We were hoping to find some waves on a last minute trip up the coast from Christchurch with my friend Brendan and Marsden the Camera Pack. As we drove through the earthquake beaten roads we were greeted with glassy and flat conditions, so we quickly made non surf-related plans, other than drinking beers and catching up.
Words & Photography by Tom Powell | @tom_powell_photo
Brendan knew the location of the oldest Tōtara tree on the South Island (New Zealand). It was hidden in the bush up a riverbed, hidden amongst farm land and braided riverbeds. Tōtara is one of New Zealand's oldest native trees. We drove up the riverbed as far as our Troopy would take us and planned to walk the extra hour or so. What Brendan didn't tell me was the amount of river crossings we had ahead.
Companions on the trail
"Marsden the Camera Pack (32L) is a travel-friendly pack for chasing down the moment. Easy access to your gear including a secure camera insert chamber, laptop sleeve (up to 15"), multiple pockets, tripod holder and an internal divider for separating work and play. This multi-functional camera bag is ideal for a weekend away or long day of shooting."
This is the beginning of spring and the snow is melting, filling the rivers with numbing snowmelt. I've also had my feet cooped up in socks all winter so they're soft and sensitive and feel every frozen jagged edge as I stumble through the frigid torrents.
Camera in one hand and boots and socks in the other, screaming at the water as it forces you to step onto unknown pain with every adjustment against its flow. After about 4 crossings and climbing through native bush up the ridge-line we found the Tōtara, a giant that can grow for a thousand years and host many other plants and animals. In its presence you can't help imagine what it might have seen in its lifetime and how many people have sat next to it.
We spent the night warming up around the fire next to the still ocean, our boards still packed and our suits dry, and it didn't even matter.