Travel outside of New Zealand and you might not find many folks who have heard of St. Bathans or its stunning Blue Lake. The Southern Hemisphere’s deepest man-made mining hole formed the gold-sluicing days of the late 1800s and was filled with water in the 1930s.
As a location for stand-up paddleboarding, the world’s fastest growing sport, Blue Lake is pretty hard to beat. The waters were glassy still as we circumnavigated the shoreline, paddling beneath the lake’s white clay cliffs. Then it was back to the tiny townships’ reputedly haunted Vulcan Hotel for a restorative ale.
With only ten permanent residents, modern-day St. Bathans is a far cry from the 2,000-person boomtown it was at the height of the gold rush. But this historic village still attracts plenty of visitors looking for a pleasant escape amongst its sleepy buildings, easy walking tracks, and hidden camping spots.
After two weeks of successful first descents in the dangerous and cartel-controlled state of Michoacan, Mexico, our crew had one last river to explore. But during the first day of checking out access points we ran into an illegal road block and, with machine guns aimed at us, were told to "get out of town." This incident, combined with the fact that the river ran deep into cartel land, made the crew decide to head east into the better known and safer paddling area of Veracruz.
Disappointed, we decided to make the best of it with a three-day huck fest of the largest waterfalls Mexico has to offer. The result? This image. After noticing the amazing light, I yelled to the athletes at the lip of the falls to run it ASAP! Dane Jackson got in his boat and dropped this 70-foot beast. By the time the next paddler descended the falls, the canyon had fallen into deep shadow and the magical light was all but gone.
Choosing a camera to travel with usually entails a frustrating compromise: either you go with a DSLR that captures great-looking images but is bulky, or you bring a lightweight point-and-shoot and settle for subpar pics. These four break the mold.
Outside Travel Award Winner
Olympus OM-D E-M1 The E-M1 is part of a new generation that ditches the DSLR-fattening internal mirrors without sacrificing image quality. It’s dust- and splash-proof, captures 16-megapixel stills at speeds up to 1/8,000 of a second, and accepts an endless array of lenses. $1,400.
Best for: Carry-ons
Sony Cyber-shot DSC RX100 II The super-packable Cyber-shot RX100 II is smaller than an iPhone but punches above its weight with a massive 20-megapixel sensor and incredible low-light sensitivity. $700.
Best for: Wildlife
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70K The 60x superzoom on the Lumix DMC-FZ70K retracts for an ultrawide view, so you’re really getting two lenses in one. You can also capture HDTV-caliber video at 30 frames per second. $400.
Best for: Budgets
Canon PowerShot SX510 HS The 11.1-ounce Power- Shot SX510 HS is packed with the kind of features found in a camera costing twice as much, including manual aperture and shutter control, a 30x optical zoom, and Wi-Fi sharing, so you can beam your pictures to the cloud. $250.