If you've been following Feldon Shelter for some time now, then you'll know how much we love a good photo. Photography has been a passion that has lead us down many windy roads and to generally explore the path less travelled. There's a so many talented local photographers in our little corner of the world doing amazing things, but there's a select few that really catch our eye consistently. One of those is Jackson Bright.
We got hooked on Jackson's work in the water, so when he got in touch wanting to kit out his new Cruiser, to say we where excited would be an understatement. It turns out he's well and truely mastered the art of winging it, whether on a mission with the truck or scoring pumping waves. So we caught up to get some insight into how he stumbles upon gold time and time again. Here's what he had to say:
Anyone that knows me knows that Im a big fan of winging things, especially missions. Trips that have been completely winged always seem to turn out the best. I think that I almost have a phobia of being locked into a strict day by day plan. With the ever changing forecasts of wind, weather and waves, it just reeks of a stitch up waiting to happen. With that being said here’s a few tips for swinging that luck into your favour to wing some seriously successful trips.
Feldon Fact #1: Wind
Wind can be a real bane sometimes especially if you are completely exposed and blowing strong all night, or if a howling onshore wind is making a usually epic coastal scenery, a bit ugly. If a trip is being planned along a coastal route, a big decider for me of which coast to go for, definitely relies on which way the wind is going at the time. If the west coast has onshore winds forecast and the east offshore (wind blowing from the shore out to the sea), I’m always going to opt for the offshore option. 9 times out of 10 that coast will usually have much better weather especially if all the rain can get caught in the hills before reaching the coast. It’ll also be a whole lot more pleasant and easier to find a nice sheltered little bay to park up.
On a recent South trip we winged, we explored along the east coast for a few days as the wind was offshore, and as the wind started forecasting to go east, we made our way over to the west coast and the good weather followed, showing the west coast in all its glory. A go to app for me is Windy.com, which is a mapped forecast showing the wind’s direction and strength across the country. Not only is it ideal for the coast, but it is also epic for finding super calm spots inland.
Feldon Fact #2: Apps
Talking about apps, there’s a few handy lil numbers out there that’ll help you out when you’re on the road. Rankers Camping NZ and CamperMate are super handy apps to have that’ll show you where all of the DOC campsites, campgrounds, dump stations, free wifi, and LPG refills are, plus much more. They’re also ideal to have when you’re stuck for places to stay late at night, and fiending for a hot shower to stop the frost bite.
NZ Topo Maps is another one to help you out with any potential stitch ups. If you find yourself way out of service, deep in the hills and no clue where you are, you can have these maps already downloaded for offline use. They are super detailed for New Zealand and show every track, hut and road throughout the back country.
For all the of the surfers out there, the Sherpa surf guide is a really good app to have in the arsenal. If you find yourself on a bit of coastline that you’re not too familiar with, you can check this app to see what fun waves are around and how good the “spot potential” actually is.
Feldon Fact #3: Plan’s A B and C
On our recent 3 week trip around the South Island we had a rough route of where we wanted to go. Our plan was to start heading down the east coast to Kaikoura, through Arthurs Pass, over to and down the West Coast, Haast Pass, Hawea, Wanaka, Queenstown, Milford Sound, Catlins and then back home. However, this was all completely dictated by the weather and that’s why you need plan’s A, B and C.
Luckily the weather seemed to follow that exact initial route and we somewhat stuck to that plan with lots of winged pitstops along the way. If the weather had been different, we would of gone to the Catlins first and done the route backwards. So it always pays to not be too locked into a certain route, and to have plenty of back up plans and different routes in your head, if the weather isn’t playing ball.
Feldon Fact #4: Setting up before dark (leave plenty of time)
Even though you can set up a Crow's Nest in about 3 minutes and almost with your eyes closed, finding an ideal spot to wake up to and enjoy the next day, is a much harder task when the sun has already set.
We always tried to plan each day with ample amount of time in the afternoon to scout out an epic spot in the area that we’d been exploring that day. This meant we could have the afternoon hanging out, watching the sun set and cooking dinner early instead of scrambling to find a spot in the dark and having dinner at 10pm.
Admittedly this did happen on multiple occasions, but we were mostly lucky enough to wake up to find that we had nailed the spot choice even in the dark. Aside from this being a top-tier winging-it power-move, scouting out an epic spot in the daylight always seemed to be more successful.
Note: Always keep an eye out for spots during the day on your journeys, and remember to mark them on the maps.
Feldon Fact #5: Plenty of water on hand
Getting caught out in the wop-wops with a few last drops left in the water bottles, and having to leave your epic camping zone to find the nearest drinking water source, is always a bit of a bummer. You never know how much you might like an area that was a last minute plan, and you may want to stay those extra couple of days.
That’s why its crucial to always have a good amount of water on hand to last you at least a few days at all times. Ideally, you’d have one main tank to store the majority, instead of 10 water bottles rolling around the back of the truck. In our case, we store all of our water outside of the car on the Slimline II roof platform in the Front Runner 45L water tank.
This free’s up a heap of space inside, and with a hose running straight from it, we have fresh drinking water on tap that will last us a good four days. From doing the dishes, hydrating, and having the odd shower, it's surprising how much H2O you go through. We reckon, having at least 30-40 litres on hand is a must for those spontaneous trips into rural NZ.
Side note: Luck
With all A+ trips, a bit of good ol’ fashion luck definitely helps the process. Sometimes the odds will be stacked against you and nothing will go your way. But if you keep getting out there and giving it a good nudge, I can guarantee that you’ll luck into some amazing sights that you never thought possible.
And if the term winging it doesn’t quite sit right with you, think of it more as planning a few days ahead with the most up to date knowledge and forecasts that you can get.