From Ruatangata to Kangerlussuaq — that's the journey photographer Sue Shepherd and husband Bill made this winter.

Ironically, their home in lush green farming district of Ruatangata in Northland lies deep in the southern hemisphere, while the Arctic village of Kangerlussuaq perches in a stark landscape of reflected blues and sparkling ice, in Greenland, where very little that grows is green.

Sue and Bill Shepherd all set to explore a township in Greenland. Photo / Supplied
Sue and Bill Shepherd all set to explore a township in Greenland. Photo / Supplied

For Sue, it was another intrepid expedition where her camera could catch magical moments made by light and landscape.

For Bill, it was the first major break away from New Zealand since he started his role as chairman of Northland Regional Council in 2013.

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''Neither of us have done a cruise before and are not good sailors, however, the boat was fantastic. We had wrist bands and ate a lot of ginger, and we were lucky with the weather,'' landlubber Sue said.

The ship's crew taking guests out in a Zodiac to see bird colonies at close range. Photo / Sue Shepherd
The ship's crew taking guests out in a Zodiac to see bird colonies at close range. Photo / Sue Shepherd

Kangerlussuaq is located at the head of the fjord (fiord) of the same name, which means Big Fjord. At the end of the road out of town, is the polar ice cap.

The area is home to Greenland's most diverse terrestrial fauna, including muskoxen, caribou, and gyrfalcons, and the settlement's economy and population of 500 is almost entirely reliant on the airport and tourist industry.

Houses in the region were often painted in bright colours. Photo / Sue Shepherd
Houses in the region were often painted in bright colours. Photo / Sue Shepherd

The Shepherds flew into Kangerlussuaqin to join Silverseas Expedition ship Silver Cloud.

First night introductions at a welcome function on board offered quite a surprise for this Northland couple so far from home — Captain Eric Saint Plancat, a Frenchman, is based in Whangārei when he is not sailing the Silver Cloud.

They also met team leader Nicki Denarie and the rest of the crew, and many of the other 200 guests on the 16 day, 3026 nautical miles cruise.

Greenlanders came out to welcome the ship's guests with traditional songs and dance. Photo / Sue Shepherd
Greenlanders came out to welcome the ship's guests with traditional songs and dance. Photo / Sue Shepherd

The ship was recently upgraded to enable cruising in waters filled with icebergs. Every creature comfort was catered to in the comfortable suites and supporting facilities, including a butler allocated to every suite, Sue said.

The days were spent taking trips ashore or along coastlines viewing the wildlife, plant life and geological features. During daytime cruising hours, experts gave lectures on topics related to the Arctic, climate change, history of the area and wildlife.

''The itinerary was exceptional, covering some incredibly isolated and special places around Greenland and Canada. Highlights of the trip were many,'' Sue said.

The washing has to be done and dried, but what a view. Photo / Sue Shepherd
The washing has to be done and dried, but what a view. Photo / Sue Shepherd

As a photographer she was in heaven, she said — small towns with brightly coloured houses, rides on Zodiacs to isolated beaches and bird sanctuaries, cruising through thick ice and then finding it was snowing as well.

''Talking with locals and being entertained with some local singing and dancing, joining local boats and being taken on a cruise up close and personal to huge icebergs and walrus, watching whales from a respectable distance.

Every creature comfort was catered to and the weather was good, despite appearances. Photo / Sue Shepherd
Every creature comfort was catered to and the weather was good, despite appearances. Photo / Sue Shepherd

''We did see several polar bears, but they were only in the distance.''

The Shepherds also had a small glimpse of the Northern Lights.

''The scenery was just out of this world and of course so far removed from anything we see here in New Zealand.''