Review: Canon EOS R

Canon EOS R

Canon EOS R

Since picking up my first full frame camera a little over a year ago I’ve been lucky enough to try out some pretty epic gear thanks to the team at Canon New Zealand, I’ve taken the 6Dmkii through the heart of the South Island and put the 5Div through its paces in the arctic wonderland, Iceland. This time I’ve been given Canon’s first full frame mirrorless camera, the EOS R to try out in my home city, Auckland. Admittedly I didn’t have the best time shooting largely down to the fact that I was a little out of my comfort zone with what I was shooting, nonetheless I got to put the R through its paces and became very comfortable and dependant on the camera and its many features, it is definitely a huge step up from my 6D.

From the moment I got my hands on the R I was blown away, unlike the other full frame mirrorless cameras on the market this camera was a delight to hold, this might seem unimportant to some but anyone who has shot for days on end be it out in the mountains or in the city shooting event, the ergonomics of your camera are essential. The first thing I tasked myself with was getting to tabs with the new button layout including the swipe bar next to the view finder and the additional adjustment ring on the new RF lenses. Very quickly I could see how these features would become a game changer, with an individual slider for shutter speed, iso and aperture I’ll never have to take my face away from the viewfinder which is particularly useful for weddings, with the tap of my thumb the camera would automatically revert back to iso 100, with another tap I could turn on focus peaking and with a swipe I could magnify to 5 and 10 times which is optimal when manual focusing, you simply won’t miss focus again. Now this set up was primarily for use as a cityscape/landscape photographer, how you set it up is completely up to you which is probably why I loved it so much.

A feature I that cant go without a mention is that the bottom right of the screen can be used to move focus points through the image, that blew my mind a little and with over 5,000 manual focus points I almost feel the days of missing focus are far behind us. Canon also nailed the viewfinder, I like many have found the viewfinders on the Sony and Nikon equivalent to feel a little unnatural or fake, now I can’t quite put my finger on it but in my opinion the Canon has both of its rivals there, hands down.

For my first night in the field I took to shooting cityscapes in some of Auckland’s most famous spots, now this is completely out of my comfort zone but I felt the images came together beautifully, the RF 24-105 f/ 4 lens is sharp corner to corner from f/ 4 up, in fact I rarely shot at anything higher than f/ 8, typically only going higher to create the star burst effect with lights or the sun. The first night was a good test to see how I really felt about the customisable buttons and new features, they all came very naturally and at no point did I feel like I was being let down by a camera that felt uncomfortable or unfamiliar with its user interface, something Canon excel at.

Aside from having to update Camera Raw, Photoshop and Lightroom I had no issues importing images and was pleasantly surprised with the images that came from the shoot.

Canon EOS R + RF 24-105 f/ 4 @ 26mm, 30s, f/ 16, iso 100.

Canon EOS R + RF 24-105 f/ 4 @ 26mm, 30s, f/ 16, iso 100.

The shot above would have worked perfectly as a single image had there been more traffic so due to the quiet roads I’ve had to blend in light trails from different images. I did notice that compared to my 6D the battery did drain a lot faster than what I’m accustomed, that said I still didn’t use more than one battery for a solid 4 hours of long exposure shooting.

In the days that followed I didn’t get a lot of chances to get out and shoot until a week later where I shot several places over the course of the night all the way through to sunrise. The first spot was Te Toro, now the image I captured was a pretty run of the mill moonscape but I’d wanted the image to kick off a series of composite I was creating called ‘Northern Lights and where NOT to find them’. Again in the dark I had no issues with the camera whatsoever, the moonlight provided the perfect balance for the image and made my life very easy for bringing the composite to life.

Following on from Te Toro I drove East to Hunua Falls in the hope of capturing a few astro shots to see what the R was truly capable of, I decided to approach the situation as if I was shooting on my 6D, using my go to settings of 13s, f/ 2.8 and iso 10,000. The 6D can shoot relatively well at high iso, normally I’d stack the images but to remain true to the experiment, no stacking or noise correction has took place in my edit of Hunua Falls, the image itself isn’t one I’m particularly stoked with but nonetheless proved to me that this is no slouch when it comes to astro, though I might just prefer the 5Dmkiv but without having them side by side it’s too hard to tell for sure!

Initially I intended to go to Magazine Bay to capture the rise of the Milky Way but curiosity got the best of me, checking out the various dam reservoirs in the area to see if anything would line up, unfortunately due to the angle of the Milky Way combined with the lack of water no compositions jumped out to me, now that the window the shoot the Milky Way rise had well and truly gone I mission north to a place I’d always wanted to see the sunrise, Torbay. This sunrise mission produces my favourite images while I had the R in my possession, gorgeous golden light on the horizon making the water look as if its dancing as the light glistened on the tops of waves. Due to the incredible lens stabilisation I was able to capture 0.4s exposures handheld that are tack sharp, granted it does take some effort, even the best stabilisation can be ruined by shaky hands.

Through the night of shooting I only just chewed through one battery, a pretty valiant effort for the new mirrorless camera that was feeling like more and more of an extension of my body by the day, the only real pity was that I never got the change to take the camera out into my favourite place, the Southern Alps.

A few things to add before concluding, the EF-RF mount is no bigger than an extender and comes in three variations, the standard minimalistic EF-RF adapter which has no additional features, the EF-RF control ring adapter which provides the same control ring you’ll find on the RF lenses which means you’ll be able to use the same set up on your old EF lenses and the final is no doubt my favourite; the EF-RF drop-in filter adapter where you can put a variable ND or polariser behind your lens which gives you all the added benefits of using filters without any vignette which is simply a game changer.

Now comes the important question, I’ve used the 5Dmkiv in some pretty epic places and fallen in love with it, would I buy the R over the 5D? Though it pains me to say it, as it stands I wouldn’t buy the R over the 5D. As it stands I don’t feel like I’ve had enough time with the camera to really compare it fairly to its 5D counterpart. It isn’t all doom and gloom, the R is an unbelievable camera but I’d rather not have to use an adapter to use lenses, the RF range of lenses is growing drastically with 85 primes alongside new 15-35, 24-70 and 70-200 zoom lenses about to hit the market. It really comes down to price and at this stage I can’t justify paying the price that the new RF glass demands, granted it is worth every penny, there just aren’t enough pennies in my bank account.

What does excite me though is that this is only the beginning, I can see future models being far more enticing and convincing as Canon refine their current model whilst adding to the bells and whistles.

Once again a big thanks to Canon New Zealand for hooking me up with the EOS R, hopefully I can have another crack with it in the future so I can really convince myself to fork out the extra cash the body and new glass demands.

You can see the R and more of Canon’s products on their website.

Top 5 - New Zealand Waterfalls

Happy Monday Everyone, today I’ll be sharing my favourite waterfalls in my homeland New Zealand! They’re all different and dotted across the country so hopefully you’ll be able to see one or two of these bad boys for yourself.


5. Bridal Veil Falls

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Bridal Veil Falls is a plunge waterfall found in the Raglan region out west of Hamilton. A great waterfall for photographers it provides four varying compositions to allow you to build a catalogue of images. I’d highly advise not getting in the water though due to farm run off polluting the water upstream!

4. Stirling Falls

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Out of the list, this is the hardest waterfall to get to. The 151m plunge pool is only accessible via the water so unless you take a boat tour with one of the various tour companies or by going on a kayak tour. Be sure to take a rain jacket as the boat tours will be sure to get you soaked right underneath the waterfall! One key feature of this waterfall is the gorgeous spider webbing effect that wash creates as it hits the water.


3. Thunder Creek Falls

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Thunder Creek is located at the beginning of the Haast Highway as you head north and after a very short walk you’ll be greeted with a beautiful waterfall that provided a beautiful turquoise colour in the water. My greatest piece of advice is to bring some mosquito spray as the insects in the area will take a liking to you if its not a windy day!

2. Tarawera Falls

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To get here you’ll have to buy a pass to access Tarawera Forest which can be purchased at the information centre in Kawarau. The area is well worth exploring if you have the time but the pinnacle of the area for me is the falls without a doubt. The spray from the falls can be insane so be prepared and bring a microfibre cloth and an umbrella to try and minimise that spray on your lens. Take extra caution if your camera isn’t weather sealed!

1. Tawhai Falls

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Hands down my favourite waterfall in New Zealand, made famous by the Lord of the Rings as it played a part in Frodo, Sam and Gollum’s story-line hence the spot is often named after the scene ‘Gollum’s Pool’. This spot also provides multiple compositions allowing you to really get creative. As its based so close to the mountains of Tongariro National Park the looks of the place can change dramatically with the seasons.

Stay tuned next week as I’ll take you through how I capture my waterfall images.

See ya next Monday!

Top 5 - Must see places in Iceland

Unless you've been living under a rock or you're a new follower you'll be well aware I spent two weeks on the otherside of the world to the land of fire and ice, Iceland. This week I'll be sharing my top 5 places in Iceland you simply have to visit.

5. Seydisfjordur, Austurland

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The only township to make the list, Seydisfjordur is by far the most beautiful town I've seen. Situated at the end of a fjord with mountainous surrounding, the landscape simply adds to the idyllic Icelandic vibe given off. Made famous by the 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty' and what is without a doubt the cutest light blue church on the planet the township can become quite busy. I'd suggest visiting in September to avoid the rush of people and to see some awesome snowy landscapes of your drive over the pass.


4. Godafoss, Nordurland

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The only 'mainstream' spot to make this list, Godafoss is by far the very best of the tourist frequented waterfalls in Iceland. Gorgeous in all weather the shear power and amount of water flowing through is staggering to say the least. Godafoss is easily accessible via the ring road which is open and serviced year round.


3. Grotta Lighthouse, Reykjavik

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If you have a short time in Iceland and you'd like to try and see the Northern Lights then this is the spot for you. Grotta Lighthouse marks the northern most point of the capital city of Reykjavik and is walking distance from the city. If you have clear skies and anything over a KP2 then you'll have a chance of seeing the lights. Perfect if you don't have a car or the money for a guided tour.


2. Blahylur, Sudurland

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Blahylur was by far the place I was most excited to see in Iceland, surrounded by several other volcanic lakes the place is a hive for geothermal activity. Though it is by far the most photogenic I do recommend going to see the others seeming as you've already traveled so far. To get here you'll either need your own 4WD or you'll need to go on a tour as the Highland 'F-Roads' are not designed for anything that isn't off-road capable. Do be careful when you're renting a car because just being a 4WD doesn't mean it is suitable. It pays to confirm that your vehicle is able to take on the F-Roads with your rental company before going. It should also be noted that the F-Roads aren’t open all year, they tend to close at the end of September and not reopen until the snow has melted from the roads as they aren’t serviced like your main roads. Even with a 4WD these roads can be impassible.


1. Dynjandi, Vestfirdir

This spot makes number one for three reasons. The absolute lack of people there was a real treat, though a very famous waterfall to get there takes a bit of time either by anassortment of 'F-Roads' or a ferry. I'd recommend the drive as the places your drive through and passes you cross are hands down some of the best road-side scenes I've ever laid my eyes upon! Finally, Dynjandi is the main waterfall at the very tip top of the walk with several cascades on the walk up, getting more and more picturesque as you climb to the last look out right underneath Dynjandi!

Hopefully this wee list will have you plotting your trip to Iceland, if you do go make sure you show me what you get up to!

Until next Monday, see ya!

Top 5 - Places to see in Queenstown

After my recent trip to Queenstown it made sense to list my top 5 places to check out around the Queenstown area, all you need is a way to get around and you’re good to go!


5. Meiklejohns Jetty

Image - @shadowandshadenz

Situated along the road to Glenorchy west of Queenstown is a bay along Lake Wakatipu where the remnants of an old jetty can be found, they make a great foreground feature for photographs with the mountains in the background and due to the southward facing nature it can potentially be used as a foreground for photographs of the Southern Lights.


4. Remarkables Ski Field Access Road

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Along the Remarks access road you’ll come across a trig station amongst a few switchbacks on the way up the mountain, just beyond the trig station is one of the best views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu in terms of effort for reward. I’d highly recommend this spot for sunset!

3. Lake Hayes

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Gorgeous all year round I particularly love this spot once the autumn colours begin to take hold on the area, there is a little wharf on the southern side of the lake that provides great subject matter.


2. Glenorchy Wharf

Image - @thekiwifrog

One of my favourite places to sit down and relax, sitting over the beautiful lake with the gorgeous mountains in the background are a particularly spectacular sight during winter as the snow takes over the landscape. If you really want to push yourself try taking an astro shot later in the milky way season!


1. Moke Lake

Image - @undersoulphotography

Moke is famous for its incredible reflections that quite literally mirror its surrounding on a calm day which happen very frequently! Great for sunrise, sunset, moody vibes, astro and the Southern Lights its clear to see why it tops my list of places to see in Queenstown.


Bonus. Wanaka Tree

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Its a little out of the way but if you’ve come half way across the world to be here you won’t want to make the mistake of not going to Wanaka. Wanaka is home to what is probably the most famous tree in the world, ‘That Wanaka Tree’, adored world wide for not only its beauty in where its situated but its resilient nature, a tree that can outlast us all in even the most adverse environment.

This Monday I’ve admittedly left it a little late but I’ve made it nonetheless, thats three for three! I hope you’re enjoying these little segments, feel free to get in touch and let me know what you’d like to hear about next.

See ya next Monday

Top 5 - New Zealand Highways

Welcome back to another instalment of my Top 5 blog segment! For most of us the last week meant facing reality by heading back to work, if however this is your first day back then all the best for the New Year and for those of you who are still on holiday I’m very jealous!

Today I’m sharing my Top 5 New Zealand Highway’s that you should all try and tackle this year because lets be honest, the first thing we do when we go back to work in look towards our next holiday!


5. Cape Reinga Highway

Image - @giuligartner

A great one in the summer, the Cape Reinga Highway takes you all the way up State Highway 1 to the very tip top of our beautiful country, since I gained the freedom of having my own car the drive to Cape Reinga was the very first I ticked off my list, the ultimate prize is seeing where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea right under the eye of the world famous Cape Reinga Lighthouse but there are plenty of little treats on the road north for you to discover from incredible sand dunes to pristine quintessential Kiwi beaches.

4. Desert Road Highway

Image - @shadowandshadenz

It is without a shadow of a doubt my favourite drive in the North Island because there is nothing else quite like it in the North, the dominating feature is without a doubt Mt. Ngauruhoe but the area offers so many little treats that should be explored in the area! My personal favourite sits to the west. Tawhai Falls, a waterfall made famous world wide by playing a part in Peter Jackson’s film; The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is now commonly referred to as ‘Gollum’s Pool’.

3. Arthurs Pass Highway

Image - @billynunweek

Arthurs Pass will always hold a special place in my heart as it played host to my first road trip in the South Island after relocating in 2015, you’ll find yourself climb winding roads into incredible alpine vistas that will do more than enough to quench your alpine addiction. With several lakes that provide an excellent spot to camp for the night the place has a long list of options that mean you can keep coming back and discover something new every time! 

2. Milford Sound Highway

Image - @rachstewartnz

The road north of Te Anau is biblical, you’ll find yourself craning your neck to try and get a better look out the window and as a result will resign to stopping frequently in order to really soak in all the beauty! The wondrous thing about the place is how much it changes with the weather, though gorgeous on a sunny day nothing will quite prepare you for how incredible it looks when the rain comes from the heavens. Although not at the top of my list I’m sharing today it is on the top of my personal list of places I need to revisit having not been back in over 18 months!

1. Mount Cook Highway

Image - @billynunweek

Surprise, surprise! The Mount Cook Highway comes out on top, I tried my best to not list it at number one but I knew deep down I’d just be lying to myself. What I love most about the drive into Mount Cook National Park is that Mount Cook remains forever in your light of sight providing ample opportunity top pull over and get that cliche ‘Road to Aoraki’ snap! If you’ve never been before there are two walks you just have to do and don’t worry they’re suitable for people of all fitness levels and they are the Hooker Valley Trail and the Tasman Lake Trail. You’ll definitely thank me later!

No bonus listing today as I feel I’ve got enough listed to get you planning your next road trip, although most can be done in a day I highly recommend to take your time in order to truly appreciate the place, share the drive and stay safe on the roads!

See ya next Monday!

Top 5 - Photographers to follow in 2019

Happy New Year everybody! 

I’ve set myself a goal to write a lot more this year and in an effort to do that I aim to produce a ‘Top 5’ blog entry every Monday! Lets see how long I can keep it going! To kick 2019 off I’m going to share my top five Instagram accounts to follow in 2019!

1 - William Patino (@williampatino_photography).

In no particular order I’m starting with my biggest inspiration, William Patino. Will is an Australian landscape photographer based out of Te Anau, Fiordland and his images speak volumes about a man who is committed to capturing the very best images. What really fascinates me is that all of his images (excluding night exposures) are captured handheld and once you take a look at his profile you’ll understand why I’m so blown away!


2 - Michael Shainblum (@shainblumphotography).

A photographer who never ceases to blow me away with both his imagery and editing is Michael, the way he makes images looks so smooth and sharp at the same time is something to really be appreciate. Along with some incredible time-lapses he also produces some killer tutorials that I’d highly recommend checking out!


3 - Even Tryggstrand (@eventyr).

For all your Northern Lights inspiration check out Even, based out of the Northern Lights capital of the world, Tromsø, Norway he is the very best at capturing the many shapes and forms the lights can produce. If he doesn’t inspire you to head north I don’t know who will!

4 - Josh Beames (@joshbeames).

Based out of Australia, Josh has managed to change the way I look at my neighbours across the Tasman. Initially uninterested in the Australian landscape following his journey has given me the desire to cross the ditch and get exploring asap! Not to mention his edits are better than crispy bacon!


5 - Jordan Hammond (@jordhammond).

If you’re looking to bridge the gap between Landscape and Lifestyle photography, look no further. Jord provides a collection on beautifully smooth, well composed images that take light into account like no other. His images will not only inspire you but are an ultimate pleasure to behold, like food for your eyes.


Bonus - Petra Leary (@petraleary).

If you’re looking for something a little different, Petra’s aerial game is on another level, the way she uses shapes and colour will have you coming back for more, the nature of some of her images will leave you scratching your head as she takes drone photography to a level that is far beyond most of us, her eye for a different perspective is simply inspiring.

Now I know this list was a little longer that five but sometimes you can’t put a number on talent. I’d love to hear who your favourite people to follow on Instagram are and if you enjoyed any of the profiles I’ve share with you today.

See you next Monday!

Top 5 - Places to fly your drone around Christchurch this Summer

Welcome to my very first Top 5 segment, these will host anything from photography tips and tricks to travel advice! Today I’m starting my Top 5 places to fly your drone around Christchurch this Summer. All these locations are safe to fly your drone, just make sure you’re courteous to those around you by respecting their privacy and that they come to these places for peace and relaxation. All spots listed are suitable for both sunrise and sunset.


5. Spencer Park

Located near the Waimakariri River Mouth, Spencer Park offers sand dunes, seascapes and the river itself giving you a lot of variety in such a small area. Do beware though as Christchurch City’s airspace sits just west of Lower Styx Rd.


4. Mount Pleasant Scenic Reserve

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Like two other locations on this list, Mt. Pleasant provides views of both the mountains and Lyttelton Harbour, using your drone here can provide a new perspective of one of the most iconic views in Christchurch overlooking Lyttelton itself.


3. Witch Hill Scenic Reserve

Witch Hill plays host to some epic rocky formations which provide a great opportunity to add a human element to your drone images using either Lyttelton Harbour or Christchurch City as your backdrop.


2. Coopers Knob

This sweet spot provides plenty of different compositions particularly when using Summit Rd in your images, Gibraltar Rock is a prominent feature and is a particularly epic spot to photograph sunset.


1. Scarborough

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This is without a doubt my favourite spot in Christchurch to launch my drone. With Sumner beach to one side and Taylor’s Mistake to the other, your battery life will prove to be your biggest limitation. One thing to keep in mind here is your altitude (height) as Scarborough is a popular flight path for light aircraft so remain vigilant.


It goes without saying but ensure you follow the rules when flying your drone and stay clear of no fly zones! To brush up on drone laws be sure to check out the Airshare website, they also have detailed interactive maps to ensure you remain safe in the skies.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my first Top 5 piece, be sure to send in your images for a chance to have your work featured on my instagram.

1 - Arthur's Pass, New Zealand

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Foreword

I’ve finally decided to let my creative side take full control, not only through my images but with my words as well, hence my new blog. Thank you for taking the time to read my very first post, I hope you enjoy this and what is to follow.

- Billy.

Lately I’ve felt a little trapped, you see I don’t cope well being stuck in a city for a prolonged period of time. Thankfully the opportunity for me to get back into the mountains with new found friends Yann and Coco came up when it did; nothing relieves stress and declutters my brain like time away in nature and thanks to Trekker Adventures I’d be doing just that in one of my favourite places in New Zealand, the overwhelmingly beautiful Arthur’s Pass.

Less than two hours from my front door, Arthur’s Pass is the source of my passion for photography. I recall just over two years ago wandering through mountains surrounding Castle Hill at sunrise, I was left speechless by the way the golden light crawled across the crisp winter landscape causing the frozen planation to give off steam, hearing the native birds come to life in a resounding chorus, the smell of the fresh alpine wind and the feeling of dawns first light caressing my skin. Perhaps I’m romanticising it a little, it was -3°C and my legs were crying in agony but that couldn’t take away from the beauty of the occasion. This is where my love for nature took hold, this is where the roots of my desire to become a photographer were planted and now, revisiting this place has invoked my inclination to start writing.

Building up to our weekend away, the weather looked a little rough with heavy rain, high winds and even snow predicted throughout the Southern Alps during the weekend but this didn’t act as a deterrent, far from it in fact. For those who don’t know, the most detrimental aspect of photography is the light, the best light comes at the start and end of everyday as the sun casts long shadows across the landscape with both blue and golden hues. During the middle of the day the light is hard to work with particular on beautiful clear days, its flat and harsh which takes away any drama and power that the image could of had, thick cloud, rain and snow cut out the harsh light you get at midday and provide an even ambient light that is beautiful to take photographs in which is why, despite the fact we’d be cold and wet, we were growing more and more excited with each passing day.

This was Yann and Coco’s first time to Arthur’s Pass, Yann is fresh off the plane from France, he’s here to travel around New Zealand during the warmer months of the year into early winter while Coco has done just that and leaves for Germany in less than a week. I take great pleasure in showing people new places, watching them take it all in for the first time is a joy to watch in itself and is as close as I’ll ever get to seeing the place for the first time again, it reiterates the point that I’m so lucky to have somewhere so beautiful so easily accessible.

Getting to Arthur’s Pass from Christchurch is a fairly simple task, you make your way to State Highway 73 and follow it West. SH73 takes you across the Canterbury Plains all the way to the base of the Southern Alps before you begin the ascent into the mountains themselves. Immediately we were greeted with incredible dense fog that really set off the trip on the right foot, definitely a case of start as you mean to go on. The weather remained relentlessly moody throughout the weekend, dream like conditions if you ask me!

You have the ability to feel completely secluded from the real world in Arthur’s Pass, perhaps thats why I love the place so much, despite the fact it has a highway connection the East and West there was barely a soul to be seen. We nestled into the mountains, next to lakes and in secluded forests with the entire place to ourselves. Even after days of exploring up the areas many hidden roads and tracks we’d barely scratched the surface, perhaps thats why I love revisiting this place so much, to see old favourites and have completely new experiences while I’m at it.

One thing that I really appreciate were the people I shared the journey with, two weeks ago we’d never communicated with one another and now I consider both of them live long friends. I guess thats one thing I really love about social media is the like minded people you come across, people who otherwise you’d have never met. 

I’ll be coming up with a list of my five favourite places in Arthur’s Pass so subscribe if you don’t want to miss out on that, a big thank you to Trekker, Yann and Coco for making that incredible weekend all come together. Until next time!

Trekker Adventures - www.instagram.com/trekkeradventures
Yann - www.instagram.com/yann_b
Coco - www.instagram.com/iamthefatbaby

Thank you to everyone who made it this far, I hope you enjoyed my first blog entry even if it was a short one! I hope you stick around as I share more of my adventures, tips and tricks. Have a great day!

- Billy