The Adventure Life with Steve Casimiro Greetings From Mount Doom
Text and photos by West Coast Editor Steve Casimiro
The forecast calls for 45 knot winds this afternoon, but here at Hapuku Lodge on the northeast coast of New Zealand’s South Island, it’s calm and cool, a gorgeous Indian summer day resting over this extraordinary location. As the Southern Hemisphere slides from fall into winter, five of us are down here in NZ for the next week, shooting the National Geographic ADVENTURE fall apparel and travel guide, which will run in the October issue. So far conditions have been, in Kiwi slang, “sweet as.”
There’s little time to write for the blog right now, but that’s been the story of the last two weeks as my office, living room, front porch, and garage have been invaded by boxes of clothes for this shoot. We have piles and piles of soft, warm sweaters, the best new soft shells, and heaps of the best gear for the coming winter. The number of checked bags range from 14 to 15, depending on how little sleep we’ve gotten and who’s counting.
As with so many of these trips, we’ve arrived here in Kaikoura with plans to shoot less than a day, then move on, but Hapuku is too sublime to leave. The coolest part of Hapuku is the tree house apartments—I’m writing this from the one named Tui—but the grounds are lovely, too. A black rock beach is 300 yards away, snow-covered peaks seem close enough to touch, and there’s a major seal colony just ten kilometers from us.
Today’s setting couldn’t be more different from yesterday morning. After a 5 a.m. departure from Chateau Whakapapa in the middle of the North Island, we drove through Tongariro National Park and waited for the sun to rise on the eastern side of the peak that served as Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings. Clouds foiled our plans, but frost covered the volcanic plains provided a stark visual image with which to plan.
We’re burning daylight, as the saying goes, so it’s back to work. I’ll do my best to get images posted as we go….
- Nat Geo Expeditions