Pages Navigation Menu

Global photo tours to breathtaking lands led by expert photographers

New Zealand: The Wildscapes of the South Island (14 Days)

New Zealand: The Wildscapes of the South Island (14 Days)

There is a reason New Zealand sits at the top of many people’s “short list” as a place to go at least once before they pass from this earth – it’s mind-blowing, heart-stopping and smile-making spectacular!

The southern Island of New Zealand is like no other place on earth. It is wild, it is rugged, it is convoluted and it’s absolutely spectacular – from the perilous seacoast, through the temperate rainforest to the expansive hinterlands and to the top of the imposing and glacier-covered Southern Alps.

There is a very good reason The Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed in New Zealand. You really need to experience it first-hand in order to truly appreciate the immense variety and beauty of this land at the southern end of the Pacific Ocean.
The trip begins with an arrival into Queenstown, a small modern city tucked into the elbow of Lake Wakatipu that offers everything a modern city does with quick access to fabulous adventures nearby via a short drive, bike ride, boat trip or hike.

There is a lot to see and do here and Queenstown is our initial base of operations to distant regions brimming with rugged beauty. From this quaint and modern town we are a short drive along the breathtaking shores of Lake Wakatipu to Glenorchy, a township that is the jumping-off point to a few classic tracks (trekking routes) like the Greenstone, Caples, and Routeburn which is within Mt. Aspiring National Park.  The Kiwis (New Zealanders nickname) truly love the outdoors and have created great access to remote areas; helping people get outside, while protecting the fragile landscapes so everyone can enjoy them for generations.


 

Early morning sun lights the summit of Aoraki / Mt. Cook and adjacent peaks in New Zealand's Southern Alps in Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park in the South Island.

 


From this beautiful location we begin an overland journey north towards Lake Wanaka and then over Haast Pass onto the coastal highway on the western edge of the south island to visit the rocky seascape as well as placid lagoons and walk on glaciers that tumble into temperate rainforests in Westland National Park. There will be time to hike and get deep into the mountains including a flight via helicopter to the heart of the Southern Alps to experience this rugged landscape from above.

To experience New Zealand is to finally understand raw beauty, power and the allure of mother nature.

The wrinkled landscape of New Zealand has few straight roads and the helicopter ride will put in perspective how spectacular and remote these regions are, even though they may be a short distance in a straight line from each other. A few days later we head back over the pass and northward to Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park and spend a few days there to photograph colorful Lake Pukaki and the rugged peaks and deep valleys that have been carved by glaciers over eons.

We will head back to Queenstown on the last day for our last dinner together before your flight back home the next day.


 

A storm is reflected on the wet sand of Otaki Beach on the west coast of New Zealand's North Island as a storm moves in at sunset.

 


 

Tour Dates: December 1-14, 2018  //  November 3-16, 2019
Tour length: 14-days
Difficulty level: Easy to moderate due to hiking in the mountains
Group Size Limit: 10
Tour Highlights: Mt. Aspiring National Park, Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park, Westland National Park, Southern Alps, Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, Lake Pukaki, helicopter ride, glaciers, mirror-lakes, Glenorchy, Wanaka
Prices are in $ US Dollars:
7-10 people: 4,550.00/per person
4-6 people: 4,900.00/per person
2-3 people: 5,595.00/per person
1 person: 7,750.00/per person
*International airfare is NOT included in price.
Deposit:$ 500.00/per person (non-refundable administrative fee)
Inclusions: As per the itinerary: hotels, meals (B,L,D), private transport, professional guides, airport transfers, years of experience

 


 

The Mirror Lakes are located next to Route 94 which is a one-way road into Milford Sound in New Zealand's South Island.

 


 

– ITINERARY –

Home – Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand

Depart U.S.: There are many options to get to Queenstown and most international flights arrive in Auckland on the North Island or Christchurch on the South island then make a connection to Queenstown.  International airfare is not included in this itinerary.

For airline tickets, please contact our ticketing agent GEO Travel 1-800-938-7285.


 

The ferry from Queenstown sails below the rugged peaks on Lake W

Day 1:          Arrival in Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand

Once you make your domestic connections in NZ you will arrive in Queenstown on the South Island. We will pick you up and take you to the hotel. At an appointed time we will get together to have a group dinner. Overnight in Queenstown in a 4* Hotel. (D)


 

Mirror-like reflections on Lake Wakatipu near Glenorchy in New Z

Day 2:           Queenstown – Glenorchy

After breakfast we will meet and talk about the rest of the trip so people have a good sense of what is planned for the remainder of our stay in beautiful New Zealand. About mid-morning we depart to Glenorchy, which is a fabulous drive along a curvy road that hugs the shores of Lake Wakatipu as it heads north towards Mt. Aspiring National Park. The total drive time is about 45 minutes but we will take time to shoot and scout for future locations during the journey. We will have lunch upon arrival and check-in to our hotel. We will shoot in the afternoon in nearby areas as the lake and the mountains provide endless beautiful scenes. Keep in mind that the weather in New Zealand changes frequently so be prepared for everything from sunshine to showers during the day. This often provides great scenes of stormy weather and clouds that hide and reveal the rugged peaks as sunshine pokes through them. After shooting during the golden hour and sunset we return to the hotel and have dinner. Overnight in Hotel Glenorchy (3*) (B,L)


 

A rocky trail above Lake Harris on day two of the Routeburn Trak in New Zealand's South Island near the town of Glenorchy.

Day 3:           Glenorchy – Routeburn Trak – Routeburn Flats Hut

A fantastic opportunity awaits us today as we head into Mt. Aspiring National Park and head to the Routeburn Flats hut, our home for the night. The walk along this track is full of wonderful vistas and surprises around every corner so be prepared for endless photo that present themselves along the easy track we will use. A rugged whitewater river cuts through a canyon that is covered by all kinds of moss, ferns, trees and gets better and more beautiful as one climbs slowly through the forest to the flats. Once on the flats the view of snow-covered peaks and small waterfalls abound as well landscapes that remind you of the Lord of the Rings movies. Picnic lunch en route. Upon arrival to the hut we will settle in and get out to the flats to do some landscape photography during the last hours of daylight. We will have dinner at the hut. Overnight at Routeburn Flats Hut (3*). (B,L,D)


 

Ferns in a temperate rainforest are backlit by the afternoon sun

Day 4:          Routeburn Flats Hut – Routeburn Trak – Glenorchy

It’s a good idea to get up early and get some twilight photos before the winds and clouds begin to develop. There are so many photos ops just out the door that we need not travel far to get great photos. For those that want a bit of a challenge the big waterfalls are up the trail so an early start is recommended. Picnic lunch en route. We head back down the Routeburn track in the afternoon and continue onwards to Glenorchy and our hotel. Dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight in Hotel Glenorchy (3*) (B,L)


 

Mirror-like reflections on Lake Wakatipu near Glenorchy in New Z

Day 5:          Glenorchy – Diamond Lake – Paradise – Glenorchy

Our destination today is towards Mt. Alfred Recreatin Area, Diamond Lake and the Forbes mountains and the deep valleys and braided streambeds of the Dart and Rees rivers that flow out of Mt. Aspiring National Park and into Lake Wakatipu. Picnic lunch. Sunset on Lake Wakatipu or on the Dart or Rees rivers is not to be missed so we will find locations to shoot the lake, rivers and mountains at the end of the day. We return to Glenorchy and have dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight in Hotel Glenorchy (3*) (B,L)


 

The views on the hike to Ben Lemond Peak above Queenstown on Ne

Day 6:          Glenorchy – Queenstown – Arrowtown – Wanaka

Sunrise can be especially good if the winds are calm so we need not travel far to the shores of Lake Wakatipu in order to shoot some fabulous scenes of mirrored reflections. Afterwards we heads back towards Queenstown and continue via Arrowtown and down the Cardrona River valley to the city of Wanaka – a couple of hours away north and east. Once in Wanaka and checked-in we will have lunch. In the afternoon we will head to the lakes and find some locations for the sunset shoot. Overnight in hotel in Wanaka (3*) (B,L)


 

A colorful sunrise emerges above Lake TeAnau as seen from the Ke

Day 7:          Wanaka – Rob Roy Glacier/ Mt. Aspiring Hut (Happy New Year!)

After an early breakfast we head towards Mt. Aspiring National Park and Rob Roy Glacier and Mt. Aspiring Hut for the night. The walk from the end of the road is about three hours or so at a leisurely pace and there will be plenty of time to shoot the grand landscape along the way. Picnic lunch en route. Upon arrival at the hut we will settle in and then head out to see what fantastic views we can shoot for the afternoon and early evening. The view of the vast New Zealand landscape will be all around us so we should be at the right place for great photos. Dinner at the hut. Overnight at Mt. Aspiring Hut (3*). (B,L,D)


 

The Haast River flows through a wide river valley from the South

Day 8:          Mt. Aspiring Hut – Wanaka – Haast Pass – Franz Josef GlacierSunrise should not be missed so we will wake you ahead of time, have breakfast and then shoot the sunrise. Afterwards we head back to the road and continue with our journey across Haast Pass and towards the west coast of the South Island. Lunch en route. The journey travels through some spectacular territory that will give us endless opportunities to shoot rivers, mountains, forests and meadows as we cut through Mt. Aspiring National Park and drive next to the Haast River until we reach the Tasman Sea. We continue north along the coast then head inland and into Westland National Park. We should arrive in the adventure gateway town of Franz Josef Glacier in the late afternoon or early evening and check-in to our hotel. Dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight in hotel in Franz Josef Glacier (3*) (B,L)


 

Rain clouds let the sunshine in on pastoral highlands surrounded by steep hills and forest in New Zealand's South Island.

Day 9:          Franz Josef Glacier – Westland NP/Lake Mapourika – Franz Joseph Glacier

This is going to be a day full of amazing views and adventures. The calm air in the morning is the perfect time to visit Lake Mapourika in Westland National Park, where perfect reflections of the lake, rainforest, glacial moraine and the peaks valleys and the Southern Alps are possible on a clear day. It’s possible to paddle through the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary and see 900-year-old Kahikatea trees along the route, which will provide fantastic photo ops. Lunch en route. Afterwards we will hop into a helicopter and fly above all these fantastic scenes that you have been shooting from the ground to get a hawks-eye-view of the amazing Southern Alps! If time allows we will visit Lake Matheson as it sits nestled in ancient forests near Fox Glacier that is famous for the mirror views of Aoraki/Mt. Cook. We will return to Franz Joseph Glacier to freshen-up before dinner. Overnight in hotel in Franz Josef Glacier (3*) (B,L)


 

A light fog and frost coat the hillsides, plants and railroad tracks in early autumn on The Forgotten world Road in New Zealand's central region of the North Island.

Day 10:          Franz Joseph Glacier – Haast Pass – Wanaka – Twizel

Today will be a long day as we need to drive back over Haast Pass then onto Wanaka and then head north to the gateway town of Twizel, the entrance to the heart of the Southern Alps and Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park. We will have lunch en route. The drive is as spectacular as it was a few days ago but now we have a different point of view. Upon arrival in Twizel you will have time to freshen-up before having dinner. Overnight in hotel in Twizel (3*) (B,L)


 

A heavy rainstorrm begins to dissipate over Aoraki / Mt. Cook National Park and Lake Pukaki in New Zealand's South Island.

Day 11:          Twizel – Lake Pukaki – Mt. Cook National Park

Today should be one of those days that the landscape leaves you breathless. The drive into Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park is short but full of jaw-dropping landscapes. An early departure will ensure many shooting ops during the good morning light that lights-up the east face of Aoraki/Mt. Cook and the surrounding mountains. The lime-green waters of Lake Pupaki is a great complement to the glacier-covered Southern Alps with dominant colors of blue and white and beige and yellow on the lower slopes. Upon arrival we will have lunch and check-in to our hotel where we will be spending the next few days. In the afternoon we will head to a few key viewpoints to shoot and prepare for the sunset light. Dinner at an appointed time. Overnight in hotel in Mt. Cook. (4*) (B,L)


 

Early morning sun lights the summit of Aoraki / Mt. Cook and the Hooker Glacier in New Zealand's Southern Alps in Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park in the South Island.

Day 12:          Mt. Cook National Park

It is necessary to get up early in order to take in the alpine light that will slowly illuminate Aoraki/Mt Cook as we photograph it and the surrounding landscapes as the sun rises. We will have time to regroup before lunch and then head to the Tasman Valley to search out for worthy subjects to photograph. There is a lot of territory to cover around the area – glaciers, lateral moraines, glacial lakes, hikes deep into the forest, a tramp up to a rocky promontory for a birds-eye-view of Aoraki/Mt Cook and the braided rivers below. We return for dinner and overnight at Mt. Cook Village (4*) (B,L)


 

Hikers climb the steep slopes up to Muller Hut in New Zealand's Southern Alps in Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park in the South Island.

Day 13:          Mt. Cook National Park

Today we get up early and head to a different part of the valley in order to catch the sunrise as it strokes the glaciated peaks of the Southern Alps. We will see a rugged landscape dotted with alpine lakes, rivers and inaccessible rock-covered ramparts. We will visit the Hooker valley and see what beautiful photos can be made along our scenic route. Lunch. Dinner at an appointed time. Overnight in hotel in Mt. Cook. (4*) (B,L)


 

The Eyre mountains rise sharply above Lake Wakatipu after a rain

Day 14:          Mt. Cook National Park – Queenstown

Our last sunrise in the area so we will head to a pre-scouted location in order to get a new angle on the area and make some new images. We head south towards Queenstown before lunch so we can photograph Lake Pukaki along the way. Lunch en route. We should arrive in Queenstown in the late afternoon, in time for the sunset atop Kelvin Heights where the views of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables and Eyres mountain ranges dominate the horizon. This is a great place for spectacular sky-high views of the region and sunsets! We return to Quenstown and our hotel and at an appointed time and get together to have our last dinner together. Overnight in Queenstown in a 4* Hotel. (B,L)


 

An abstract pattern is formed by a tree that looks like a fern deep in the ancient forest of Te Urewera National Park in New Zealand's North Island.

Day 15:          Queenstown – Home

We will provide a shuttle to the airport at an appointed time for your flight back home. (B)

 

 -End of our services-


 

At low tide the sand exposes patterns and shapes in a shallow lagoon in New Zealand's North Island.

 

Early morning pink alpenglow lights the clouds above Mt. Blackburn in the Southern Alps in Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park in New Zealand's South Island.

 

A light fog and frost coat the hillsides and plants in early autumn on The Forgotten world Road in New Zealand's central region of the North Island.

 

Early morning pink alpenglow lights the summit of Eagle Peak in New Zealand's Southern Alps in Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park in the South Island.

 

A tourism ship carries passengers below the massive cliffs in Milford Sound as the regular rain pattern brings daily rain in New Zealand's South Island.


Feel free to contact us if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.