Melbourne-based photographer and stylist Cindy Chen (IG: @mrpaddingtonbear) recently joined Flight Centre and Auckland Tourism for a whirlwind trip to the City of Sails to discover exactly how much you can fit into a long weekend.
From horse riding along Pakiri Beach to visiting picturesque wineries in Matakana and Waiheke Island, Cindy shows us that activities are endless and within easy reach. We caught up with Cindy to hear (and see!) all the highlights of her trip.
Was this your first time to NZ?
"I’ve been to the South Island in the past but I’ve never really had the time to properly explore the North Island. This trip has been amazing though. It’s exciting to know that there’s so many beautiful, picturesque spots just a couple of hours from Auckland!"
What was the highlight of your trip?
"Definitely visiting the wineries. They were all so gorgeous but my favourite would have to be Mudbrick Vineyard."
What about your most adventurous moment?
"Kayaking to Rangitoto Island from St Heliers… and back again! For a girl with very little upper arm strength, it was hard – very hard."
Do you have a favourite shot from the trip?
"That would be one from our horse ride down at Pakiri Beach."
What do you look for when you’re taking photos for your blog / Instagram?
"For me, a photo is never just a quick snap of what’s in front of you. It has to have meaning; it has to have a purpose. So I guess, when I’m a taking photo, I’m always searching to capture a moment that tells a story; a story the audience can relate to."
What inspired you to start @mrpaddingtonbear on Instagram?
"My obsession with cats! Paddington is one of my cats' names and I basically created an account to connect with other cat-loving people."
What was the best dining experience in Auckland?
"We had so many great meals! NZ has such great fresh produce. I really enjoyed the raw oysters from Mahurangi Oysters. I’m not usually a raw oyster fan but that’s because I’ve never tasted oysters like these! I also had the best fish and chips in my life at the Piha beach RSA. The battered Gurnard fish was out of this world!"
What was the first camera you used and what do you shoot on now?
"My very first real camera was a Hello Kitty camera I got when I was in primary school. I use to drive my parents mad because I would have at least two rolls of film to develop every week. At the moment, I’m using a Canon 6D."
Do you have any tips for aspiring photographers or bloggers?
"Take a moment and think about the image before you click the shutter. Learning the basics about how a camera works helps too."
What’s one thing you would recommend to someone visiting Auckland for a long weekend?
"Take a ferry over to Waiheke Island and explore the stunning wineries (with gorgeous scenery too!)"