• Rach Stewart


The South Island of New Zealand receives a lot of attention when it comes to photography, and rightly so .. it truly is a stunning place. Having said that, the North Island is just as beautiful and unique in its own way, and considering it is my home, I thought it was about time to share some of the places that I have visited on the north for photography, and that I think you should too.

The North Island is known for its stunning white sandy beaches on the east side, and rugged dramatic coastlines on the west side. We have more of a tropical climate, and a bit of everything. Beautiful waterfalls, amazing walking tracks, lush bush, incredible coastlines, freshwater lakes and we can't forget our snowy mountains!

This blog covers only a handful of the locations that I have photographed, and there are many more on my list that I want to get to. Hopefully I can update you at the end of the year with some of the new places I visit, but for now, I hope you enjoy what I have so far.

Pinnacles Summit, Coromandel

I have to start with my most favourite and in my opinion, the most breath taking view in the North Island, the Pinnacles Summit in the Coromandel. If you are willing to work for it, then this is the one place you will want to visit whilst here.

The 8 hour return hike can be completed overnight with a stay at the DOC hut near the summit, or can be done as a day walk. For photography purposes, I would recommend staying at the hut as conditions are prime at both sunrise and sunset.

The hike itself traverses through native bush including New Zealand's very own Nikau palms and runs across streams and swingbridges. Once you get to the hut, the summit is a further 40 minutes up ... if you are afraid of heights like me , take a friend to help you, but trust me it's worth it.

The Pinnacles, Coromandel

These shots were all taken at the summit for sunrise.

For more information please visit thecoromandel.com.

Lake Mangamahoe, Taranaki

This little lake is fast becoming popular as a photography location as the fascination with Mount Taranaki (one of the world's most symmetrical volcano cones) continues to dominate on social media.

Lake Mangamahoe, Taranaki

The Taranaki region is full of diversity, from mountain landscapes to rugged beaches, forest, waves and long country drives in between.

Lake Mangamahoe, Taranaki

Lake Mangamahoe is easily accessible by car and the 6km track that surrounds the lake is a great way to see the different vantage points of Mount Taranaki.

Lake Mangamahoe, Taranaki

The shots I have shared here were taken at sunset and are a short walk from the car park at the end of Lake Road and sign posted.

For more information please visit Taranaki.info.

Tutukaka and surrounds, Northland

I have had a fascination with underwater photography for quite some time, but I'd never actually had the courage to give it a go myself. Early 2019 I decided it was time ... I went out and bought an underwater housing and there was only one place I knew I wanted to go to get the shots I had dreamed of, and that was The Poor Knights Islands.

Poor Knights Islands New Zealand

Protected in a marine reserve since the 1980's, the Poor Knights Islands are home to incredibly abundant marine life both below the surface and above. This is a no take marine reserve .. no fishing, taking, disturbing of marine life whatsoever.

Poor Knights Islands, Northland

Rated as one of the top ten dive sites in the world by Jacques Cousteau, the team at Dive Tutukaka made all my dreams come true and I have since returned three times to capture life under the surface.

Jellyfish, Poor Knights Islands
Diving the Poor Knights Islands New Zealand

Tutukaka is approximately 3 hours north of Auckland by car and it well worth the drive. Be sure to visit Whangarei Falls on the way, and just a further 20 minutes on from Tutukaka is Matapouri, a beautiful bay where the sunrise is spectacular.

Whangarei Falls, Northland
Matapouri, Northland, New Zealand
Sunrise Matapouri

For more information please visit Dive Tutukaka and Northland NZ .

Mauao Summit & Mount Maunganui Beach

My home. If you're coming to the North Island, then you've got to come to place that I call home.

Papamoa Beach sunset

Ranked as one of the top 25 best beaches in the world, and white sand stretching as far the eye can see, "The Mount" is a must do if not for any other reason but that!

Mauao Summit, Mount Maunganui

For the best view, and one of the most iconic, a short but steep climb up Mauao (Mount Maunganui) is the way to go. Mauao is the iconic extinct volcanic cone standing 232m above sea level, and is the landmark for our region. It is treasured by all of us here and holds deep cultural and historical importance.

Mauao Summit sunset

It will take you approximately 45 minutes to get to the top .. and although a bit of a tough slog, it is absolutely worth it for the 360° views along the entire Bay of Plenty coastline, the harbour to Tauranga, the Kaimai Range and out to Coromandel.

Mount Maunganui sunset

I would suggest photographing the Mauao Summit at sunrise, and from the beach at sunset.

Mount Maunganui surf

For more information please visit bayofplentynz.com.

Tongariro National Park

Peter Jackson chose to film parts of the Lord of the Rings movie series in Tongariro National Park, and it’s no surprise why when you look at what’s on offer. Rocky landscapes, deserted hills, majestic waterfalls and not to forget those incredible mountains.

Mt Ngauruhoe, Tongariro National Park

Located in the centre of the North Island, this national park is easily accessed via the State Highways leading into it and it's well worth spending a few days in the area exploring the many walking tracks and photography opportunities available.

Mt Ngauruhoe viewed from the Whakapapa Ski Road

Locations to note for photography include the Tongariro Alpine Crossing (notably Emerald Lakes and the Red Crater), Whakapapa Ski Road, The Desert Road, Tawhai Falls, Taranaki Falls, Mangawhero Falls and Tama Lakes.

Mangawhero Falls, Tongariro National Park