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Today, Sydney-based photographer Tim Donnelly tells us the story behind the epic image he gifted us for our Wildside New Zealand promotion

Tim Donnelly.

Tim Donnelly

I listen to the rushing sounds of water while staring at the majestic Mount Sibbald, contemplating what brought me to this incredible landscape.

The answer: It was the result of a plan by a great friend to surprise me for my birthday.

With complete secrecy, he had organised to take me to Lake Tekapo for a photography escape. All I knew was I had to surrender my passport and be prepared for no sleep and plenty of adventure.

You can imagine my surprise when I not only arrive at Christchurch International Airport, but also see two mates standing at the baggage claim. What a start!

I hadn’t visited the South Island of New Zealand before, so my expectations were high—and this great land did not disappoint.

On the shore of Lake Tekapo. Photo: Tim Donnelly | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

On the shore of Lake Tekapo, near the famous Church of the Good Shepherd. Captured this shot the first evening we got there

Over the next few days we covered as much terrain as possible between Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook.

On the second to last day, we jumped into the 4WD and proceeded along the east side of Lake Tekapo.

On the way to Lake Tekapo. Photo: Tim Donnelly | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

A stunning scene of stunning light and landscape

Mumford & Sons played as the soundtrack as we witnessed breathtaking scene after breathtaking scene.

We eventually crossed the Macauley River and continued north, but unfortunately the weather closed in, not allowing us to go any further.

Sunset at the north end of Lake Tekapo. Photo: Tim Donnelly | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Sunset at the north end of Lake Tekapo

We turned around and crossed back through the river, where we decided to stop and have a break. The pause in our exploration resulted in a composition frenzy. The sun broke through the clouds and it lit Mount Sibbald beautifully—highlighting every contour and crevice.

With great excitement, I extended my tripod against the banks of the gorge. I placed the rushing water in the foreground of my frame, the mountains in the background, configured my filters, and waited for the sun to do its best. The composition was complete so I released the shutter…

Looking back up the North East Gorge Stream towards Mount Sibbald. Photo: Tim Donnelly | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Epic: Looking back up the North East Gorge Stream towards Mount Sibbald

I am honoured that the Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai would choose my photo to represent their efforts and I hope you will see more of my imagery in the future. Thank you again for your stunning country and all its beauty. Get out there and experience it—unleash the Wildside!

Check out more of Tim’s work on flickr, 500px, Google+

Join the Wildside on Facebook and Twitter

If you cast your mind back to August last year, you might remember my blog post asking you to ‘Join me on the Wildside‘ a new social media community run by DOC on Facebook and Twitter.

Today, I’m proud to be one of over 9,000 people who ‘like’ Wildside and aspire to the ‘Aotearoa New Zealand. Live it. Love it. Look after it. Together.’ vision.

Of course, we’d love to have more people join us, which is why we’ve created these beautiful postcards and posters to raise its profile in the ‘real’ i.e. offline world.

Wildside poster.

As a member of DOC’s web team I see a lot of beautiful images every day, but when I saw that photo on flickrshowing North East Gorge Stream, looking towards Mount SibbaldI knew it was the one for our Wildside project. Alana McCrossin, the amazing DOC designer who drew the short straw to work with me on the project, agreed.

I contacted the Sydney based photographer, Tim Donnelly, to ask if he’d let us use his image for the cause, and he kindly agreed—sacrificing his own precious time and money to help.

So, as much as this post is a shout out to Wildside—it’s also a shout out to the generous, talented, Tim Donnelly—and everyone else who willingly shares their time, gifts and talents to help grow conservation

On Thursday, Tim’s going to share his story behind that photo with us.

See the Wildside posters (on display) and postcards (free to take) at DOC visitor centres around the country.

Today, I’m inviting you somewhere special. Not many people know about this place yet – you’re one of the first. The place is called Wildside and it’s a new social media community run by the Department of Conservation (DOC) on Facebook and Twitter.

Wildside Facebook screenshot.

With the tagline Aotearoa New Zealand. Live it. Love it. Look after it. Together. Wildside promises inspiring stories, images, videos and conversations about:

Living on the wildside – tramping, camping, biking, hunting…

Loving the wildside – our places, plants, animals, people…

Looking after the wildside – protecting, restoring… doing our bit.

And, importantly, Wildside is about doing it together.

We didn’t want another place on the web about ‘DOC the government department’. Wildside is for, and about, everyone.

Wildside Twitter screenshot.

Here at DOC we’re working towards making New Zealand the greatest living space on Earth – but this vision isn’t just ours, and we can’t do it alone. We want you to join the journey – and Wildside will be a great place to start. Will you join us?