New Zealand’s underrated East Coast is full of surprises that include fossilised forests, curious boulders, outstanding coastal scenery and a huge diversity of rare wildlife: penguins, sea lions, fur seals and albatross. This week long East Coast Tour itinerary takes in the best photographic opportunities the area has to offer. Timing is planned to make the most of New Zealand’s most settled season and catch the last of the autumn colours.
Starting in Queenstown, the tour the travels through 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 Mt Cook National Park to photograph some of the amazing alpine scenery around New Zealand’s highest peak.
- Price £2970
- Duration 6+ days
- Group Size 5+
- Date 28/04/2020
- Amazing wildlife
- Boat trip on the Otago Peninsula
- Stay at Larnach Castle
DAY 1 – THE CATLINS
Departing 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 / AORAKI MT COOK
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, arriving in time to meet flights or for your onward travel.