helicopter

Kiwi style!

06_NZ13_heli1_TeemuLahtinen 43I have been privileged to come to New Zealand for three years in a row now and this country never stops amazing me! Sceneries are jaw-dropping, people are friendly and there is always things to do even when the weather is not on your side. Wanaka, Queenstown and Arrowtown are fun to chill out on a day off the slopes or when backcountry is inaccessible. There is always an option to go cruising quality park and pipes shaped to perfection in Cardrona or longer runs in Treblecone. And yes, there is sweet mini-pipe or more like an old school pipe in Cardies!

Filming in NZ requires good planning and good group to work with. Big thanks to Southern Lakes HeliskiAlpine Helicopters and Triple Point Expeditions! Everything has to work when you try to get things done in the right way. Scouting for locations is expensive if you have to go out finding spots with a helicopter. Guides make our life a lot easier with their knowledge about terrain and the conditions. Being here for third time also helps out since we have some knowledge of what is out there. Having a map or two will not hurt either.

Antti and Tucker from Triple Point Expeditions planning

Antti and Tucker from Triple Point Expeditions planning days ahead

Flying to our destination with Alpine Helicopters

Flying to our destination with Alpine Helicopters

Dealing with the weather takes a lot of patience and willpower to get you through those grey days. And not only grey days, day after snowstorm in the mountains usually means dealing with high risk of avalanches. It is not just glory and endless powder, mostly time goes by just wishing it was, but then comes those days that just makes it all worth to come filming in NZ. It would be such a bummer to leave without the shots that you came here for, so playing the waiting game is essential. We have had five days of heli in three weeks now and we consider ourselves lucky!

Antti slashing through small avalanches

Antti slashing through small avalanches

We have still one more week to make this trip even better, if the weather allows we might be flying but after two full days its time to relax and recharge batteries. Take a beer or two, chill out in the city and then what? Shotover jet on the river? Bungee or cliffjump? Skating the pools or Dream ramp? Frisbee golf in superb sceneries? Kayaking again? As one snowboarder once said there is infinite potential and that is so true in New Zealand. If we have time we go for everything!

Down days with Rami Hanafi on a kayak.

Down days with Rami Hanafi on a kayak.

Tailsliding the Dream ramp. Antti behind the camera this time!

Tailsliding the Dream ramp. Antti behind the lens this time!

Universe_NZ_photoTeemulahtinen 6NZ4_heli3_photoTeemulahtinen 46NZ4_heli3_photoTeemulahtinen 4NZ_arrow_photoTeemulahtinen 45Kiwi Style is common phrase down here but last year fellow snowboarder, the Frenchie Sylvain Bourbousson gave it a new meaning; People are driving their cars like crazy in here. If you are pedestrian on crosswalk they will not stop to wait for you, they try to run over, it´s crazy and Kiwi style!

 

Filming in New Zealand pt.2

This is rare stuff, real making of photos from the mountains! Our guide Tucker from Triple Point Expeditions was kind enough to give me these photos. Maybe they help out telling a story about how the day goes by when shooting snowboarding in the mountains.

In New Zealand we had the opportunity to fly and shoot from the helicopter. Normally you just dream about it while you hike or splitboard your way uphill, sometimes for hours on end. In NZ most of the terrain is accessible only with heli and the places we were shooting were definitely deep inside mountain ranges of Mt. Aspiring National Park and not easily accessible by hiking.

Usually the day starts at 5.30am with big breakfast to get ready for a long day in the mountains. Pack the bag, make sure you have all the camera gear you need and the most important trio: avalanche beacon, shovel and probe. Then drive out to meet the guides at 7am and grab a cup of fresh coffee from cafeteria downtown. Short drive to heliport and liftoff around 7.30 or 8.00. Short flight to preselected destination and you are at the top 8.15 and ready for work!

Checking the lines in the morning light after first drop off of the day

Getting the gear ready. 1st cam that I am operating and usually 2nd angle that is on monopod. Another guide Stu is with me all times while Tucker looks out after Antti. This way the riders can also lap jumps, lines or whatever. Second guide helps to load in while other helps to load out of the heli.

Dropping in with backpack full of camera gear is sometimes sketchy, depending on the steepness of the slope and quality of the snow. This time it was pretty mellow, maybe 35+ degree face. I set up ON the spine, not inside gullies or straight under the rider, got to keep mind of the avalanches.

Shooting from above on this one was the only choice because of terrain below this feature. Too risky to go shoot from below and the view was blocked from the side. I left another camera up behind me shooting straight down.

Getting ready to shoot from the heli with Rami Hanafi. Take the doors off, harness on, safety lines from the harness to the machine and wrist/neck loops for cameras to make sure they stay with you at all times. Antti And Sylvain stay on top and wait while we are up in the air and ready to shoot. Communication with the pilot is important during the shoot.

Shooting from the heli is never easy. Main thing is to keep camera steady. No fancy gyro stabilized Phantom cameras this time I tell ya! I keep monopod on my camera to make it heavier and be able to rest it on my shoulder. Rami sits on the floor so we both can operate freely and not disturb each other.

Shooting some slashes while waiting for better weather. You can see 2nd cam on monopod like I usually have it.

And at the end of the day you get nice ride back to the heliport. Scenery is just superb and being smallest guy of the crew I get to sit on the front all the time!

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