New Zealand Road Trip: Garston to Frankton

Posted by David Travis on 29 May 2024

New Zealand Road Trip: Garston to Frankton

This is the second of four articles showing pictures from four road trips I made while in New Zealand's south island in April this year. In this article, I travel from Garston to Frankton. For more background, read the introduction to the first road trip, Arrowtown to Glenorchy.

Garston to Frankton

Distance: 57km.

Map data from OpenStreetMap.

Incoming storm

Taken near Garston on a journey back to Queenstown from Te Anau. There had been a snowfall on the mountains the previous day and the snow, plus the unusual light, made this a quick-stop-the-car-and-grab-the-camera moment.

Olympus EM-1 Mk II with Lumix 35-100mm lens at 68mm. 1/640s, f/5.6, ISO 200.

Mountain light

Driving on the Kingston-Garston highway, I saw this magical light in the distance. I pulled over and found myself at Fairlight Railway Station (one of the smallest railway stations I’ve ever seen — just the station and a level crossing). I wanted a higher perspective but the immediate area was flat farmland. I looked for foreground interest but there was only a fence. So I made do with what I had. I really like the painterly feel of this image.

Olympus EM-1 Mk II with Lumix 35-100mm lens at 85mm. 1/1250s, f/5.6, ISO 200.

Halfway Bay

This is a lookout near Devils Staircase. I saw this light appear on the mountains and crossed my fingers that I would be able to get my camera out before the light passed over.

OM-1 with Olympus 12-40mm lens at 22mm. 1/1600s, f/6.3, ISO 200.

Drift Bay

The views from the road looking west over Lake Whakatipu are stunning. But images are tricky to compose because there’s no real foreground interest you can use. I’m not usually a fan of very wide panoramas but in this instance I think it was needed.

OM-1 with Olympus 12-40mm lens at 40mm. 1/1600s, f/6.3, ISO 200. Multi-image HDR panorama.

Devils Staircase

I first drove this road in the opposite direction — away from Queenstown — but there were few places to pull over and admire the view. In this direction, heading towards Queenstown, there are a number of places to stop. This section of road is known as Devils Staircase (again, no apostrophe, aaarrrggghhh) and contains stretch after stretch of wow-look-at-that scenes to admire.

OM-1 with Lumix 35-100mm lens at 35mm. 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 200.

Sunset at Jack’s Point

Jack’s Point, a new housing development near Queenstown, was still under construction during my visit. While some areas showed ongoing development, the golf club was fully operational. Five minutes before taking this picture I was sipping a beer in the club’s 19th hole. That’s a pretty perfect way to wait for the light to appear.

OM-1 with Leica 8-18mm lens at 8mm. 8s, f/7.1, ISO 200.

Sunset at Frankton

There is no shortage of photogenic jetties at Frankton. The challenge is finding something for them to point to. I first visited Frankton at sunrise only to discover the light was in the wrong place for the photograph I wanted to take. Returning at sunset, I was pleased to get such good light on the distant mountain, plus a flat cap of cloud on the mountain top.

OM-1 with Olympus 12-40mm lens at 12mm. 25s, f/8, ISO 200.

Frankton abstract

I went to Frankton for sunrise. I enjoyed the experience — I was the only person around — but it took a while for the light to fall anywhere interesting. I put a long lens on my camera and scanned the landscape for compositions. I came across this view as the light was hitting some of the trees in the distance. I liked the layered, abstract feel of the image.

OM-1 with Leica 100-400mm lens at 400mm. 1/40s, f/8, ISO 200.

Sign up for Part 3

In the next article, I'll show photographs from a Lake Manapouri to Milford Sound road trip. Sign up to my newsletter to hear when it's published.

If you liked this, try…

New Zealand Road Trip: Arrowtown to Glenorchy

15 May 2024

Making a concertina photo book

03 Apr 2022

Connecting with the landscape

25 Jan 2024

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