2022 - New Zealand Coastal Landscape Photo Tour – 15 Days
- Duration: 15 Days
15-day photography tour capturing some of New Zealand's best coastal landscapes. This tour offers a chance to explore some of New Zealand's finest coastlines along with forest and alpine landscapes from the West Coast to the Marlborough Sounds and Kaikoura.
Starting in Queenstown we will head out to the South Island’s wild West Coast. Timed at the end of winter, when the light is crisp and low, we will have many opportunities to capture the area’s wild beaches, forests and waterfalls, and the snow-covered Southern Alps. The South Island’s west coast boasts more forests, mountains, and protected lands than any other region of New Zealand. Here, wild and remote coastlines are flanked by primaeval rainforests, with the high peaks and glaciers of the Southern Alps rising beyond.
Arriving at the top of the South Island we will explore a variety of fantastic and easily-accessible photography locations from stunning limestone formations, lush native forests, ever-changing sand dunes. You will spend multiple days exploring photographic locations and marine wildlife by boat in the world-famous Abel Tasman National Park, Marlborough Sounds, and the Kaikoura Coast. Travelling by boat allows us to access beaches and bays that take days to access on foot; on this tour, the most secluded and stunning spots are right at our fingertips.
Te Wāhipounamu World Heritage
Jetboat into the Waitangiroto Reserve
Boat trip in Abel Tasman National Park
Boat trip in the Marlborough Sounds
Boat trip in Kaikoura
Punakaiki Pancake Rocks
Nelson Lakes National Park
Westland National Park
Paparoa National Park
Abel Tasman National Park
Day 1 - Queenstown - Fox Glacier
After meeting in Queenstown, we drive over the Crown Range to Wanaka and climb up to Haast Pass—the gateway to the west coast. Along the way, we photograph a number of extraordinary waterfalls, including a beautiful 30-metre cascade in stately beech forest. Tonight we capture our first west coast sunset. We travel along the coast, exploring the magnificent rainforest of the Te Wāhipounamu (a UNESCO World Heritage area), before heading to Fox Glacier. At sunset, we visit a remote west coast beach offering panoramic views of the snow-covered peaks of the Southern Alps.
Day 2 - Fox Glacier
This morning, we photograph sunrise at Lake Matheson, capturing the often-perfect reflections of Aoraki/Mt Cook and Mt Tasman—New Zealand’s highest mountains. If the weather is right, you have the option (at additional cost) to take a helicopter flight onto the vast upper neve of the Fox Glacier for some unparalleled photo opportunities. Sunset tonight will see us heading out to Okarito Lagoon, with panoramic views of the Southern Alps rising beyond a sweeping extent of rainforest.
Day 3 - Fox Glacier - Punakaiki
This morning, we drive up the coast to Whataroa, stopping for a jet boat trip up the Whataroa river; this is the only way to access the Waitangiroto Nature Reserve. Here, we will photograph the country's only nesting site for the beautiful White Herons (Kotuku), along with the Royal Spoonbill. Following this, we drive further up the coast with several stops en route, including the turquoise waters of the Hokitika Gorge. We reach Punakaiki and its famous Punakaiki rock formations in time for sunset photography.
Day 4 - Punakaiki
The day begins with an exploration of the exquisite limestone and river landscapes of Paparoa National Park. We will spend the rest of the day exploring the exceptional coastline and sunset sees us heading out onto stunning beaches to capture the last light hitting the coastline and huge breaking waves.
Day 5 - Punakaiki - Karamea
From Punakaiki, we drive north along the west coast, headed for the area’s northernmost town, Karamea. En route, we stop at the impressive Ngakawau Gorge for a walk up the river, following the line of an old mining railway. If the weather allows, we also have the opportunity to visit the fascinating former coal-mining township of Dennistoun, high in the mountains. We end the day at Karamea, photographing the sunset over the tranquil Karamea River estuary.
Day 6 - Karamea and Kahurangi National Park
Kahurangi National Park is famous for its geological diversity. At the secluded Oparara Valley, sub-tropical rainforest mixes with impressive limestone arches. We will spend our morning here, moving on to photograph the Kohaihai River mouth in the afternoon. The river mouth marks the start of the famous Heaphy Track, renowned for its striking nikau palms and fine coastal scenery. We finish the day with a sunset shoot over the coast.
Day 7 - Karamea - Nelson
On the last day of the tour, we turn away from the west coast for somewhat of a long drive to Nelson, peppered with outstanding photo stops. These include the mighty Buller River from Hawke’s Crag, Maruia Falls, and the jetty and mountains at Lake Rotoiti, Nelson Lakes National Park. Today we end up in Nelson, the main city at the top of the South Island.
Day 8 - Nelson
Today you will have a free day in Nelson to explore the city or catch up with some downloading and editing of photographs. There is also the option (at additional cost) to join one of our tutors to fly into the heart of Kahurangi National Park. The flight lands on the top of Mount Owen to capture the view from the highest peak in the park, in stunning morning light.
Day 9 - Nelson - Golden Bay
From Nelson, we drive over to Golden Bay, heading inland over Takaka Hill and stopping to photograph the limestone formations and beech forests of this area. The day finishes with our first sunset shoot at one of Golden Bay’s many stunning beaches.
Day 10 - Golden Bay
We will spend today exploring Golden Bay, taking opportunities to photograph the stunning coastline of Wharariki Beach and Farewell Spit. Our day ends with a sunset shoot over the iconic Archway Islands.
Day 11 - Abel Tasman National Park
We have an early start to photograph the sunrise before boarding our private charter boat, where we will spend the day photographing Abel Tasman National Park. You will discover the most photogenic areas of the park, and there will be plenty of opportunities to head ashore to take in the pristine bays and beaches along this stunning coastline. This afternoon, we travel onwards to a beautiful lodge in the Marlborough Sounds that is only accessible by boat.
Day 12 - Golden Bay - Marlborough Sounds
Today, we will spend the day exploring the Marlborough Sounds by water taxi, capturing some lovely coastal vistas as well as brilliant wildlife, etc. The Sounds are a haven for bird and marine life: visitors often spot rays, orca, dolphins, and numerous bird species.
Day 13 - Marlborough Sounds
We continue to photograph the Marlborough Sounds today, walking out on a small section of the Queen Charlotte track to capture forest birds, native forest, and waterfalls. Tonight offers another chance to shoot sunset from our lodge, looking out over the Marlborough Sounds.
Day 14 - Marlborough Sounds - Kaikoura
Following an early rise to capture the sunrise, we travel from the Marlborough Sounds to Kaikoura—where the mountains meet the sea. This region is home to incredible coastal photography and marine life, including New Zealand fur seals. Tonight, we will capture a truly spectacular sunset, with the Kaikoura ranges rising from the sea.
Day 15 - Kaikoura - Christchurch
This morning, we head out on a boat to photograph some of Kaikoura's local wildlife and royal albatross before travelling on to Christchurch to meet with late afternoon flights.
15 Days Photography Tuition
Stay at a lodge in the Marlborough Sounds
14 nights hotel accommodation (twin share, single upgrade available)
Whataroa Jet boat
Private charter boat in Abel Tasman
Private chartered boat in Marlborough Sounds
Albatross Encounter in Kaikoura
Transport during the tour
Queenstown pickup / Christchurch drop off
DOC (National Park) concession fees
Copy of our Pocket Guide to Landscape & Wildlife Photography
Donation to our Conservation Fund
Native tree planting to Carbon Offset your tour