Growing up in New Zealand, well before I was consumed with photography I would stand with some friends on the mountain tops, as we strapped into the snowboards I would steal a gaze across the snowcapped peaks to the ocean in the distance or down at the valleys and braided rivers below. Completely unaware that these were unique and priceless views, it took me to go abroad and return in order to see how special it truly is.
From a photography stand point, New Zealand is sure to be on any landscape photographers bucket list. From the ocean to the mountains, whether you are an amateur or professional it’s a photographers paradise.
Photo | Nicolas Babot. ‘Hooker Lake’
“With diverse landscapes in a small area. You can start your day with a sunrise-shoot at a lake surrounded by snowy mountains, capture waterfalls in the lush subtropical forest in the afternoon and enjoy sunset on a rugged coastline… On top of that, there is little light pollution which makes it perfect for astrophotography. So in a nutshell, if you come to New Zealand, be prepared for a serious lack of sleep!
– Nicolas Babot
Nicolas Babot, or Nico, is a Christchurch based landscape photographer. You can find him on instagram under the name @thekiwifrog, which is where I found his epic account as I was procrastinating and scrolling through #newzealand .
As he describes above, there are so many landscapes and locations to suit all needs. He frequently heads down to Mt Cook to shoot, and among the 100’s of shots he captured from this year alone, none have made his portfolio. That says, either he is super picky with the caliber of images he puts in his portfolio, or there are just so many good locations and photos to get that the standard of becoming a ‘portfolio image’ is super high. Let’s go with the later.
Having a huge tie to New Zeland myself, it’s hard not to be biased not to mention Nostalgic. With images of majestic snow capped mountains, diverse landscapes, glaciers, coastal areas and Fjords, the memories are flooding in. So I had to get an unbiased opinion on what is so attractive about New Zealand, and if truly deserves the title as a top photography destination.
Enter Simon Markhof. You may remember Simon from such posts as Chasing Adventures With Fellow Photographers . He is a landscape photographer hailing from Bavaria, Germany and Vallerret Team Shooter, whom as of lately has been hooking us up with a truck load of knowledge.
“New Zealand has been on my radar long before I started photography.”
With learning how to operate the camera, there was no way around not going to this fascinating country.”
New Zealand and Australia have a healthy rivalry, so what better place to turn for another unbiased opinion then across the ditch. Jessica Ward is a Newcastle based photographer, she has taken several trips over to New Zealand and is heading back in just a few weeks for another winter photography getaway. So what is the attraction?
“It’s definitely the isolated beauty of the natural landscape. Even though New Zealand is so close to Australia, it feels like you have been transported to some magical land. When it’s been snowing, it enhances this feeling even more.” Jess explains.
Photo | Simon Markhof. ‘Searly Tarns’
I wanted to know, as I’m sure most photographers do, if it’s possible to get unique shots instead of slightly different angles of the iconic landmarks, so I asked Simon if this was possible.. He explains that “Besides the postcard shots there are heaps of places you will find just next to the roadside to make a unique capture of a never before seen place. New Zealand has so much to offer. From freezing glaciers to beautiful sunny beaches, you can drive a few hours and find yourself in a completely different world. This is what I found very special about NZ”
Wondering about the effort needed to get these unique shots Jess tells me.
“The effort has to be made if you want to be successful and break away from all the other photos out there. I climbed Roys Peak during winter last year, the sun had just begun to rise and I was the first one on the mountain. I witnessed the most spectacular sunrise I have ever seen and despite having to try and climb up a snow covered mountain for the first time and absolutely hating it, it’s turned into an incredible experience to look back on. I’m going to push my limits much further when I arrive in August and I’m so excited to see what images I’ll be able to create.”
Photo | Simon Markhof
Photo | Jessica Ward
Hopefully by now you are starting to come around to the photographic opportunities New Zealand has to offer.
With so far to travel to get to this “Land of the Long White Cloud” in the middle of the Pacific, you probably want to know where some of the key spots are.
Here are a few destinations that are a must visit for any winter photographer.
Photo | Simon Markhof
Featuring New Zealand’s tallest mountain, this area never seizes to amaze. Glacial deposit lakes make the waters in this area a turquoise blue, paired with dramatic snowcapped mountains, ice floating in the water and great hikes, it’s an inspiring location.
Did I mention that this area has the clearest skies in all of the southern Hemisphere? Situated in the centre of the South Island, a good distance from any major city (light pollution). Statistically this area has the clearest skies making for fantastic astro photography and home to the iconic Church of the Good Shepard.
Photo | Jessica Ward
Photo | Nicolas Babot
Queenstown has grown into an adrenalin junkie and extreme sport epicentre, so if you are wanting to feel like you are alive (or about to die) there are multiple options for that here.
It is also a dramatic and scenic town, located in the middle of the Southern alps, there is some great skiing/snowboarding with the landscapes providing ultimate back drops to the action sport photography.
Home to many of NZ’s great walks, with Glenorchy situated at one end of the lake, and Wanaka just over the range you can climb high up into the peaks to grab those huge and stunning vistas.
Photo | Nicolas Babot
Supposedly the most photographed location in New Zealand, this is an outstanding fjord and hard to not get a great shot here.
Just don’t forget your insect repellent!
Photo | Nicolas Babot, “Mt Taranaki”
Hopefully I have achieved my goal with this post of highlighting New Zealand as a top Photography Destination and you have just added it to the top of your list of places to go explore. So don’t forget to check out our “Tips to travelling and photographing New Zealand“.
To see more great images of New Zealand and work from the photographers in this post, you can follow the links below.
Nicolas Babot – Website: nico.babot.eu/
Simon Markhof – Website: simonmarkhof.de Instagram: @simonmarkhof
Jessica Ward – Website: jessicawardphoto.com Instagram: @jesswardphoto
Christian Hoiberg: This winter I spent three full months living and guiding in Arctic Norway. While I’ve spent a lot of time there previously, staying there for this extended period of time led to me getting a more intimate understanding of the surroundings.
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