Project: Te Araroa

Why Walk 3000km With 7KG Of Camera Gear?

Te Araroa is a 3000+ km walk, traversing the length of New Zealand from Cape Reinga at the northern tip of the North Island, to Bluff at the Southern tip of the South Island. Starting in October, my partner and I will be attempting a Southbound Through-Hike of this epic pathway.

On top of the physical challenege of the walk, I have set myself an additional challenge of turning it into a photographic and video project.

For those who are interested, this is an outline of what I want to achieve with this project and what I will be taking with me.

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Project Outline

Starting in October 2018, my girlfriend and I will set off to walk the entire length of New Zealand – from Cape Reinga to Bluff – and I will record this journey through visual and written means. Whilst on the trail I will keep a written blog/journal, as well as the usual Instagram page, but the eventual aim of the project is compile two main records of the journey:

  • Video Journal
    Perhaps this will be a series of youtube videos or “vlogs”, perhaps this will be something more substantial like a short documentary. Whatever final form this takes, I will use this epic adventure as an opportunity to hone my skills in film making and storytelling. Hopefully this results in something engaging, cinematic, inspiring and compelling, that truely conveys what the journey was like to experience.
  • Printed Journal
    I envision this as a coffee-table style photobook, but perhaps it will be a novel or some combination of the two, or both. Photography is the reason I started visiting New Zealand, and the reason I initially considered doing Te Araroa, so it was unavoidable that this would become a photographic project in one form or another.

The Equipment

For anybody like myself with more than a passing interest in the techy gear stuff, here’s a list of the main pieces of equipment/technology I’ll be taking and the thought process/justification behind it:

  • SONY A7R II (+16-35 + 55mm)
    This is my “serious” digital shooter. I’ll be taking the 16-35mm f/4 Zeiss lens for all of the epic landscapes and star trails, along with the 55mm f/1.8 Zeiss for any tighter-crop or portrait style shots. I have a Polarising filter and a strong ND for controlling light, 4 SONY batteries (because the battery life can be quite short) and a Gitzo Series 0 traveller tripod to support it all. I won’t be carrying any telephoto lenses as I hardly use them as is, and don’t predict much need for them on the track.
  • SONY RX100 V
    This is my “snapshot” digital shooter. It will probably stay in my pocket or on my wrist, for easy access for all of those times where I do not have the motivation to take my pack on and off to retrieve a more serious camera. This will also be one of my main vlogging cameras for b-roll, or a secondary camera when two angles are required.
  • Fuji Klasse W & Nikon 35Ti
    These are my point-and-shoot film cameras – the Klasse W features a 28mm f/2.8 lens, whilst the 35Ti has a tighter 35mm f/2.8 optic. I will load one with Black & White and one with Colour at most times, feeding them with a range of film but mostly PORTRA, EKTAR, VELVIA, PROVIA and HP5. I might ditch one, to save on weight.
  • DJI Spark
    This is a drone. I expect many perfect opportunities to get beautiful aerial drone footage along Te Araroa – presuming it isn’t raining, that is.
  • GoPro Hero 5 Session
    This is one of the smallest, lightest GoPro camers ever made, at about 89g. I will use it pretty much just for wet weather, mounting to my hat, or backpack. I am considering not taking it, but for how little it weighs I think it is worth bringing. I can always send it home later.
  • Power Banks
    I have a very large 26,800mAh ANKER power bank, as well as a 6,700mAh RAVPower powerbank for in my pocket. Even with this much power I’m a little worried it won’t be enough on some of the longer stretches. The ANKER was chosen specifically for its dual inputs – enabling it to charge in around 5 hours. Between these two, that should give me about 3-4 phone charges, as well as 1-2 drone charges, and 3-6 camera charges, or some combination there of. This should be (I hope) enough for a 4-5 day stint between power.