By Marika McElroy Cain, Senior Editor, Virtuoso Life

The biggest story that didn’t make my feature on New Zealand’s North Island for the March/April issue of Virtuoso Life was our accompanying cover shoot in the Bay of Islands. The shoot fell at the tail end of a truly unparalleled trip organized by Seasonz Travel. Associate art director Korena Bolding and I had fly-fished, helicoptered, sailed, and, yes, dined our way through the best of North Island, and our final undertaking before heading back across the Pacific for home was to oversee the cover shoot.

No matter how many cover shoots I work on, it never fails to amaze me how much work it takes to get one perfect, inspiring, effortless-seeming, crowd-pleasing shot. Months of planning preceded the shoot: countless calls and emails with our photographer and his assistant, wardrobe discussions, logistical wrangling, location and talent scouting, and more.

Our Auckland-based crew arrived the evening before the shoot, and over champagne and Thai takeout at Eagles Nest, we plotted out our moves. Everyone had done their homework: our model was professional and lovely, our makeup artist had stellar credentials, our stylist had pulled exactly the right looks, and our photographer was New Zealand’s best. Cue the one element no one can control: the weather.

VLSure enough, shoot day arrived, and our 5:45 a.m. call time coincided with lashing wind and steady drizzle. Not to worry, Kieran Scott, photographer and professional cool cucumber, assured the crew as they played poker for almonds and waited for the storm to blow over. The weather in the Bay of Islands can change in a blink.

And change it did. By late afternoon, the clouds had cleared and we were basking in sunshine. We enjoyed the same fine weather during day two of our shoot and the result was a cover that perfectly captures the beauty of the Bay of Islands.