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7 Days Wild South Island Photo Tour

Days
7

Pricing From
$5700

South Island
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Overview

Some of the rarest wildlife and unparalleled coastal landscapes of New Zealand feature on this 7 Days Wild South Island Photo Tour led by Richard Young and Dave Buckton. The little-known East Coast of New Zealand brims with delightful surprises that include fascinating boulders, fossilised forests, unparalleled coastal scenery and a fantastic diversity of extraordinary wildlife: albatross, sea lions, penguins and fur seals. Take advantage of the finest photographic opportunities the East Coast of New Zealand has to offer on this week-long itinerary. Autumn is the most settled season of New Zealand, and this tour is timed to capture and make the most of the last of the beautiful fall colours.

Leaving Queenstown, the tour takes you through the Catlins Coastal Rainforest Park where you get to capture the rainforest, waterfalls and its resident penguins and sea lions that set the area apart from the rest. We then proceed to the Otago Peninsula, the wildlife capital of New Zealand, north of the Catlins region. Here you get to photograph the Southern royal albatross and stay at the historic Larnach Castle. A trip north comes next to marvel at the Moeraki Boulders, a fascinating phenomenon that’s part of the tour’s highlights. Finally, we wrap up the tour with a journey to Mt. Cook National Park to capture some of the most incredible alpine scenery around New Zealand’s tallest peak.

7 Days Wild South Island Photo Tour

McLean Falls

7 Days Wild South Island Photo Tour

Moeraki Boulders

7 Days Wild South Island Photo Tour

Nugget Point

7 Days Wild South Island Photo Tour

Sunset at Nugget Point

Itinerary

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Day 1The Catlins

Today we head south 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 2The 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 3Otago 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 4Moeraki

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 5Moeraki / 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. W then head inland towards 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 6Mt Cook

This morning we will have the option to do some aerial photography (optional extra) we will take a flight over 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 7Mt 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 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 1The Catlins

Today we head south 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 2The 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 3Otago 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 4Moeraki

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 5Moeraki / 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. W then head inland towards 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 6Mt Cook

This morning we will have the option to do some aerial photography (optional extra) we will take a flight over 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 7Mt 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 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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