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Tongariro Apline Crossing
New Zealand

New Zealand is a dream I nourish since I was 20. When looking at the map when I had to travel from Asia to South America it made sense for me to make a detour to accomplish this dream. I tried to organize as good as I could the short week I spent on the north island in a little RV I rented. In an effort to pursue the drone diaries, I hike the famous Tongariro crossing and went off trail with the drone.

Episode number #2 of drone diaries. I love hiking, I love flying so why not merge both those passions? It’s about drone footage but I include timelapses and regular shots from my nikon and gopro. I tried to play with the contrast between macro shots and large aerial views like a tiny drone flying over a small river to confuse you! I shoot all in D-log and manual again and apply a basic correction in Premiere CC. The next move will be to look in those “LUT”, find ones that are made to improve mavic D-log footage and eventually create my own.

  • Nikon D750 + Sigma 12-24mm 4.5-5.6
  • DJI Mavic Pro
  • Premiere Pro CC

The Tongariro hike is the most famous trail on the north island. You will be please to find yourself surrounded by mountains and clouds (and people) and you can complete it in one day.

Planing a single week trip to New Zealand was a bad idea to start with. I tried to crunch in that trip a few things and one of them was the famous Tongariro Alpine crossing. My first intention was to hike the less practiced Mount Ruapehu but bad weather made me decide otherwise. After some researching the hike itself, I can confirm that the best way to do it is to leave your vehicle north at the Ketetahi car park and use a shuttle to take you to the Mangatepopo start point. It cost me 30$ and the hike the other way around is just not as enjoyable. I would not qualify the hike difficult but rather long. My toes were hurting at the end but my eyes were pleased. They don’t recommend you to go off trail but of course I did, just to walk away from the 3,500 people present that day. I just followed the clouds till I felt I was on a different planet.

I left my RV at the Ketetahi car park and took a shuttle to the Mangatepopo start point. The hike is very popular and you will see thousands of people but if you adventurous, you can go off trail and find yourself between clouds and mountains.

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I like trees better than rocks, but rapidly, as I was getting closer to the clouds and away from the people, I felt I was all alone on a different planet.

Seeing all the people on this famous hike rapidly convince me to go off road to get the right shots trying to reach the clouds just by walking. I can’t help it, I like to find myself alone to enjoy Nature and talk to her in silence. As soon as my eyes are pleased, I start thinking about how I could fly my drone in those dramatic volcanic landscapes. The clouds were shy but eventually came around and surprisingly, they were half made from steam off the volcano directly through the ground according to the sulfuric smell. I got excited and rapidly burn the only 2 batteries I brought with me. New Zealand I will come back for you if you wait for me. With friends, a bigger RV, more batteries but the same eyes and my heart loaded with more experience.

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Fabien Rousselot

Fab was lucky enough to have traveling parents and has kept the bug since than. Always ready for adventure, he is also a talented designer, photographer, videographer and a dedicated reliable friend.
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