|New Zealand is one of those places that every nature photographer wants to see and photograph. It's just too beautiful to miss. Mountains, lakes, forests, geysers, glaciers, waterfalls, fjords, turquoise rivers, quaint churches, lovely towns -- New Zealand has it all. In one relatively small country, you'll find some of the best landscapes anywhere. With incredibly nice people and an ultra clean country, it's a real pleasure to be here and to capture such natural beauty. Join Jim and co-leader Renee Doyle on this wonderful photo tour that you owe it to yourself to enjoy. Your pictures will be amazing for sure.
Note: in order to get the best photographs, we may modify this itinerary based on conditions, such as inclement weather and river levels.
DAY 1. April 6, Friday
We will meet in the lobby of Rydges Hotel Queenstown at 6:00pm. Make sure that you arrange your flight from your home to New Zealand to arrive in Queenstown on the South Island on or before April 15. Please note the loss of one day as you cross the International Dateline when traveling from North America. We will then enjoy a welcome dinner and a discussion about the upcoming photography tour. Overnight Queenstown
DAY 2. April 7, Saturday
We begin with a sunrise shoot on the road to Glenorchy (an area famous for footage in the Lord of the Rings) stopping at Bennetts Bluff to photograph Lake Wakatipu and it’s surrounding distant snow capped mountains. We continue on to Glenorchy and back to Queenstown via Arrowtown, which will be stunning in fall colors. This delightful historic town will leave you enchanted. The old historic buildings nestled in amongst fall rich color make wonderful images.
Late in the afternoon we will take the Skyline Gondola above beautiful Queenstown for breathtaking views. It is the steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere and offers spectacular 220 degree panoramic views of Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Walter Peak, Cecil Peak and of course Queenstown. Overnight Queenstown.
DAYS 3 & 4. April 8 & 9, Sunday and Monday
We have the opportunity this morning for a sunrise shoot around the Lake Wakatipu and Arrowtown areas. After breakfast we will drive on to Milford Sound where we will spend the next two nights. Staying at the Milford Sound Lodge will offer us the opportunity to photograph in this beautiful part of New Zealand during the golden hours without the hours of bus travel in and out of the Sound. Our cabins are only a 15 minute walk to the seashore or a two minute drive, so we will have plenty of flexibility and opportunities to photograph in this stunning location. Described by Rudyard Kipling as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’, Milford Sound was carved by glaciers during the ice ages. In any weather you will find Milford Sound breathtaking. The mountain peaks scrape the sky, waterfalls are plentiful and flow even more magnificently after rain (and it often does rain), and the cliffs of the fiords rise vertically from the dark waters. During our stay we will enjoy a 2 ½ hour Milford Sound Nature Cruise and there will be opportunities for those who wish to enjoy a hike to do so. Overnight Milford Sound Lodge
DAY 5. April 10, Tuesday
After one last sunrise shoot and breakfast in the beautiful Milford Sound area we start our journey to Nugget Point Lighthouse. Nugget Point Lighthouse is aptly named as it is surrounded by a scattering of rocky islets – nuggets. From the point you can enjoy amazing views along the coastline in both directions. Along the shore you can see fur seals and sea lions lolling and playing in rock pools. Roaring Bay is an easy walk away and offers the chance to hide and wait for yellow-eyed penguins. Early morning and sunset are the best times for viewing. The lighthouse itself with its wood fenced path leading up to it offers great photo opportunities. Nugget Point Lighthouse was built from 1869-1870 and was first lit on July 4th, 1870. Overnight Clutha.
DAY 6. April 11, Wednesday
We continue to follow our routine of an early morning shoot followed by breakfast and a mid morning checkout before heading to the Catlins. The scenery around us changes and we sit back to enjoy the beautiful rolling hills of the Catlins area. We take a short hike to Purakaunui Falls – a beautiful 3-tiered waterfall that is amongst New Zealand’s most photographed nature sites. Tonight we will be lodging in two houses and a B&B in amongst the rural hills of the Catlins area. The House on the Hill offers beautiful views and wonderful photographic opportunities and we will enjoy an evening in with dinner provided. The house is very comfortable and offers a games room as well as a wood combustion heater for a very cozy feeling. Bathrooms are shared bathrooms but there are two in the houses. We have chosen this location to offer a variety to the norm in your New Zealand adventure and to be close to waterfalls versus having to drive an extra hour each way to reach our waterfall destinations. Overnight B&B.
DAY 7. April 12, Thursday
This morning we photograph McLean Falls in diffused light – perfect for long exposures – before making our way to the cost of Otago and Koekohe Beach near the fishing village of Moeraki to photograph the mysterious Moeraki Boulders. No one can say for sure why these boulders lay here or why some are smooth and round while others are porous, but they offer many photographic opportunities. As the tide swells in around the boulders we are able to capture the smooth water motion circling them. This is a great place to experiment with a neutral density filter and long exposures. Some of the 5 million year old rocks have now collapsed and broken open and these also offer photo opportunities. The Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand believe that these boulders are magical kumara potatoes and calabashes which fell out of a mythical canoe Arai-te-uru. Wet weather shoes are recommended but gumboots are available for purchase locally and are cheap if you do not wish to bring any with you. Overnight B&B Oamaru.
DAY 8 & 9. April 13 & 14, Friday and Saturday
We have the opportunity to once again shoot the Moeraki Boulders at sunrise and twilight. This gives us the chance for different types of lighting conditions. After breakfast and mid morning checkout we drive to beautiful Lake Tekapo where turquoise water and majestic mountains take your breath away. Arriving at Lake Tekapo (where we will base ourselves for two nights) we will photograph the beautiful and historic stone Church of Good Shepherd. Lake Tekapo gets its turquoise color from fine rock-flour (ground by glaciers) which is suspended in the water. The Church of the Good Shepherd was built in 1935 by pioneer families. Its altar window frames a perfect view of the Southern Alps. The skies here are almost completely free from any light pollution offering excellent stargazing. By staying in Lake Tekapo two nights we will have several opportunities (weather permitting) to capture the Milky Way and possibly shoot some star trails.
During the full day at Lake Tekapo we will set up a room to be able to conduct a Photoshop session. Please bring any images that you would like to have critiqued or that you'd like to work on. You will also have time to enjoy some of the short hikes around the lake at your leisure. Overnight Lake Tekapo
DAYS 10 & 11. April 15 & 16, Sunday and Monday
After our last sunrise shoot at Lake Tekapo, we enjoy a hearty breakfast before taking in the breathtaking scenery as we drive to Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain. After checking in at our accommodation we will have the opportunity to hike (on very well maintained tracks) to Hooker Lake, a small glacial lagoon. This offers an excellent view of Mount Cook at sunset and twilight. Depending on weather conditions this is an ideal location for night photography as well. The hike is an easy walk but will take approximately 1 ½ hours each way. Staying at the lodge for two nights offers you the opportunity for a sunrise shoot before taking other small hikes in the area. Tasman Lake is another ideal spot to photograph during the twilight hours. Again we will have the opportunity during the day to conduct some photoshop sessions and critiquing. Overnight Mount Cook Village.
DAY 12. April 17, Tuesday
This early morning we can photograph another sunrise in this stunning part of New Zealand and use winding roads as a foreground. After a leisurely breakfast we will make our way to Lake Wanaka which features the beautiful Lone Wanaka Tree. Lake Wanaka is a hidden gem of New Zealand where the lake area is framed by the South Island’s dazzling Southern Alps. The Wanaka tree grows offshore and makes a great foreground subject to the distant Alps and the Fall Foliage. Overnight Wanaka
DAY 13 April 18, Wednesday
We arise early again for a sunrise shoot at Lake Wanaka. As our accommodation is only minutes away we are able to shoot early and then head back to enjoy breakfast, freshen up and after a mid morning checkout we drive back to Queenstown, taking in the scenery of the beautiful surrounding towns. There will be some time this afternoon to explore Queenstown and perhaps do some last minute shopping. Tonight will be at your leisure but Jim and Renee will be available for a critique or for a relaxed discussion of photography. Overnight Queenstown
DAY 14 April 19, Thursday: Departure
Your transportation to the airport will be arranged through the hotel.
IMPORTANT: This tour will have moderate day hikes of approximately 30-90 minutes for some of the shooting locations. Also, if it is raining with potential for good conditions to prevail for photography, we may find ourselves doing some of these walks while it is still raining in hopes of the better weather arriving by the time we reach our destination. If you have certain physical limitations, please send a note to Jim to discuss this.
TOUR COST: $5750. Includes all accommodations in double rooms on a shared basis, all breakfasts, welcome and farewell dinners, dinner at the Catlins accommodation, luxury van, local driver, gondola ride in Queenstown, boat ride in Milford Sound (for the Milford Sound extension), photo instruction, critiques on demand, Photoshop instruction.
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: $990
Not included: International and domestic airfare, meals not listed in the paragraph above, items of a personal nature, all drinks, alcohol, passport and visa costs (if applicable), tips for local service providers, and travel insurance.