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Mount Cook TARNS guide

==the cj way++

The CJ way Guide to Mount Cook Tarns


Small pond formed after rain with Aoraki in the background

Lake Pukaki

1 minute



Best time to visit: on a clear day, after rain

Jandals/sandals suitable


  • Coordinates: -44.182119, 170.154480

  • Map to the small pond and you can park your car in a free camp/rest area right next to the pond.

 best time to visit? 

  • In clear weather (so Aoraki is visible) and after rain! We think early morning or late evening in the summer months is best. That way the subject (you?) can be in light. Sunrise and sunset never line up perfectly but you can always hope for clouds that light up the whole sky!

  • We visited around the 20th of December 2019 (as a guide for water level). 

 cj travel tips 

  • If you are travelling in a self contained van you can sleep at this spot and then roll out of bed to shoot the sunrise!

  • This is one of those spots that looks a little underwhelming in real life, but with a cleverly positioned camera, it looks amazing. 

 cj photography tips 

  • We used a zoom lens and zoomed as much as possible to make Aoraki appear bigger in the background!

  • We shot in continuous mode to get a natural shot of Char spinning.

  • Play around with the positioning of your camera to see what you like. Positioning the camera lower will cut off Lake Pukaki, while positioning your camera higher will include it.

  • Try your hand at focal length blending by taking a second more zoomed in shot of Aoraki (the background) and using photoshop to blend the two images together. Watch YouTube tutorials for how to do this.

 what we found useful to pack 

​In addition to the usuals (camera gear, suitable clothing, water and food, first aid, etc. we found the following items useful:

  • clothes that aren't blue so you stand out against the background! :)

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