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Best of 2005

(January 1st - December 31st, 2005)

Howard Wilkinson

The Bar Castle Hill

Simon Wheaton

View From Above Mount Olympus Ski Field

Craigieburn Range, Southern Alps, South Island, New Zealand

August 26, 2005 - 02:45 UTC (14:45 local time)

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© 2005 Simon Wheaton, All Rights Reserved.

View From Above Mount Olympus Ski Field
Craigieburn Range, New Zealand Southern Alps

This is the view from above one of my favorite ski fields in New Zealand, the Mount Olympus ski field in the Craigieburn Range.

The Mount Olympus ski field is located on the Ryton Station, a 14589 hectare high country merino run. It is approximately two hours drive from the city of Christchurch. A four wheel drive vehicle is usually required for access from the bottom hut and car park at the base of the valley to the top car park. Transport to Mount Olympus from Christchurch, and guided days on the mountain, can be provided by friendly crew from Black Diamond Safaris, a local business operating out of the nearby town of Methven.

Mount Olympus ski field is one of a number of smaller New Zealand ski fields, run by non-profit ski clubs. In the case of the Mount Olympus ski field, it is operated by The Windwhistle Winter Sports Club. These 'club' fields have less extensive facilities, most with more basic 'nutcracker' rope tows for lifts rather than larger chair lifts found at the larger resorts, and usually without grooming of the snow. Most also have affordable on mountain dormitory style accommodation and day lodges, run by the ski clubs and maintained during the summer period by teams of ski club members, working as part of their ski club membership. It is expected that guests of this on-mountain accommodation participate in rostered duties, such as food preparation and cleaning of the facilities. It really is a different and more enjoyable overall experience when compared to the larger commercially run ski resorts.

This VR panorama was taken from a peak on the western side of the ski field, accessed by a 30 minute hike up the side of the mountain from the ski area. In the valley below is the Harper River, with the Avoca River flowing towards it. The Harper River flows into the Wilberforce River, and then into the Rakaia River; with Lake Coleridge, a lake created by glacier moraine, and the location of New Zealand's first state hydroelectric scheme which was built in 1911, nestled in the valley further to the left. The Rakaia River flows out through the visible mouth of the valley, in the distance to the left of Lake Coleridge, and across the Canterbury Plains into the Canterbury Bight (the Pacific Ocean) on the east coast of the New Zealand South Island.

The close high peak with the comb shaped rocky formation to the right of it is Mount Olympus, with the Mount Olympus ski field in the snow filled bowl below it. You can just make out the Mount Olympus Top Hut accommodation lodge and day lodge at the top of the access road that runs up the side of the valley, with the smaller rope tow motor shed nearby.

There are many different mountain ranges in the New Zealand Southern Alps, with quite a few visible in this small section alone. The closer mountain ranges in this image are Craigieburn Range, which Mount Olympus is part of, as well as the Black Range, the Grey Range, the Clay Range, the Birdwood Range, the Cottons Sheep Range, the Rollerston Range and the Cascade Range.

The northern side of Mount Hutt, a larger commercial New Zealand ski field, can also be seen on the right side of the valley mouth, overlooking the Canterbury Plains.

Unfortunately this year was one of the worst years for snow fall in New Zealand for a long time. Usually there is a much better cover of snow on these mountains at this time of year, in August, which should be the middle of the winter snow season. This lack of snow, and therefore customers to the ski fields, has created difficulty for some of these smaller 'club' ski fields which are run by non-profit ski clubs, as opposed to the larger commercial ski resorts. Many of these smaller 'club' fields had to close early this season, due to the lack of snow. I hope that this lack of snow is not related to the much reported global warming trend, as if so, it could mean the end of our enjoyment of these beautiful mountains during winter for snow sports and activities.


Australia - New Zealand / New Zealand

Lat: 44° 12' 51" S
Long: 171° 35' 43" E

Elevation: 2009 metres

→ maps.google.com [EXT]

Precision is: Unknown / Undeclared.


  • Canon EOS 350D DIGITAL (EOS Digital Rebel XT) Camera
  • Canon BG-E3 Battery Grip
  • Canon RS-60E3 Remote Switch
  • Canon EF-S 10-22 mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Zoom Lens
  • Canon EW-83E Lens Hood
  • Peace River Studios 3Sixty Panoramic Camera Mount
  • Manfrotto 338 Levelling Base
  • Acratech Universal Cork Top Quick Release Camera Plate
  • Acratech Ultimate Ballhead Tripod Head
  • Gitzo G1227MK2 Mountaineer Carbon Fiber Tripod
  • Gitzo G1586B3 Location Shoes (Tripod Snow Shoes)
  • Inca Hotshoe-mount Dual Spirit Level
  • SanDisk Extreme III 1GB CompactFlash Memory Card
  • NextoDI Nexto-CF ND-2500 60GB Portable Storage Device
  • Garmin eTrex Vista C GPS Receiver
  • Burton Snowboards F-Stop Camera Backpack

  • Adobe Photoshop CS2 (RAW Image Conversion, Image Editing and Adjustments)
  • Kekus Digital PTMac (Panorama Stitching)
  • Helmut Dersch's Panotools (Panorama Stitching)
  • Kekus Digital XBlend (Panorama Blending)
  • Andrew Mihal's Enblend (Panorama Blending)
  • Thomas Rauscher's Pano2QTVR (Blended Panorama Image to QTVR Movie Conversion)

  • Focal Length: 10mm (16mm at 35mm film equivalent)
  • Aperture: f/16
  • Shutter Speed: 1/125 second
  • Sensor Sensitivity: ISO 100

Special thanks have to go to Erik Krause, and to Kevin Kratzke at Kekus Digital, as well as the members of the Panotools, QTVR, and WWP mailing lists, for invaluable assistance in learning, understanding, and improving the techniques involved in QTVR panoramic photography.

I would also like to thank G. Donald Bain, Landis Bennett, Markus Altendorff, and Thomas Rauscher, the creators and administrators of The World Wide Panorama site, for their tireless efforts at providing (and improving) such a great resource where we can showcase our love of QTVR images.

PLEASE RESPECT THE ARTIST’S WORK. All images are copyright by the individual photographers, unless stated otherwise. Use in any way other than viewing on this web site is prohibited unless permission is obtained from the individual photographer. If you're interested in using a panorama, be it for non-profit or commercial purposes, please contact the individual photographer. The WWP can neither negotiate for, nor speak on behalf of its participants. The overall site is copyright by the World Wide Panorama Foundation, a California Public Benefit Corporation. Webdesign © by Martin Geier www.geiervisuell.com