Sep 29, 2008

The First Few Weeks

Perhaps the most common thing you will see in NZ, even in the city, are sheep. They literally coat the land like flies. Its true when they say that humans are outnumbered 10 to 1. Apparently there are upwards of 40 million sheep roaming the grassy hills of both islands. Anyways, during my first outing I was enthralled with the opportunity of getting a picture of one. I would run down the road and go to great lengths to secure a photograph of one, much to the chagrin of my friends. Come to find out sheep photo moments are pretty easy come by. I shot this picture during an excursion into the Port Hills and to Lyttelton Harbour where I had finished a film shoot earlier in the day.

Another sight that is particularly common are large billboard like sign posts which are coated with all sorts of colorful advertisements. I was thoroughly impressed by this particular signpost which hosted a variety of music and film acts that week. Sometimes the side of an entire building would be covered in flyers such as these. Needless to say, its pretty simple to tell what is happening in town from day to day with the help of ads like these.

After a few days seeing the sights and settling down, my first few weeks were spent getting in touch with contacts relating to my documentary. Some of the first groups I talked with were the Seafood Industry Council, Aquaculture New Zealand, and the Ministry of Fisheries each of which has a unique responsibility regarding NZ fisheries. The Seafood Council, as its name suggests, represents commercial fishermen and their interests. Aquaculture New Zealand supports the growth and marketing of sustainable fisheries on the islands and the Ministry of Fisheries is the government agency responsible for managing fisheries and creating legislation. The Seafood Council helped me get in touch with a number of commercial fisherman who operate trawler and deep-sea operations out of Lyttelton Harbour and Nelson in Marlborough Sound (about 5 hrs. north of Christchurch). Aquaculture New Zealand alerted me to the Greenshell Mussel Fishery, apparently the most sustainable mussel product in the entire South Pacific. Last but not least was the Ministry of Fisheries who promised an interview relating to government management.

These initial forays were enlightening but also overwhelming as I began to realize there were more than 3 major players in the seafood industry. Each call would end with 3 or 4 more contacts and soon I was filling my notebook with countless names and numbers. I began to realize, ever more so, that targeting the right people would become most important during the next few weeks of my journey as I could easily get lost in a sea of contacts.

Usually to finish a day I would head to South New Brighton beach, in the picture to the left. I lived a block away from this 4-5 mile strip of beautiful sandy dunes and witnessed a number of beautiful sunsets and sunrises during filming excursions to the area. This particular sunset was one of my favorites. I would try to catch the sun and the clouds at just the right time each day to allow for the best photograph. This day had what are called Northwesterlies, stiff winds that blow offshore for days on end, much like the infamous Santa Anas that church up fires at the end of summer in California.

Sep 24, 2008

Arrival to Christchurch
Two months ago I landed in Christchurch. Snow was thick on the mountains, the coastline was stormy, and the days were short. Despite the weather, I set out to see the land and was amazed by the varied landscape. One moment I was traveling through a mountain pass then suddenly would burst out onto a sandy coastline. Other times I would find myself passing from flat grassland to temperate rainforests in mere minutes. The impressive array of natural places this country houses in such a small space still continues to surprise me. Below is a photo of an estuary near Christchurch, what I eventually learned to be a prime location for viewing the ever-changing sunsets and watching wildlife.

Initially I did some exploring of the greater Christchurch area, one day venturing out into the Craigburn National Forest, very close to famous Arthur's Pass, a location in Lord of the Rings. This brief trip opened my eyes to the unforgiving but beautiful landscape that New Zealand more often than not hides beneath long white clouds. I couldn't help but take this picture of the Craigburn Range while on the way back from a rewarding hike to a nearby peak.

This third picture is very close to where I stayed for the first week in Christchurch. In the background of this picture are the Port Hills, a long row of grass-topped peaks that line the south-western border of the city and command stunning views of Cantebury and the South Pacific. The lights on the hill belong to the suburb of Sumner, reflecting off the saline waters of the Te Huingi Manu Wildlife Refuge and McCormack's Bay.

I hope you enjoyed this initial post. I have tens of photos, videos, and stories still to share but will save them for another day. See you soon!