when he saw many of his closest friends fall in a fierce firestorm of gunfire. But as he painted, often in bold and dark brushstrokes, his countenance changed. He looked at peace. His paintings, all of them abstract, brought out all the horrors of war. It was the only way he could think about all the things that happened that day, in Normandy. Perhaps similar is how many of us photogs see and experience the world and use our cameras and the creation process of each photo…as a brush, of our experiences of life, both joyful and tearful. And some other times, it’s not about life but just how we feel at a particular spot, given the ambient light and any pre-conceived associations that place has, in our minds.

Photography is all about light. And capturing and playing with subtle and not-so subtle variations of light. Some of my friends and acquaintances sometimes wonder why I do what I do, carrying along a bulky camera when the phones nowadays take good pictures and just what is it about sunrise or sunsets…that I go to remote places and wake up at ungodly hours just to take a snap of it…valid questions from their perspective but hard to answer from mine. Somebody asked Sir Edmund Hillary why he kept climbing mountains, what’s so special about some massive pieces of rock and earth. His answer, “umm…well, because it’s there…” perhaps accurately describes how difficult and ridiculous it is to answer such questions.

The difference between a tourist and a photographer is that a tourist visits a place once (and insta-posts his impressions of a view, and moves on) while a photographer visits a spot/place twice. Once as he takes the shot and internalizes the scene and the 2nd time, in Lightroom (in dark room of past years and digital processing software of today) when he starts processing the photos, this time experiencing the same scene, more in the mind and heart than the physical sight. The latter is where he delicately brings out the nuances of light and shade and breathes life into his photos. And in the process, each vision gets imprinted into his mind, deeper. In the taking of a photo, I look for perspectives, angles and timing, that catch my eye in that moment but it’s during processing the raw photo file that I crop and enhance and bring out shades of light that the file holds within its huge megabytes of data. To get those visual perspectives, some people are lucky to possess it by nature, some like me have to routinely (when I’m not out photographing) pour through other people’s views and visions of a spot and decide to make some of theirs’ my own, when I go myself to that location.

Gradually this process does result in me getting more and more intuitive about where and how to take a shot. It’s an iterative process and I get better and better at it, over time.

Monday (Day 2)

The most significant aspect of this whole trip was how ideal conditions were throughout the trip. For landscape photography, an ideal day would start with a slightly cloudy dawn with clouds higher up in the horizon to catch the gorgeous colours of the sun, then the cloud cover gets a bit intensified through the day as I try to get shots of waterfalls/cascades that work best under overcast conditions, then towards evening, the sky opens up just enough to let the sun go down with another burst of glorious colour. Luckily on most of my days on this trip, this sequence turned out for real.

Day 2 was going to be the stretch on Queenstown-Glenorchy Road, a stunning 44kms of scenic road with photo riches galore, all along the way, considered one of the most scenic routes in New Zealand. We started well before dawn as we cooked and had breakfast and packed lunches before heading off in the dark towards Moke Lake, from Queenstown, our 1st stop. Moke Lake and the nearby Lake Kirkpatrick are two serene and small lakes that are surrounded on all four sides by barley-brown mountains, reflecting unto their surfaces.

Next stop was Jack’s Point Golf Club House, a beautiful wooden clubhouse in the shadows of the ‘Remarkables’ mountains, a range of mountains by the town of Queenstown that was probably named as such, due to they being one of the few mountain ranges in the world that run exactly north-south in direction.

The day’s 1st cascades was along the Mt Crichton Loop track with a short stretch going upto Sam Summer’s hut that has cascades on the way. A small wooden bridge providing a nice backdrop to the gurgling stream rushing past.

Soon we were in Glenorchy town and its photogenic boathouse. The town is named after a valley in Argyll, Scotland. An Instagram spot teeming with tourists. After a short break for lunch we hopped back into our car and drove back on the road towards Queenstown, stopping once again at a lookout point along Lake Wakatipu, to take sunset shots with the Pig and Pigeon Islands providing the foreground. Met another photographer, from New York! who was also on his 1st trip to New Zealand, going around the country in his camper-van. Always nice to see fellow photogs from across the world, emerged in their favorite activity of photography. Engaged in small chit-chat about photography before exchanging pleasantries & good byes. And as night fell, did a quick about turn to return to the Glenorchy boatshed to take an interesting shot of the jetty before finally making it back into Queenstown.

Two nights in Queenstown, zipped past just like that! Day 3 was going to be the 53 kms stretch of Cardrona Valley Road/Crown Range Road, another scenic road leading us north to Lake Wanaka, our 2nd destination on the itinerary. But before that, let’s continue the discussion about photography.

Tools of the Trade

There are times when we wonder whether we should express our creative thoughts or wait to get more proficient in the tools to express those thoughts before venturing out. A new poet thinks whether his knowledge of the nuances of language and grammar are enough to start writing and a new photographer thinks whether his knowledge of processing techniques is enough for him to bring out his vision and feeling of a shot taken. In my opinion, one should not wait too long to start expressing his/her thoughts, especially if they are benign and creative in scope. 

Just get the basic language structure/vocabulary and the processing skills, and start off…with time these skills will increase and after some time as depth of thought/vision increases, we will feel that our true selves do find a way to come out, in the form we want them to. And everyone has his/her own comfort level to start expressing his/her inner thoughts. Same for me…I started on my photography journey many years back, initially out of creative curiosity, then as an emotional outlet and later as a critically useful distraction from the things happening around me. Trey Ratcliff and his fresh and hopeful attitude towards photography got me into HDR photography in the beginning. It’s an incredible way of processing a photo from multiple exposures. Its use has gone down now, in my workflow, to almost zero as I slowly veered towards exposure blending in Adobe Photoshop and used Aperture of Apple vintage, to organize and do the initial editing. But with Apple pulling the plug from its legacy software, finally Adobe managed to pull me into its expensive whirlpool of subscription based Creative Cloud ecosystem. Now my workflow has got modified to wholly include Adobe Lightroom as the primary entry point of my raw files and editing, before some of them get pushed into PS to get further refined via Luminosity Masks, using intuitive apps like Greg Benz’s Lumenzia (Disclaimer: I don’t get any favours/benefits from Lumenzia or its creator for endorsing his product…I just happen to like his creation and its very intuitive interface).

Tuesday (Day 3)

This 53 kms road to Wanaka from Queenstown is pure gold. After checking out of Queenstown, our day started at 1 Mile Car park along Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown with some sunrise colours over the ‘Remarkables’ mountain range. Then we made our way north to Lake Hayes for some Autumn colours. Being late autumn, most of the leaves from trees along Lake Hayes had already fallen off but still the panoramic view from the lookout point was quite the sight.

Our next stop was Arrowtown, a historic gold mining town from late 1800’s. The current population of this town varies around the 2,000 mark with strict appearance covenants ensuring the town retains its old world small-town charm. In Autumn, Arrowtown turns into a blazing canvas of yellows and oranges. Although we were arriving at the fag end of Autumn, we still got to see some display of it, around the pretty little cabin that once used to be a local police post, now turned into a parking spot marker. This cabin along with the nearby Chinese settlement, have been preserved by the town for their historic as well as eye-candy value.

After Arrowtown, our next destination was the Edith Cavell Bridge over Shotover river/Canyon. A pretty arched bridge, the Shotover river over which it stands, is a favourite spot for adventure sports, like high speed boating. Took a small walk down from the bridge level, to the Morningstar beach, before continuing on the Crown Range Road up towards Wanaka.

Crown Range Road (that later becomes the Cardrona Valley Road as it goes down to Cardrona town) is the highest paved road in New Zealand and the breathtaking sights at every corner make it a really slow road to navigate, with gasps and repeated stopovers being the norm. The mind bending switchbacks (or hairpin bends as we call them in India) provide another level of fun on the road.

Midway between Arrowtown junction to Wanaka is the little town of Cardrona and its iconic Cardrona Hotel, originally established in 1860’s for gold diggers and still running as an active hotel and restaurant. It’s historic façade with a vintage car, is rumored to be the most photographed building in whole of New Zealand. 

With evening approaching, we decided to head for Lake Wanaka and the famous Wanaka Tree. This tree, a Crack willow (salix fragilis), started growing as part of a fence post in the lake all alone and today it is called, affectionately, the ‘Lone Tree’. It is one of Instagrammers’ biggest hit spots, given its isolated unique location, framed by the spectacular southern Alps and its branches skimming the silken surface of the Lake. After having our fill of the Lone Tree, we checked in for the night at a hostel by Lake Hawea.

Tools of the Trade (Contd.)

It would be amiss to talk about tools of processing without mentioning Luminosity masks in a bit more detail. Photography is, and I’ll repeat again, about light and Luminosity masks allow editing light at a pixel by pixel level. To use a rough analogy, think of Luminosity masking as using laser for hyper-precise surgery at molecular level vs the use of a scalpel. It has been around for a few years now but I never got the hang of it until a few months ago. Now there are a host of apps being created by some really smart people, that work within Adobe Photoshop environment, that are quite intuitive to use. I’m still a basic user but I can clearly see the awesome precision, that this tool gives when I’m processing a raw photo file.

Wednesday (Day 4)

Day 4 started with a gorgeous sunrise at Lake Hawea lookout point. Barrier, Young and Grandview mountain ranges providing the backdrop to a fiery red sky over Lake Hawea. A couple of things make for a colourful sunrise (or sunset). First is the timing…peak sky colour happens about 30-45 mins before the sun rises in the horizon. Second is the presence of some clouds that are not too low to block out the sun nor too high and scanty, to be unable to catch the angular sunlight. At the right height and amount, the clouds just catch fire from the glowing orb rising below them. And third is a good foreground subject, can be a lake, a tree, or mountain ranges. Together they bring character to the skies.

From there we continued on Haast Pass-Makarora Road to the Blue Pools. It’s a small lake and river system that, because of the unique way light falls on it plus its mineral content, combines to give a dazzling teal-ultramarine colour to the water. The approach track to the Blue Pools area, is quite interesting as well, with moss covered dreamy trees, on both sides, enough to transport your thoughts to the Elves and the portrayal of their magical world, in the ‘Lord of the Rings’.

Next stop was Fantail falls, a small waterfall, popping out of the mountain walls, not far from the road. There were several of these along the way to Haast town, easily accessible and literally stamped unto the mountains.

As we pushed on further north, the scenery became more and more Tolkein’ish. Heavy fog hugging the gigantic lush green mountains and the ambient light taking on a darker, moodier tone. As we stopped at a lookout point staring at the small streams and cascades gushing forth from the mountains all around us, I wouldn’t have been surprised if a little hobbit just jumped out from a corner and merrily darted away in front of us, or an orc suddenly jumping on us.

Then we came to a point called the “Gates of Haast”. It’s a series of cascades flowing over rocks near an old iron bridge. The access to it was closed because of cracks (probably from an earthquake) on the rocky platforms surrounding it. But I thought of taking the chance and set up my tripod to take a couple of quick shots before scampering back to safe grounds. When did landscape photogs listen to safety advice anyways!

Two more horsetail category falls, Thunder Creek and Roaring Billy and we were close to the township of Haast (discovered and settled by German explorer Julius von Haast in 1860’s). Situated on the western edge of Mt Aspiring National Park, Haast and the surrounding areas have been named as a UNESCO world heritage site. The famous West Coast Highway ends on its southern side, at Jackson Bay, not far from Haast. We just touched this township at its borders and then returned back to Wanaka via the same Haast Pass-Makarora Road. Our only short foray into the region of West Coast…to be explored in more detail, in another trip perhaps. Back in Wanaka and some final shots of our beloved ‘Lone Tree’ during the evening, before heading back to our hostel for final night’s rest in Wanaka.

Day 5 was going to be a long hiking day, our only long day hike of the trip, the Rob-Roy Glacier Track.

An interesting thing about New Zealand, especially relevant for hikers and backpackers, is that it doesn’t have any dangerous animal that can seriously harm you (unlike its neighbour Australia that abounds in snakes and tarantulas). New Zealand’s only carnivore is a carnivorous snail. It has no snakes at all and its most fearsome bird is the Kea (a parrot species) that is classified more as a smart & destructively mischievous animal than a threat to life, harassing visitors for food handouts and ripping apart wind shield wipers and leather seats (if get inside) of cars, when denied. Our only encounters with wildlife were distant sightings of the Kea and the flightless chicken sized Weka, up close (at Milford Sound) and some bottle-nosed dolphins on the fiord.

Thursday (Day 5)

Rob Roy Glacier trailhead is about 54kms from Wanaka of which the last 30kms is unpaved and runs through several creeks that become unpassable and flooded at times. We had rented a 4-wheel drive vehicle in Dunedin and it performed quite well on this particular stretch of the Wanaka-Mt Aspiring Road. The approach road (about 30kms) to the track start is unpaved and dreamily spectacular (with enveloping mountains and roads disappearing into mists). The Track starts at Raspberry Creek Car Park (entry point to Mt Aspiring National Park) and after 15 mins of walking through flat undulating farm lands around the River Matukituki, it starts picking up elevation. The entire track to the Upper lookout point is about 3-4 hours (10km) return, with an elevation gain of about 300mts. As it gradually passes through the Rob Roy Valley, a gorge along the Rob Roy stream, alpine vegetation, to views of the stunning Rob Roy Glacier itself, the surrounding scenery just takes your breath away. The glacier itself, hanging from Rob Roy Peak, glows a bright teal under the sun. During the last ice age, this glacier extended unto the whole valley and along with the Wanaka glacier (no longer existent) went right upto Clutha valley as a continuous river of ice.

Having spent most of the day on the hike, it was time to slowly make our way back to the car park and start off for Manapouri (Te Anau), the site for our last two nights stay, of the trip. Our gateway to the Milford Sound/Fiordland National Park area. Of course, with the skies looking good for a sunset, we had to stop at Glendhu Bay. And what a sunset it was…blood red burning skies by Lake Wanaka! to cap off a glorious day outdoors.

We failed to get acco at an affordable price in Te Anau, the gateway to Milford Sound, so had booked in a nearby town called Manapouri, by Lake Manapouri. From Rob Roy Glacier Trailhead to Manapouri, takes about 4 hours (278kms) taking the scenic Hwy 6/97 down south to Mosburn town before heading west on Hwy 94. Our check-in time at the Manapouri Airbnb (more like a camper van motels type arrangement) was by 9pm and we started around 5.15-5.30pm (including stoppage at Glendhu Bay), so it was going to be tight. But with hardly any traffic on the highway after evening (except around Queenstown and Wanaka), we sped off like maniacs, under pitch dark skies, toward our destination. The road must have been really scenic given the amount of bends I was encountering (except the road ahead I could see nothing) and the presence of waterbodies (lakes, I presume) showing on the gps as we sped through. But I guess that particular stretch of road had to be enjoyed some other time, now the priority was reaching our destination in time. And luckily we reached there just minutes before 9pm, whew!

Day 6 was going to be Fiords day but before we set off for Milford Sound, let’s get back to Tolkein and LOTR. Because Fiordland National Park served as the setting for the mythical Fanghorn Forest in the “The Two Towers” of LOTR. In the story, mythical tree creatures (shepherds of trees) called Ents, led by their leader Treebeard, served as protectors of the forests from orcs and other perils. They were taught to speak, by the Elves. As you enter Fiordland National Park area, the sceneries suddenly look familiar, from the LOTR movies. The misty mountains, long wispy clouds hanging low by mountain sides, the brown grasses within green shrubs all around, the numerous falls plunging down along the sides of the mountains…you feel like being part of a gigantic natural movie set, hard to believe this is all real. Southland region abounds in Fiords (15 of them in total), Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound being the more accessible and famous ones.

Friday (Day 6)

We started off early morning from Manapouri, to catch our boat ride at Milford Sound, scheduled for noon. This road Te-Anau to Milford sound and the earlier Haast Pass-Makarora road, are my two favourite scenic highways of this first trip to New Zealand. We did short ‘by-the-road’ stops along the way. As Milford Sound got closer and closer, the scenes got more and more dramatic…the subdued light due to cloudy skies adding to the LOTR type dark moody tones. Milford Sound and surrounding areas are supposed to be some of the wettest regions of New Zealand. One road sign proclaimed that Milford Sound looks better and more gorgeous and magical, the more it rains on any given day. After seeing for myself, can certainly vouch for that statement.

Homer Tunnel (1.2km) made it possible for Te Anau to get connected to Milford Sound and tourism then took off. It pierces the Darran Mountain range at Homer Saddle and connects the valleys of Hollyford river and Cleddau. The view from the western side of the tunnel as you emerge out of it, is a view that will forever remain etched in a visitor’s memory, it’s just epic! After a quick stop at the Chasm, a series of spectacular cascades, we continued on to reach Milford Sound, well in time. The famous Mitre Peak (found in most postcards sold of New Zealand) stands in spectacular glory, enveloped by dreamy mists and low hanging clouds.

But it was the boat ride that was the highlight of the trip. Over a period of 2-2.5 hours, it took us through the southern and northern walls of the fiord with their unbelievably beautiful waterfalls directly splashing unto the sea and unto the open ocean (for a km or so) on Tasman Sea. Sterling Falls, the biggest one in the area, was the highlight of them all…with the boat going really close to it to give us a stunning view of the rocks and force of water pounding unto them. A few pairs of bottle-nosed dolphins gave us playful company as we headed back to shore. That was end of Day 6 as we headed back to Manapouri in the evening.

Saturday (Day 7)

Our last day at Fiordland and penultimate day on my New Zealand trip. Decided to do a couple of spots that we had missed the day before, on the Te Anau to Milford Sound road. With a rainy start to the morning, sunrise was out of the question, so we took it a bit easy and after our daily cooking and breakfast, ambled off unto our favourite road, towards Marian Lake Track. Not far from Milford Sound, Marian Lake is a hanging lake about 1-2 hours hike up from the parking lot. But with pouring rain and our tired legs, we decided to just go upto the nearby cascades/Marian falls point on the track, before turning back. A group of local hikers on the track also warned us not to try going up to the lake, as it was pouring rain by then and conditions would not be good to hike up. 

From Marian Lake, we headed back towards Te Anau, stopping by for a quick stop and shoot of Christie Falls/cascades, ending our long 7 days trip. Now it was time to get back to Dunedin, a 5 hours drive from Christie Falls.

But the day was not done yet. On reaching Dunedin, we headed straight to Tunnel Beach, a photogenic beach with a rocky tunnel jutting out into the sea. After witnessing some beautiful colours of the setting sun at Tunnel beach, I checked into my Airbnb in Dunedin city. Next day sunrise shot was at a pretty little beach in Dunedin, called the Brighton Beach.

Following day (Sunday), my last day in New Zealand was reserved for a few falls around the city but after failing to find the first one on my list, in the morning, we headed to a lesser known yet interesting little place called the “Macrocarpa Trees Tunnel”. About 45 mins drive from the city centre, this is a small portion of the longer Sandymount trekking track that draws the photographers’s eyes with its line of Macrocarpa trees forming a tunnel like vista with a path winding through it. Although the light was not ideal (was past the golden hour), but still I could imagine in my mind how one could take some deliciously cool shots of this tunnel, given the right time of day and a bit of mist to go with it…

I had the whole rest of the day to spend, so my friend decided to give me a guided tour of her beautiful city of Dunedin. Starting with the world’s steepest street (Baldwin Street), to Botanical Gardens, architecturally stunning Railway Station, Toitu Otago Settlers Museum and finally ending at First Church, a beautiful Gothic Church in the middle of the city.

My flight out of Dunedin was early the next morning. A spectacular photo trip finally coming to an end…next one to New Zealand, don’t know when it will happen, but it will most probably be to the Central regions of South Island, until then E noho ra ̅, Aotearoa (Good Bye, New Zealand!)

Click here for full set of     Southern South Island Photos 

Click here for photos of     Dunedin

SONG OF THE LONELY MOUNTAIN - Theme song of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" by Neil Finn

Far over the Misty Mountains rise

Lead us standing upon the height

What was before we see once more

Is our kingdom a distant light

Fiery mountain beneath a moon

The words aren't spoken, we'll be there soon

For home a song that echoes on

And all who find us will know the tune

Some folk we never forget

Some kind we never forgive

Haven't seen the back of us yet

We'll fight as long as we live

All eyes on the hidden door

To the Lonely Mountain

We'll ride in the gathering storm

Until we get our long forgotten gold

We lay under the Misty Mountains cold

In slumbers deep, and dreams of gold

We must awake, our lives to make

And in the darkness a torch we hold

From long ago where lanterns burned

Until this day our hearts have yearned

A fate unknown, the Arkenstone

What was stolen must be returned

We must away ere break of day

To find our song for heart and soul

Some folk we never forget

Some kind we never forgive

Haven't seen the end of it yet

We'll fight as long as we live

All eyes on the hidden door

To the Lonely Mountain

We'll ride in the gathering storm

Till we get our long forgotten gold

Far away the Misty Mountains cold.

*The two photos of me in the above blog were taken by Didi Anuprabha, all others are by me

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