South Island Highlights Photography Tour – 17 Days (2019)

South Island Highlights Photography Tour – 17 Days (2019)
NZD $9,995.00
  • Duration: 17 Days
  • Product code: 17-SIH

17 Day New Zealand Photography Tour

17-day New Zealand photography tour capturing some of the country’s best untouched wilderness and the Te Wahipounamu world heritage area. This tour will be lead with Richard Young along with three other top New Zealand landscape photographers throughout different parts; Rob Brown, Shaun Barnett and Dave Buckton. You will have the opportunity to learn from 4 professional photographers and get to photograph a total of 7 of the country's finest national parks.

Starting in Queenstown the tour will first head to Mt Cook National Park to photograph some of the amazing alpine scenery around New Zealand’s highest peak. We will cross back through Central Otago to the South Island’s West Coast. With excellent opportunities to capture the wild beaches of the area, its forests and waterfalls, as well as views of 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 primeval rainforests, with the high peaks and glaciers of the Southern Alps rising beyond. Journeying on to the top of the South Island you will then spend 4 days capturing coastal landscape around Golden Bay, including a full day on a private charter boat in the world famous Abel Tasman National Park.

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

Day 1 – Queenstown / Mt Cook

An early morning departure from Queenstown will see us arriving at Mt Cook before lunch. After assembling at Mt Cook Village, our home for the next three nights, we will spend the morning running through an introductory programme for the finer points of working in manual mode and advanced settings for landscape photography, before heading out for an evening shoot in the Tasman Valley.

Day 2 – Mt Cook

The day begins early with some pre-dawn astrophotography before heading back to the hotel for breakfast. The rest of the day will be taken up alternating between locations in the park and covering a whole range of techniques for advancing your photography.

Day 3 – Mt Cook

Today we will venture further afield to explore more of the beautiful Mackenzie Country. This afternoon we will do a ski-plane flight (included in the price) over Mt Cook to learn the basics of aerial photography.

Day 4 – Mt Cook / Wanaka

After an early morning sunrise shoot in the Tasman Valley we spend some time reviewing photographs from the previous four days and covering post processing. We will depart Mt Cook after lunch, crossing over Lindis Pass to Wanaka, stopping on the way to capture the tall, tussock-covered mountains here. We will arrive in Wanaka in time for a sunset over a very famous willow tree which sits in the lake here.

Day 5 - Wanaka

Today you will have a free day in Wanaka, with the option (at additional cost) of joining one of our tutors on a 4×4 trip across the Wanaka high country, or a pre-dawn heli-flight high into the mountains, landing overlooking Lake Wanaka for the sunrise.

Day 6 – Wanaka / Queenstown

This morning we drive to Queenstown then onto Glenorchy, capturing en route the beauty of tranquil Lake Wakatipu with its surrounding snow-capped mountains. The day finishes by photographing sunset over the lake Wakatipu.

Day 7 - Queenstown / Haast

Today we drive over the Crown Range then climb up to Haast Pass, the gateway to the West Coast, where we stay overnight. 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.

Day 8 - Haast / Fox Glacier

We travel along the West Coast exploring some of the magnificent rainforest of the Te Wahipounamu, a UNESCO World Heritage area, before heading to Fox Glacier. At sunset, we visit a remote West Coast beach which offers panoramic views of the snow-covered peaks of the Southern Alps.

Day 9 - 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 will 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 offering panoramic views of the Southern Alps, rising beyond a vast extent of rainforest.

Day 10 - Fox Glacier / Punakaiki

This morning we drive up the coast to Whataroa, stopping here for a jet boat trip up the Whataroa river, 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. After this we drive further up the West 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 11 - Punakaiki

This morning we explore the exquisite limestone and river landscapes of Paparoa National Park. We will spend the rest of the day exploring the exceptional coastline in this area, sunset will see us heading out onto stunning beaches to capture the last light hitting the coastline and huge breaking waves.

Day 12 -Punakaiki / Nelson

Today we will head away from the West Coast, following the Buller River to its source at the first of the two National Parks we visit today, Nelson Lakes. After some time spent photographing the beautiful lake and mountain backdrops we then head on to our second park of the day, Kahurangi. Here we will walk out of a short track to capture beautiful beech-forested valleys of one of New Zealand’s largest untouched wildernesses. We then arrive at the top of the South Island in the city of Nelson.

Day 13 - 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 14 - Nelson / Golden Bay

Leaving 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 the many stunning beaches in Golden Bay.

Day 15 - Abel Tasman National Park

We will have an early start to photograph the sunrise before we board our private charter boat and spend the day photographing Abel Tasman National Park. You will be taken into the most photogenic areas of the park with plenty of opportunities to head ashore to take in the beautiful bays and beaches along this stunning coastline.

Day 16 - Golden Bay

Today commences with another early start to shoot the iconic Archway Islands at sunrise. We will spend the rest of the day exploring this area, taking opportunities to photograph the stunning coastline of Wharariki Beach and Farewell Spit.

Day 17 - Golden Bay / Nelson

Our last chance for a sunrise shoot in Golden Bay. Therefore we will be up early to shoot one of a number of coastal locations before heading back inland over Takaka Hill. We will then make our way back to Nelson to connect with late afternoon flights.


  • Tuition by Richard Young - whole tour
  • Tuition by Rob Brown - days 1-4
  • Tuition by Shaun Barnett - days 6-12
  • Tuition by Dave Buckton - days 14-17
  • 16 nights hotel accommodation 
  • 16 cooked breakfasts
  • Ski-plane over Mt Cook
  • Whataroa Jet boat
  • Abel Tasman private chartered boat
  • Transport during the tour
  • Queenstown pickup
  • Nelson dropoff
  • DOC concession fees
  • Printed notes