New Zealand is an amazing place for landscape photographers. There are very few other countries that can boast such a wide range of landscapes within a very small geographical area. I’ve been doing landscape photography for over 10 years now, and here are my top 5 photography locations in New Zealand.
1. Lake Tekapo
Lake Tekapo is one of the most famous tourist locations in New Zealand, and in more recent years has become even more popular thanks to Instagram. The area has so many photo opportunities it definitely requires more than one visit, and each season provides a completely different range of possibilities.
Autumn brings with it lots of gold foliage and sometimes you can get an early dusting of snow, providing magical snow-capped mountains in the background.
In late spring and early summer, colourful lupins are dotted around the lake and surrounding areas. The Russell Lupins are technically classified as weeds but they are extremely photogenic and a magnet for photographers within New Zealand and around the world.
Lake Tekapo is also famous for being part of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, which means it’s an amazing place for star-gazing and astrophotography. The best seasons to take Milky Way photos are autumn and winter, as the Milky Way is only visible in the Southern Hemisphere between February and October. Be prepared to line up with dozens of other photographers though!
Twizel is an historic hydro town right in the heart of the Mackenzie High Country. It’s dotted with lots of small lakes around the township and surrounding areas, and when conditions are calm these make for great reflection photos. During autumn, these lakes come alive with yellow and gold from the surrounding trees.
As well as being a great photography location in its own right, Twizel also makes a great base for exploring the next location, Aoraki Mount Cook.
3. Aoraki Mount Cook
Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is home of the highest mountains and the longest glaciers and holds some of the most incredible scenery New Zealand has to offer. Popular photo locations in the area include:
- Tasman Lake
- Hooker Lake
- Red Tarns
- Sealy Tarns
- Peter’s Lookout
- Lake Pukaki
I’ve only visited the area once (!) so have only touched the tip of the iceberg in terms of photography there, but I plan on many more return trips in the future.
4. Queenstown, Arrowtown, Glenorchy
Queenstown has it all. As well as being the adventure capital of New Zealand, it’s also blessed with some of the most amazing scenery you can imagine – no wonder it’s such a busy tourist destination. Being right on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by the Southern Alps, photo opportunities are everywhere. You can go for a short walk from the township to the lake, take a short drive to some of the smaller surrounding lakes, such as Lake Kirkpatrick, Lake Hayes, and Moke Lake, take the gondola up for some spectacular views, and much, much more.
Arrowtown is a 20 minute drive from Queenstown and is a must-visit place in autumn. In mid-to-late April, the cliffs are just completely blanketed by yellow and gold and is truly an amazing sight to behold.
The small town of Glenorchy is a 50 minute drive from Queenstown and is also very photogenic.
When you think of photogenic locations in New Zealand, Auckland isn’t a place that immediately springs to mind. After all, it’s New Zealand’s largest city and a very busy and hectic place. But it’s also a city that is surrounded by a beautiful coastline.
On its eastern shores are a multitude of calm beaches that are very popular for swimming and have great views of Rangitoto Island, one of Auckland’s most iconic landmarks. These beaches are great locations for sunrise.
On the west coast, there are rugged black-sand beaches such as Piha, Muriwai, and Bethells beach, each of which offers their own characteristics for photography.
And there are a few scenic spots within the city, if you catch them in the right conditions.
So those are my top 5 photography locations in New Zealand. Of course, choosing just 5 locations was a tough job and I’ve only just scratched the surface within these, but I hope you found it useful.