As the trusty Hilux Bounced along a pot hole ridden Kapoors road, I finally felt a sense of relief. After delaying this trip twice due record rainfalls, my friend Patrick and I were about to mountain bike the 42 Traverse.
Located in the heart of the Tongariro Forest Park the 42 Traverse was originally used as a logging route until the late 1970s. During the 1980s proposals to convert the Tongariro Forest to farmland were thwarted by local community groups wanting the area preserved for conservation and recreation. Thankfully in1987 the Forest was transferred to the Department Of Conservation.
Nowadays the forest is utilised by trampers, mountain bikers, hunters and 4wd enthusiasts. Although a 4wd drive route, this grade 3-4 ride is not suitable for beginners. In fact your suburban soccer mum SUV wouldn’t stand a chance of making it through here! It is advisable to carry at minimum spare tubes, repair kit, chain breaker, first aid kit, all weather clothing, plenty of water and food.
Only minutes after setting off from Pumice Pit car park we ground to a halt. Magnificent views over the Central Platea and iconic Mt Ngarahoue called for a mandatory photo stop. Our eyes returned to the track as we entered the first descent. The recent rainfalls had washed out sections of the track revealing drops of several hundred feet! After an adrenaline fuelled downhill came an epic 3km climb. The forest canopy helped keep us cool and the chorus of native birds disguised our heavy breathing. As the rainforest encroached on the trail it narrowed to resemble more of a single track. This combined with rougher conditions made for an entertaining second descent to Waipungapunga stream (more like a river) crossing. Originally from South Africa, Patrick got a shock when he felt the temperature of the stream. I decided to ride through but instantly regretted the decision as I felt the icy water seeping through my bike shoes!
We were now in the heart of the forest and this coincided with dense foliage and seriously muddy conditions. The mud filled pot holes were risky business as their depth was a mystery. Most were fine but the odd knee deep one did catch us out! Patrick was doing ok on his flat pedals but my cleats were struggling to cope with the excessive mud.
Shortly after Mako stream we stopped to dry out and grab a bite to eat. This gave us a chance to take in the surrounding forest that is home to a variety of threatened wildlife species including the North Island brown kiwi.
From here on the Trail was easy-going and relatively mud free! A fern fringed waterfall before Dominion Road car park was a welcome surprise and a worthy photo opportunity. The 4km descent to the Whakapapa River Bridge was on a wider car friendly road. This signalled the final 2 km of the 42 Traverse. With the sun now below the horizon and the temperature dropping the quaint township of Owhango was a welcome site.
I can honestly say this beautiful, historic and challenging 45km ride was worth the wait. The trail and Tongariro Forest stands as a testament to the individuals who had the foresight to protect this precious resource. I only wish places like this were the norm and not an anomaly.
Having a passion for photography is the first requirement to improve your photography. It will be your passion for photography that will get you out of bed at 5 AM to capture that epic sunrise shot.
You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to capture great images. A camera with manual functions and interchangeable lenses is an ideal starting point. You can now purchase a quality entry level SLR for under $1000 NZ. The camera lens is equally if not more important than the camera itself. Having one or two quality lenses is better than having four or five average ones. Also choose a lens that will suit your style. For example if shooting landscapes or astrophotography you want a wide-angle lens (24mm or less). If shooting wildlife or sport you will want a fast zoom lens (100mm +). The final piece of equipment I would recommend is a sturdy tripod.
Once comfortable with using your camera in automatic, start experimenting with manual modes. Learn the fundamentals of aperture, shutter and ISO:
Aperture – Refers to the opening in the lens through which light passes. It is written as numbers such as 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11 etc. The lower number gives more exposure because they represent the larger apertures, while the higher number give less exposure because they represent smaller apertures. Aperture also affects the depth of field. It is all a little confusing to start with but becomes second nature with practice.
Shutter – The shutter speed determines how long shutter remains open as the picture is taken. The slower the shutter speed, the longer the exposure time. The faster the shutter speed the shorter the exposure time. For example a fast shutter freezes action for sports etc. A slow shutter can be used to slow the action, great for those dreamy waterfall photographs etc.
ISO – Measures the sensitivity of the image sensor. The lower the ISO number (eg100) the less sensitive your camera is to light and the finer the grain. As you increase your ISO the more sensitive your camera is to light and the more grain introduced to the image.
For more information on these fundamentals check out improvephotography.com
Getting creative with composition is one of the most important yet often overlooked factors. Spend time composing your image and seeking a unique perspective. It might mean lying on the ground, standing on a ladder or getting your feet wet. Perspective costs nothing and can make the difference between an average and an amazing shot.
Get to know your software, there are plenty of great programs and most are affordable. I recommend Lightroom and once you gain more experience Photoshop is a great addition. Youtube is also an excellent learning resource. YouTube channels such as Phlearn and Lynda.com offer a variety of tutorials and generally these are free!
I hope these tips help and wish you all the best with your photography adventure. Any questions or for one on one tuition contact me here.
Last September I had an epic adventure mountain biking and photographing the Heaphy Track with the entertaining company of Matt Proctor and Dave Everton. If there was ever a mountain bike (or hike for that matter) that should be on your bucket list, this is it.
Our little adventure is now available in print in the latest issue of NZBike. I was graphic designer for the magazine for the past few years and this was the last issue I worked on. It was a great experience and awesome to leave my own personal stamp on the publication.
You can pick up a copy of the magazine including the four page feature here www.endurancesport.co.nz/nzbike.cfm