Hokitika Updates

So you can probably gather from my previous post, Route It Out, that we are now in Hokitika. We arrived here mid morning yesterday and it's yet another lovely little town full of beautiful sights and picture taking opportunities! The most exciting thing about this spot is not the town, however. But the person we got to meet once we arrived here! Ulla Lohmann, our National Geographic professional photographer, finally was able to meet up with us here in Hoktika after many failed attempts to get here. Because of the volcanic eruption in Chile, flights have been delayed recently because of all the ash. In fact, I don't think I ever told you all this, but back in Te Anau we walked outside the first day and there was something falling from the sky. Naturally, we thought it was snow, but it turned out to be ash! Coming all the way from Chile! Pretty weird.

Anyways, Ulla goes beyond all my expectations. She has travelled all over the world, discovered an ancient tribe in Papa New Guinea, lived and worked on a boat for a year and a half traveling all across the globe, photographs volcanoes, speaks numerous languages, is originally from Germany, and is the sweetest, most genuine, passionate, adventurous, and talented woman I have ever met. I've only known her for two days and I cannot begin to tell you how much she has inspired me. Not only in just photography, but in living life to it's fullest as well. Having her here with us to teach certain techniques and help us improve our photography has already had a major influence on me. Her passion for photography and adventure motivates me to get the perfect shot so I can run and show her. I am loving having her around!

My two photography idols. Ulla on the left and Mrs.Bottoms on the right :)
So yesterday once we introduced ourselves to Ulla and all got acquainted, we grabbed a quick lunch, and went on our way to a gorge a little bit outside of Hokitika. Once we were there, Ulla challenged us to use different angles and asked us what we could do to make our photograph unique. We walked on this long swing bridge and once I was on the other side, I totally got my creeper on. I waited for other families to walk the bridge and eagerly took pictures of them. They seemed to be fine as they naturally modeled for me. 

After spending a couple hours at the gorge, we drove back into town and then walked to a nearby beach. This beach was beautiful- the sand is a much darker color and the waves are huge. We all went camera crazy once Ulla told us to capture the perfect shot explaining how we felt while on the beach. 

After the beach we all had a delicious dinner. As we were driving home from dinner, Gemina and Peter announced that the woman who owns the hostel we were staying at was in a photography club and her and the other members invited all of us into her home to listen to Ulla's first presentation about her photography studies. It was so neat to hear more about Ulla and her amazing stories. Her fiance definitely proposed to her on top of a volcano. And they have an unreal silhouette picture of the engagement on the volcano! How sweet is that?! Hearing what Ulla had to say about photography and her work and being able to experience that in a living room of a random house full of people who have the same love for photography was a really sentimental moment for all of us. 

We woke up Monday morning with a whole new motivation to get great photographs. After hearing Ulla's talk the night before and seeing the extreme measures she went through on a daily basis, everyone seemed a bit more determined. We ate a quick breakfast and got on the bus for a long bus ride to see the Paunakaiki Pancake Rocks. Just as we were pulling into the small town, however, our bus ran out of gas. Our poor bus driver Carl felt awful, but we took it as an excuse to walk through the town and explore before we went to the pancake rocks. It was quite a funny scene when we were all walking on the side of the freeway with cameras around our necks, trekking through the town. But the trek was definitely worth it because the Pancake Rocks were amazing! It was a great spot for pictures. We walked into this mini rainforest, tall blades of grass forming a tunnel towering over us, and then we turned the corner and the waves blast against these flat looking rocks, forming the neatest looking shot. Once we fooled around in there for quite some time, we got back on the bus, but before we were on our way back to our hostel, we stopped at a place called Truman Track; another rainforest path leading you to a rough tide shore. The lighting was just right once the rainforest opened up to the beach. So naturally, I totally got my silhouette pictures on. With some helpful tips from Ulla of course!

We came back to our hostel, exhausted, ready for some grub. We stuffed our faces with some pizza and then were on our merry way, headlamps secured on our foreheads, on a 2 minute walk to the glow worm caves. It was pitch black once we turned our headlamps off to get some glow worm shots, but it was a really fun night activity! 


  1. Wow, honey, I am so jealous and so happy for you that you get to have this experience. We look forward to reading about your adventures everyday. love, Dad

  2. Hey sweetie we are so glad you are getting to see such beautiful country and the way you are writing about the scenery, the photography and the new national geographic gal makes me weepy. Love that this experience means so much to you. We are so glad that it does and that you are getting everything out of it that we thought you might. Love you and miss you MOM