Cape Farewell is the northern-most point of the South Island of New Zealand. This breath-taking landmark was discovered by Abel Tasman in 1642 and named by Captain Cook when he departed New Zealand in 1770.
The fantastical Archway Islands around the corner make this destination the poor cousin, frequented by fewer folks. But the minor detour and 3-minute walk up the paddock never fails to deliver.
We returned to the cape in June 2017, which is mid-winter.
From the holiday park near Wharariki Beach, I drove my vehicle here for an evening shoot. Not normally visible in the warmer months, the sun slips into the Tasman Sea, lighting up the thunder clouds in a dramatic display of moody colour. Using an ND filter, the boiling ocean is flattened into a milky millpond.
Canon EOS 5D MkIII | 29mm | f/11 | 30 seconds | ISO 100 | NiSi 6-stop ND filter
Next day, I made a morning mission here, and captured the same view, just after sunrise. But, oh, the light! They don't call this the Magic Hour for nothing! Compare these two images, and see the dramatic difference that light makes to the landscape.
Canon EOS 5D MkIII | 17-40mm lens | f/8 | 0.7 seconds & 10 seconds | ISO 200
The sky image had a NiSi 6-stop ND filter [ Click to see video review
In Photoshop, I stacked several shots together, then used Layer Masking to isolate the best sky, land and water from each exposure. (That's why the clouds are blurred, but the water is not.)
Reason for the Season:
A few years earlier, I pointed my DSLR in the same direction, at dawn.
The tide was very low, and allowed a stunning reflection in the wet sand, and wonderful lead-in lines. This was shot in October, which is Spring in New Zealand.
However, an ugly shadow is cast by the clifftop I am standing on. Compare this shot with the image above, to see the difference that 4 months can make!
Camera Settings: Canon EOS 5D MkII | 20mm | f/16 | 1/15th second | ISO 10
Striving for perfection:
One day, I will return to Cape Farewell in the ideal conditions:
Winter (no shadows on the cliffs)
Ultra-low tide (to get reflections in wet sand)
Dawn (so the rising sun lights up the cliff faces)
Cloudy skies to the south (for mood)
You can watch us shoot these photos on YouTube : EPISODE TWELVE | Wharariki Beach & Cape Farewell. Or follow me as I process these exact same images in Photoshop. Enroll in the ultimate landscape masterclass, LOCATIONZ.
Keyword: landscape photography south island nz, new zealand landscape photography