The Hill


Castle Hill, on State Highway 73 between Darfield and Arthur’s Pass in the Waimakariri Basin, was named for the imposing array of limestone boulders in the area that mirror the look of castle ruins.

It attracts hundreds of rock climbers every year, but it was the sky that grabbed NIWA freshwater ecologist Shannan Crow’s attention – especially at night in the middle of winter.

Familiar with working in some of New Zealand’s most stunning environments, Crow is particularly attracted to Castle Hill because the limestone boulders add depth and interest to his photographs.

He was voted the People’s Choice winner in the annual NIWA Photography Awards, which attracted more than 400 entries from staff. The vast array of environmental science NIWA researchers undertake happens in some of this country’s most beautiful natural locations, a happy circumstance which has prompted many staff to take up amateur photography.

Crow used a Nikon D850 camera with a Zeiss Otus 55mm lens to capture his winning shot, which he named The Centre of the Milky Way aligned with the Centre of Castle Hill.

“Winter is the optimum time because the Milky Way core is fully visible, and the dark conditions of the new moon allow more detail to be captured in the sky.”

Check out all of the winners from the 2019 NIWA Staff Photography Competition: