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.
Wharariki Beach is undeniably one of the most inspiring, captivating and amazingly beautiful places I have visited in New Zealand. For some strange reason those gigantic jagged rocks protruding from the ocean, the vast empty dunes and the ever-present wind driving the waves relentlessly against the shore are inexplicably alluring to me. Ever since I first saw images of it on the internet, I knew right away that Wharariki Beach has to be on my itinerary. I waited eagerly with excitement and anticipation for the moment when I finally see its beauty with my own eyes. Often such high expectations can easily turn into disappointment. But not this time.
New Zealand may appear small on the map, but its distances are often deceiving. While on paper Wharariki beach is only 400 kilometers and a six hour drive away from Kaikoura, in reality it can easily take much longer. There’s no high-speed motorways and with all the gorgeous scenery awaiting at every turn it is very difficult to ignore the temptation to stop and explore a little. Yet picking the best among so many beautiful and interesting locations may be a daunting task. So in this article I will give you my own selection of absolute top spots. From rugged coastline to tropical jungle, these are the four places I think you definitely should not miss.
I never really thought of Kaikoura as a big landscape photography location. Sure, it came up while we were preparing for the trip to New Zealand, but for entirely different reasons. At some point we even considered removing it from our itinerary completely and if we hadn’t decided to head north, that’s probably what we would’ve done. And really, that would have been a great shame. Kaikoura turned out to be so much more than I ever expected and an incredible place for landscape photography where I took probably one of the most memorably shots of our trip.
New Zealand is incredibly beautiful, with lots of gorgeous landscapes all around. However, if you are planning to capture all this beauty from the air using a drone, there is quite a few things you should know. When it comes to drones, New Zealand has some of the most stringent laws and regulations I’ve seen in any country. I have spent countless hours prior to my trip trying to figure out all the details and applying for all the necessary permissions. Yep, depending on where you plan to fly, you would most likely need to apply for a permission. So, to save you some headache, in this blog post I summarise everything I have learned about drones in New Zealand, including how to apply for and receive Department of Conservation permit. I also offer a few tips that will help make the trip as smooth and enjoyable as possible.