This time I decide to try a new type of tour that is starting to be very fashionable among enthusiasts: the photographic journey. The country I choose is one of the most interesting from the point of view of landscape photography: New Zealand. The photographic tour to New Zealand in which I participate is made at the end of November. That is, spring for this country of the antipodes.
This type of trip is a trip made up of small groups of photography enthusiasts who during the trip are accompanied by a professional photographer who illustrates and explains the best photographic techniques. The groups generally consist of a number ranging from 5 to 6 participants per photographer. The trip focuses exclusively on the South Island. The most beautiful island from a landscape and naturalistic point of view.
THE PHOTOGRAPHIC TOUR TO NEW ZEALAND
The ten-day itinerary allows you to visit some of the main attractions of the South Island of New Zealand. We start from Christchurch and the first stop is a visit to Lake Tekapo where we take a sunset photo session at the Good Shepherd church. Here we are lucky enough to admire a rich flowering of wild lupins, the area around the church is full of these flowers. In New Zealand our autumn is spring, the seasons are reversed. The night in this area of New Zealand allows the vision of a spectacular sky, and the sky was really beautiful on the evening we were there. Unfortunately, however, we were tired, the Jet lag still makes itself felt, and therefore no night photos. Sin.
THE MOUNT COOK
The next stop is Lake Pukaki, we sleep in Twizel. Twizel has become famous for us because at 8 pm the restaurants were already all closed! The highlight here is the hike to Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak (3,724 meters). We walk the Hooker Valley Track until we reach the Hooker Lake and its glacier, an easy and very beautiful path. The climate is very hot, reaching 30 ° C. But this, we are told, is an anomalous spring.
THE EAST COAST
The next day we head to the east coast. Along the way we find spectacular blooms of wild lupins and we stop at a river where the blooms are truly beautiful. We arrive in Oamaru and walk through the city center. In the afternoon we visit the Moeraki Boulders, the famous round rocks along the beach. In the morning my travel companions return to Moeraki Boulders for another photo session, but I decide to take a walk along the beach next to our accommodation. Clouds don’t bode well. In fact in Moeraki Boulders it rains all the time, while where I stayed it is cloudy but it does not rain. This will be basically the only half rainy day of the whole trip.
Our itinerant photographic tour takes us to Dunedin, a beautiful city, among the largest on the South Island of New Zealand. We take a walk in the city center and then continue to the next destination: the Nugget Point lighthouse. We stop at Kaka Point beach where we take a walk and meet a leopard seal, coming from Antarctica. The seal seemed dead but it was alive … We do the sunset photo session right at the Nugget Point lighthouse.
The next day we continue to the far south of New Zealand through the beautiful green landscape of the Catlins. We observe a splendid coast with long beaches. Spectacular the view from the Florence Hill Lookout on Tautuku Bay beach. We arrive in Invercargill the southernmost city in New Zealand.
THE FIORDLAND: THE MILFORD SOUND
In the evening we reach Te Anau Downs, our base for the next few days. At dawn we visit Milford Sound, but unfortunately there are low clouds that obscure the view of Mitre Peak. After a few hours we decide to go back and make some stops along Milford Road. But the weather improves and then we return to Milford Sound where we admire the most famous place in New Zealand under the light of the sun.
The next day, new dawn at Milford Sound, but I don’t participate, I prefer to rest to enjoy the two days at Doubtful Sound.
THE FIORDLAND: THE DOUBTFUL SOUND
In the late morning we go to Manapouri from where our journey to Doubtful Sound begins. From Manapouri we take a boat and then a bus that takes us to the embarkation point for the day and night cruise in the Doubtful Sound. The landscape is really beautiful, reminiscent of the Norwegian fjords, but the vegetation is luxuriant.
The ship we are cruising on is a motor sailing ship. We also do a short kayak excursion in the fjord. The day is beautiful with blue skies, we are in one of the rainiest places in New Zealand, a rainy country of its own … Just before sunset when the boat exits the fjord and enters the Tasman Sea we spot a group of whales. We approach the whales that remain near the boat for a few tens of minutes. Spectacular!
For the night the ship stops in one of the secondary arms of the fjord. I wake up before dawn and admire the landscape of the fjord in the early morning with the lights that gradually become more intense. A show to live. Even today the weather is excellent. We spend the whole morning in the Doubtful Sound and we also see the rare penguins of Fiordland.
At one point the ship’s captain shuts off the engines for about ten minutes to allow us to listen to the sounds of the fjord: bird songs, the sound of waterfalls and the rustling of vegetation are the only things we hear. At the end of the morning we make the reverse route (bus and boat) to Manapouri. And from here, after a stop in Te Anau, we head towards the last leg of our journey: Queenstown.
Queenstown is a town with a lot of tourism all year round. In winter you can ski here, while in the other seasons you can visit the beautiful landscapes of the surroundings. We sleep three nights in Queenstown. One day we visit the Dart River Valley, that is the Isengard Valley of the Lord of the Rings. We stop at the village of Glenorchy with its submerged trees (the “willow trees”) and the tiny village of Paradise with its forest of trees. We end with a sunset in a panoramic point along Lake Wakatipu. Another day we do a sunrise session at Lake Wanaka where we photograph the Wanaka Tree, the famous tree in the middle of the lake.
FINAL CONSIDERATIONS ON THE PHOTOGRAPHIC TOUR TO NEW ZEALAND
The South Island of New Zealand is a place where you will find mountains similar to our Alps, fjords similar to the Norwegian ones, tongues of ice that almost reach the sea, golden beaches, jagged coasts, green pastures. Among the most beautiful things I have seen: The starry sky at Lake Tekapo. Mount Cook along the Hooker Valley. The Catlins area. Milford Sound.
The cruise along the Doubtful Sound: the 10 minutes in which the boat turns off the engines and allows us to listen to the sounds of nature were impressive. This short fjord cruise also gave us, at sunset, the sight of a group of whales and the opportunity to photograph the rare Fiordland penguins. The Dart River Valley. Virtually almost everything …
Tips: Very nice and well organized trip. It would have been nice to be able to dedicate a couple more nights to the itinerary, it will be difficult to return to this part of the world, so why not stay a few more nights? For example, I would have preferred to stay one more night in the Catlins area, which is very beautiful from a landscape point of view. Then I wanted to do a night dedicated to night / astronomical photography at Lake Tekapo which is one of the most beautiful places in the world regarding the starry sky. I recommend visiting Dubai and / or Sydney to break the long air journey.
Here you will find some of the places visited on my itinerary in New Zealand. In my YouTube channel in the New Zealand Playlist you will find the videos of the complete itinerary.