Few places hold the magic and mystique like the rolling hills and azure blue lakes of New Zealand. In a country larger than the United Kingdom but with only about a sixteenth of the population, there is an abundance of natural life to experience. The beauty of a fiery glowing sun sinking into the horizon or the powdery snow-capped mountains ascending into the sky will not only spark an other-worldly emotional response within your soul, it will also present an opportunity to capture the majestic beauty through photography to share with others.
Far from the glare of city lights is the small resort village of Lake Tekapo. With its cloud-free skies, Lake Tekapo is one of the best night sky views in the whole Southern Hemisphere. With the twinkling stars as a backdrop, take a photo of an 80-year-old stone church, The Church of the Good Shepherd, along the shoreline. The church is arguably one of the most photographed in all of New Zealand and if you venture inside there is an altar window that frames the lake and the mountains perfectly.
Situated on the Northern Island of New Zealand is Rotorua, a small city along the lake of the same name. Rotorua is a popular tourist destination due to its geothermal activity and geysers. The steaming water and rust-colored shoreline along the green hills make for a unique photographic experience. If your timing is right you can also capture one of the bursting geysers erupting into the air.
In the southeastern corner of New Zealand’s South Island, lies a sparsely populated area called The Catlins, sometimes referred to as Catlin’s Coast. The mostly untouched landscape features a plethora of temperate rainforests and sandy beaches with high cliffs along the coastline. A photographer will find joy in the wildlife featured in this area, particularly many of the endangered species, such as the yellow-eyed penguin. You may also find many different types of seals and sea lions and in the rainforest, many birds such as the Yellowhead and Kakariki. In the winter season, migratory whales can be viewed along the coast. The Catlins also feature picturesque landscapes such as the beautiful, cascading waterfalls at Matai Falls.
Lying among the Southern Alps is Aoraki/Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand. Not only is this a popular tourist destination, it is also a favorite among climbers, best known for its challenging summit. Take a photo at the top with the grandeur and brilliance of Tasman Glacier to the east and the Hooker Glacier to the west.
The Franz Josef glacier plummets from the Southern Alps and rolls along the river valleys, making it the most convenient glacier to visit in the world. If you want to get up close to the 13 km long glacier, take a guided ice walk or a heli-hike. Then, capture the beautiful blue hue of this enormous natural wonder among the greenery of the surrounding hills.
Situated among the Southern Alps, the Tasman Glacier is one of the more popular tourist destinations in NZ. You can capture beautiful photographs of pieces of the glacier from the shoreline of Lake Tasman or take a boat tour to get a close up. This makes a beautiful shot because of the towering mountains in the background, not to mention the glacier being the longest in New Zealand.
These unusually large and spherical boulders present an opportunity for a beautiful beach photograph, as they lie along the shoreline often in clusters. They are best viewed at low-tide and are particularly magical in the evening sunlight.
Take time to explore both the Northern and Southern Islands, making sure to experience the culture and the natural beauty that this area has to offer. Elicit the help of a local tour guide to show you some of the better views that may be off the beaten path. No one likes to think about needing help or having an accident while trying something new, but if you are headed somewhere new to snap photos, consider tailoring your travel insurance plan to cover your prized possessions (like your nice camera!)