Beasts of New Zealand
Beasts of New Zealand is a project that began to manifest in my mind whilst travelling the country.
A mixture of picturesque, mysterious, and out of this world landscapes served as the inspiration for the project, as I began to imagine alternate reasons for the creation of these surreal environments, and weather patterns.
At first I was unsure of how I would approach the project stylistically. I considered using 3D software or my usual flat vector style, but instead decided to step outside my comfort zone a bit. I opted to complete the project away from the computer, thus choosing to use ProCreate on an iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil. This gave me a lot of freedom, allowing me to draw on the go, and it also challenged me to step away from my normal drawing style.
I completed the project during #inktober, which was great because the challenge didn't have any set rules, and I could participate without following common Halloween themes, prompts, or even using traditional ink! It was a great way to stay motivated and ensure the project didn't lapse, and it helped knowing that there were other people working on their own illustrations late at night!
For each image, I wrote a description that explained how the creatures in the photo created or affected the environment around them. Coming up with these little snippets of information was really enjoyable, and I would work on them in parallel to the illustration. The original photo would influence the creature I drew, which would influence the story I wanted to tell, which fed back into the drawing and then back again. It was a very organic and creative process.
This was a hell of a project, very challenging at times, but also very enjoyable. I had a lot of fun coming up with the creatures, and their reasons for being in each picture, revisiting old photographs and reminiscing on my travels around such an amazing country. Good on ya New Zealand ✌️.
CRATERS OF THE MOON
This photo was taken at Craters of the Moon in Taupo. The smoke escaping from these holes is created by creatures slightly larger than the average human, usually females, in order to protect their young from predatory males and other dangers. No one knows where they came from but they migrated to the area around the 1950s.
The mighty Tane Mahuta located in the North Island is an enormous tree, its scale indicated by the tiny people standing by it. It was grown and carved by a three headed, three tailed snake, in an attempt to reach the heavens and oversee the whole world below
Cape Reinga at the tip of the North Island is where souls go to find their final resting place. Here, they are judged and selected, taken to either the light or dark realms of the afterlife
Franz Josef Glacier
The Franz Josef Glacier in the South Island was formed by ice ghosts (named after their semi transparent bodies). They froze the river in order to create a cold habitat that wouldn’t melt (though that is changing with global warming). A small group within the pack of ice ghosts decided to migrate, and went on to form the Fox Glacier.
The beautiful city of Christchurch and its residents have seen a lot of hardship after being hit with massive earthquakes. These seem to have been caused by the loud snores of this docile creature, who has ventured too close to the city before entering its hibernation. Its sleeping patterns are unpredictable and there is no telling how much more damage it might do.
The famous Pancake Rocks in the South Island are a popular tourist attraction. They were formed by long bodied, single horned creatures, who come out of the ocean and carve and slither their way up the rocks to rest in the sun. They do this about twice a month. .
Whilst walking around Rangitoto Island on the weekend, I noticed some strange, curled up leaves on the side of the track. Upon closer inspection I spotted tiny ‘Sleeping Beauties’ within them, small insect like creatures that like to use leaves as blankets to sleep. They curl the leaves around their little bodies to keep warm and dampen the light from the sun. The afternoon is a perfect time for them to sleep, as the leaves are warmed from the sun.
This is Tunnel Beach in the South Island. The giant hole in the rock is a common sight around New Zealand, caused by the enormous water creature captured in this photo - as they reach adulthood, the spikes on their backs begin to grow, which causes them discomfort, so they smash against hard surfaces to alleviate the growing pains and itchiness. The younger ones come along for the ride, and in doing so learn the steps they’ll need to take when their spikes begin to grow.
This swimming spot is known as the Blue Pools in Wanaka, South Island. The creatures that live in this water appear to be constantly crying, their 'tears' a bright fluid that stains the water such a crisp, bright blue.
When we encountered these little piles of rocks at Fantail Falls we thought they were made by humans. Turns out they’re made by these pink, multi armed, squishy creatures. They try to build these rock piles as fast and as high as possible to attract mates, using their saliva to stick them together.
The road trip from Te Anau to Milford Sound is full of awe. This pit stop on the way to Homer Tunnel graced us with an amazing view of high mountains, vast areas, and treakling waterfalls. The colossal creature seen here moves very slowly, but has the strength to rip mountains apart if it feels they're in its way, hence the wide open spaces and amount of small waterfalls seen in the area.
Wellington is probably the windiest city in New Zealand, even on the sunniest day. But that’s not really a surprise considering it’s home to these jellyfish/bird hybrids. The flapping of their wings can be strong enough to cause 120km winds, sometimes making it very hard to land planes in the capital.
The Moeraki Boulders in the South Island are shaped by these small hammerhead beetles. Their heads act like a sharp spade, scooping up small microbes from stone, whilst smoothing its surface into the odd rounded shapes you can see here.
Waiotapu is one of the craziest places in New Zealand. This green lake is coloured due to these cute little green creatures, who pee in the water. Which is also the reason for the lake’s warm temperature.
Foxton Beach has amazing sunsets thanks to these bright little creatures - they come out to play as the sun starts to go down, absorbing its final rays and lighting up the sky with beautiful colours.
These are the Huka Falls. This powerful waterfall drains lake Taupo and brings with it the yellow creatures captured in this photo. They swim/fly extremely fast, adding to the waterfall’s potent and thunderous crash.
The South Island is filled with these beautiful Lupin Flowers - they're amazing and you can find them on the side of the road. Most people don't know this, but the flowers are actually part of these stone looking creatures, who sprouted flora-like limbs atop their heads to serve as extra camouflage.
This is Mirror Lake in the South Island. This super glossy lake was created by this six legged creature, in order to see its own reflection. Problem is, that no matter how much it tries to keep the lake reflective and shiny, this creature will never know what it looks like due to its unique skin pigmentation - though it can be seen by everyone, it can’t be reflected by anything. The creature does a hell of a job keeping this lake shiny though - can you tell which branches are real and which ones are reflected in the water in this photo? Exactly.
Milford sound is one of the most popular tourist destinations in NZ - and you can see why! These monumental creatures like to bathe their young in fresh water, so they carve into the top of the mountains to create numerous waterfalls along the coast. The boat near the waterfall on the bottom left side of the photo gives an indication of how high some of the falls cascade, and how colossal these gentle creatures truly are.
Kuirau Park is home to the creatures captured in this photo. This species isn't a fan of getting wet, as the holes in their backs are prone to infection. So instead, they climb these sticks that jut out of the water to enjoy the rising steam instead, like a sauna.
Redwoods forest is a great place to play hide and seek, which is exactly what these young creatures are trying to do. By leaning on the trees, the creatures prevent the trunks from growing outwards, making them grow vertically instead at a rapid pace.
The enormous dunes at Lake Wainamu were carved up by this giant rodent. On its way to the Bethells beach, the creature became hot and tired, and fell into a deep sleep, where it remains until today.
These little guys are nicknamed ‘bombers’, simply because they love to jump into the Rotorua Mud pools, causing the small bubbly explosions.
The geysers in Rotorua are produced by these lazy creatures. They lay in the warm rocks all day, releasing water and steam from the holes on their heads when they get too hot.
These creatures have a unique defense mechanism which causes them to quickly produce and disperse cotton balls that resemble flowers in a field, in order to help hide them from predators. They are mainly scared of humans.
Every day this big furry creature comes to sit at the edge of Lake Tekapo to look at Mt. Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain. This fur ball created the mountain years ago, as a tribute to its species, and as its biggest achievement as a mountain maker.
These Mossles enjoy damp areas, so they settled down behind Rainbow Falls in Kerikeri to grow. The bigger they grew, the larger the cave behind the falls became, allowing more Mossles to settle there.
The Clay Cliffs in the South Island were a chance discovery on our road trip, and I was absolutely amazed by them. This photo doesn't do the them justice, but it captures the fact that these tall and sharp clay monuments are built as homes for the creatures photographed here. To them, these clay cliffs are castles, fortresses to help protect against predators and unwanted guests.
Eglinton Valley is a pit stop on the side of the road which offers great views of the mountains in Fiordland. The creature captured in this photo is responsible for the large flat area it lies on - It loves attention so it comes down from the mountains to mingle with tourists, trotting and flattening the ground all around it. This is a rare shot of the beast sleeping, likely tired from showing off.
Blue Springs at Putaruru is a source of pure clean water, guarded by this little creature. It sends out bright green algae from it's body into the river to help prevent animals and humans from swimming into it.
Te Paki Sand Dunes
The enormous Te Paki Sand Dunes in Northland are an absolute visual treat, NZ's own beautiful desert. The dunes are actually colossal sand creatures that once roamed the land, until they grew so large they could no longer move and settled in Northland to sleep.
Thanks for watching!