Photography workshops and tours with one of New Zealand’s best landscape photographers. Join him on your next adventure to help you to get the most from your photography.
You will visit some of New Zealand's most stunning and inspirational locations with your knowledgeable guide. Enhance your skill set to get the best out of your photography. You will leave the tour with a great portfolio of New Zealand images of the country's most iconic landscapes alongside some of our more hidden gems.
He is a Commercial and Landscape Photographer based in Auckland, New Zealand. He was born in Singapore and found his undeniable passion for Landscape Photography after visiting the country many years ago. His pursuit of landscape images has taken him around New Zealand several times over many years, chasing unforgettable scenes and moments. His love for untamed wild places is seen in his work across all platforms. This passion has attracted a broad audience from all around the world. Lester will teach you his techniques and photography skills attained over his many years as a professional Landscape photographer; these include Composition techniques, shooting manuals, managing aperture, shutter speed, ISO and working with light in all different weather conditions.
Category: Culture, Active
Location: South Island
Departing/Finishing: Christchurch - Dunedin (Itinerary can be reversed)
Accommodation: 4* or 5* quality Hotels, boutique B&Bs, Luxury Serviced Apartments
Next Departure: Departs Daily
Christchurch is a vibrant, energetic city where urban regeneration, creativity and innovation thrive. Picture unique street art, innovative projects, a booming hospitality scene and state-of-the-art architecture changing how the city looks, feels and functions – all the while staying true to its heritage and traditional English feel.
The rock formation of Kura Tawhiti (Castle Hill) can be seen from the highway, but its size is best appreciated up close. An easy walking track takes you through an open pasture to stand beneath these impressive limestone features. From here, follow the network of well-worn paths that weave through the giant stones, giving you access to all sides.
The highest pass over the Southern Alps, Arthur's Pass was historically known to Maori hunting parties as a route between east and west. The eastern side of Arthur's Pass National Park is characterised by broad, shingle-filled riverbeds and vast beech forests. The western side of the park, where wet weather is more common than dry, has deeply gorged rivers flowing through dense rainforests. Down the middle of 'the great divide' is an alpine dreamland of snow-covered peaks, glaciers and scree slopes.
Accommodation: Arthur Pass
The day begins early with some pre-dawn astrophotography before heading back to the hotel for breakfast.
Take a short walk through the beautiful native forest to stand at the base of the spectacular 131m Devil's Punchbowl Falls.
The aim is to get to Punakaiki in the late afternoon for a magical sunset on the famous Pancake Rocks. Nature began this work of art about 30 million years ago. Over thousands of years, alternating layers of tiny marine creatures and sand became buried and compressed on the ocean floor—this created areas with multiple layers of hard limestone and softer sandstone. In many places, deep inside the cliffs, narrow vertical air shafts made by the rain met with horizontal tunnels created by the pounding ocean.
Or: A simply stunning Wilderness Eco-tour through the enormous Nile River Cave System deep in the Paparoa National Park. Enjoy the tranquil beauty of the lush native bush in this 'Untamed Natural Wilderness' environment. Explore the enormous Nile River Caves System, seeing, feeling and getting close to an ancient wonderland sculptured by water and decorated with fragile calcite formations. You will get relative to marvellous galaxies of glow worms and the breathtaking array of calcite formations.
Explore the exquisite limestone and river landscapes of Paparoa National Park. We will spend the rest of the morning exploring the exceptional coastline in this area.
The West Coast, or 'the Coast' as locals call it, is an untamed natural wilderness of rivers and rainforests, glaciers and geological treasures. It's good if you've got your transport because this region is 600km long and there's a lot to see. The Great Coast Road stretching from Westport to Greymouth was recently voted one of the tops.
The stunning Hokitika Gorge walk is situated 25km east of Hokitika. The first lookout gives you views of the gorge and Kowhitirangi farmland; the track then leads you to a swingbridge that crosses the Hokitika Gorge taking you over the magnificent green/blue waters of the Hokitika River. Walk upstream of the swing bridge, giving you views of the gorge.
The open valleys may be occupied with grazing livestock, only to add an extra and typical West Coast element to the frame. At Okarito lagoon, a vast area of shallow open water and tidal flats is just waiting to be explored. The lagoon is surrounded by lush native rainforest, above which rise the towering snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps. To capture the colours of the sunset, we'll move to 20min away Okarito Lagoon to hike 30 min up the lookout with some of the best vistas over the.
Before heading to Fox Glacier, we travel along the West Coast to explore some of the magnificent rainforests of the Te Wahipounamu, a UNESCO World Heritage area. At sunset, we visit a remote West Coast beach that offers panoramic views of the snow-covered peaks of the Southern Alps.
Accommodation: Fox Glacier or Franz Josef
The Glacier Country region is full of magical places, and we want to hang around for a bit longer.
This morning we photograph sunrise at Lake Matheson, capturing the often-perfect reflections of Aoraki/Mt Cook and Mt Tasman - New Zealand's highest mountains.
A first-hand exploration of a glacier by chopper, seeing only what experienced mountaineers can reach, is a wilderness experience you'll never forget. First, you’ll fly up to the Fox Glacier in the Westland National Park from our Franz Josef Village base. You'll land on a section of this 12km long glacier where we've made a daily safety assessment of the conditions on this fast-moving ice flow. Then, equipped with glacier boots and crampons, you'll walk for two hours amongst the ice formations and pinnacles and see first-hand the extraordinary colours of the ice flow. Touch the ice, breathe in the fresh air.
Or: The flight of a lifetime, the "Grand Traverse" is a spectacular scenic flight that explores the Mount Cook and Westland National Parks and shows you the region like no other flight. The Grand Traverse is recognised as the premier Aoraki Mount Cook flight-seeing experience and NZ's "must do" scenic flight; this magnificent flight encompasses two World Heritage National Parks and 200 km of New Zealand's most memorable and breathtaking scenery. Sunset flights throughout the winter are one of the most spectacular times to fly around Aoraki / Mount Cook.
We can't afford to miss a sunset at the most photographed lake in NZ – Lake Matheson and its mirror-like reflections of NZ's highest peaks.
Accommodation: Fox Glacier or Franz Josef
South of Haast, the coastline turns westward along a 24-kilometre, gently curving bay to Jackson Head. Jackson Head marks the southern end of the west coast's narrow river plains. Beyond this point, the steep mountain ranges plunge directly into the sea - the first of the deep glacial fiords is just 60 kilometres away.
Discover one of Kiwi's favourite tours on the West Coast NZ, taking a jet boat up a remote backcountry river into UNESCO South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. Travel to the top of the river and listen to us impart our intricate knowledge of the area. Learn about the introduced animals, visit the Kiwi sanctuary and learn about the Kiwi breeding program. Next, pass through the Alpine Fault line and watch the theatrical scenery unfold. At the top, an optional stroll is available with stunning photo opportunities. It is a speedy trip back downriver to the Tasman sea, finishing off with a visit to the breeding grounds of the famous West Coast NZ whitebait fishery and to spot some native birds.
A spectacular and scenic road links Haast and Wanaka. It reaches beyond wind-whipped Lakes Wanaka and Hawea, through golden tussock-covered hills, to wind among steep mountains cloaked in lush rainforest and crosses tumbling rivers.
Just 20 minutes from Haast, take a 20-minute walk to the Roaring Billy Waterfall; an easy fern line walk will take you to the shores of the Haast River. Stop at the 28m drop Thunder Creek falls or take a 30-minute return walk to the Blue Pools.
As you exit Mt Aspiring National Park, you will travel through what is known as "The Neck", a formation of land that separates two of our great South Island lakes, Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka.
With stunning alpine surrounds, the Wanaka region and Wanaka town have the same adventurous vibe as Queenstown, yet are a little more relaxed. Wanaka is one of the most photographed destinations in New Zealand due to its outstanding natural beauty and clear air.
Accommodation: Lake Wanaka
Named for Mt Aspiring, one of New Zealand's highest peaks, this park is a dreamland of mountains, glaciers, river valleys and alpine lakes.
Your local photo guide will take you to locations you cannot access. Mostly all on private land, you are shown some of the finest scenery in New Zealand. Best of all, you will be the only one there. From remote beach locations to mountain-top panoramas, you'll capture images few local photographers have taken, let alone visitors. This is the photography safari for you, from sunrises, sunsets, landscapes, animals, and birds to the night sky. Not only will you be shown Wanaka's top photography spots, but you will also be taken on private back roads of West Wanaka Station to places seldom seen by most visitors. Highlights include no time pressures; exclusive locations unavailable to the general public; a variety of scenery to shoot: farm animals, sunrises, and sunsets you choose.
Stop at the lakefront to take a shot at the Wanaka Willow tree, beloved by Instagram fans worldwide.
Or: Take a hike to Roys Peak; along the way, enjoy the spectacular views from the ridgeline, which takes in most of Lake Wanaka and the surrounding peaks, including Mount Aspiring.
Or: Heli Picnic at Middle Earth Waterfalls. Fly through the Moonlight saddle and over the Richardson Mountains to Mt Earnslaw, past the blue ice of the hanging glacier before descending to land on the valley floor, over 1000-metres below. Enjoy a unique location under the numerous waterfalls and dramatic hanging glaciers.
Accommodation: Lake Wanaka
Discuss destination options, your itinerary and photography preferences, and the day's conditions. Some options include the old buildings and gold mining heritage of Queenstown and Central Otago, vineyards in the Gibbston Valley, vistas from mountaintop lookouts, or nature shots at a wild river or beech forest. Then, go south along Lake Wakatipu and the base of The Remarkables Range toward Kingston for mountains, waterfalls, an old steam train, and the lakeshore. Discover the region's gold mining heritage, alpine tussock landscapes, and vertiginous Skippers Canyon road.
The 45-minute journey from Queenstown to Glenorchy is one of the most scenic drives you'll ever experience. The road follows the edge of Lake Wakatipu, providing spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, which rise abruptly from the lake's shores. The road to Paradise is the only thing better than the drive to Glenorchy. How much scenery can your camera cope with?
Moke Lake is a serene body of water surrounded by three golden, tussock-covered peaks – Ben Lomond, Ben More and Mt Hanley.
The picturesque township of Te Anau is the main visitor base for the glacier-carved wilderness that is Fiordland National Park.
Accommodation: Te Anau
One of the most dramatic and beautiful parts of New Zealand, the power of Fiordland's scenery never fails to enthral travellers. This unique natural environment features stunning fiords, spectacular waterfalls and snow-capped peaks. Ancient rainforest clings impossibly to the mountains; waterfalls tumble hundreds of meters into massive fiords; shimmering lakes and granite peaks look the same today as they did a thousand years ago. The remaining two-thirds of Fiordland National Park is covered by virgin beech and pod carp forest.
Situated on the west coast of the South Island, Milford Sound is a fusion of spectacular natural features with excellent visual cues around every corner. Described by Rudyard Kipling as the 'Eighth Wonder of the World', Milford Sound is always spectacular - daily scenic flights and cruises reveal its beauty to visitors.
At 421 metres, Doubtful Sound is the deepest of New Zealand's fiords. It's a haven for nature, with resident bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and penguins.
Or: The Ata Whenua Heli-Experience. Visit the southern part of the South Island's wild West Coast and experience the many scattered islands and early history unique to New Zealand's largest fiord, Dusky Sound. Your return journey will take you to the head of Doubtful Sound, through the hidden valley of Campbell's Kingdom and back down the South Arm of Lake Te Anau. Fly along a particular section of the open coastline where waves sculpt granite rock and the mountains meet the sea.
Accommodation: Te Anau
We move to a beach in the Catlins Coastal Rainforest Park, where a low tide reveals long fingers of a fossilised forest, some 160 million years old and now exposed by tide and time. From here, we travel inland to explore the waterfalls of the Catlins.
The Catlins are blessed with some spectacular waterfalls. The most famous of these is Puraaunui Falls- a magnificent waterfall surrounded by a bush that cascades 20 metres over three distinct tiers. Nearby you'll find the small but beautiful Mayai Falls. Further south-west, the 22 metres Mc Lean Falls are a pleasant 40-minute walk into Catlins Conservation Park.
Another spectacular sight in this area is Jack's Blowhole, located in Tunnel Rocks Scenic Reserve. A large cavity that's 55 metres deep and 200 metres from the sea, the blowhole was formed after a large underground cavern caved in. At high tide during a swell, waves are compressed through the underground tunnel and explode out of the blowhole.
The Catlins / Otago Peninsula Heading north through the Catlins, we take in the sunrise at the spectacular coastline of Nugget Point. Along the Catlins coast, we will hopefully get the chance to photograph penguins and the magnificent New Zealand sea lion, which has begun breeding again in the Catlins area in recent decades.
Otago Peninsula The Otago Peninsula, home to penguins, albatross and sea lions, is often called the wildlife capital of New Zealand. We take a boat charter or guided coastal tour to view many of these species from the sea and visit the world's only mainland breeding colony of Southern Royal Albatross. We end the day photographing the sunset over the ridges and estuaries of the peninsula.
Or: Known as the Edinburgh of New Zealand, Dunedin is the country's city of the south, wearing its Scottish heritage with pride. Surrounded by dramatic hills and at the foot of a long, picturesque harbour, Dunedin is one of the best-preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the Southern Hemisphere.
An early start to photograph sunrise over the famed Moeraki Boulders, curiously round rocks known as ‘concretions,’ set into a scenic beachscape. Each boulder weighs several tonnes and is up to two metres high. Scientists explain the boulders as calcite concretions formed about 65 million years ago. According to Maori legend, the boulders are gourds washed ashore from the great voyaging canoe Araiteuru when it was wrecked upon landfall in New Zealand hundreds of years ago.
Or: For centuries, the Southern Ocean and its salt-laden wind have sculpted the sandstone coastline south of Dunedin. The outcome is a line of magnificent high cliffs, arches and headlands that provide endless vantage points for breathtaking views. Follow the fenced track downhill to the spectacular, rocky coastline. At the end of the track, you will find the hand-carved rock tunnel that gives Tunnel Beach its name. Built-in the 1870s, the passage allows access to a secluded and sheltered beach at the base of the cliffs.
The whitestone townscape of Oamaru contains some of the best-preserved heritage buildings in New Zealand. In the late 19th century, the town prospered through gold mining, quarrying and timber milling. After exploring the Victorian precinct, swing by the steampunk playground and museum.
We then head inland towards Mt Cook. Stop at Lake Polka or Lake Ruataniwha. After that, we will head out to explore locations in the park and then do an evening shoot in the Tasman Valley.
Accommodation: Twizel or Mt Cook
You will have the chance to shoot from sunrise to sunset, in various locations in and around the park, from views of Mt Cook and the Hooker and Tasman Valleys to the iceberg formations in the Tasman Lake. Mt Cook has world-renowned clear skies with no light pollution, offering the chance to photograph the Milky Way above the Southern Alps.
Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is home to the highest mountains and the longest glaciers. It is alpine in the purest sense - with skyscraping peaks, glaciers and permanent snowfields, all set under a star-studded sky. Although it encompasses 23 mountains over 3000 metres, this park is very accessible.
At 27 kilometres in length, the mighty Tasman Glacier is a powerful piece of landscaping equipment. While it slowly carves the valley sides, it provides a landing place for small ski planes and helicopters. Surreal, milky lakes are a park's feature - suspended, glacier-ground rock sediment makes the water opaque.
Or: Scenic flight and snowshoeing at Abel Tasman Glacier. Your adventure starts with a scenic flight into the Tasman Glacier, with views of Aoraki Mount Cook, Mount Tasman and the surrounding snow-capped mountains that form the Southern Alps. Years of experience and exploration of the glacier by your guide have resulted in extensive local knowledge allowing you to explore the hidden gems of the Tasman Glacier.
Accommodation: Twizel or Mt Cook
Lake Tekapo is about three hours' drive southwest of Christchurch in the Mackenzie Basin. The township faces north across the vast turquoise-coloured lake to the mountainous drama of the Southern Alps. Lake Tekapo gets its intense milky-turquoise colour from the fine rock flour (ground by glaciers) suspended in the water.
On the shores, on the lake, you'll see the beautiful Church of the Good Shepherd, where the altar window frames a perfect view of the Southern Alps beyond the lake. The church was built in 1935 for the pioneer families of the Mackenzie district and is still used as a place of worship. The church is a popular photo spot for visitors - please note that when you visit the church, weddings and services may take place, and respect is needed from visitors.
We will take you back to Christchurch.