Birgit Krippner

26 Days at Sea
Location: Central Otago, New Zealand
Nationality: Austrian/New Zealand
Biography: Available for assignments in New Zealand and abroad. Born in Austria, Birgit Krippner has lived in New Zealand since 2003. Her speciality is capturing candid images using only available light. She often works in low-light... MORE
Public Story
26 Days at Sea
Copyright Birgit Krippner 2023
Date of Work May 2016 - Jun 2016
Updated Jul 2017
Location Pacific Ocean
Topics Abundance, Action, Community, Container ship, Documentary, Dreams, Editorial, Family, Freedom, Industrial, Isolation, Landscape, Photography, Photojournalism, Privacy, Reporting, Travel, Water

"I first had this dream when I was a teenager, in Austria, watching ships sail the Danube. About six months ago, while walking the Seatoun beach in Wellington, I watched a cargo ship sail past and it brought my dream back into the present."

The container ship on which she sailed, the Spirit of Auckland, stopped in the Panama Canal before heading to Columbia and finally Philadelphia where she disembarked. It took a while to adjust to life on board and to get her sea legs.

"On the second night there were a lot of rolling waves. I got scared and thought that the ship might sink," says Birgit. "When I told the officers the next morning, they smiled at me. That rolling was not even strong they said! After that, I built up resilience and was not scared anymore. Even when we had violent rain, I enjoyed that very much. No seasickness at all. I was told by some of the seamen, that I am now one of them."

In their downtime the crew onboard avoid cabin fever by playing table tennis, watching DVDs and jumping into the cold swimming pool filled with fresh seawater.

Birgit observed how creative people become in the face of long hours of boredom, and that included welcoming Birgit. "The most surprising thing for me has been how powerful my personal connection with the crew members has become in a short time. The crew is all male and I've talked to many and all are extremely nice and open to sharing part of their life with me. 

"Some of them tell me about their families, how much they miss them, and that they have not been back home for several months."

Although Birgit had thought being at sea would be a struggle she says it puts life on dry land into perspective.

"The crew members have a quality to their lives which I don't always see around people on land. Life on board puts small things into perspective and nature becomes more important. Sun and moon risings are powerful experiences. First, ocean and sky are one. You could not tell them apart. Slowly a fine line appeared in the distance "“ the horizon.

"Equally beautiful, if not even stronger, was the full moon the night before. It shone so brightly that it could have been mistaken for the sun. I saw this and an ocean of stars."

LinkedIn Icon Facebook Icon Twitter Icon

Also by Birgit Krippner —


Curling in rural New Zealand

Birgit Krippner / New Zealand, Central Otago, Cambrian

Seeing myself

Birgit Krippner

Behrouz Boochani Just Wants to Be Free

Birgit Krippner / Christchurch, New Zealand


Birgit Krippner / Red Hook

Seven Train, Queens NY

Birgit Krippner

Trans Siberian Railway

Birgit Krippner / Siberia, Russia


Birgit Krippner / Jerusalem, Israel

Tame Iti

Birgit Krippner / Ruatoki, New Zealand

Ngāi Tūhoe, a Māori tribe

Birgit Krippner / Lake Waikaremoana, New Zealand

Unexpect the Expected

Birgit Krippner / Perryville, Missouri
26 Days at Sea by Birgit Krippner
Join us
For more access