Lake Crucible defrosting in the Siberia Valley, New Zealand.

One of the highlights of our trip to New Zealand’s South Island is the Siberia Experience that flies out of Makarora not far from the beautiful Lake Wanaka. After checking in at the one of only a few buildings in town, you are sent over to a shed across the road to wait for your ride, either a 6seater Cessna aircraft or a 5seater helicopter. We thankfully had the helicopter as you can see out the bottom easier and it was more exciting than a plane I thought. 

The ride was a descent 25 to 30 minutes through the Siberia & Wilkin Valleys and over snow covered mountain tops of the Mount Aspiring National Park. In the helicopter you get to see nearly untouched wilderness, hidden valleys, ancient glaciers and frozen lakes. On the way we got to do a flyover Top Gun style over the top of a Jet Boat taking a spin up the Wilkin River. Our guide was very informative and relaxed while he took us for our flight as well as offering to take a picture of my wife and I in front of the helicopter after it dropped us off in depths of the Siberia Valley in preparation for our 3hour hike.

In the photo you see the Crucible Lake which is a glacial lake that freezes over every winter. You can also see the river of melt water that comes off it heading down the mountain side with chunks of ice floating down it. You can also make out in the lower part of the picture the massive and brittle ice shelf floating in the water. There are walking tours available to this spot, but a high degree of fitness and cold weather endurance is required if you hike there in the snow season.

The images specs are 1/1600th of a second at f5.6, ISO250. I had to keep the shutter speeds nice and fast to avoid any vibration caused by the helicopter engine as well to avoid blur to compensate for the speed of we were moving at. I used aperture priority with about 1/3rd to 2/3rds of plus exposure compensation to keep the snow bright and white instead of grey. I selected f5.6 for the aperture as this is the shapest setting of the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 lens.

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