Last week was the opening ceremony of the trail me and Nicky walked in New Zealand – Te Araroa. To mark the occasion I thought I’d share some of the progress I’ve made on all the photos and video we brought back.
I edited the photos first, there was about 25,000 to go through so I’ve only just finished! I got them down to reasonably easy to flick through 200 photo set of the highlights. And then a slightly longer 1000 odd photo set that covers the trail in a bit more depth.
We even got a few photos published in Geoff Chapple’s official trail guide, got our copy through the post the other day :)
If you followed our progress on Nicky&Cookie.com, you’ve probably seen most of these before, but you might be interested in checking out this short highlights video I’ve just finished putting together. It’s roughly in chronological order from the Top of the North Island to the bottom of the south, unfortunately I don’t have any footage of us getting to the end due to a memory card malfunction… Hopefully I might be able to recover some of it though. The rest of the video should be finished in the New Year.
In case you missed it, me and Nicky have finished our walk across New Zealand! We’ve been swanning about the South Pacific for a while, but are back in the UK now so normal bloggin’ should resume shortly :)
What are we up to now? You’ll never believe this, but we’re about to start work on a project for the New Zealand Tourist board, ha ha awesome!
May not be of much interest to most, but if you’re planning on doing the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand, or just fancy having a closer look at what me and Nicky are going to be doing for the next 6 months, then here’s all the maps (268.4MB).
I can’t guarantee the route I’ve drawn on is accurate, the route itself is constantly changing, but also expect a fair amount of human error! If you use these maps follow your judgement and common sense, over the orange line. I didn’t get around to making all the map notes I’d of liked too.. but I’ve run out of time now and need to get on with other stuff. My plan is to check for the latest route descriptions and read people’s journals to find out info about the next section as we go and then doodle these notes onto my printed out maps. I’ve left a space on every page to be used for this purpose.
Info about the maps:
I made them A4 size for printing (ink-jet or laser)
They are all .gif format(small file size, no artifacting)
The route drawn on has little white dots every mile (can’t get my head round distances in KMs)
There’s 103 maps in total, so you’ll need 52 pieces of paper to print them all out (both sides)
Split into North Island and South Island folders, all numbered consecutively from north to south
I’ve also done a total of 57 sheets of alternate routes, more on that later..
I always enjoy the pre-walk planning and mapping stage, although I’ve never bitten off anything even remotely as complex or long as this before (CDT maps were already done by Jonathan Ley). Got to say a big thank you to Land Information New Zealand who made all the 1:50,000 scale topographic maps and hats off to you for making them all freely downloadable :) The Te Araroa Trust for building the trail in the first place and providing all the route descriptions on their site. And most importantly to Geoff Chapple who founded the trust 16 years ago and who has been spearheading it’s development ever since.
When you’re following a pre-defined route, there’s always the temptation to work out a few variations that suit you’re own preference of terrain etc. While mapping the trail I managed to rack up more than I was expecting, 57 maps worth in total! I’ve got no idea how many, if any of these we’ll do, those sort of decisions usually make themselves at the time. But if you’re interested, these can be downloaded too (164.9MB).
Word of warning though – I’ve never been to New Zealand, so have absolutely no personal experience whether these are any good or not. I think they are all probably longer and more difficult than the official route.. But they do follow the same numbering as the official route maps (just with a ‘b’ after the number) so you can see where they fit into the trail.
Just wanted to let you know our New Zealand trip is just around the corner! We fly out on the 16th of October and should hopefully be starting the long walk south about a week later. I finish working this week (yay!) but alas still won’t have much time for bloggin’ as we still have to move out of our house and finish up the last bits & pieces of preparation. If anyone needs a house to rent in Dalston for the next 8 months, we’re still looking for someone to move in! Details and pics on this Flickr set(it’ll be cleaner/less cluttered by the time we move out!).
Well the exciting news is I’ve got a new blog! Well it seemed a bit retarded to write about travels abroad on a blog called Made in England.. Can’t spill the beans yet as it’s still half built, but I think it’s going to be pretty damn good if I don’t say so myself :) When I showed Nico my ideas for the blog, he said:
“There’s pretty much nothing on there that is out of the box for a wordpress blog :) Which makes it really hard to estimate how long time it would take to put together.”.
Sorry Nico.. It might break the blog mould a bit, but I think it’s going to be a great way of documenting our trip. Plus with all the awesome images from the Canon 5D, it’s going to look amazing!
Well this is the big decision I’ve had to make recently and to be honest I’m still quite shocked & amazed the Canon EOS 5D Mark II above is where it all ended?! I’m an amateur film maker and very amateur photographer, what the hell am I doing with a huge DSLR? Some of you probably already know the reason, I didn’t at the time, but below is a summary of how I found out.
Where this all started was me wanting to take my hiking photography up a notch, basically buy a little compact that takes a better picture than my phone! Being a style slag I fell in love with the Leica X1. Easy decision I thought, big sensor, little body, doesn’t weigh much, looks a bit like a M9, i.e. drop dead gorgeous. Job done, I put my deposit down and pre-ordered it months ago.
Then while I was waiting for the Leica production line to get round to making my camera I came across something called a 35mm adapter. This is the review by Tom Guilmette that I first came across and does a good job of explaining what it is:
$400 and I can make my Sony HDR SR12 do stuff like that, I want one! Shallow depth of field is something I’ve always jealously admired in other peoples work, but up until recently I didn’t even know enough about it to know what you needed to achieve it.. Ok I had my mission, find the best 35mm adapter to take to New Zealand, this is going to be awesome! After much research I couldn’t really find anything that beat the JAG35 Pro on weight, price and size.
I started to freak out that carrying 2 cameras (video & still), a fairy large adapter, plus another lens on the end, not to mention all the chargers, plugs and cables for them all was getting out of hand.. There’s got to be a better way eh?
Back on google I came across this film by Sebastian Lopez, shot on a Canon 7D:
Whoa, that blew my pants right off! Ok now I’m getting somewhere, this wasn’t what I was looking for, but I don’t care. In fact how can I use a camcorder anymore after seeing footage taken with this new breed on DSLR? Ah yes, probably got something to do with the price, size and the weight.. Ah what the hell!
Anyhow it’s getting late, to cut a long story short – I cancelled my X1 order, then chose the 5D over the 7D because of bigger sensor blahdy blah, general consensus by reviewers yadda yah and the third party Magic Lantern Firmware, that’s not yet available on the 7D (didn’t want to risk it not being available before NZ).
This decision pained me. There’s a lot of different opinions flying around and it’s hard to find consensus. Please don’t tell me I bought the wrong one, my brain hurts from thinking about it.. I only wanted to carry one lens so I thought I’d get a wide angle with a bit of zoom, I picked the Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM. All I can say is that it’s the best lens I’ve ever used (although that’s not saying much), and it definitely looks bigger in real life than on the internets! I love looking down that massive piece of glass at the front though, feels like I’m talking to Hal 9000 ;)
This was the first thing I knew I wanted to get for the New Zealand trip and the first thing I bought. I’ve happily and successfully used one of those 6 inch plastic ‘camera supports’ for many years. But to be honest the amount of times there isn’t a convenient rock to put it on, or the grass is too long (without ripping up half a meadow..) means that it rarely gets pulled out.
That’s a real shame, because when I get back home and edit the footage the tripod shots are always my favourite. Partly because they’re steady and maybe a bit more thought has gone into the composition, but mainly because when there’s only two people walking together it can get a bit samey looking at one person all the time. It’s a joint experience and it’s a good idea to get a few shots of you both together from time to time!
So I knew I wanted to get a ‘proper’ tripod, and I knew I wanted to get the lightest one I could find, so with a bit of googling I eventually ended up on the Gitzo website. Turns out the make a range of tripods called Mountaineer, like the sound of that :) They were the first ever carbon fibre tripods and they look like they were built by a F1 team mechanic. Lightest one they make is the Gitzo Mountaineer GT0531, £299 from Cliftom Cameras, weighs in at 0.72kg! it’s a bit short for a ‘proper’ tripod, but to be honest by the time there’s a head and camera on top, even a 6 foot chap like myself hardly has to bend down at all.
Tripod & Head, just over 1kg:
I have zero experience of tripods so don’t have anything to compare it too. But I did spend my formative years training as an industrial designer, so I can tell you this is bloody well made. I mean there’s hardly anything too it, but what there is oozes quality. Quarter twist a leg lock and and out it pops, quick flick of the wrist and then it’s locked hard, none of that straining to get a tight fit. It was a no-brainer decision for me to get this tripod and now that I’ve had it a couple of weeks I can safely say that I think I made the right decision.
For the head I was less convinced, I could of gone down several different routes, but in the end I was won over by the Gitzo brand, so just stuck with them. I was umm-ing and ahh-ing whether I should get a ball head or a fluid head (for filming). In the end I thought the un-even terrain I’d be setting up on would make the ball head more practical rather than fannying around with leg lengths. I decided on the Gitzo GH1780QR Centre Ball Head, £175 from Clifton Cameras. It’s pretty light – 300g, has spirit levels to help me get a straight shoot and a panoramic base which is smooth and light enough for me to use while filming.
With the head it’s about 2 foot (60cm) long collapsed, and I can almost rap my fingers around the diameter. By the way, that boot is a Zamberlan Ultra Lite GT, couldn’t recommend it enough, can’t quite understand why a tiny little shop in Camden is the only store in the whole of London that stocks them?!
It constantly amazes me how far reaching my blog is, merely hours after asking if anyone had a Kickstarter invite on the blog, Lisa Yao came through with one :) Then a couple of days later the founder & Art Director of Kickstarter Charles Adler, dropped me line saying “DO IT. I absolutely loved your CDT project”.
Well I’ve done it, my project – Film about walking 1800 miles across New Zealand has just launched. We’re trying to raise $5000 and to be honest it feels a bit weird/cheeky raising money for something that I’m clearly going to enjoy doing.. But there is a lot of effort going into what I’m offering as ‘rewards’ i.e. maps & finished DVD, so I’m trying to stay optimistically hopeful that other people will want to get involved.
It isn’t all cash in hand of course, the cost of producing all the rewards and mailing everything out is going to take out a huge chunk. But I’ve got a few fun things in there like drawing peoples names along the way and styling my beard which should be a bit more profitable :)
Ideally I’d like to raise an extra $3500(you can go over your target) which would pay for a mountain guide to take me to the top of Mt. Cook/Aoraki. It’s definetly beyond what I have the experience to do on my own, but is the highest mountain in New Zealand, has the same name is me and would make a pretty spectacular addition to the film!
While I’m on the subject of adventure film making, I’ve been meaning to blog about this site Kickstarter for a while now. It’s not about film making, but it is about raising money to do stuff.
I’ve seen this sort thing before, but the interesting angle about Kickstarter is you have to supply tiered ‘rewards’ for the people giving you cash. People get quite creative not only with their ideas they want to get off the ground, but also with these rewards that they give back. Brilliantly it’s working, check out and see how many projects have already been funded and how much money they’ve raised.
Problem is you need an invite to post a project and I don’t have one :( So if you have a spare invite to Kickstarter pleasesent it my way, Cheers for the invite Lisa Yao, you are a legend :) Ok so here’s my pitch:
I’m planning to walk 1900 miles across New Zealand from the Northern most point to the southern tip next year, the trail is called Te Araroa and it officially opens next year. Problem is I’m spending too much time these days planning/mapping, rather than earning money for it.. So the concept of Kickstarter instantly appealed to me :) But I think my work could be worth while rewards for would be pledgers.
Pledge $5 or more and you’ll be able to download all the route maps I’ve been making and use them for your own hike.
Pledge $25 or more and I’ll mail you the finished DVD once we return and edit it. Here’s an example of last years video of my hike across America. Plus all the maps on a separate disc, and hey shit I’ll stick your name in the credits!
Pledge $50 or more you’ll get all the above plus beautifully screen printed A2 poster of the route, maybe some sort of date planner thing like this.
Pledge $100 or more and I’ll leave your name (obviously nothing permanent) along the route somewhere, write it out in rocks, draw it in sand on a beach, piss into snow, chips on my plate, whatever! Promise to do something interesting and send you the hi-res photo.
Pledge $1000 or more Ha ha, this is the big one and it was Nicky’s idea so unsurprisingly involves me making an arse of myself.. but It could be pretty funny so – donate $1000 or more then at the end of each month you decide what I have to do with my facial hair.. It’s a bit of a tradition that you grow your beard on a long walk, but I’m giving you the chance to style it for me – Big Lamb chop side burns, down to the moustache, shave half off vertically… (Only six available, 1 each month).
A commenter put me onto this new movie 180° South, specifically it’s a film about surfing, sailing and climbing, but generally it’s a remake of a legendary trip and film from 1968. Interesting slide show of the trip here too(narration over photos, so simple, so good, can’t believe I haven’t seen this sort of thing before?)
It’s this original trip that has really caught my imagination – Yvon Chouinard(founder of Patagonia & Black Diamond) and Doug Tompkins(founder of The North Face), plus three other chums set off in an old camper van to surf, ski and climb their way through South America, on their way to be the 3rd team to climb Mt. Fritzroy (Cerro Fitz Roy) in Patagonia (it’s that iconic granite slab used on the Patagonia logo).
But the fascinating story continues today as Doug Tompkins (with a bit of help from Yvon) is buying up huge chunks of wilderness in Chile and Argentina and creating his own national park which on completion will be given back to the government. Apparently he’s now one of the top land owners in the world, with an estimated 2 million odd acres!
Side note: The first person to climb Mt. Fritzroy was legendary French climber Lionel Terray(with Guido Magnone in 1952) and interestingly the title ‘Conquerors of the Useless’ references the title of his autobiography.