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  • Writer's pictureRach Stewart

10 BEST NZ LANDSCAPE LOCATIONS TO VISIT & PHOTOGRAPH


I might be a little bias being a New Zealand photographer and this beautiful little country at the bottom of the world being my home, but NZ landscapes in my opinion are some of the best in the world and there is a reason New Zealand landscape photographers and photographers from a far flock here to capture the perfect landscape image.


The South Island is full of NZ landscape gems. With stunning mountain ranges in the Southern Alps, the crystal-clear glacial lakes of Mackenzie Country, the dramatic coastlines and rising granite of Milford Sound, or the wild beaches of the West Coast, it's no wonder that the South Island New Zealand landscape has become a popular destination for landscape photographers.

From the pure rugged wilderness of Fiordland National Park to the wild tussock plains of the Mackenzie, the beaches at Wharariki and the snowy mountains of Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, there are countless locations throughout the New Zealand landscape that are absolutely inspiring and are made to be photographed.


In this blog post I will take you through some of the best South Island NZ landscape locations to photograph and my personal favourites. Whether you're a professional photographer or just starting out, these locations are sure to provide you with plenty of opportunities to capture breathtaking images.

As with all locations in New Zealand, there is a lot of history and importance associated with Maori culture, and also with keeping our country clean and predator free. Please respect the wishes of Maori iwi if you come across areas that have cultural significance, and please obey the rules.


  1. Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

  2. Fiordland National Park

  3. Ashburton Lakes

  4. Lindis Pass

  5. Tekapo

  6. Wanaka

  7. Twizel

  8. Queenstown

  9. Lake Matheson

  10. Nelson Tasman

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AORAKI MOUNT COOK NATIONAL PARK PHOTO SPOTS


Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is a must-visit destination for any landscape photographer looking to capture the incredible scenes of the New Zealand landscape.


Full of rugged, mountainous terrain and the pristine glacial lakes, this is the place to come to get your mountain fix in New Zealand. The towering peak of Aoraki Mount Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain, is the centerpiece of the park and provides a dramatic focal point for any landscape photograph.


Glacial lakes are the perfect place for NZ landscape compositions with reflections especially during those golden moments at sunrise and sunset.


Here are the must do Aoraki Mount Cook spots I recommend you visit when you're looking for more images to add to your New Zealand landscape portfolio:


HOOKER LAKE


TASMAN LAKE


SEALY TARNS


LAKE PUKAKI



THE ROAD TO MOUNT COOK


MOUNT COOK FROM THE AIR


Check out my Exploring Mount Cook blog for detailed information on each location.

 

FIORDLAND NATIONAL PARK PHOTO SPOTS


Fiordland National Park is an absolute dream photographers destination, offering some of the most breathtaking New Zealand landscapes.


Fiordland is home to majestic fjords, towering mountains rising from the sea, and the most pristine lakes, all of which provide amazing opportunities for landscape photography. The rugged and remote terrain of Fiordland makes it an ideal destination for adventurous landscape photographers who are willing to go off the beaten path in search of stunning vistas. Having said that, the Milford Sound foreshore is one of the easiest locations to get to by car and has one of the most famous and incredibly stunning views New Zealand has to offer!


Often referred to as the "Eighth wonder of the world", the Milford Sound fjord can be explored by boat or kayak, and is well worth the experience, both with or without the camera (but definitely take the camera!).


With its dramatic landscapes and natural beauty, Fiordland National Park is a must visit destination for any landscape photographer looking to capture the essence of the New Zealand landscape.


MILFORD SOUND


THE ROAD TO MILFORD SOUND


LAKE MARIAN HIKE


LAKE GUNN


For more information on the above locations please visit my Best South Island Day Hikes Blog for Lake Marian and New Zealand Best Reflections for Milford Sound

 

ASHBURTON LAKES PHOTO SPOTS


Although not as popular as some of the other NZ landscape locations mentioned in this blog, the Ashburton Lakes are absolutely beautiful to photograph and the only reason they are not mentioned so much is because they're still a bit of a secret!


Forming part of the Hakatere Conservation Reserve, this spot is a hidden gem for landscape photographers in New Zealand, offering stunning vistas and unique photographic opportunities including Lake Heron, Lake Camp and Lake Clearwater. The Lord of the Rings was filmed in the area and you can climb Mount Sunday which is located past the lakes along Hakatere Potts Road.


Hakatere Conservation reserve is located on the eastern side of the Southern Alps not far from Christchurch and encompasses a variety of landscapes, including wetlands, grasslands, and forests.

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LAKE HERON


LAKE CAMP


EREWHON & MOUNT SUNDAY


For more information on the Hakatere Conservation Reserve check out DOC's website.

 

LINDIS PASS PHOTO SPOTS


The Lindis Pass is a breathtaking destination for landscape photographers in New Zealand located between Wanaka and Omarama and is a popular route for travellers heading from Christchurch to Queenstown.


The pass itself is a winding mountain road that offers stunning vistas of the surrounding landscape, including the Ben Ohau Range and the Lindis Peaks. There are plenty of lookout points along the pass which you'll usually find lots of landscape photographers and tourists with their cameras as they provide panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.


The Lindis Pass is such a unique New Zealand landscape and there's nothing else quite like it in the South Island, so definitely put this one on your landscape photography list.

 

LAKE TEKAPO PHOTO SPOTS


As a landscape photographer, I am always on the lookout for stunning natural landscapes to capture through my lens. Lake Tekapo in New Zealand is one such location that is a paradise for photographers who love the mountains and love the snow during winter.


The beautiful bright blue waters of Lake Tekapo set against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains make for an absolutely stunning sight and the perfect NZ landscape image.


The Church of the Good Shepherd, the Lupins Fields, and the nearby Mount John Observatory also offer many photographic opportunities.

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There are plenty of options in this quaint little town and it's well worth a stop for a few days on your journey.

The view from Mount John and the Lake Tekapo Foreshore during Spring.

 

WANAKA PHOTO SPOTS


The picturesque town of Wanaka is situated on the shores of Lake Wanaka, surrounded by stunning mountain ranges and breathtaking natural landscapes.


Most famous amongst landscape photographers for 'The Wanaka Tree', you can't visit Wanaka without venturing along with the crowds to capture this little beauty. What started as a farmers fence post about 100 years ago has turned into the most famous photographed tree in the world, and is an absolute must do for any photographer wanting a NZ landscape image for their portfolio.


The view from the top of the Roys Peak Wanaka track is one of the most impressive in the South Island and if you're going to do at least one hike while you're in New Zealand let it be this one.


THE WANAKA TREE


ROYS PEAK


For more information on Roys Peak visit my Best South Island Day Hikes blog.

 

TWIZEL PHOTO SPOTS


Twizel was a NZ landscape that caught my attention for its incredibly beautiful scenery and photography opportunities. When I first visited Twizel back in 2015 it hadn't become well known for landscape photography yet and was just a sleepy little town I came across on the way to Aoraki Mount Cook.


Surrounded by snow capped mountains and beautiful glacially fed lakes, Twizel is only about 10 minutes from Lake Pukaki and the turn off to the Mount Cook Road.


The stunning landscapes around Twizel are perfect for landscape photography, especially during the winter months when the mountains are covered in snow and there is high chance of capturing a hoar frost.


Lake Ruataniwha is absolutely stunning with its turquoise blue waters and the nearby Kelland Ponds and Wairepo Arm create beautiful reflections on a still day.


As a landscape photographer, Twizel is another destination that will provide a stunning New Zealand landscape image and should be on your portfolio list.


LAKE RUATANIWHA


LAKE POAKA


WAIREPO ARM


 

QUEENSTOWN PHOTO SPOTS


Queenstown is the thriving city nestled amongst some of New Zealand's most famous lakes and mountains. My feelings about Queenstown are still the same as the first time I ever laid eyes on it, absolute incredible beauty and really a NZ landscape heaven.


Landscape photographers have been coming to Queenstown for decades to capture the most incredible mountains, including the Remarkables mountain range, and the South Islands largest lake, Lake Wakatipu.


There are a few locations that really stand out to me as being top NZ landscape spots and I'll share images of these below so you can check them out for yourself.


MOKE LAKE


LAKE HAYES


GLENORCHY



Check out my Top 5 Queenstown Spots blog for more info on these locations

 

LAKE MATHESON WEST COAST


Hidden away just outside of the Fox Glacier township is one of the prettiest lakes the New Zealand landscape has to offer.


Lake Matheson is a popular destination for landscape photographers with its mirror surface, which reflects two of New Zealand's most prominent mountains, Aoraki Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. The dark tannin stained water at Lake Matheson means the reflections on a still day are absolutely breathtaking, and next level for landscape photography.


There is a walking track around the lake takes approximately 40 minutes and there are three viewing platforms to shoot from along the way. These shots were taken at the Reflection Point viewing platform.


Lake Matheson works at both sunrise and sunset, and also has some of darkest skies in the South Island so is perfect for astrophotography. An incredible NZ landscape image you wont want to miss.


 

NELSON TASMAN PHOTO SPOTS


The Nelson Tasman region of New Zealand's South Island is a photographer's paradise, offering a diverse range of stunning NZ landscapes to capture. From golden sandy beaches and turquoise waters to lush green forests and snow-capped mountains, this region has it all.


Abel Tasman National Park with its golden beaches, crystal clear waters, and lush green forests provide for endless opportunities of beautiful beach shots.


The Nelson Lakes National Park, in particular Lake Rotoiti / St Arnaud is where you can capture the dramatic mountain scenery that surrounds the lake and hopefully no wind for a reflection image.


Right at the top of the South Island is Wharariki Beach and the Archway Islands which is a wild picturesque beach with stunning Archway rock formations out at sea. There is a bit of everything in the Nelson Tasman region whatever your preferred style of photography is.


ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK


LAKE ROTOITI / ST ARNAUD


MOTUEKA


WHARARIKI BEACH



If you'd like more info on these locations check out my Best Reflections in New Zealand blog and my Best Beaches in New Zealand blog.


 

Thanks for taking to time to read my Best NZ Landscape Locations blog. I hope it inspires you to come to New Zealand and explore our beautiful little country soon.



If you are interested in prints of any of the New Zealand Landscape Photography seen in this blog, please feel free to head on over to my New Zealand Photography Print Store and have a little look around.



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