I'm Candace and I'm a destination wedding & portrait photographer based out of the Washington, D.C. area. Chances are you won't find me in the DMV for too long. Come and explore my corner of the world with me!
I was in love. Yep. I hadn’t even touched down in Queenstown and I was already falling head over heels with the South Island. I love me some mountains. They make me so dag on happy and flying in gave me nothing but mountain views. The landing at Queenstown was kind of scary because we were flying awfully low and close and even directly in between mountains. I stepped foot off the plane and saw the peaks that surround Queenstown and all I could think about was getting my rental car and hitting the road.
My first day on the South Island was a busy one. I landed in the early morning and had ALL day to have some fun. I had a family session planned for that evening at Lake Wanaka so I had to get busy before I hit the road. I didn’t want to spend too much time in Queenstown, I knew it was going to be busy and pricey – I was correct. I made my way straight to the Lake and sat on the beach of Queenstown Bay for an hour and took it all in. Sometimes its hard to believe the things I’ve accomplished over the years and the places I’ve been fortunate to see first hand. Can’t believe this is my life sometimes.
After those views, it was time to slowly start to make my way to Wanaka. I stopped at Coronets Peak – STUNNING views of the valley below with Queenstown off in the distance. Then I took a mini hike in Arrowtown along the Arrow river. It was an old gold mining town so it had lots of history and charm to it. They say there are more sheep than people in New Zealand and I called BS until I arrived in the South. there are definitely a CRAP TON of sheep in the south. And deer. They strangely farm deer out there.
After my family session, I drove around Lake Wanaka and made my way to a little hike I was trying to complete before it got dark and I had to drive back to Queenstown for the night. Fall was really starting to show its face around Wanaka but dont be fooled. The air is cool but the sun is HOT. Like REALLY hot. That whole no o-zone thing is no joke here.
The next day was the day I was really waiting for! It was time to pick up my Jucy camper van and head to Milford Sound! I’ve been dreaming of those views of Mitre Peak for SO long. I made sure to snag a campervan spot at Milford Lodge so I could have easy access to the fjord. I was in heaven before I even arrived in Milford though. The 3.5 hour drive there takes you through Fjordland National Park and HOLY COW you guys! THESE MOUNTAIN ROADS WERE RIDICULOUS! Not scary to drive ridiculous, scary beautiful! Like how are there no car accidents from people taking in the views and not the road?
Anyhoo, I arrived a little bit before sunset so I walked out on the basin bed (thank you low tide) and found me an old tree and sat there for almost 3 hours and took in one of the most incredible views my eye balls have ever seen. You feel SO small in comparison to your surroundings. You have the mountain peaks all around you, a glacier on a peak off to your right, Bowen falls raging near you, seagulls flying all around. I could have cried it was so beautiful. The only downfall are the demon SANDFLIES that you and everyone around will be fighting off. Take my advice, load up on sand fly spray BEFORE you arrive to Milford haha. But the views were SO dang good even with those flies, I booked a Sound boat tour the next morning and even came back late at night to capture Milford and a little starry sky goodness.
I 100 and 10% highly recommend that if you go to Milford you book a boat tour. I took a 2 hour morning tour but learned that they have over night boat tours too which sounds HEAVENLY. I loved my tour. It was UNBELIEVABLE seeing the sound from the water. Our boat took us right underneath two waterfalls – hello cold and wet – and we even got to drink water from one! I’ll never drink water the same again. We saw seals and glaciers and the Tasman sea. I should have stayed here one extra day.
On my way back to Queenstown for a fun couples session, I stopped to have some lunch and take in the view of the entrance to Fjordlands National Park and then I realized, I HAD to document me and my Jucy. I love their little catchy slogans. This van was probably one of the best parts of my entire trip even though the bumper FELL OFF. haha yes, thank the lord for duct-tape =P. JUST RENT THE VAN. Whether its a Jucy or a self contained camper (can camp pretty much where ever you want with a self contained camper) – just do it. There is no other way to see New Zealand. There is a like a campvan thing where everyone waves at each other from the same van company so I felt like I had a bunch of friends because EVERYONE has a dang jucy! I wish I had a camper van on the north island too. The freedom, being able to cook and eat dinner with a stunning view.. I’m going to need a camper van here in the states.