People always seem ask me what camera gear I carry with me on my adventures, and pretty much since day 1 when I quit my job to travel, I’ve always had an action camera with me.
Personally while I don’t really see myself as an action adventure person too much, I still do quite a bit of travel where I can’t feasibly bring all my Canon kit with me. I mean, I love adventure but I am not particularly hardcore, though I know living in the mountains of New Zealand is changing that bit by bit.
That being said, I think it’s really important to do things, find experiences and challenge yourself on the road. Adventure can mean anything, it’s up to you how you define it.
TomTom has asked me to try out their new action camera, the TomTom Bandit. Considering all my other action cameras have failed me spectacularly over the years, I was more than willing to give it a go.
I just got a new (old) car and the weather was hot and wonderful (spring is finally here in New Zealand) so I decided to go for a spin and take a little day trip to one of my favorite spots in Wanaka – the Blue Pools.
Man, is New Zealand creative at naming things or what?!
An hour or so from Wanaka on the road to the West Coast, you’ll find a little DOC sign on the side of the road pointing out the Blue Pools.
Do not miss it! Do not drive on by in a rush to get somewhere else. Do not make excuses. Be sure to stop, because trust me on this, the Blue Pools are pretty stunning and they look different every time you visit.
So I grabbed my new TomTom Bandit and hit the road, and made a little vlog for you guys with the camera about my afternoon getaway shot on the action camera.
The drive between Wanaka and the Blue Pools is one of my favorites in all of New Zealand, and that is saying something.
It is all kinds of epic. There are cliffs, hairpin turns, landslides, waterfalls, glaciers and neon blue lakes. There’s dense temperate rainforest and usually snow. And if you head out now, you’ll likely see about a million lambs. Bonus!
It’s one of those drives that is best if you aren’t rushed and you can take your time so you can stop as much as you want and go for the little walks.
I started out shooting with the TomTom Bandit before I even left my house, and while I’ve never been one who is technologically savvy, to say the least, the camera is basically idiot-proof. It is super easy to navigate and figure out how to use and is incredibly intuitive.
I’ve never been one for manuals.
One thing I loved about it are the buttons – there is a different button for off and on and which also correspond with record and stop recording, eliminating heaps and heaps of accidental photos and videos shooting up my nose as I try to figure out if it’s on or not.
The ON button has a star on it which also functions as a highlight button so you can mark which clips and shots are good ones. THANK YOU!
I used one of the sticky mounts to stick it to my dashboard and record the beautiful views on the road from Wanaka down to Lake Hawea, stopping off at my favorite spots before crossing the neck (the chunk of land that divides Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea, before driving along the winding turns along the top of Lake Wanaka again.
Eventually you pop out in the wide open valley of Makarora before descending in the thick silver beech forests of Mt. Aspiring National Park.
From here it’s only a few miles before you arrive at the Blue Pools. If you keep going you can visit Thunder Creek Falls and Fantail Falls, two beautiful waterfalls before zigzagging through the Haast Pass through the Southern Alps and popping out on the West Coast.
Within a few minutes of practicing I got the hang of the camera without thinking twice. Yes, easy technology, my favorite.
Before walking down to the Blue Pools, I played with the App on my phone. Even out deep in Mt. Aspiring National Park where there is no phone service or 3G for hours, you can still use it because the Bandit acts as a wireless device you can connect your phone to.
That way you can use it both as a screen remote so you can see what you are shooting and frame it correctly, but also you can move all of the video and image files over to your phone.
You can even shoot in 4K, and shoot timelapse and slow motion.
Before I walked down the path, I swapped the mounts and stuck on the GoPro mount so I could attach it to my selfie stick *hangs head in shame.* Though I did find the lens to be wide enough I could just hold it and still get myself and everything in frame, which is great.
My absolute favorite part of the Bandit is that it has a USB battery stick that’s part of the camera, so when you plug it into your computer, it also charges, eliminating cables and faulty batteries that last for 45 minutes.
And did I mention the battery lasts for 3 hours? I shot more than 80 video clips on this trip that took all afternoon and I still came home with more than 20% left.
In the next few weeks I’ll be launching some exciting new video projects, so be sure to stay tuned. So I used the opportunity of shooting with the TomTom Bandit to practice my video skills.
But let’s be honest here, they’re terrible.
That being said, I like trying new things and I count myself lucky I have heaps of super talented videomaker friends to help me out with my lofty goals and ambitions.
That being said, you don’t have to know ANYTHING about editing videos to be able to edit with this camera.
TomTom is super proud, and rightly so, of the shake-to-edit technology and built-in media server (so you don’t need wifi) where you just connect your camera to the TomTom Bandit phone app through Bluetooth, shake your phone and you get a one minute video highlight you can share straight from your phone. No wires no laptops.
Wow, an action camera for technologically challenged people like me. Where have you been all my life? Or the past 4 years since I got an iPhone.
And man, was luck on my side when I arrived at the Blue Pools, and they were glowing the bluest I’ve ever seen! And I’ve been here a lot! I was actually speechless when I first arrived.
Usually it’s cloudy, the sun has set behind the mountains casting the gorge in shade, or even if it has rained a lot the water color will change. I’ve seen is just about every shade of blue, and once even green, but I have never ever seen the Blue Pools this clear and this blue.
Pinch me, is that real?
This photo from the Bandit is 100% UNEDITED!
You can see in my video how brightly blue the water color is – this is because it comes straight from a glacier, and as you can imagine, it’s frigid. The TomTom Bandit captured the color perfectly. I jumped in once this year and it knocked the breath from me, not to mention I got about 100 sandfly bites all over me.
You’ll see me rant about these terribly creatures in the video – they are 100 times worse than mosquitos and they are all over the Blue Pools so you might think twice about jumping in. Not that I let things like that stop me! One day I might even find the guts to jump off this bridge like all the locals in Wanaka.
Nope, that’s high, not there yet!
Where’s the clearest, bluest water you’ve ever seen? Do you own an action camera? And the big question is, would you jump?
Be sure to watch my video here!
Many thanks to TomTom for sponsoring this post – like always I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own, like you could expect less from me.