Back in early December last year I had the amazing opportunity to go over to New Zealand to photograph a wedding. One of my dear friends, Casey from Casey Jane Photography, recommended me to her old school friend Niki. I was over the moon as this was my first destination wedding, and also included something I had been wanting to do for so long; a helicopter ride to the top of a snowy mountain! This was my dream wedding and I couldn’t believe I was going to be able to photograph it PLUS I convinced my mum, Angela, to come over with me so we could celebrate her 50th birthday in one of my favourite places in the world.
We flew out of Brisbane International Airport on the 4th of December and arrived to a beautiful clear (11 degrees Celsius!) day in Christchurch. We picked up our hire car and begun our 4 hour journey to Lake Tekapo. When we arrived we picked up the keys to our little lakeside hut and marvelled over the gorgeous landscape, but also the fact that it was still light at 9pm at night! The twilight stretched on through to 10.30pm and the cool air stung our cheeks as we walked around the shops in the little street and then down to the lakeside, staring in awe at the little bunnies nibbling on the lush green grass. We watched the sunset over the mountains while munching on gourmet pizza and happily sipping on wine and when it was finally dark, we welcomed sleep as an old friend.
Friday morning arrived and we awoke to a crisp and clear day. We walked down around the lake front, visited the little church, watched the glacial lake water churn below us as it fed over the spillway and ate delicious breakfast before heading off to explore the surrounding lands. In the afternoon I met with my bride and groom, Nike & Richie, for a quick engagement shoot before their rehearsal and then at the end of the long and gorgeous twilight we met again for sunset photos. I met some of Niki & Richie’s wonderful family and friends and everyone made me feel so welcome and loved. I have always loved New Zealand, and I have visited many times, but this time felt more special.. I was in a place I visited not long before with my husband on our roadtrip honeymoon so I actually felt like a local.. I wasn’t in a strange new place, I felt as if I were at home.
On Saturday morning, bright and early, I said goodbye to Mum for the day and I begun my day while she went off to explore and go hiking around the Mount Cook National Park. It was a cool 5 degrees Celsius at 8 in the morning and the girls had the fire going in the Bridal Cottage, what a contrast to the 30 degrees I left in Brisbane just days before! During Richie’s getting ready photos, I learnt that Richie met Niki at a Polytech College in NZ. Richie had given up his job to pursue his love of outdoor recreation and he couldn’t believe someone as beautiful as Niki was still single and how perfect they were for each other. They’re now both instructors at the same Polytech and they hike, raft and spend as much time outdoors as they can together with their collie dog, Zephie.
Niki & Richie opted for a first look so they could get photos around the incredibly beautiful Lake Tekapo before they headed off to their ceremony location beside a little snow melt river below Mount Cook. This gave us so much time for photos and it was so difficult to cull down as much as I have for this blog post! After this we headed to Mount Cook (which is an hour and a bit drive from Lake Tekapo) and Niki & Richie said their vows, looking out across the beautiful and epic Mount Cook ranges. Just after the ceremony the heavens decided to bless the marriage with a light sprinkling so off we dashed to the reception at the Hermitage where we ate, drank and danced the night away as the rain fell furiously and the wind howled outside.
On Sunday morning the rain and fog had cleared up and we were finally able to see the peak of Mount Cook. We were unable to fly in that weather on the wedding day, so Niki & Richie got dressed up again and we flew up in the helicopter to Liebig Dome (Just above Tasman Lake). This was my first time in a helicopter so I was quite terrified on the flight up there (much better on the way down!) but it was still amazing seeing all the sights from up so high. When we landed on the Dome I immediately stacked it in the snow, who knew it would be so deep haha. Clearly everyone else was used to this because I was the only one who kept falling over and even got my boot stuck which had to be retrieved by the maid of honour. Thankfully it was a short walk over the snow to the rocks where I was more stable. It was ridiculously freezing up there, but everything was so beautiful and I forgot how cold it was while I was looking out over Mount Cook National Park, from 7,600ft.
Once we were back down at the airfield, I said a teary goodbye to my new friends and thanked them for the incredible experience and opportunity that weekend had been. After I said goodbye, I jumped in the car and mum and I drove the long and windy roads back to Christchurch and headed out for dinner and drinks at a fab little Mexican restaurant in the city called “Mexicano’s”. It was bittersweet, we were sad to be leaving so soon, but we had had such a wonderful weekend and it felt nice to be able to relax and celebrate mum’s birthday.
As we boarded the plane home, far too early on Monday morning, my heart was full of love for New Zealand and I just knew this wedding and weekend would stick with me forever. It was so incredibly amazing and I will never forget it. Every day I am reminded how blessed I am to have such an amazing job.
Thankyou for reading and I hope you love the photos.. Love Kelsea xo