Abseiling into the Lost World

An unbelievable adventure abseiling over 100 meters into the Lost World Cave.

A friend and myself travelled to the Waitomo area of New Zealand to explore the Lost World Cave. After rigging up, we carefully abseiled over 100 meters to the cave floor. It was absolutely massive, magical and out of this world. We then headed underground for just over 2km, navigating through some very narrow gaps, waterfalls and climbs before emerging out the other end. Pictures below the fold.

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Super blood moon and lunar eclipse

Te Kauwhata, New Zealand / May 2021

Just back from a very late one, filming the super blood moon and lunar eclipse. After a nervous week with cloud cover threatening to spoil the show, we decided to base ourselves just south of Auckland and away from the light pollution. We picked the perfect spot – not a cloud in the sky, no wind and very little light pollution. The moon was spectacularly bright with hardly a star to be seen.

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Another stunning neon blue show of bioluminescence

I had just sat down to relax after a long hike when my phone started buzzing. Reports from my fellow “bio hunters” came flooding in that Tindall’s Beach (Auckland’s Hibiscus Coast) was glowing blue. This was unusual as normally bioluminescence is only present during the warmer summer months and post a major storm. Neither of these had occurred. But seeing the bioluminescence being captured on smartphones (which is normally near impossible) I knew it was worth my time to drop everything and make the made dash up there.

I made the right call, the show was spectacular with the entire beach lit up. With my new lens, I managed to capture (for the first time) the vivid blue algae on video. My pictures and video were shared across global media.

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Hiking the Chatham Islands

We’re just back from a mini expedition to the Chatham Islands (including Pitt Island), located 800 kilometres east of the South Island of New Zealand. It’s about as close as we can get to an “overseas” expedition right now. The islands do feel distinctively different from the mainland and offer a rich geological and wilderness experience. There’s an extensive hiking track network, but very little information online. So we hiked them all and have documented our experiences below.

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Six hours, three quakes, three tsunami warnings

Wow, what a day here in New Zealand!

At 2.27am, I was abruptly woken by a deep rolling quake that lasted over a minute. Normally, noticing such quakes in Auckland means a much larger earthquake has struck somewhere within the usual seismic hotspots of New Zealand. My Geonet app buzzed shortly after, indicating that indeed a M7.3 earthquake had struck east of the North Island. Felt reports were recorded across the length of the country. Shortly after a tsunami warning was issued for large areas of the North Island with mandatory evacuations. Smaller waves were recorded around the East Cape and at Great Barrier Island. Shortly after 5am, the threat had passed.

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Forecasting a bioluminescent light show

I often marvel when something happens that’s out of the ordinary. Being treated to blooms of bioluminescent algae which turn the ocean into a dazzling neon light show is otherworldly.

Marine bioluminescence is a chemical reaction manifesting in the form of light that occurs when single-celled organisms called dinoflagellates are disturbed by a wave or splash.

Whilst remarkable, the phenomenon is notoriously difficult to catch sight of. Success often comes down to blind luck – being in the right place, at the right time. But the chances have dramatically improved.

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How to see bioluminescence in the ocean

Ten years ago, I was out paddling in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand when I noticed a distinctive sparkle emitting from the ocean. I later learned that this was a microalgae that emits a bioluminescent blue glow when disturbed at night. I later witnessed this phenomenon again in Vanuatu and dreamed of somehow photographing it.

Today, this dream became reality. Nature put on one of the best shows of bioluminescence I have seen – anywhere. Better still, I had the right gear with me and captured some stunning photos.

I’ve had so many questions, I thought I’d put together a mini-guide on how you too can witness the aurora of the sea.

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Ruapehu Volcanic Alert Level lifted to Level 2

GNS has raised the alert level of Ruapehu to Level 2 after a combination of crater lake heating, seismicity and gas emissions.

Crater lake heating to 43 °C
The crater lake regularly goes through a heating and cooling cycle. Since 2003, the lake’s temperature has risen above 40 °C six times before cooling to approx 15 °C. Generally, at temperatures exceeding 40 °C we start to see low thermal anomalies on MODIS data (two were recorded this month). Previous eruptions have occurred both when the lake has been hotter and cooler, but are more likely when hot.

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Expedition to the Arctic

The Arctic Circle, Alaska / January 2020

After our expedition to Antarctica, we found ourselves compelled to visit the Arctic also. A land of beauty, desolation and frigid cold. Cold of -40 degrees C and below. And with a desire to push north was a far as possible, our limits were going to be tested to the max.

Join us as we venture through the northern bounds of Alaska and into the Arctic Circle during a punishing winter.

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White Island Eruption

White Island, New Zealand / December 2019

At exactly 2.11pm on Dec 9, an unforeseen phreatic eruption occurred on White Island. Tragically, a number of tourists were in the direct impact zone at the time of the eruption. At present, eight people have died, a further eight are missing (presumed dead) and 31 are critically injured in hospital.

I have been deeply saddened by this tragedy and my thoughts and sympathies are with the families of those impacted. R.I.P. to those who perished – many of which would have been their first – and tragically their last visit to an active volcano.

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