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.
95 thoughts on “Dragon tales of Middle Earth: A tree grows in the Nevis”
A seemingly overall barren location but well worth the visit! I absolutely love your photos of this lone tree. Magnificent! 😀
Thank you very much. It was like a little oasis in that barren region.
The black and white spirit of the tree is just gorgeous. Many thanks, Lignum Dragon.
Thank you very much, Gilles. The textures, particularly of the clouds, shows much better in black and white.
I tend to prefer black and white. However, here, the dialog between the talent of the photographer and the spirit of the tree makes it gorgeous (bis, for lack of a better word !).
You’re very kind. Thank you very much.
Wow! amazing images 🙂
Thank you so much. 🙂
The location did not disappoint and, neither did you. Just fantastic! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you very much. I had an inkling that wide landscapes in b/w with clouds, including long exposures, was something that would interest you. 🙂
Awesome photos Lignum. Love the black and whites 😀
Thanks, norma. B/W really brought out the contrast and textures.
More gorgeous vistas that are especially engaging in black and white.
Thank you very much, Sally.
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.
Wonderful photos! Thank you for sharing.
Thank you very much! 🙂
Breath taking pictures!
Thank you very much.
Breathtaking photos! The monochrome certainly adds to the drama and mood of the spectacular scenery.
Thank you. Someone I know likened parts of this area to the English Moors. There are beautiful details everywhere you look.
It’s almost dizzying, Draco! That swirl of cloud and water… Other worldly 🙂 🙂
Indeed, it felt like another world away from the rest of Otago. Someone I know likened parts of this area to the English Moors.
Yes, there’s a definite resemblance but on a larger scale. Probably why I love it so much. 🙂
I can understand that. 🙂
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. 🙂
Thank you for the grand tour! 🙂
Thank you very much, Amy.At first glance, the environment seemed barren, but details such as texture and contrast really made this a great location.
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.
Thank you very much. After Duffers Saddle, it doesn’t look like there’s much to see, but as is often the case, treasures can be hidden away.
It was very much a tree day for me. After photographing this one. I went back through Bannockburn and Cromwell seeing the autumn colours then to Wanaka and photographed “that Wanaka Tree”.
Central Otago is such a special region. Must be a photographer’s paradise! Can’t wait to get back there for a visit!
It’s particularly nice during autumn.
I love what you found here.. and ‘documented’. What a gorgeous place!
Lovely work as always LD 🙂
Thank you, Robyn. It was a great find and New Zealand’s famous clouds came through right when I wanted them. 🙂
Beautiful series. That tree standing alone definitely makes for some dramatic shots. Glad you were able to find it. 🙂
Thank you very much. I spent quite a while there. It was so beautiful and peaceful.
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.
Love the lone tree images in monochrome, great atmospheric shots 🌳
Thanks, Lisa. That entire scene was just so photogenic. 🙂
I’m just wondering how you go about researching places to photograph?
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.
I can understand why it’s named “Nevis”. It totally reminds me of Scotland.
I should have realised the association. After all, I did go through “Bannockburn” to get there. I must assume early settlers had an association with Scotland.
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.
Thank you very much. I think anyone who enjoys long exposures would love NZ and those clouds. 🙂
Lignum, the scenery is just breathtaking, and you have photographed it so beautifully. Thank you for sharing here. Have a wonderful week!
Thanks, Lisa. The landscape had everything to make any photographer happy. Have a great week ahead.
You had fun at this super special place didn’t you? That lone tree is showing off .. ! Wonderful images Mr Draco 😃
Here, and everywhere in the Queenstown area, Julie. Such a beautiful area.
I have to agree! 😄
I knew you would. 🙂 🙂 🙂
Amazing landscape series ❤
Thank you very much. 🙂
A beautiful collection of black and white imagery. Well done indeed 🙂
Much appreciated. Thank you very much. 🙂
Very nice article, it reminds me some of extreme NW Idaho in the States, very pretty. Being that I liked it I am going to reblog this article for you.
Thank you very much.
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 🙂
Thank you very much. It’s a beautiful country and I’m happy I can show some of it to you. I hope you’re well.
Just gorgeous; absolutely love your first photo and those of that gorgeous tree.
Thank you very much. There are a lot of hidden surprises like that everywhere.
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.
I really wish I was there!
That tree was like a little oasis in an already magnificent setting.
Wow, New Zealand is gorgeous! So natural. Thanks for sharing.
Indeed, it is a beautiful country. I hope you get to visit there one day.
I hope so, too!
Simply awesome photography & engaging writing! Will follow 🙂
Thank you very much. I appreciate it greatly.
What an incredible, expansive landscape ~ great photos. The B&Ws, as most people have already mentioned, are really something else. Beautiful work.
Thank you very much. Expansive is a great description of this landscape.
The images of that tree were worth any effort and all monies spent to get there. I am in love
Thank you. NZ is an incredibly photogenic landscape, as you’ll learn for yourself.
Remote, vast and desolate. Brilliant!
Thank you. I appreciate you looking at my older posts. However, these days I only prioritise replies to comments made on my recent post.
I think I’ve enjoyed all of them,looking forward to your new discoveries,dear Draco.Safe travels,mind yourself 🙂
Thanks so much. I’m back now. I had a wonderful time on tour.
I want to tell you many things about those wonderful photos but I have not enough words in English. I do not know how it is possible to capture such beauty with a lens. It is a gift for the eyes. Thanks.
Nota:LD utilicé google.translate
Muchas gracias, Juan. Siempre aprecio tus generosos comentarios. Gracias por tu visita, como siempre. Google Translate es una herramienta notable.
Thank you very much, Juan. I always appreciate your generous comments. Thank you for your visit, as always. Google Translate is a remarkable tool.
Hi Lignum, I’m planning in a weeks time, to start one week featuring b&w photos or b&w art each day. I wondered if you’d allow me to do a post that features 2 of these b&w tree photos, probably the 1st and 4th if ok with you? It’d just be your photos, no-one else’s. Would credit and link back as usual. Pls let me know, thanks!
Thanks for asking. You’re welcome to use them. It’s funny but I’m getting emails from NZ based photographers every month with questions about my NZ posts/photos.
Thanks LD! That’s funny, what kind of questions? Are they asking for assistance re locations? (Surely not, eye-roll)
Questions about locations, yes, but mostly about Deer Park Heights.
OK, just located that and I see why now – you got special access! You obviously have the right connections and good on you! Wonderful photos too, I hadn’t seen this post before 🙂
Thanks. Yes, I was lucky to get that access. I hope it does reopen at some time in the future.