Photography in New Zealand
Top 6 subjects for photography in New Zealand:
- Dolphins and seals – Milford Sound, Fiordland. December, January, February.
- Autumn colours – best captured in Arrowtown, Otago. March, April, and May.
- Blooming flowers – Glenorchy, Otago. September, October, November.
- Southern Lights – Glenorchy/Queenstown, Otago. September, October, November.
- Penguins – Milford Sound, Fiordland. December, January, February.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Timeless North – 6 days, Auckland to Auckland.
Beautiful (but invasive) purple lupins grow wild all over the South Island
The night sky in New Zealand can be stunning when conditions are right, due to low levels of light pollution
A New Zealand fur seal snoozing on the boardwalk
Grabbing the perfect shot is what it’s all about.