What an amazing response to our 2013 Cover-More ‘Essence of Travel’ Facebook photo competition. With more than 500 entries from all over New Zealand, there were some incredibly personal moments shared. The photos were taken in some amazing locations with beautiful scenery, often inspiring every part of the traveller within us.

Many photos depicted nature at its best, some showed world landmarks, some were unexpected moments or a chance photo and some were breathtaking moments that excited and inspired the photographer at that instant. All of the photos however, depicted to the photographer the ‘Essence of Travel’. This made for an amazing assortment of special moments that makes travel so special. So, here are the winners. Our overall winner receives a NZ$2000 travel voucher and our Runner-up winners receive NZ$50 gift cards.

Entries were judged by Sheena Crawford and Averlea Burgess from Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism which is the Regional Tourism Organisation (RTO) for the Canterbury region of New Zealand's South Island. As an RTO, Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism promotes Christchurch and Canterbury as a tourism destination to media, travel trade, conventions and directly to tourists. We know what an amazing region Canterbury is and want to make sure potential visitors do too. You can also find them on Facebook.

Sheena summed up the winning photo beautifully when saying, 'This photo really stood out for us as it instantly captures the essence of travel—literally throwing yourself in the deep and loving every second. Travel puts us in situations away from everyday life and the youthful innocence and spirit of these children should remind us to do this more often'.

Overall winner

Cover-More New Zealand Facebook photo competition winner: Children jumping off coconut tree into water in the Philippines

Photo by Andy Lukey

Children enjoy a mid-morning coconut tree plunge in the Philippines. I shot this image at the midway point of a floating restaurant boat trip in Bohol in the Philippines. When we reached the midway point of the trip the docked and local native people dressed in traditional clothing greeted us. Local kids were out enjoying the sunshine and jumping off the coconut tree that overhung the river. I secretly wanted to make the river jump myself but did not trust my own tree climbing abilities so ended up just capturing the spectacle myself. I used a Lumix FT3 shock proof, waterproof compact camera to take this photo and then processed the image in photoshop.

Secondary prize winners

Cover-More New Zealand Facebook photo competition winner: Fisherman rowing out his net on Inle Lake after a rain shower

Photo by Kathryn Bell

Burma is a fascinating place, the people, their smiles, the pace of life, and the simplicity. This photo was taken on Inle lake right after a shower had just come over the lake. The Inle people are the only people in the world to practice the art of one-legged rowing, a technique which helps them to row and see over the lake at the same time. This fisherman was rowing out his net and was incredible to see. What is their way of life is extraordinary to us. It is a sight I will not forget.

Cover-More New Zealand Facebook photo competition winner: A toddler climbing in a boat in the Amazon Jungle in Brazil

Photo by Mei Zi Ho

The photo was taken while travelling the Amazon Jungle in Brazil last year. We departed from Manaus, one of the major cities where the Amazon Jungle is easily accessed. By 'easy' I mean one hour van ride to the docks, 1 hour boat ride across the river, 3 hour van ride across some really dodgy road with potholes and flooding water gushing through, and 2 hours on a river boat later...we finally arrived at our jungle lodge. We spent 2 nights in the lodge with limited electricity and a further 2 nights camping out in another part of the jungle. After 2 nights of feeding swarms of mosquitos, sleeping in hammocks soaked in our sweat and rain, catching our own piranhas for dinner, getting spooked by the eerie echoes of howler monkeys at 2am and blowpipes of pink dolphins swimming in the middle of the night, we decided to get some home comforts from a local floating convenience store (you know, modern trinkets like a bottle of shampoo), we stumbled upon this toddler who is quite happy climbing around boats and playing in mud, growing up in the Amazon Jungle. It humbled us right down, who needs shampoo? So back to our camp we went, to brave it out for another night. If the kid can do it, so can we.

Cover-More New Zealand Facebook photo competition winner: Woman walking down a little street in Georgetown, Penang

Photo by Raewyn Howes

...being at the right place at the right time... This was taken in a little street in Georgetown, Penang. I've always loved the textures and colours of the buildings in Georgetown and I've taken lots of pictures of this particular building. However, I wanted to capture people in the frame as well, so one day I sat on the grassy traffic island, with traffic whizzing by on three sides and waited for the perfect shot. Almost two hours later, after many attempts at capturing trishaws, bicycles, and people passing by, along came my lady. My trusty little camera has a broken screen and I can't see what I'm taking, so I was thrilled to see the result when I uploaded this one.

Cover-More New Zealand Facebook photo competition winner: Surfer walks towards the beach as a rainbow appears above him

Photo by Andy Lukey

Bamboo board maker, eco-warrior and soul surfer Richard Matthews heads out for a solo session in the Southern Philippines. This image almost did not happen as I was busy checking my camera's settings whilst my friend walked ahead of me towards the surf. I looked up and saw the rainbow was directly above him and let rip with the two frames a second motor drive of my Lumix FT3 and framed the subject as I kept shooting. I like this shot because it sums up what it is to be a soul surfer, to find a remote place where a ‘solo surf’ is the norm and the crowds are nowhere to be seen. Richard an eco-warrior who makes surfboards out of sustainable materials such as bamboo and abaca was an inspiration to me and his travel stories kept me entertained when we went out for this and many other early morning surfs.

Cover-More New Zealand Facebook photo competition winner: Children playing on colourful boats on a Malaysian beach

Photo by Georgia Duke

This picture was taken in front of a small fishing village, located on Mabul Island off the coast of Malaysian Borneo. The village sits in stark contrast to the resorts wedged on either side of it. Children from the village made kites out of plastic bags and other items, and would fly them off the surrounding beaches. I took this photo on a visit in January this year while walking around the Island with a friend, we passed these children playing with their makeshift toys and asked if they would like a photo, which they happily agreed to.

Cover-More New Zealand Facebook photo competition winner: Man reads newspaper in doorway oblivious to the chaotic street

Photo by Raewyn Howes

...a quiet moment amidst the madness... I had been in Penang for a few months and I used to see this old man reading his newspaper every day in the entrance to this building near the corner of Chulia Street and Penang Road. These streets are bustling and noisy, but he was always oblivious to the madness, the king of his own castle, sitting back in his cane chair in the same completely relaxed position every day. Since then, the building has been renovated and is now just another glass-fronted hotel. My man has gone and Chulia Street has lost another piece of old-world charm.

Cover-More New Zealand Facebook photo competition winner: Two women dressed up and smiling at a Muay Thai event in Thailand

Photo by Andy Lukey

‘Chiang Mai's friendly smiles’ was an image I took at a Muay Thai event I stumbled upon held in the city of Chiang Mai, Thailand. I used a long lens to isolate the subject from the crowd that was around them. I took several shots to get this one with both of the women smiling. The camera used was an Olympus OM4 shooting slide film which has then been scanned and processed using Photoshop.

Cover-More New Zealand Facebook photo competition winner: Old woman adjusting her woven hat at a river bank in Vietnam

Photo by Simonne Goodall

This photo was taken in the World Heritage Town of Hoi An, Vietnam. This local woman was selling her wares out of an old cart and stopped on the river bank to adjust her hat. Apparently, she was once a market gardener and is over 100 years old.

Cover-More New Zealand Facebook photo competition winner: Trees at night in a flooded park in Christchurch

Photo by Andy Lukey

Flooded Hagley park in Christchurch; I am a Cantabrian so I did not have to travel far to get this image. I drove past the park one night after about three days of heavy rain had flooded it. After seeing some cool reflections in the water decided it was worthy of a night photography session. The trees glowed with the warm tungsten light thrown off by the streetlight that lit the submerged walking path. All I needed to do was set up a tripod to get the required long exposures of 15 seconds. I used a Canon G12 and processed the image in Photoshop.

Cover-More New Zealand Facebook photo competition winner: Girl watching sunset on Lake Taupo, New Zealand

Photo by Glen Cleary

The photo was taken at Lake Taupo in mid-December. The crochet clad girl is my daughter that hounded and hounded me to stop so she could get a picture. If you look closely you can see her viewfinder capturing the same scene. While the picture is a good one it does not really captivate the way the silent engulfing blood red sky drew us in. Being there gives this picture depth, projection and feeling. I was thinking of this Maori blessing when I was taking the shot.

Kia hora te marino, kia whakapapa pounamu te moana, kia tere karohirohi i mua i tou huarahi. May calm be spread around you, may the sea glisten like greenstone and the shimmer of summer dance across your path.

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