While Queenstown is commonly referred to as adventure capital of the world, with all sorts of adrenaline-filled activities available to those who want to put their courage to a test, it’s also an amazing destination for landscape photography. Situated on the shores of a scenic lake Wakatipu and surrounded by the glorious mountain ridges, Queenstown is a lovely town in a beautiful part of New Zealand. We only spent a couple of days in the area but were completely fascinated by it. In this article, I share my tips on some of the more prominent landscape photography locations in and around Queenstown.
Located in the heart of the Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound is a beautiful destination that makes its way onto most New Zealand itineraries. And rightfully so. Even the road there is an attraction in its own right. Twisting through the snow-capped mountains and past the ice-blue lakes, this scenic drive is any landscape photographer’s dream. With so many fabulous sights at every turn, picking the best ones is never easy. So if you only have one day in Milford Sound, here are my tips on how to make the most out of it and walk away with some great photos.
Mount Cook National Park is an amazing location for landscape photography, with literally endless opportunities for a good image. One could easily spend months in this part of New Zealand and never run out of good compositions. Unfortunately, we only had two days to explore this beautiful area. This means I had to think hard about where to go and what to shoot. So if you have limited time in the area, here are my top 5 locations for photography in Mount Cook National Park.
The Hooker Valley Track is easily the most popular hiking route in the Mount Cook National Park. With lovely alpine scenery at every turn of the road, it’s easy to see why people love it. Many even consider it one of the best half-day hikes in New Zealand’s South Island. And yet, much as I’d love to join all the praise, I cannot. Don’t get me wrong – Hooker Valley Track is a lovely and beautiful walk. I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would.
As a landscape photographer, I truly enjoy how unpredictable and full of surprises nature can be. It’s amazing how sometimes you find beauty where you never quite anticipated it. Moraine Ridge Walk at Lake Tasman in Mount Cook National Park is exactly that type of place. We expected nothing more than a pleasant stroll to the lakeshore, but it turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip to New Zealand.
With snow-capped mountains, beautiful lakes and many picturesque hikes, Wanaka region is without a doubt every landscape photographer’s dream. One can easily spend a few days in this amazing area and only get a taste of it. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay more than one night before heading to Mt. Cook on the following day. This means I only had one sunset and one sunrise to work with. And while this might not sound like a lot, in this mini-guide I provide some tips on how to make the most out of this limited time.
The engines grew louder, and the helicopter took to the air. As I watched Fox Glacier disappear into the distance, I couldn’t help but feel frustrated. I wish I could tell you that the heli hike had been a highlight of my trip to New Zealand. I wish I could join hundreds of praising reviews that describe the experience as incredible and amazing. At the very worst, I wish I could at least promise that it is absolutely not worth the money. But unfortunately, the truth is always somewhere in between.
Franz Josef Glacier was high on our list of must-see locations in New Zealand, so we were really excited as we left Hokitika heading south-west. Unfortunately, our hopes for the stunning views soon plummeted as Franz Josef greeted us with dark skies and relentless rain. Would the glacier be even visible in these conditions? We didn’t know. But we had to find out.
We discovered Hokitika almost by pure chance. Our next destination in New Zealand after Wharariki Beach – Franz Joseph Glacier – was simply too far to drive to in one go. Instead, we decided to play it safe and find a place somewhere in between to have some rest before heading to the glacier the following morning. That’s when Hokitika caught our eye. Located two hours away from Franz Josef and described online as a cool little town with a beautiful emerald water gorge nearby, it appeared to be a perfect spot to spend the night and capture some nice photos. But did it live up to the expectations?
Wharariki Beach was one of the highlights of our trip, but amazing as it was, we only had two weeks in New Zealand and had to keep moving. Our next destination was Hokitika, a small coastal town known for its beautiful emerald water gorge. And, as it happens, a grueling six hours drive from Wharariki. That’s problem with being this far north – no matter where you go after, you’re looking at a long and tiring journey. In situations like these I usually try to make a day-trip out of it, finding interesting stops along the way to split driving into shorter, more manageable chunks. So, should you consider making a similar voyage from Wharariki to Hokitika, here are the three spots I think are definitely worth a quick stop.