Bri Woolnough

Based In: Wanaka, New Zealand
Vehicle: 1986 Toyota Landcruiser (BJ71)
Instagram: @briwoolnough

1. Tell us about yourself. What makes you tick?

I’m Bri, I’m a photographer based in Wanaka and I’m a proud owner of a Short Wheel Base 70 Series named Sunny. I spend most free of my time camping or on an adventure. Through winter I snowboard and during the summer when I’m not taking photos I’m hiking, surfing or road tripping the country, I thrive when I’m on the road. I love waking up in a tent with a bedroom view of mountains or the ocean, stripping life back to the basics, cooking food over the fire and waking up with the sun.

2. Tell us about your rig build. What sets is apart from the rest?

I’ve had this truck for three years now, and the original dream before I was introduced to 4wds was the “van life”. Living on the road and having everything you need to make home on the road was something I had always wanted to do, and this dream became a sort of reality, but it looked a little different to what I originally had in mind. Over the years I’ve been able to fine tune the build and make use of what little space I have. The original drawers myself and a friend made were great, but after using them for two years, there was a lot I could have done differently. I had nowhere to store water, all the weight from the battery and fridge was on the drivers side of the truck, and there were cubby holes behind the seat that I never ended up using. The new Judge & Co setup has been an absolute game changer. The layout is similar where the drawers and fridge sit, but have added the 20L water jerry slot above the wheel arch on the passenger side, and redesigned the space behind the front seats to accomodate a 12v battery setup, air compressor and more storage above which is being utilised now. Being a Short Wheel Base, I don’t have a lot of space to work with, but I’ve always made do and have lived out of it for months at a time. It’s a special wee truck, and I don’t know of anyone else who has done a build quite like this out of a short wheel base.

3. What is your favourite adventure to date?

I have been blessed with some so many epic adventures and memories over the years since owning Sunny. Every adventure is special in its own way but I think my favourite has got to be the first road trip I ever did in the truck. I bought it in November 2020, learnt to drive manual, fixed it up, kitted it out, and then headed off on a Road Trip around New Zealand for 6 weeks. From Cape Reinga to Bluff and everything in between. I had friends join me along the way, and a lot of it I did solo. I met so many new people and this trip was what inspired me to make the move down south. Sounds cliche to say that this trip changed me as a person, but it did. I had never done anything quite like this in my entire life and was an introduction to the life I had always wanted to live.

4. Give us the rundown on Bri Woolnough Photography

Photography sort of just slipped perfectly into my life. My first paid job was shooting for a Bee Keeper up in Mangawhai. My cousin found out I was quite keen on photography and through his design business, he’d get me to do frequent photo work for his clients when I was living up north. The first shoot I did on my own was in 2020, and from there it just snowballed. I got more confident with reaching out to brands, the truck came along later that year and then I moved South. I was still working full-time in hospitality until the beginning of 2022. I had planned a 3 month long road trip, moved out of my flat, left my job at a local brewery and hit the road. I had no idea how I was going survive the next 3 months, but work came flooding in the moment I hit the road. I’ve been working full-time as a photographer since then. It’s been an amazing journey so far, I’ve got some huge dreams and goals I’d love to chase still, but I am so thankful for this life and the work I get to do.

5. You spend quite a bit of time away from the office, how have you managed to find that co-existence between work and play?

I’ve worked incredibly hard over the years to get to where I am today, people always say how lucky I am to be doing what I love for a job, and living the way that I do. But it wasn’t luck that got me here, it was hard work and prioritising the things that were most important to me. There were times when I was working 3 different jobs and a crazy amount of hours. I’ve worked hard so that now I can live a little through my twenties, it still doesn’t come without sacrifice though. The work I do now is with brands who align with my values and ones that I support 100%. I’m still working on finding more balance between work and play, but it helps being able to work from anywhere. I can be down a valley and out of reception, but I’m still able to work and keep my laptop and camera charged.

6. What is one piece of advice you’d give to those who’re chasing a similar lifestyle to you?

Just go for it. You’re always going to find an excuse as to why you shouldn’t, but sometimes throwing yourself in the deep end is the best way to start something (if it’s what you really want to do). I think we tend to grow so much more when we put ourselves in situations that are out of our comfort zone, but we are capable of doing so much more than we know.

7. Finally, what is your all time favourite camping spot?

Ooh that’s a hard one, I’ve been to some pretty incredible spots over the years and I’m absolutely spoilt for choice living in Otago. One of my favourite places to go though is down the Ahuriri Valley. I’ve been there in every season and each time it’s so beautiful. The last time I was there in started snowing in the afternoon. It was a complete white out, but come morning, the sun was shining and everything was covered in a blanket of snow.

Go follow Bri's adventures on Instagram: @briwoolnough