Apr 29th, 2015

Advice for travellers taking a camera on their New Zealand hiking holiday

We talked to travel photographer Thomas Quan


Thomas Quan has been hitting up some hiking trails with the team from Hiking New Zealand and taking some breathtaking photographs along the way. We asked Thomas to share some advice and fill us in on his time hiking around New Zealand.

Lake Matheson, South Island, New Zealand - Thomas Quan


What camera and lenses do you use? 

I’m on team Canon. I use a 5D Mark III DSLR body. Currently I own a 16-35mm and 24-70mm EF L series lenses. I’ve also got a little 50mm prime. If I need anything else I tend to hire the equipment on a project-by-project basis.

When I go out on treks I try to pack as light as possible but I’m always talking myself out of taking things I don’t need. Common sense usually prevails.


How did you come to "meet" Hiking New Zealand? 

In 2014, I was considering some holiday destinations and decided to Google "Hiking in New Zealand". Unsurprisingly, Hiking New Zealand came up at the top of the search results page. I joined the Secret South Safari soon after and had a terrific experience. The itinerary, outstanding service, friendly people, the whole package really impressed me.

When I returned home I engaged Hiking New Zealand with an offer to do some photography for them. Luckily for me, they accepted and I’ve since been on a couple of amazing trips shooting stills and video. On the most recent trip I was able to meet the team at the Rangiora office which was really great. Got a sneak peak at the new website too and it looks really cool.


You’ve done multiple hiking trips to New Zealand now. What is it that keeps you coming back? 

It’s a small country but there’s just so much to see and marvel at; it’s bursting at the seams. Gorgeous mountains, lakes, beaches, volcanoes, glaciers, fauna and flora, New Zealand has it all and it’s a photographer’s playground.

Hiking New Zealand is another reason I keep returning. The company is made up of such a lovely group of people. They’re genuinely passionate about hiking, exploring and the outdoors. Just about all of my interactions with New Zealand have been through Hiking New Zealand. They provide such an amazing service. I see them as facilitators or conduits to eye opening experiences and to me that’s such an important and valuable pursuit.

Mt Aspiring National Park, South Island, New Zealand - Thomas Quan


Can you please share a photography tip for shooting outdoors on a trek? 

Geez there are lots but if I could offer only one it would be - move around, don’t stay rooted or be lazy. Walk up to a higher vantage point, or get in closer to your subject, or swing around to make better use of the light. This can really improve your photography.


If you could teleport by blinking your eyes, where would you go to right now? 

Right now? I’d love to zip off to Canada. It was never on my radar until recently. In fact, if asked 5 years ago I would have given Canada a resounding "no way". Social media has really pushed the wonders of Canada (and other destinations) to the forefront of my mind. Traditional tourism advertising is dead. Actually, traditional advertising as a whole is dead. It’s entirely controlled by consumers. Word of mouth, reviews, blogs, search engines, photo sharing; we’re in a digital age and advertising is operating under a much more heightened level of consumer awareness. Anyway I digress, back to Canada. It seems to have so much to offer. Great mountains, lakes, hikes, food, people, it’s just big and beautiful. Also, it’s about an 18 hour flight from Melbourne in Australia so teleporting would be freakin’ awesome.


What is your idea of photographic happiness?

Not shooting weddings. Just kidding, sort of. For me, it’s simply about getting out there and doing it. That’s why I love doing the kind of photography I do. It forces me to go outside, explore, interact with people and nature. Photography has made me much more aware of the beautiful things that surround us everyday.

I’m extremely fortunate to be able to travel and do what I love and I’m eagerly looking forward to where this all takes me next.

Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand - Thomas Quan

For enquiries about my photography, please email Thomas Quan tquan@mindless.com.

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