New Zealand really is an amazing place. In the space of just a few days we travelled from the almost tropical feeling of Golden Bay area in February to pass through the craggy mountain ranges of Mackenzie Country and find ourselves in Central Otago for March. Along the way we were reminded that it is the ever changing landscape of New Zealand and its people which makes it oh so special.
Bannockburn just outside of Cromwell was our base for most of March. This is an area that we knew very little about, as it had been fifteen years since we were last in this location. Last time was spent mostly by the lake whereas this time we got into the hills for some epic views. 
The whole area around Cromwell was once gold fever territory. It was this fever in the late 1800's and early 1900's which helped to shape, quite literally, the land around the area. Nowhere is this more evident than a walk through the Bannockburn Sluicings where, on a sunny day, it felt like we were walking in Monument Valley USA. However, this landscape was caused by large scale water blasting to release the gold. 
During other walks we came across various ruins from the gold mining days where new settlements such as Carricktown, Logantown and Welshtown were set up in the hills. Today you can walk through the ruins of these old towns and get some understanding of what it may have been like to live there through information boards at strategic points thanks to the Department of Conservation.
Today though this area is better known for its delicious soft fruit crops through a plethora of orchards and some stunning wines through a seemingly endless of carpet of vineyards definitely won't go hungry or thirsty in this area ;-)
This month was a month for new friends. We met Anna from the Bannockburn Hotel which does the most amazing food and a wine list that could make you giddy....over 200 of them to choose from! We also made new friends with Bill and Jenny who were our hosts for most of the month on their property, which has incredible views right over the top of Cromwell and up Lake Dunstan, a stunning location with wonderful people. In fact we had such a great time that we will be back there again through June and July enjoying the beauty of the Central Otago winter which should make for some spectacular photographic opportunities. 
April and May will find us back among friends and family in Canterbury as various events need us to be in the area.

Couldn't resist this opportunity as the ducks quietly swam past this young couple enjoying the peace and solitude just outside of Queenstown on the edge of Lake Wakatipu

While walking the Routeburn Track we were lucky enough see a few of these beautiful Rifleman birds quite close to us. They are small and move incredibly quickly, hence the name.

Occasionally the Routeburn Track offers up views which are not just of native forest, birds and stunningly clear river water.

The ever curious and wonderfully tame New Zealand Robin. 

On our way back from walking the Routeburn and a quick drink at Kinloch we stopped here for a few moments of contemplation. If you look closely my brother-in-law is just along the edge of the water taking in the view

Early one morning the sun was just coming up behind the hills and lighting the mist for some dramatic light

Walking through the Bannockburn Sluicings on a clear sunny day was like visiting a totally different country

From this spot heading up into the Nevis Valley, on a clear day, you can see Mt Cook in the distance almost 200kms away. Down in the valley is Lake Dunstan

Various buildings are still standing strong in the Nevis Valley.....they were definitely built to last as that is a very harsh environment!

The first of 25 fords on the Nevis Valley Road gave me an opportunity for this image.....once I'd crossed the river that is

Another trip up into the Nevis on a day that was a little more dramatic!

Cromwell also has the Highlands Motor Sport Park and I had a great afternoon photographing the bikes

On this particular evening the sky just lit up with the setting sun. This moment just felt like it was on fire, nature really is quite amazing

The remnants of an old hotel still stand in the hills above Cromwell at Welshtown

An early morning with mist and rain added a little bit mystery to the old buildings

As this mist cleared I was treated to some beautiful views and light in the valleys below me

It was a stunning few minutes of light but it was short lived as the mist came back in to shroud me

This was taken just a few minutes after I had been taking images of the valley floor

Somedays you just have to wait patiently until the locals move on by ;-)

The rain that had only recently stopped gave a wonderful sheen to the road to reflect the patch of light in the clouds

A couple of days of very cold and wet weather meant the hills were covered in snow. This harrier was very obliging by coming in to frame while I was lining up to get a few images in between showers

As the cloud cleared we were treated to a view of snow dusted hills above Cromwell

Courtesy of Toyota we spent a day crossing the 25 fords through the Nevis along with 44 other vehicles. A great day to be in the Nevis and a huge amount of fun was had by everyone that attended, thank you to Tony Groome for showing us what our trusty tow vehicle is capable of

A very typical view while traversing the back country, in this instance as we were heading through the Nevis Valley

Autumn has most definitely arrived

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