Where to begin with this one. New Zealand has been a place I’ve wanted to visit for so long. The scenery I had seen in photos looked so beautiful. I was stoked to finally have a chance to see it for myself. In November I packed up my bags and flew nearly 7,000 miles to Auckland. After flying into Auckland I caught a short flight up north to Whangarei where Monique Carlos live. One of their good friends, Alex, was kind enough to pick me up and give me a ride out to where the ceremony was being held (I walked right over to the left side of the car to get in haha). Monique, Carlos and a bunch of their close friends were tirelessly working to get everything ready for the wedding the next day. One of the things I remember most about New Zealand is how kind everyone was. It’s not often where you can come into a tight knit group of friends and feel completely welcomed right away. It was awesome and I can’t thank all of them enough for making me feel so welcome.
The morning of the wedding was a bit stormy. A lot of fog, some rain and a nice cool breeze were all present that morning. Monique got ready at her parents house with her sister and two best friends. After snapping some portraits there, we ventured out to the coast for the wedding. It’s about a 45-minute drive on some windy roads until you come to a beautiful spot on the coast. Rock formations out in the water were something to awe at. Just before Monique arrived, the wind was picking up quite a bit. To the point that during the ceremony, one of the smaller tents blew over.
After the ceremony, Monique, Carlos & their close friends packed a picnic basket and walked down the beach to enjoy some time together. As we were wrapping up portraits there and heading to the next location, someone mentioned that they saw a whale out in the distance. Sure enough, you could see a few orcas whales out along the shore. We were half-way joking saying, it would be pretty cool if they swam along the shore and ended up right in front of us. Well, that’s exactly what they did. It was incredible. At one point, I think they were only 20-30 yards away. The orca whale has been one of my favorite animals since I was a kid so I was losing it. Someone mentioned that they usually don’t come to the east coast and usually are seen on the west coast. The timing was impeccable. Five minutes later and we would have already been at a different location away from the beach.
After a few hilarious speeches, the rest of the night was spent chatting with many of Monique + Carlos’ friends/family. It was great getting to know everyone and learn more about the history and culture of New Zealand. Thankful for all the amazing people I had the chance to meet.
The day after the wedding, I stayed with Monique + Carlos at a bach (kiwi for beach house) they had rented for the night before heading out to Fiji for their honeymoon. It was a super rad house and was directly across the street from the beach. That night, I woke up at 1 or 2 in the morning to Monique running through the house telling me to get up because there had been an earthquake and the tsunami sirens were going off. I’ve never been so freaked out in my life. I had no idea what was going on and pretty much assumed the worst; that a giant wave was heading right for us. Thankfully that didn’t happen. But I packed up all my camera gear (usually it’s already packed up but of course the one night I leave it all over the place, an earthquake happens, geez) and got into the car and drove inland. The earthquake ended up occurring down south near Christchurch, a ways away from where we were. However, that morning I was going to be flying down to Wellington to visit one of my best friends from high school who is living in NZ currently. For the next two days, we would be sitting in the house they were staying at and feel a shake and see the chandelier on the ceiling start to swing back and forth.
Spending a week in New Zealand was an incredible experience and I can’t thank Monique + Carlos enough for bringing me all the way down under to document their wedding. It was truly an honor.
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