When planning a trip to New Zealand the first thing you’ll probably pack before clothes, toiletries, sunscreen etc., is your camera. There’s no secret why, it’s a beautiful country.
But the next step can often be a bit more challenging. Deciding where to go to take your awe-inspiring, liked-by-all, insta-famous snaps.
To make this decision easier, we’ve put together a list of 9 of New Zealand’s Most Photogenic Places, from the pristine beaches to the snow-capped mountains to the bubbling geothermal wonders of Rotorua.
A day trip to Waiheke Island will keep your camera trigger finger busy right from the outset as you board the ferry from the Auckland ferry terminal. Grab a spot on the outside deck and enjoy views of the city, the Auckland Harbour Bridge, the Hauraki Gulf, Rangitoto and Motutapu Islands.
Once you get there you’ll have to move quickly to capture all there is to see. A good start would be one of the many pristine beaches, all with their own unique features. The anchored boats off Oneroa, the white sands of Onetangi, the rock pools of Enclosure Bay, are just a few examples. Next you might want to explore the renowned arts and crafts shops that dot Oceanview Road. Here you’ll meet locals with prints, pottery, jewellery, Maori arts and paintings on show. A 15 minute drive away you’ll find the Whakanewha Walk (through Whakanewha Regional Park) offering an abundance of wildlife to test your assortment of lenses. You’ll then be able to put your feet up at one of the 20+ vineyards, many with spectacular views, as the glorious sunset awaits.
The photo opportunities in Rotorua can only be described as out of this world. That’s because Rotorua is genuinely filled with sights that look like they’re from another planet! During your visit you’ll be able to witness the huge geysers at Te Puia, steaming craters at Hell’s Gate and the magnificent piping hot, orange and green Champagne Pool of Wai-O-Tapu. If that isn’t enough, you’ve got geothermal mud baths, the giant Redwoods of Whakarewarewa and a view of it all from Mount Tarawera. As close as you can get to an extra-terrestrial experience.
The place that may have inspired you to visit New Zealand in the first instance cannot be omitted and deserves inclusion on merit as an immersive experience that takes you deep into the world of Middle-earth. The tour of the 12 acre movie set will take you past Hobbit holes, the Mill and the famous Green Dragon Inn! With selfies of you sipping a Girdley Fine Grain (Amber Ale) who’s isn’t going to impressed by that?
From Middle Earth, we go to Narnia and the Te Whanganui-A-Hei (Cathedral Cove) Marine Reserve. We say Narnia of course because the Cove was used in the film The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian in the discovery of Cair Paravel and with good reason. It’s a secluded spot of beauty. Canny visitors will time their visits to coincide with the local sunrise/sunset. Adventurous visitors will take the kayak option to get there.
To the top of the South Island we find the Marlborough Sounds where, from Picton, you can hop on a cruise, charter a boat or take a kayak out to explore some of the 4,000km² of sea-drowned valleys. As well as the natural scenery, you’ll be able to focus your lens on the marine life inhabitants that call the Sounds home. Seals, dolphins and even the occasional orca swim to the surface to say hello with a bit of friendly Kiwi charm. Get a waterproof housing and you can join them for a dip yourself for some great underwater photography!
Abel Tasman National Park
Also at the top of the South Island (venturing west) is the Abel Tasman National Park known for its golden beaches, limestone hills, numerous hiking tracks including the country’s most popular coastal walk. Obviously this one will require a bit more legwork, but you’ll have no better motivation than the views you’ll get from the lookout points. Photo fun and fitness at the same time!
Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park
New Zealand’s version of an alpine experience can be found at Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park and with it, some extraordinary sights to behold. The most notable are arguably its glaciers (including Tasman, Hooker, Murchison and Mueller) which make up 40% of the park. Then of course you have the mighty Aoraki/Mount Cook (the highest in the country) and the 22 surrounding snow-capped peaks. Flora, fauna, wildlife is all there as well, but for the very best photos, fans of astrophotography gather and look to the stars with the park being labelled by some as one of the best stargazing sites on Earth. It even has official recognition as an International Dark Sky reserve.
The birthplace of bungy jumping and for some, the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown will give you plenty of opportunity to get those action shots to prove to everyone it wasn’t all about leisurely strolls and landscapes. Simply choose your action (via bungy, zipline, paraglide, hand glide, parasail, chopper ride, balloon ride, white water raft, jet boat, snowboard/ski, 4WD, 4×4, horseback, buggy, dirt bike, parachute, sky dive etc. etc. etc.) and let’s just say the shots will take care of themselves. With over 160 licensed bars and cafes, it’s also a great place to get party snaps!
If you want to know why Fiordland is one of the most highly rated sightseeing destinations in the world simply Instagram search “#fiordland”. Stunning is the word. Simply stunning. As a photo-enthusiast, you can do no wrong, for everywhere you point you’ll find unrivalled beauty. The incredible fiords of Milford and Doubtful Sound, the beautiful lakeside towns of Te Anau and Manapouri, the scenic wonders along the Milford, Kepler and Routeburn tracks, all contribute to its World Heritage Status. Of all the sights you’ll see in New Zealand, the most breath-taking will be here. It’s not just our country, but our Earth at its finest. You’ll create your own moments here, and your photos will keep them in memory forever… Just don’t forget to charge your batteries before you go because there aren’t any sockets for miles.
We’d love to know if you have visited any of these amazing place and of course, we’d love to see some of your photos so we can add them to our own! Make sure you drop us a line on our Facebook page and we will share some of the best photos that are sent in.