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17 Days Ultimate New Zealand Photo Tour

Days
17

Pricing From
$12990

South Island
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Overview

Experience some of the most celebrated landscapes of the South Island including Milford Sound, the fascinating Moeraki Boulders, together with a handful of the country’s extraordinary coastal wildlife on this 17 Days Ultimate New Zealand Photo Tour. Autumn is the most settled season in New Zealand, and the tour is timed to take advantage of this season. Central Otago bursts into photogenic fall hues, and on this journey, you will marvel at the golden colours that blanket the classic southern main landscapes.

Setting off from Central Otago, we ride comfortable 4WD vehicles and drive into some of the most fascinating and photo-worthy places of Central Otago. Autumn colours are at their most captivating during April so the tour is timed to coincide with this month.

We continue on south to the pristine wilderness of Fiordland and proceed to Milford and Doubtful Sounds. Milford is the most northerly part of Fiordland’s many sounds and renowned as one of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world. Not as easily accessible but just as scenic as Milford, Doubtful Sound rewards intrepid visitors a true wilderness experience, which you get to enjoy as you stay here overnight on a boat.

Following our visit to Fiordland’s iconic sounds, we then make our way through the Catlins Coastal Rainforest Park where you get to photograph its rainforest and waterfalls along with its resident sea lions and penguins. We then venture to the Otago Peninsula north of the Catlins, and explore the wildlife capital of New Zealand. Here, make the most of the opportunity to photograph the Southern royal albatross and stay at the historic Larnach Castle. Farther north, another highlight of the tour will take you to the curious Moeraki Boulders before we proceed to Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park to capture some of the most spectacular alpine scenery around the loftiest peak of New Zealand.

17 Days Ultimate New Zealand Photo Tour

Milford Sound

17 Days Ultimate New Zealand Photo Tour

Nugget Point, The Catlins

17 Days Ultimate New Zealand Photo Tour

Moeraki Boulders

17 Days Ultimate New Zealand Photo Tour

Larnach Castle, Dunedin

Itinerary

Open All
Day 1Queenstown

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 2Nevis 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 3Central 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 4Wanaka

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 5Queenstown

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 - helicopter flights to jet boat safaris. 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 6Milford Sound

From Queenstown, heading to Te Anau, we 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 7Te 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 8Doubtful 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 9Doubtful Sound

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.

Day 10Glenorchy

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 11The Catlins

Today 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 12The 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 13Otago 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 14Moeraki

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 15Moeraki / 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 Aoraki/Mt Cook. After assembling at the Hermitage Hotel, our home for the next two nights, we will head out to explore locations in the park and then an evening shoot in the Tasman Valley.

Day 16Aoraki/Mt Cook

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 photography 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 17Aoraki/Mt Cook / Christchurch

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 North to photograph around Lake Tekapo. In the afternoon we travel to Christchurch, stopping en route to capture the last of the autumn colours, arriving in time to meet flights or for your onward travel.

Itinerary

Open All
Day 1Queenstown

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 2Nevis 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 3Central 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 4Wanaka

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 5Queenstown

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 - helicopter flights to jet boat safaris. 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 6Milford Sound

From Queenstown, heading to Te Anau, we 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 7Te 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 8Doubtful 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 9Doubtful Sound

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.

Day 10Glenorchy

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 11The Catlins

Today 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 12The 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 13Otago 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 14Moeraki

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 15Moeraki / 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 Aoraki/Mt Cook. After assembling at the Hermitage Hotel, our home for the next two nights, we will head out to explore locations in the park and then an evening shoot in the Tasman Valley.

Day 16Aoraki/Mt Cook

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 photography 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 17Aoraki/Mt Cook / Christchurch

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 North to photograph around Lake Tekapo. In the afternoon we travel to Christchurch, stopping en route to capture the last of the autumn colours, arriving in time to meet flights or for your onward travel.

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