GPNZ Ruapehu Trip #savethearctic

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of heading up to Ruapehu to shoot images and video for Greenpeace New Zealand’s #savethearctic launch action. The goal was to kick off an international social media campaign – Rooftops to Mountains. We travelled to the mountain with the objective of climbing to the summit with a modified snowboard and a banner. It was to be a symbolic act, to take the message to a mountain top and gain attention for the plight of the Arctic region in the face of climate change. We spent several days waiting for a weather window and shooting material to tell the story of the action.
Kurt on location carrying the sticker'd snowboard on the lower slopes of Ruapehu.
We flew a couple of drone shots for the video, and planned our strategy for the big climb. The weather was pretty challenging, but we did get a chance at the summit. Heading up the slopes toward the crater rim, snow conditions were great but visibility dropped to nearly nothing. We pushed on, approximating our line based on what we saw before the white-out. Arriving at a flat shoulder on the ridge, we stopped for lunch and to wait in the hope of a break in the cloud. As we were about to head back down, that break arrived and we had a clear view around us. Now that we could see, we realised we were sitting on the crater rim just below the summit we’d been aiming for. To one side the crater lake steamed and clouds swirled, and to the other the slopes dropped away to the ski-field below. We shot a lot of stills and some video.
The only thing we still wanted was an action shot, but the sticker you see on Kurt’s board was stripped off as soon as he started riding. So that night we cut the lettering out of the board, and filled it with clear P-tex, revealing the board’s wooden core. It took hours and we were up into the wee hours tediously cutting, chiseling and filling. A local ski shop gave it a base-grind and wax in the morning and it was good to go.
We headed back up the hill to find a suitable feature for Kurt to throw down on. He spotted this cliff from the chairlift and I got in position. Kurt hucked it twice, to a pretty flat landing, and we got this shot.
You can see the (fairly dramatic) video clip put together by GPNZ here:
And the GP International campaign video here:

Lake Kaniere Panorama

Just diggin’ through the archives and happened across this wee gem. Stitched panorama of Hans Bay shot from the CineStar UAV. There’s a subdivision going in the foreground of this image – but not some cookie cutter suburban maze. The sections in this part are huge, with lush forest, and they all reach out to the edge of the terrace overlooking the lake. The taller forest to the right of the image is conservation land, with stunning mature emerging canopy trees.

Hans Bay, Lake Kaniere

Aerial stitched panorama overlooking Hans Bay, Lake Kaniere

Blackball heritage

I spent an absorbing and adventurous couple of hours behind Blackball township this evening, poking around the old mining relics. There’s a great deal of history in this area, and Blackball in particular has a lot of tangible evidence of past industry and settlement. Most of these sites are seldom visited but rich in fascinating glimpses into a different, but also not so different, way of life. Having the CineStar to get an aerial perspective meant I could get a better view of it than most.

The bridge being reclaimed by the bush has long fascinated me and I was pretty excited to get up and photograph it. You only see a little part of it from the road, so seeing the whole thing, with both ends leading nowhere in particular anymore, is pretty neat. The other photos are from a site that has some tracks and signage, but is obviously not heavily visited. There used to be two chimneys but one recently fell down, which made me extra keen to get up there and photograph the remaining one.

Bridge to nowhere

Historic Blackball Coal Mine

Historic Blackball Coal Mine

Coal Creek Falls

Last week Dave and I took the UAV up to Coal Creek Falls, Runanga, just north of Greymouth, for a wee test. We wanted to try flying amongst the trees, and also to see if we could get a better perspective on the falls than the standard lookout offers.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Flying through the mountains

A wee while ago we needed to get some stock footage of the Southern Alps for a project, and I brought the stills kit along for the ride. Ben from Wilderness Wings ( is an expert pilot who got us in just the right spots. It was definitely worth the extreme cold of cruising through the mountains with the doors off the Cessna to get these shots!

If you’d like to license any of these images please contact me.