Istanbul Turkey

Istanbul Turkey I had always wanted to do a big trip. Something long, with little in the way of planning.

A couple of years ago I did just that with my wife Jane. We took the year off and travelled overland from Istanbul Turkey to Shanghai China. We had light backpacks (I had a 42-litre backpack for the entire trip) and our goal was to travel overland - by any means - until we got to Shanghai. We had no itinerary and no plan, beyond heading eastwards.

By the time we rolled into Shanghai China, we had travelled from Istanbul Turkey, down through the Aegean Sea (crossing into the Greek Islands), back into Turkey, through Georgia, through Azerbaijan, over the Caspian Sea to Kazakhstan, into Kyrgyzstan, across the Tien Shen Mountains into Kashi in western China, then across China to Shanghai.

Istanbul is my new favourite city in the world. Such incredible history, great food and wonderful people.

Turkish man holding a glass of partly finished Turkish tea outside the Spice Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey.

Arthur's Pass National Park - Personal Work

Arthur's Pass National Park - Personal Work. Situated just two-hours drive west from Christchurch, the township of Arthur's Pass sits just below Arthur's Pass proper. The pass was named after Arthur Dudley Dobson, the first European to go over the pass back in the day.

There is a lot to see and do in and around the township of Arthur's Pass. There are a number of short walks to places like Punchbowl Falls (pictured below), Otira Valley (pictured below) and the viewing platform looking out over the viaduct (pictured below).

Arthur's Pass is also a place where you are bound to run into the local Kea's.

Kea's are the only mountain parrot in the world and are endemic to New Zealand. Kea's are naturally curious birds and in places like Arthur's Pass, they become accustomed to visitors very quickly. With a population a fraction the size of what it used to be, Kea's are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Whatever you do, please do not feed them, as the food you may give them could kill them.

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Christchurch wedding photographer - Family photo albums

Christchurch wedding photographer - Family photo albums When I was growing up, I'd spend every summer and winter holiday up at my aunt and uncle's place in a small coastal town called Old Bar. Located on the northern New South Wales coast, Old Bar is a tiny town perched on the edge of the ocean. The day the school term finished, I'd hop on the night train from Sydney up to Taree, where my uncle Fred would pick me up at 1.00 am in the morning. Next morning my cousin Paul and I would get up before dawn and ride our bikes to the beach and go surfing. We'd surf the dawn session, go home and have some breakfast, then go back to the beach and if conditions were good, go out for another 2 to 3-hour surf session. Sometimes we'd do a late afternoon session if the winds were favourable.

To say I have strong memories of the years' I spent at Sue and Fred's place with my cousins Paul and Yoni, would be a serious understatement. I wouldn't have traded those holidays for anything.

christchurch wedding photographer

Fast forward to 2010.

I'm back in Australia, this time for a funeral. My uncle Peter has passed away after a 7-month battle with cancer. After the funeral, I hop in my rental car (I was living in Bangkok Thailand at the time) and drive 5-hours south to Old Bar. Sue and Fred are still living on the same block of land. I've come to Sue and Fred's place because I need space after Peter's death and I want to spend time in a familiar place with familiar people.

During my stay I come across Sue and Fred's family photo albums. They have a stack of them about four-feet high. Four feet high...

I sit down and start going through them. An hour turns into two and before I know it, I've fallen into a rabbit hole of memories. All because of some photographs my aunt and uncle have taken over the years, printed out and put into a photo album.

As a Christchurch wedding photographer I know some of the photos have a lot to be desired aesthetically, but they have a magic all their own. Looking at those printed photographs links me to times in my life that I can never experience again.

That's the true magic of a printed photograph in a family album.

Thomas

Mt Cook - Personal Work

Mt Cook - the perfect place for a quick two night / three day road trip. My Australian friend Kathryn was over and wanted to go and see New Zealand highest peak. I had one condition though - I would only go if we had a clear weather forecast.

Fortunately for us a high settled over the South Island of New Zealand and Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park had a forecast of two days of clear blue skies with light winds. Knowing it doesn't get any better than that, my friend and I packed the car and drove south to Mt Cook via Rakaia (huge trout anyone?), Geraldine (coffee stop), Fairlie (food stop), Lake Tekapo (photo stop), Lake Pukaki (second photo stop), before finally arriving at Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park.

We camped that night at Whitehorse Campground out near the terminal moraine of the Mueller Glacier. Next morning after pancakes we signed the intention book at the Department of Conservation Office, then shouldered our packs and started the 1,000 metre climb up the Mueller track to Mueller Hut. Given we were in the mountains, it was amazingly hot. Thankfully a light northerly wind sprang up mid-morning, helping cool us off a bit.

By mid-afternoon we crossed where the snow line would be in winter, leaving any semblance of vegetation behind us. As we rock hopped the last few hundred metres to Mueller Hut, we were treated with amazing views up the Mueller Glacier to Barron Saddle, a desolate wind swept place where I spent a week of my life back in 1994.

The last time I was at Mueller hut was back in 1995. Back then the hut was a tiny wooden building which could fit about 12-people. Given the huts location, the incredible panoramic views and the fact it is the easiest of the huts to get to in Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park, the Department of Conservation decided to replace the hut in 2003. The new hut is more akin to a lodge. It comes complete with a volunteer hut warden, gas cook tops and enough bunk space to sleep 28 people. All up, a pretty cushy place to spend the night.

Given the amazing weather I decided to bivy out for the night. I was rewarded next morning with incredible light over Mt Sefton and the Footstool and of course, Mt Cook off in the distant. Not long after I woke up a cheeky Kea (mountain parrot) turned up. I managed to get one photograph of him before he flew off. All up, an amazing two nights in the wonderland that is Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park.

Thomas.

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