Since buying my Nikon D700 camera I have always wanted to try out one of those classic flowing waterfall pictures, but living in Perth Australia, which surely must be one of the flattest cities on the planet, the opportunity for grand flowing waterfalls is not there. There is the nearby Darling Ranges but they are quite small as far as hills go and don’t have the catchment to give anything like a decent waterfall.
I went back recently to my home country of New Zealand which is the ideal place for waterfalls with its famous high mountains and famous rainfall.
The pictures on this post are of the Devils Punchbowl Waterfall situated in the Arthurs Pass National Park in New Zealand’s South Island, which is around 2-3 hours’ drive from Christchurch.
It’s a steep 30 minute walk from the small gravel car park on the Bealey River Flats up the side of the mountain to the Punchbowl Falls. In the past I had spent many years running around the mountains of Westland and the Arthurs Pass area, but after 10 years of living in flat Perth I wasn’t sure if I still had my New Zealand ‘mountain legs’. On the way up the climb I passed a few overseas tourists resting from exhaustion on the side of the track, and I thought to myself wow I’m just as fit as I always was, and was feeling quite pleased with myself as I must be almost at the falls … but the falls didn’t appear, even though I expected them at every turn in the track. Now my legs were starting to shake and my breath was becoming more labored, eventually I had to admit to myself that my time in Perth is not an ideal training ground for even a small mountain climb such as this one! I stopped for a rest, breathed in the cool mountain air and enjoyed the native bush that used to be part of my daily life here in New Zealand. My legs eventually stopped shaking, and I moved on to arrive at the falls a short time later.
I set up the camera on my travel tripod to point at the waterfall and connected up the release cable, it’s for keeping my hand movement away from the camera when pressing the shutter button. I had read dozens of articles on the internet about taking waterfall pictures, but now here I was in front of a waterfall and everything I read seemed to have left my mind … I just did the next best thing I could think of and used just about every aperture/ exposure combination that my camera would allow me, to hopefully get the flowing water pictures I had seen so many times in before.
I think from memory I took a couple of hundred pictures of the Devils Punchbowl waterfall, some of the photographs had the soft flowing silk water I was after but whitewater areas of the waterfall in the picture were far too over exposed and couldn’t even be rescued with Photoshop. However I was happy with a few of the pictures, and I finally gained my waterfall photo experience so next time there are no excuses from me …
The Devils Punchbowl Falls is 131 metres (429 feet) high. In the photograph above you can get a visual idea of the waterfall height by the person with a red coat standing beside the waterfall (indicated with green arrow).
The native Maori people of New Zealand have always had a close connection with the land, they called the falls ‘Te Tautea o Hinekakai’ which means weaving waters, named from the fine white fibres of the native flax plant which they used for mats and fine garments
Click here for The New Zealand Department of Conservation information about the Devils Punchbowl Falls and surrounding area
You can see more New Zealand mountain pictures on my stock photography pages