Nevis Valley, Central Otago, New Zealand April 2017 (12 photos)

This is part 9 of my New Zealand series of posts.

Early one cold autumnal morning I set out from Queenstown by 4WD through the backcountry of Central Otago to photograph the remote Nevis Valley.

From Cromwell the unsealed road to the Nevis Valley rises 1300 metres over Duffers Saddle before descending to run alongside the Nevis River.

The view looking back towards Bannockburn from Duffers Saddle.

High mountain ranges rise from either side of the Nevis valley – to the west the Remarkables and Hector Mountains, and to the east the Old Woman Range.

The valley is a barren landscape featuring numerous rocky outcrops and vast open tussock plains. The landscape very much reminded me of scenes in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit series, although I couldn’t find any direct references to this location in my online search.

When the valley is not snowbound, four-wheel drive vehicles and trail bikes can negotiate the only road through the Nevis Valley.

Fed by numerous creeks from the ranges, the Nevis River meanders along the broad valley floor.

The first use of the Nevis Valley was as a trail route for the Maori. When the gold rush arrived in the 1860s, two small settlements appeared in the lower Nevis. Due to the remoteness of the valley, miners’ workings have been left largely untouched These remains include everything from the cemetery and settlement buildings through to a woolshed and the first ski hut.

Now only the family at Ben Nevis Station occupies the valley. One can’t help but feel enveloped by the isolation of the region.

But I was there for a reason. I had heard there existed a solitary tree somewhere in the valley that stood lonely by a small pond, backdropped by the mountains that guard the valley. I deemed it a worthy photographic assignment. After a while and barely visible from the road I found my tree.

The sky was filled with clouds and the light was subdued. There was barely a breath of wind at ground level. I think the elements, mood and textures are better portrayed in monochrome.

This location gave me a chance to play with some Neutral Density filters for long exposures.

This location did not disappoint.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

Dragon tales of Middle Earth: A tree grows in the Nevis

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83 thoughts on “Dragon tales of Middle Earth: A tree grows in the Nevis

  1. Sharon Dear says:

    The photos are beautiful. I love how the black and white ones dull the sky. I am always taking pictures of clouds, for some reason they fascinate me. I save them as if some day I will paint again. The landscape reminds me of the tundra in Alaska, is it anything like that? Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Thank you very much, Sharon. You’re not alone in your love for clouds. They do have a magical quality. There is even a “cloud appreciation society” online.

      I haven’t been to Alaska, but I googled some photos and see similarities. I also read where someone said this environment was similar to the English Moors. I guess there are areas like this worldwide.

  2. The texture can’t get better than these B&W shots! It’s amazing to see how this lonely tree can stand tall in the valley. Great shots, Dragon. I really like the first one. πŸ™‚
    Thank you for the grand tour! πŸ™‚

  3. Love your tree shots – they’re really special! I’ve only been from Bannockburn to Duffers Saddle but it sure would be great to venture further along that road. Amazing photos.

  4. Brilliant view looking back to Bannockburn. Love the soft touch of the sun. Beautifully done with the solitary tree and the clouds are a nice touch. Right timing with a very dramatic feel 😊

    • Thanks. As picturesque as the location was, I don’t think the photos would have been as dramatic without that cloud cover. I felt like I was a pro landscape photographer that day, eventually ending up at the famous Wanaka Tree which I posted about previously.

    • I get most of my information in online searches. I have a wide search criteria and bookmark interesting things. Photos and maps online are very useful too for reconnaisance.

  5. Great series – love especially the black and white with the lonely tree. Glad you went back and found it. So dramatic…the famous NZ clouds went your way as well. Love NZ.

  6. Stunning nature series,wonderful expansive vistas over the mountains and the rock formations!Loved the monochromatic waterscapes and the overwhelming cloudy skies!Away from WP for a long time,but I never forget your phenomenal photographic work,dear Draco πŸ™‚

  7. I always wondered as a child at people saying how isolated parts of New Zealand are. Compared to Australia and without our distances I couldn’t believe it. Having travelled there myself I now understand – the isolation envelops you indeed.
    How lucky you were to find your tree. Fantastic photographs.

    • Thank you very much. Yes, the vastness of the Australian outback can almost not be compared to. Yet, it is easy to find isolated areas in New Zealand. And it is just as confronting.

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