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Low tide at sunset, Tahakopa Bay, The Catlins

The Catlins, that wild and windswept southeastern corner of New Zealand, must surely be one of the most under-rated parts of the country for unspoilt scenic beauty. Perhaps its relatively low visitor numbers result from its remoteness from the rest of New Zealand, or maybe its tempestuous climate keeps the softer-bellied tourists away, but in any case it is rare in New Zealand to have such a beautiful place with so few visitors.

In March 2006, attracted by the scenery and relative peace and quiet here, my partner and I spent a few days in Papatowai, a charming little village of weathered houses and cribs overlooking the Tahakopa Estuary. A short bush walk from our rented cottage led to the southern side of the entrance to the estuary, from where a narrow sandy beach continued on to nearby Picnic Point. The view from here across to Tahakopa Bay was superb, and so I decided to take a few hours out one afternoon to try and capture the essence of this wild, yet serene, place on film.

The first photos I took here were in mid afternoon sunlight and, although the scene was beautiful, the light was harsh and I didn’t like my chances of getting a photo that would have done it justice. A few hours later, however, as the sun set and an autumnal chill seeped out from the forest behind the beach, a tantalising soft, mauve twilight bathed the coast for a few minutes. It was a brief, enchanting moment, an absolute pleasure to photograph, after which I sat back on the rocks to soak it all in as the twilight colours faded into dusk.


Tahakopa Bay, The Catlins

Mitre Peak, Milford Sound

Totaranui Beach, Abel Tasman National Park

View over Tautuku Bay, The Catlins

Sunrise, Moeraki Boulders

Isas Creek, Tautuku Bay, The Catlins

Sunrise at Nugget Point

Okarito Beach, Westland

Estuarine channel, Nelson Haven

Gulls at sunrise, Golden Bay

Pancake Rocks, Punakaiki

Limestone cliff, Punakaiki

Sunset, Knight's Point, Westland

Kelp at Cannibal Bay, The Catlins