Rock cairns on a lake edge, moody sky

Top 6 subjects for photography in New Zealand:

    1. Dolphins and seals – Milford Sound, Fiordland. December, January, February.
    2. Autumn colours – best captured in Arrowtown, Otago. March, April, and May.
    3. Blooming flowers – Glenorchy, Otago. September, October, November.
    4. Southern Lights – Glenorchy/Queenstown, Otago. September, October, November.
    5. Penguins – Milford Sound, Fiordland. December, January, February.
    6. Snow-capped volcanoes – Tongariro National Park, Ruapehu. June, July, August.

Spring Photography Ideas

Spring in New Zealand is a great time for photography, and there are a number of different interesting subjects to point your camera at. Photos of New Zealand in spring will often feature the lupin – a beautiful blue/purple flower abundant in many of our national parks. Whilst large lupin fields are stunning, the plant is invasive, and so instead you could choose to capture any of the plethora of newly flowering plants at this time of year. New Zealand has around 200 species of fern, the fern ‘koru’ is often photographed – this is the tightly rolled spiral shape of new fronds or leaves.

Purple flowers on lake edge

Another popular subject amongst photographers visiting in spring, is the Aurora Australis, or Southern Lights. The phenomenon is visible quite often in winter and spring, and with the temperatures rising somewhat, we’d say spring is a more pleasant time to stand outdoors with your camera late at night. The stunning greens of the aurora dance across the night sky, and a drive up to the base building of Coronet Peak, a popular ski field near Queenstown, is often rewarded with some incredible snaps in a place with low light pollution.

Recommended Trip

Beautiful South – 10 days, Queenstown to Queenstown.

Summer Photography Ideas

Summer in New Zealand sees the Fiordland crested penguin returning to Milford Sound on the South Island’s lower West Coast. New Zealand fur seals and several species of dolphin can also be spotted there at this time of year, and so we’d recommend grabbing your camera and testing out your eye for a wildlife snap in Fiordland National Park. The great thing about photography in a setting as beautiful as Milford Sound is that if the wildlife aren’t playing ball, or you can’t get close enough, the sheer cliffs of granite, plunging into the dark depths of the sound make for some incredible and equally rewarding captures. As if there aren’t enough opportunities in Fiordland to keep your trigger finger satisfied, keep an eye out for the warm light of the long days in the Wakatipu Basin, sunsets there are often amongst the most impressive on the planet.

Colourful sunrise behind mountains

For those who like their subjects a little more adventurous, why not go find the rope swing at Lake Hayes, or ‘Little Thailand’ on Lake Wakatipu, and snap people throwing themselves bravely into the refreshing waters of the lakes around the Queenstown area.

Recommended Trip

Pristine New Zealand – 13 days, Auckland to Queenstown.

Autumn/Fall Photography Ideas

Autumn in New Zealand is a beautiful time of year to be out with a good quality camera. The deciduous trees are turning from green to red, orange, and yellow, and the ground is blanketed in different shades of autumn leaves. As the season progresses you’ll start to see the early snows of winter appearing on the higher tops, there to stay for the next four months or so.

The small gold mining settlement of Arrowtown, in the Wakatipu Basin near Queenstown, is arguably the best spot in the country to capture the changes in the autumn season. Beautiful, traditional wooden storefronts characterise the main street of Arrowtown, alongside the majestic poplars shedding their spring and summer leaves as the temperatures fall. The Arrow River runs behind the town, and you can still turn your hand to gold panning in its waters, although the town no longer relies on its gold trade as it once did.

Walking trail by a river, covered with colourful leaves

The town of Wanaka is around an hour’s drive from Arrowtown and Queenstown, and is home to one of New Zealand’s most photographed trees. ‘That Wanaka Tree’ is how it is commonly known, and it is a willow whose trunk is submerged in the waters of Lake Wanaka. Photographs of the famous tree have won countless awards, including New Zealand Geographic Landscape Photo of the Year 2014. Catch it at the right time of year, as the leaves turn, and it makes for some breath taking shots.

Recommended Trip

Elegant South – 11 days, Nelson to Queenstown.

Winter Photography Ideas

New Zealand in winter is a photographer’s dream. Crisp, clear blue skies, snow-capped hills as far as the eye can see, and icy blue lakes describe our winter season. For those who like people as their subjects, it’s an interesting opportunity to capture those steaming breath shots from faces well wrapped up against the bite of winter.

Snow-capped volcano

Many of those things could be captured in a winter almost anywhere on the planet though – and so we think you should go looking for the volcanoes. New Zealand’s North Island is characterised by its geothermal activity, and its famous volcanoes include Mt Taranaki, Mt Ruapehu, Mt Ngauruhoe, and Mt Tongariro. They are mighty impressive in the winter, and when blanketed with a fresh snow fall there are few mountains in the world that look more impressive. A visit to the Chateau Tongariro in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Tongariro National Park gives an opportunity to photograph the unique architecture of the Chateau, with the backdrop of snow-covered volcanoes, and we don’t think there’s anything quite like it anywhere else on Earth.

Recommended Trip

Timeless North – 6 days, Auckland to Auckland.

Mia Gordon
22:28 22 Jul 18
I went on an 8 day tour with these guys and I thought I had already seen the best of New Zealand. I was wrong! Stunning, absolutely stunning scenery and the nicest guides. Their hospitality and professionalism was unparalleled and we got to see parts of New Zealand I had not seen. I am a Kiwi who was an avid hiker and adventure seeker growing up and in my twenties. I am in my forties now and I got to experience the best of NZ with my daughter which was awesome! Highly recommend New Zealand Walking Tours for anyone who loves being immersed in the most breathtakingly beautiful places on the planet with the nicest people guiding more
jeanne costello
22:31 15 Feb 18
Our New Zealand Walking Tour was absolutely fantastic and our best tour ever. Our guides were extremely knowledgeable and fun and took complete care of us, including making some wonderful picnic lunches and an amazing Christmas dinner. The places we visited were highlights on the South Island and we were able to hike, do a couple of boat tours, visit other interesting sites, and stay in some great places. This tour was the perfect combination of activities and I can't recommend it highly enough. A once in a lifetime adventure!read more
Roxanne Theriault
05:27 02 Nov 17
Amazing company, everything is top notch and they take care of you from start to finish! Always friendly, helpful, personable and professional - what kiwi hospitality is so famous for! You won't regret going on a walking tour with these folks and you'll definitely be planning your next trip, once you're back home! Highly recommend!read more
Miriam Houliston
05:19 02 Nov 17
Paul McDonald
21:13 30 Oct 17
I wanted to find a guiding company based in in New Zealand, with local guides. When I found out that New Zealand Walking Tours is part of the Active Adventures family, I was super confident to go ahead and arrange my trip. Exploring the Abel Tasman National Park by day and Awaroa Lodge by night was a massive highlight! I'll be back for more
Will Appelman
21:07 30 Oct 17
My wife and I are avid hikers, and New Zealand Walking Tours gave us the chance to explore a wide variety of New Zealand’s hiking trails – including amazing sections of the 9 Great Walks, and be rewarded with accommodations that are a step ahead of the competition, delicious locally sourced food and a tipple of New Zealand's finest local wine! But on our free day in Queenstown we met loads of local ‘Kiwis’ who hadn’t even heard of some of the trails we hiked along the way – it actually made us feel like the locals! In the same time it would have taken us to hike the Milford Track from start to finish (like we planned) we hiked an amazing section of the famous track, while also taking a boat cruise on Milford Sound and getting flown by helicopter from Milford Sound to the most incredible and isolated luxury lodge in the Hollyford. We then jet boated out across a lake before a beautiful walk back to civilisation on the Hollyford Track. Before our trip, Fiona worked out exactly the perfect trip to suit what we were looking for, and Lynette was an amazing help getting us ready to depart - making sure we packed everything we need, and not so much of what we didn't need. Highly recommended!read more
Joe Sutheran
20:52 30 Oct 17
I had a great time in New Zealand with my parents, travelling with New Zealand Walking Tours. I know my parents were so happy they found this company, the activity level was spot on for them, and accommodations, food etc was never less than outstanding. I didn't have much to do with the company pre-trip, but I know my parents were extremely impressed with the communications, and preparation advice from the team behind the scenes. What I can say is that when it came to the trip itself, the guides were just a joy to be around, extremely enthusiastic, interested in their guests, and very knowledgeable. Being a bit younger than much of the group, I was a little apprehensive that I might not enjoy it, but I don't know what I was worried about! Spending time getting to know the others on the trip, as well as the guides, was a delight - but what meant the most to me was spending time with my parents without the burden of the 'real world' on any of us, just enjoying the moment and each other's company. Thank you New Zealand Walking Tours for showing us the best of your stunningly beautiful country, and giving all three of us happy memories we'll never more
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Purple lupin flowers on hillside above lake

Beautiful (but invasive) purple lupins grow wild all over the South Island

Milky Way above snow-capped peaks

The night sky in New Zealand can be stunning when conditions are right, due to low levels of light pollution

New Zealand Fur Seal asleep

A New Zealand fur seal snoozing on the boardwalk

Man using camera with monopod on beach

Grabbing the perfect shot is what it’s all about.

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