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New Zealand’s South Island is home to some of the world’s most spectacular and accessible landscapes. It goes without saying that this makes it the ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts keen on photography. Mesmerising fjords, pristine glaciers, rugged mountains, and plenty to see and do on a smaller scale make this photography workshop a bonafide once in a lifetime experience that you’ll treasure forever.
Alongside our professional photo guides, you’ll capture the astonishing views while developing your skills in the best possible environment. Our itinerary will take in the finest sights the scenic South Island can throw at us, and we’ll have plenty of time to focus on all the hidden gems we are bound to encounter as we go.
Beginning in Christchurch, we’ll head to the South Island’s unrivalled west coast. There we’ll enjoy the heady sights of the Aoraki National Park, eventually moving on to the wondrous photography haven of Fiordland, with much more in between!
In an epic photo adventure we will see the range of natural diversity that inspired Peter Jackson to film his Lord of the Rings trilogy here, from the peak of Mount Cook to the magical lakes of Tekapo, Wanaka and Pukaki.
Other highlights on this New Zealand photography tour include a scenic cruise along Milford Sound, a shoot at the eerie alien rock formations of Moeraki, before ending the trip in the world’s adventure capital, Queenstown.
Our photography adventure begins on at the end of November, and we recommend that you arrive before the official start on the 25th in Christchurch. One or two days should be enough, depending on how jetlagged you want to be for the beginning of the trip! In any case, Christchurch is well worth exploring; it’s a resilient, artistic city still recovering from a recent earthquake, and there’s plenty to see and do. An early arrival is also a good idea in case there are any problems with your luggage. We’ve got your accommodation sorted, so on the 25th we’ll get together in the evening for dinner and spend the evening getting to know each other and discussing the days to come, along with answering any questions you might have.
Our first major stop will be at the shores of the mighty lake Tekapo to the west. We will spend a day and a night here, making the most of the gorgeous scenery and the spectacular fields of lupins that blossom at this time of year. These colourful plants contrast perfectly with the serene water and (hopefully) blue skies, so we will spend plenty of time with them as our focus.
On the southern tip of the lake is the Church of Good Shepherd, a charming old building that offers an ideal foreground for spectacular shots of the lake and the imposing mountains to the east. We might even shoot some lupins here, too. If the weather holds up, this spot is also great for night photography, and you can bet that we’ll do our best to capture the church, lake Tekapo and the surrounding landscape under the veil of a starry sky.
After a sunrise shoot overlooking the waters of lake Tekapo, we’ll check out of our accommodation in the morning and take short drive to the nearby lake Pukaki. Here we will capture one of the world’s most revered views, as we gaze across the blue waters of Pukaki with the ominous silhouette of Mount Cook dominating the horizon. We will photograph the scene in plenty of detail, focusing on the magnificent reflections of both the mountainous peaks and the sky in the calm water.
Our next base for the night will be in the Aoraki/Mt Cook village. The area is home to New Zealand’s tallest mountains, so there’s more than enough potential scenes to keep keen landscape photographers happy. As night falls, we’ll take a short trail to Tasman lake and capture the scene under the stars.
On day four of our New Zealand photography adventure, we’ll visit the shores of lake Pukaki once again for a sunrise shoot. We will aim to capture the first rays of the day as they illuminate the pointed peak of Mount Cook. After breakfast the group will set out on an optional hike to Hooker lake, which sits at the very foot of New Zealand’s tallest mountain. The trail is pretty easy going, and should take us around one and a half hours as to ascend. With any luck the lake will be dotted with serene icebergs, adding the perfect foreground to the mighty spectacle of Mount Cook on the horizon. After a day of incredible photography, we’ll return to our base after sunset.
On day five the group will drive south to the coast. We will visit the town of Oamaru, located near the famous Moeraki boulders, and spend the evening by the sea. Our aim will be to photograph the the rare yellow-eyed penguins native to these parts. Oamaru has also become a culturally significant place in New Zealand. It’s become the unlikely capital of ‘Steampunk’, and holds regular gatherings of these Victorian-inspired revellers.
Day six has another itinerary packed with photographic wonders in store. First up, the group will head to the location of our sunrise shoot, the famous Moeraki boulders. Here we will encounter the eerie rock formation set into the sand and washed over by the waves. The smooth, spherical rocks are thought to be the remnants of cliffs that have gradually been eroded by the waves, but now they sit like oversized pebbles and make for spectacular, almost sci-fi photography. Early morning, when we will be visiting, is a prime time to capture the boulders, when the soft sunlight illuminates the stone against the rolling tide. If the weather is more stormy, that will suit us too - the boulders look incredible in dark, moody light.
After our morning photo session we will take a short but scenic drive along the coast towards our next destination. The village of Kaka Point is close to the spot we are looking for: Nugget lighthouse. The white tower sits exposed at the edge of the headland, is offers the perfect setting for sunset and night shoots. With clear skies we can capture the milky way, while stormy weather creates a dramatic scene of raging waves and angry clouds.
The seventh day of this New Zealand photography adventure will begin with a sunrise session at Nugget Point lighthouse. After breakfast, we’ll check out of our accommodation begin the long drive west, across the South Island, towards arguably the country’s most breathtaking destination, Milford Sound.
In total we will be driving for around five hours, but we will have plenty of stops to shoot the dramatic scenery as we go.
Milford Sound, and the Fiordland National Park in general, are world renowned for their natural beauty - so it’s fair to say that a trip to the South Island wouldn’t be complete without at least a day spent here. To make the most of our time at Milford Sound, we will rise early to catch the sunrise on the shores of the fjord.
The many mountains surrounding the water, including the might Mitre peak, are often part or wholly covered in mist and cloud, giving us the opportunity to shoot images full of drama and mystery.
After what will no doubt be a brilliant morning session, we will take a scenic cruise across the water in the afternoon. Sunset, too, will be enjoyed at Milford Sound, as we try to grasp the area’s hidden secrets from as many angles as possible.
On day nine we’ll leave Milford Sound behind and head east to Wanaka. Lake Wanaka is a glorious spot for a photography session. The calm water mirrors the distant, white-tipped mountains, and on a sunny day the sky seems to combine with the lake in one shimmering natural canvas. At the southern end of the lake is Roy’s bay, and there we will find the famed lonely tree. The tree appears to sit on a tiny island in the middle of the water, and leans forlornly against the wind with a staggering backdrop to keep it company.
On day ten we will reach our final destination in New Zealand’s South Island, the stunning city of Queenstown - but not before we have one final sunrise shoot at lake Wanaka’s lonely tree. After breakfast our drive to the world’s adventure capital will be a scenic one, and we will have plenty of stops to take in the mountain views that accompany us on the journey.
Day eleven will be, for many of us, our final day of travelling in New Zealand for the time being. We will say our goodbyes and take the time to reflect on an awesome photography adventure. Whether this is the beginning or end of your trip in this magnificent country, the international airport will probably be your next port of call. Why not stick around for a few days to enjoy the cosmopolitan, adrenaline-fueled vibes of Queenstown?
We highly recommend that you get a travel and medical insurance. Your own domestic medical insurance and private health scheme will not cover you whilst you are overseas. The tour will always dependent on weather, as the weather can be highly unpredictable.