Graham King leads us down glacial trails that decorate Aoraki / Mt Cook and valley lakes and lands spotting the majestic snow-capped mount in the Southern Alps.
Graham King | NEW ZEALAND
Graham King is a photographer and adventure collector from Tasmania, the southern continental island state that broke free from Australia’s rugged coastline. Graham and a fellow band of exploring legends recently spent some time on the other side of the Tasman Sea chasing glaciers in the ever enchanting New Zealand. I always find it very impressive when photographs of the Aotearoa stand out from the millions. It’s not hard to take a beautiful photo in a place so utterly magical, so it’s worth celebrating the standouts. Grahams photos are standout, and we’re stoked to share them with you. Take in the largest New Zealand Glacier and gawk at the views from Mt Cook’s peak.
Read on to hike the adventure tracks where Graham King captured the following dreamy scenes through his lens.
After months of planning our New Zealand road trip, we had finally arrived in Christchurch. We went to New Zealand with the idea of being outdoors, as much as possible, and made a point of exploring new places every day. After spending our first night in Lake Tekapo, where we were greeted with warm sunshine and beautiful springtime flowers, we were finally en-route to Mount Cook, a place that we had all been dreaming of going to for some time. The mountains began enveloping us as we got closer to the national park and we were all buzzing with excitement. It also just so happened that another good friend of ours from Tasmania was there at the same time and we were able to share the experience with him. He had been to Mount Cook quite a few times before and was able to show us a number of epic places.
While we did quite a few of the more touristy hikes in the park, such as the Hooker Valley Track and the Tasman Glacier Track, we decided we’d like to do something more challenging, on the last day, before we left. Our buddy, Oscar suggested the Sealy Tarns hike for sunset, as it offers some of the most epic views of Mount Cook and the glacier rivers below, so we couldn’t resist doing it after hearing that. When you think of Mount Cook in the spring you typically think of cold temperatures and mostly overcast weather, and whilst we thought this too we had never been more wrong. We started the hike around 3 pm and it was a balmy 24 degrees, the sky was a crystal clear blue and there was not a drop of wind.
The hiking trail up to the top of Sealy Tarns is a massive flight of stairs that snake up the side of the mountain, so while it is a great trail to walk on, it quickly gets the heart pumping and makes you tired. The heat also added to the challenge factor but we were so thankful to be outdoors exploring New Zealand, in such amazing weather. After a few stops to refuel with snacks and strip off some layers of clothing, we finally made it to the top where we were able to take in the incredible view alongside a handful of other hikers who had also managed to conquer the 2000 step long trail. We made sure we were at the top well before sunset so we had ample time to appreciate the views, but we soon became aware that the temperature was steadily dropping and the wind had picked up big time.
“As the sun completely dropped we sat there at blue hour staring at Mt Cook and the valley below which was now a deep blue colour. Mt Cook was still aglow with light and in the distance, we could hear the sound of small avalanches popping on the distant peaks.”
I will never forget the moment when the sun started to drop leaving only the top of the peaks surrounding us in a golden glow. We were all left speechless and at the same time, we were running around the side of the mountain filling up our SD cards, desperately trying to capture all the incredible colours and landscapes before our eyes. As the sun completely dropped we sat there at blue hour staring at Mt Cook and the valley below which was now a deep blue colour. Mt Cook was still aglow with light and in the distance, we could hear the sound of small avalanches popping on the distant peaks.
“Without a doubt, Mt Cook was my favourite part of our two week trip across the south island. The place is truly amazing and as much as I loved capturing it, it feels like photos could never completely do it justice”
On our way down in the dark, the steps were lit up by our head torches and we had an absolutely insane view of the valley the whole way down. Without a doubt, Mt Cook was my favourite part of our two week trip across the south island. The place is truly amazing and as much as I loved capturing it, it feels like photos could never completely do it justice – it’s a place that really must be experienced in person. Hopefully, though, the images that accompany this article will give you a taste of what you can expect to find at Mt Cook and an idea of how incredibly majestic and special it is.
Words & Photographs by Graham King
F U L L N A M E
H O M E T O W N
Hi Graham, thanks for sharing your photos and thoughts. In your words, please tell us how you make a living?
I am currently working a few different casual jobs to fuel my passion, which is photography. Whilst these jobs aren’t what I want to be doing in the long term, I do still enjoy them and I am very thankful to have money coming in that allows me to travel and pay for new gear. I’ve also been fortunate to get a fairly consistent amount of work from different brands and marketing companies which have allowed me to learn new skills and build my portfolio to work with bigger brands.
What gets you up in the morning? And what’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
I think the urge to create is always there and that definitely inspires me every day. Whilst I don’t have the time to go out and shoot photos every day, I am always trying to think of new ideas for photos and then I write them down in my notes on my phone so that I can execute them at a later stage. As far as my morning routine goes, I am a strong believer in having a good breakfast so that usually comes first and I go from there haha!
What is the most unique and interesting situation photography has landed you in, so far?
I did a shoot for Mini Australia earlier this year which was an epic experience. It was quite an interesting situation as the job came about quite suddenly and it wasn’t until a couple of days before the shoot that I had confirmation that I was in fact involved and what my involvement entailed. It really pushed me creatively and allowed me to work with other highly talented photographers and videographers out in the field.
Name some inspirations, photographers or otherwise.
This is always changing for me. I find inspiration in a number of different places but my main sources are Instagram and Youtube, which I am sure is the same for most people. The main people who initially inspired me when I first became interested in photography are Jason Hill (@jasoncharleshill), Matt Cherubino (@mattcherub) and Emilie Ristevski (@helloemilie). I remember them as being some of the first photographers I followed on the gram and they are still some of my favourites to this day. I love how their style is always evolving and how they can adapt to so many new environments. Some other photographers I am loving at the moment are John Bozinov (@johnbozinov), Garret King (@shortstache) and Mark and Mim from the @thecommonwanderer.
What cameras and gear do you most enjoy using at the moment?
I am currently shooting on a Canon 6D which has served me well for the past few years. I only have two lenses which are the 24-70 f2.8 and the 70-200 f2.8, I find these lenses cover everything I need and I especially love the 70-200 for compression when I am out hiking. I also enjoy using my DJI Mavic Pro for aerial perspectives. I always have my trusty multi-tool in my camera bag as well as a rain jacket because I live in Tasmania and the weather is so unpredictable haha!
What is your favourite photobook?
I was able to pick up the photobook from Christian Watson called Forth Goes the Road. It follows his trip across Alaska with his dog in an old Jeep Wagoneer. It is pretty much all shot on film and it is the one book I always seem to go to when I want some inspiration. I think it took 6 months to arrive from when I first ordered it, but it was so worth the wait!
Thanks for the thoughts and dream-scene captures Graham. Graham King shoots dream scenes like these using Gobe lens filters.