Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: February 21, 2017

with 57 comments

On this date in 2017, during our second visit to New Zealand, the day began in Wanaka, where we looked out from our apartment and saw this morning mountain clad with a cloud:

Later that day we reached what ended up being one of my favorite places in New Zealand: Lake Wakatipu.

The shore between Queenstown and Glenorchy had me turning this way and that, looking for pleasing compositions both vertical and horizontal. The first shoreline view looks southwest, the second northwest.

Even without the lake and the mountains, the patterns and textures of the rocks intrigued me.

I made various abstract portraits of them, including these three.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 21, 2020 at 4:46 AM

57 Responses

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  1. Beautiful photos and wonderful memories.


    February 21, 2020 at 6:25 AM

  2. Pleasing as the other photos are, the morning mountain is glorious. The warmth of the light, the combination of textures, and the contrast between the solid mountains and the ephemeral cloud make for a memorable image.

    The rocks in the next-to-last photo look ilke some sort of geologic totem: the large one a face, the four smaller rocks above it a sort of headdress.


    February 21, 2020 at 7:27 AM

    • One reason I do these anniversary posts is that I’ve often taken many pictures in a place but don’t like to show more than a few at a time. That’s true of pictures along Lake Wakatipu, about which I’ve done various views in previous years. In a different category is the first image, which I’d forgotten all about until I went through parts of my New Zealand archive the other day.

      A “geologic totem” with a “headdress”: now there’s an imaginative concept.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 21, 2020 at 7:37 AM

  3. The landscape on the second picture looks very similar to the Arrow Lakes region, where I live, Except for the lack of vegetation.

    Peter Klopp

    February 21, 2020 at 7:55 AM

  4. It’s a beautiful area, and looks like a geologist would have a field day there.

    Robert Parker

    February 21, 2020 at 8:51 AM

  5. Steve, you’re messing with me! Must go back to New Zealand.

    Michael Scandling

    February 21, 2020 at 9:58 AM

    • I highly recommend it. Hang on, because I have a few more NZ commemorative posts scheduled over the next couple of weeks. One visit wasn’t enough for us, so we found ourselves there again just two years later.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 21, 2020 at 10:17 AM

  6. Spectacular scenery and beautiful photos, Steve!

    Lavinia Ross

    February 21, 2020 at 10:07 AM

  7. These are really nice photos Steve, the choppy lake water alongside the ‘choppy’ patterns of the rocks. Fyi I’ve shared a link via my twitter a/c: https://twitter.com/ExploringColour/status/1230954061085626369

    Ms. Liz

    February 21, 2020 at 2:38 PM

    • Thanks, for the tweet, Liz. The choppy water and grey clouds certainly added drama to my first Lake Wakatipu encounter. It’s clever how you endowed the rocks with choppiness, too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 21, 2020 at 3:04 PM

  8. beautiful.


    February 21, 2020 at 7:24 PM

  9. What magnificent views, at every angle, close up and far away! Speaking as a gee-ologist, what is the cause of these intriguing patterns on the rocks? Glaciers? Volcanoes?

    Birder's Journey

    February 22, 2020 at 12:16 PM

    • Alas, as much as you know about birds, that’s how little I know about geology. Fortunately an article at


      came to the rescue, confirming that Lake Wakatipu was glacially gouged out and that the floor of the lake is flat and sedimentary.

      That aside, the photographer in me is still happy to have treated this gee-ologically.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 22, 2020 at 12:24 PM

      • Wow, thank you for this link! I just skimmed the article quickly and – fascinating as it is – the statement you wrote above captured the essence at a much easier to grasp level for me!

        Birder's Journey

        February 22, 2020 at 12:40 PM

        • You’re welcome. I didn’t delve into all the technical details, which I wouldn’t have the background to understand, either.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 22, 2020 at 1:17 PM

  10. What strikes me most about the top three photos is the cloudscape, Steve. What an expressive sky!


    February 22, 2020 at 8:41 PM

    • I’m with you when it comes to those expressive skies. New Zealand is a land that knows how to do dramatic skies, often dropping water from them. On both of our trips we somehow managed to avoid most of the characteristic precipitation.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 22, 2020 at 8:55 PM

      • How fortunate for you. I recently followed another blogger’s New Zealand journey and he and his wife weren’t quite as lucky.


        February 22, 2020 at 9:35 PM

        • We beat the odds both times. With typical New Zealand weather we wouldn’t have been able to visit nearly as many places and I couldn’t have taken nearly as many pictures as I did.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 22, 2020 at 10:02 PM

          • Good for you!


            February 23, 2020 at 8:45 PM

            • We have friends who went to New Zealand and unfortunately got rained on so much they couldn’t do a lot of outdoor things. Our worst experience with rain came two days before the end of our second visit. There was such a downpour that both roads off the peninsula we were on got blocked. We had to spend an extra day on the peninsula and made it back to Auckland only hours before it was time to head to the airport for our flight back to Houston.

              Steve Schwartzman

              February 23, 2020 at 9:03 PM

              • That must have been a serious blow to your friends, especially for what might have been a trip of a lifetime. At least your downpour only affected the end of your trip, and you were able to catch your flight. But I imagine that you had some added adrenaline flow through your blood vessels during that drive to Auckland!


                February 23, 2020 at 9:16 PM

                • Yes, we sure did. The day we wasted waiting on the sodden peninsula was the day I’d planned to spend time at Little Manly Beach, where I’d made some good abstract photos on the last day of our first trip. I was sorry to have missed another shot at the formations there.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 23, 2020 at 9:21 PM

                • By the way, I’ll have some commemorative pictures from Little Manly Beach four posts from now.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 23, 2020 at 9:23 PM

                • I hope it was a slight comfort to have already visited your planned destination once before. Sometimes, the best-laid plans…


                  February 23, 2020 at 10:13 PM

                • Yes, the best-laid plans… At least we caught our plane home and didn’t have to deal with rebooking the flight.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 24, 2020 at 6:38 AM

                • Agreed!


                  February 24, 2020 at 1:36 PM

  11. Love your first vertical with the low vantage point and foreground rocks … as well as the incoming waves and interesting clouds.


    February 23, 2020 at 12:45 PM

    • Thanks for appreciating the low vantage point in the vertical landscape of the lake. I stopped down to f/16 to make sure I could get everything sharp, from the rocks in the foreground to the mountains in the distance.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 23, 2020 at 5:32 PM

  12. I just love the rocks, Steve. Maybe the two vertical compositions are my favorites, I’m not sure. They’re all terrific.


    February 23, 2020 at 2:07 PM

    • The commenter before you also favored the vertical landscape of the lake. Most of the time we take horizontal landscape views—that’s the way the horizon goes—so a vertical view has a head start on calling attention to itself for being different. All those fantastic rocks made this orientation work well.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 23, 2020 at 5:35 PM

  13. That’s quite a view from your hotel room. Great light and the sidelighting really enhances the shaping of the mountains. Rocks can often offer lots of pleasing abstracts such as the ones you’ve shared. Acadia has a few nice shoreline areas with polished beach stones with nice color too.

    Steve Gingold

    February 24, 2020 at 5:03 PM

    • The night we spent in Wanaka was in an apartment that we’d rented at no higher price than we would’ve paid for a hotel. The morning view was a bonus.

      I mined a few shoreline areas in Acadia on the day and parts of two other days when we visited there in 2018. While it wasn’t enough to do the place justice, it was a good beginning for my first visit to the park.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 24, 2020 at 5:27 PM

  14. Stunning photos of a beautiful place. I worked in a hotel on the Queenstown to Glenorchy road many years ago and I have not been to many more spectacular places in all the years since.


    April 18, 2020 at 10:46 AM

    • Good to meet someone who knows and appreciates that stretch of road, which you saw in the text above quickly became one of my favorite places in New Zealand. But then so many places there qualify as favorites that I ended up doing dozens of posts based on our two trips to New Zealand.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 18, 2020 at 12:15 PM

    • By the way, how did you happen upon this post?

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 18, 2020 at 1:08 PM

      • I was browsing articles on NZ as a ‘lockdown treat’ and was intrigued by your title photo. Pure luck but glad I found it!


        April 18, 2020 at 4:21 PM

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