Timing is planned to make the most of New Zealand’s most settled season and catch the last of the autumn colours, with the added bonus of golden colours in the man southern landscapes.
Starting in Queenstown, we drive East to the Catlins Coastal Rainforest Park, with opportunities to photograph the area’s waterfalls, rainforest, penguins and sea lions. North of the Catlins, we explore the Otago Peninsula, known as New Zealand’s wildlife capital. We photograph southern Royal Albatross and stay at Larnach Castle. Beyond, tour highlights include the Moeraki Boulders and then continuing on to Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park to photograph some of the amazing alpine scenery around New Zealand’s highest peak.
After this, we head back to Queenstown before dirving South to the untouched wilderness of Fiordland and on to Milford and Doubtful Sounds. The most northerly part of Fiordland’s many sounds, Milford, is famed as one of the world’s most spectacular landscapes. Doubtful Sound is far more remote and scenic than the well-known Milford Sound. It offers a true wilderness experience. We overnight on a boat here.
- Price £5000
- Duration 6+ days
- Group Size 5+
- Date 28/04/2020
- Overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound
- Amazing wildlife
- Boat trip on the Otago Peninsula
- Stay at Larnach Castle
DAY 1 – QUEENSTOWN - THE CATLINS
After an early morning departure from Queenstown, we head East towards the Catlins. En route we visit the South Island’s most southerly point, Waipapa and its well-known lighthouse. We move on to a beach in the Catlins Coastal Rainforest Park where a low tide reveals long fingers of fossilised forest, some 160 million years old and now exposed by tide and time. From here we travel inland to explore the waterfalls of the Catlins. These may not be high, but have a subtle beauty all of their own.
DAY 2 - THE CATLINS / OTAGO PENINSULA
Heading north through the Catlins, we take in sunrise at the spectacular coastline of Nugget Point, where a lighthouse, wind-ruffled native shrubs and off-shore islands combine in a photogenic scene. Along the Catlins coast, we will hopefully get the chance to photograph penguins and the magnificent New Zealand sea lion, which in recent decades has begun breeding again in the Catlins area. The day ends at Larnach Castle, one of New Zealand’s most stately buildings, set on the crest of the Otago Peninsula near Dunedin. Dinner here will be a culinary highlight of the tour, eating in the castle’s grand dining room.
DAY 3 - OTAGO PENINSULA
The Otago Peninsula; home to penguins, albatross and sea lions, is often called the wildlife capital of New Zealand. We take a boat charter to view many of these species from the sea, visit the world’s only mainland breeding colony of Southern Royal Albatross. We end the day photographing sunset over the ridges and estuaries of the peninsula.
DAY 4 - MOERAKI
Heading north along the East Coast we stop to photograph the forest birds at Orokonui, which is home to New Zealand’s tuatara, a relic from the dinosaur age. The day also includes photographing a colony of shags along the coastline here. Then we head out into the last light of the day to photograph Yellow-eyed penguins at a coastal reserve on their return from a day out at sea. Tonight we stay near Moeraki, south of Oamaru.
DAY 5 - MOERAKI / LAKE TEKAPO
An early start to photograph sunrise over the famed Moeraki Boulders which are curiously round rocks known as ‘concretions,’ set into a scenic beachscape. Further north at historic Oamaru, we have the opportunity to photograph the whitestone buildings of this heritage town, before head inland towards Lake Tekapo where we shall stay tonight. The glacial lakes in the region; Tekapo, Pukaki and Alexandrina are a sight to behold. Each with different characteristics, Pukaki and Tekapo especially with outlandish blue hues. We shall photograph the Autumn colours here across to Mt Cook and the Southern Alps for sunset.
DAY 6 - AORAKI MT COOK
We set out early this morning to reach Aoraki/Mt Cook and set up in The Hermitage Hotel, our accommodation for tonight. This morning we will have the option to do some aerial photography (optional extra) we will take a flight over Aoraki/Mt Cook and land for an hour with a guide to photograph the glacier. The rest of the day will be taken up alternating between locations in the park. We will capture the panoramic views of the Tasman and Hooker valleys, including alpine lakes, sweeping river vistas, and views of New Zealand’s highest peaks. All the locations we visit are within easy walks along well-graded tracks on the valley floors.
DAY 7 - AORAKI MT COOK / QUEENSTOWN
The day begins with the option for some pre-dawn astrophotography and sunrise shoot before heading back to the hotel for breakfast. We then leave Aoraki/Mt Cook and drive South toward Twizel. Here we shall take the road toward Lake Ohau to capture some high country autumnal scenes. In the afternoon we travel back to Queenstown, stopping en route to capture the last of the autumn colours.
DAY 8 – GLENORCHY
This morning we drive to Glenorchy, capturing en route the beauty of tranquil Lake Wakatipu with its surrounding snow-capped mountains. The day finishes by photographing sunset over lake Wakatipu.
DAY 9 – QUEENSTOWN / MILFORD SOUND
Departing Queenstown, we head to Te Anau and take the Milford Highway up the Eglinton Valley. Winding through the mountains; past dark, brooding lakes and mossy beech forests, perched at impossibly steep slopes, we arrive at Milford Sound. Milford Sound is one of the country's most iconic locations, granite peaks soar more than a mile above the dark waters of the fjord. Huge waterfalls tumble down into the sea giving the area a scale and grandeur that has to be seen to be believed. A night here provide the chances to capture a dramatic light over Mitre Peak at both sunrise and sunset, from a variety of locations.
DAY 10 – TE ANAU
Today we will head back to Te Anau to spend a night. We walk the tranquil shores of Lake Te Anau, the South Island’s largest lake, on an easy path at the start of the Kepler Track. We photograph the sunset over the lake, with a vast array of mountains beyond.
DAY 11 – DOUBTFUL SOUND
This morning we transfer to Pearl Harbour, Manapouri. We will cruise across picturesque Lake Manapouri to West Arm before travelling through the dense rainforest across Wilmot Pass. Once at Deep Cove we board our boat for an overnight cruise of beautiful Doubtful Sound. On board, there are excellent photo opportunities of waterfalls, rainforest and mountains as we head into a truly untouched part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area.
DAY 12 – DOUBTFUL SOUND - QUEENSTOWN
Waking up on the boat sheltered in the wilderness of Doubtful Sound, we cruise through some of the fjord’s most stunning scenery, No matter what the weather, Fiordland is always spectacular. After arriving back to Pearl Harbour, we return to Queenstown to meet with outgoing flights.