South Island Highlights Photo Tour

South Island Highlights Photo Tour

Join Richard Young & Glen Howey, then Ken Wright & Shaun Barnett, on a 18-day photography tour showcasing some of the South Island’s most iconic landscape including Milford Sound and the Moeraki Boulders along with some of the country's exceptional coastal wildlife. Timing is planned to make the most of New Zealand’s most settled season in autumn. We will catch the best of the autumn colours in Central Otago, as we travel through the classic southern landscapes covered in golden colours.

For the first four days of our tour we will be based in Wanaka and on our Autumn Masterclass Workshop with Richard Young & Glen Howey. This workshop is designed to perfect your techniques of shooting autumn landscapes, autumn abstracts and panoramic landscape photography. The workshop offers a mixture of both tuition and post-processing sessions combined with 4WD trips into some remote areas to capture the best autumn colours. It will leave you with refined skills to help create some stunning photographs for the rest of the tour.

For the following part of the tour you will join Ken Wright and Shaun Barnett on a 7-day tour showcasing some of New Zealand’s rarest wildlife and most distinctive coastal landscapes. New Zealand’s underrated East Coast is full of surprises including fossilised forests, curious boulders, and outstanding coastal scenery. We will also observe some of the huge diversity of rare wildlife that this area boasts: penguins, sea lions, fur seals and albatrosses. 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, we head through high country terrain to Mt Cook National Park, where we will photograph some of the amazing alpine scenery around New Zealand’s highest peak. The tour then takes us South, where we explore the Otago Peninsula, known as New Zealand’s wildlife capital. We photograph southern Royal Albatross and stay at Larnach Castle.   

We finish our week by travelling through the Catlins Coastal Rainforest Park, with opportunities to photograph the area’s waterfalls, rainforest, penguins and sea lions.

Key Information

  • Price $8570
  • Duration 6+ days
  • Group Size 5+

Highlights

  • Jet boat into the Waitangiroto Reserve
  • Private charter boat in Abel Tasman
  • Te Wahipounamu World Heritage

Itinerary

DAY 1 – QUEENSTOWN / WANAKA

Departing Queenstown we drive to Wanaka, the tour starts with a short briefing on the next few days and a morning classroom session to get everyone up to speed before we explore some autumn locations around Central Otago. In the late afternoon, we head out to the high country around Wanaka.

DAY 2 - NEVIS VALLEY

A pre-dawn start sees us heading into the Nevis Valley for sunrise. We spend all day driving through the Nevis and finish with a sunset shoot around Alexander before heading back to Wanaka.

DAY 3 - CENTRAL OTAGO

We head up into the autumn colours of Alexandra in the morning before finishing at a highland location in the Central Otago mountains. The landscape here is quite different to what we have experienced around Wanaka, and there is always the chance of being able to photograph New Zealand falcons at one the locations we choose for sunset.

DAY 4 - WANAKA

After an early morning sunrise shoot around Wanaka, we spend some time reviewing photographs from the previous four days and work on some post-processing techniques, before traveling Queenstown.

DAY 5 – QUEENSTOWN

Today you have a free day in Queenstown to catch up with downloading or post-processing some of the many shots you have already captured. For those wishing to explore the area more, there are many excursions available here. A great option for sunset tonight is to take a breathtaking ascent up Bob’s Peak on the Skyline Gondola. The top offers some wonderful panoramic views over Queenstown.

DAY 6 – 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 7 - 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 8 - 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 9 - 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 10 - 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 11 - 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 12 - 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 13 – 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 14 – 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 15 – 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 16 – 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 17 – 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.

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