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Tips on Traveling to New Zealand as a Photographer

March 9, 2016

Perhaps most famous for its scenic snow-capped mountains and sprawling green hills, New Zealand is often dubbed as a “photographer’s dream location”. Add the fact that this country was chosen to star as the backdrop to the Lord of the Rings productions, as well as its picturesque coastline, crystal-clear water, and sheer cliffs, and you’ve got yourself one heck of a location.

If you’re thinking of visiting this great country in the near-future, you’ll be pleased to hear that there are some travel photography tips for you below. If you haven’t booked a trip to this dazzling destination yet, this article might just change all of that!


Which Island?

As you’re probably well aware of, there are two main islands to New Zealand – the North Island and the South Island. Many travellers simply choose to travel to both, however some may choose to just visit a single island in their trip. So, what exactly are the differences between the two islands? The South Island is well-known for those dramatic and picturesque landscapes I mentioned earlier and it is also known as the “Adventure Capitol” of the world, with many adrenalin-inducing activities on offer in Queenstown. It’s also the best island to visit if you wish to see plenty of wildlife, particularly marine and bird life.

The North Island, on the other hand, is the place to visit for those who wish to completely immerse themselves in traditional Maori culture, particularly in Rotorua. It’s also well-known for its abundance of geothermal activity and world class scuba diving at Poor Knights Islands.


Pack your tripod:

Photographers can expect to capture the most stunning landscape scenes, so it’s best to bring your tripod to help you achieve crystal-clear, high-quality, and captivating images. Whether you’re on the top of a mountain, standing beside a misty lake, or trekking through a forest, trust me, you’ll appreciate the extra stability that a tripod can offer.


Choose your lens carefully:

There’s an abundance of beautiful things to photograph in New Zealand, but you’ll have to consider if you have the correct lens for what you’re after. For example, do you wish to capture close-ups of some of New Zealand’s incredible bird life, or are you more concerned with photographing eye-catching landscape shots? You may even benefit from packing more than one lens if you are able to do so.


Consider wet weather protection:

New Zealand isn’t exactly prone to raining any more than other nearby countries, however any photographer travelling around with expensive equipment such as cameras, lenses, and tripods etc. will want to ensure that their gear won’t be ruined by water. New Zealand is well-known for its beautiful cruises, lakes, coastline, and waterfalls, so even if it isn’t raining you’ll still want to ensure you have protective covering for your equipment.


Suggested locations to visit:

Many photographers have written about their photographic journey in the ‘land of the long white cloud’ (a.k.a New Zealand), so I’ve rounded-up their recommendations of the most photogenic locations to visit in both the North and South islands.

North Island:

Bay of Islands: This is one of the best places to take part in a dolphin watching cruise, as you’re allowed to get very close to the marine animals as the swiftly glide through the water, resulting in some beautiful images. Many photographers also state that they captured some of their best sunset and sunrise scenes in this area.

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland in Rotarua: If you’ve heard of the famous Champagne Pool, then you probably know that this is where it is. From bubbling mud pools to thermal pools and picturesque forest trails, this place is filled with photography opportunities.

Tongariro National Park: If you’ve seen Lord of the Rings, then you’ll know this place as the film location of Mordor. It’s a rugged and volcanic landscape which will almost remind you of Mars, but you’ll be able to capture some unique and breath-taking images here.

The Waikato River: The seemingly unrealistic shade of blue of this river can be described as “heaven on Earth”. Not only is it an amazing trail to walk, but this vivid “river-shaped swimming pool” will provide the perfect backdrop or subject of your travel photos.


South Island:

Milford Sound: This is a popular tourist destination in the South Island due to its sheer, natural beauty. Expect to see everything here from colorful rock walls and snow-capped mountains to wildlife including sea lions, sea birds, and seals. It’s recommended that you take in all of the breath-taking sights on a day cruise.

Queenstown to Glenorchy Drive: If you’re after some landscape shots of wildflowers with mountain ranges in the background, then this is the drive for you. Add in plenty of greenery and light blue water and you’ve got yourself a real treat for the eyes!


Lastly, as with all travels, it’s important to have fun, stay safe, and take as many beautiful images as you wish!