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  • Rach Stewart


Top 5 Winter Photo Spots in South Island NZ

Winter in New Zealand is such a magical time for photography with the snow hitting all our mountains and the South Island NZ turning into a winter wonderland. It’s that time of the year when the temperatures start to drop .. the ski fields are opening, the winter jackets are coming out and its beginning to feel like a fairytale for landscape photography.

At the beginning of June in New Zealand the lakes have started to freeze a little .. ice sheets are beginning to appear and frozen puddles line the foreshore. White frosting lies dotted along mountain ridgelines, and landscape photographers everywhere are getting excited for the transformation from colourful autumn landscapes, to blissfully white winter filled scenes.

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If you are planning to visit New Zealand's South Island during winter, here are a few of my Top Winter Photo Spots in the South Island NZ that might help you in some of your planning.

The Southern Alps is where you will find a lot of inspiration and sense of wonder only felt when surrounded by such incredible landscapes. The north island most certainly has gems like that too, but I'll share those ones another time!

Come along with me as I relive some of my journey through New Zealand in winter.



All I can say, is if you are headed to the South Island and Mount Cook in particular, its pretty hard to miss this Top Winter Photo Spot.

Here you will find THE most blue glacial feed lakes in New Zealand, and Lake Pukaki in particular is absolutely stunning.

Mount Cook and the Lake Pukaki river bank
Mount Cook and the Lake Pukaki river bank taken just past the second overbridge on the Road to Mount Cook

The Road to Mount Cook follows the lake and takes you to one of the most magical places on earth, and I’m not lying when I say that.

I don't think you will regret taking this road to one of New Zealand's most iconic mountains, do trust me on that one! There are not many places in the world where you will be treated with such diverse scenery .. take this road and find out for yourself.

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Having seen many photos of Wanaka before ever visiting myself, this was one of those places that stole my heart as soon as I saw it with my own eyes and a perfect winter photo spot in the South Island NZ.

A place that made me smile, that left me not wanting to leave, left me in constant awe and excited that I would one day get back there again to experience more.

Check out my blog The Wanaka Tree Photography for more.

I first visited here in the depths of winter, and it truly was an incredible sight. The mountains were covered in snow, the forever gorgeous Lake Wanaka glistened in the winter sun, and hiking Roy’s Peak to view one of the most spectacular sights over the Southern Alps in New Zealand was an experience not to be forgotten .. Wanaka is an absolute must do. Add it to your list.

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Check out my blog Hiking The Roys Peak Track for more.



It goes without saying .. Queenstown is the buzzing hub of winter in New Zealand. Nestled amongst the Southern Alps and lining the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is a winter dream.

Queenstown Skyline Gondola Best Winter Photo Spot South Island NZ
Queenstown as viewed from the Skyline Gondola lookout

Tourists flock here and it’s no surprise why. The town is full of life, fabulous restaurants and you can’t help but feel excited being amongst it all. But what I love the most, are the incredible landscapes that are found on the outskirts of town .. the quiet places where the beauty really unfolds.

Glenorchy is the small settlement just outside of Queenstown and is as picturesque as it comes. The road out the Glenorchy is said to be one of the best scenic drives in New Zealand and I absolutely agree. It is here that I fell in love with the South Island, and I always come back whenever visiting.

The Glenorchy Pier Queenstown
The Glenorchy Pier Queenstown during winter

Check out my blog Top 5 Queenstown Photo Spots for more.

Rach Stewart Photography NZ Landscape Print Store


This area is my favourite part of Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. Take the side road down to the Tasman Valley and you wont regret it, the towering Mount Blackburn is probably the first mountain you will see, and what a way to be greeted I say!

Tasman Glacier Lake Best Winter Photo Spot South Island NZ
The Tasman Lake with icebergs during winter

With a short walk to Tasman Glacier Lake, its one of the easiest hikes you can do with some of the best rewards for scenery. In winter Lake Tasman looks like something out of a fairytale. Snow capped mountains, ginormous icebergs and a pristine blue glacial feed lake. A photographer’s paradise.

It is however a stark reminder of global warming and the retreat of our glaciers. In the 1970’s the Tasman Lake didn’t exist. The glacier now recedes approximately 500 – 800 metres a year. It is predicted that the Tasman Glacier will disappear completely in 10-20 years time. Our planet is far more fragile than we humans are, I hope that we can all strive to make a difference and save it.

Tasman Glacier Lake Mount Cook
Tasman Glacier Lake Sunrise Mount Cook


If you find yourself in the South Island and have time to travel the west coast, then Lake Matheson and Fox Glacier should be one place that you stop and spend a little time with.

Mount Tasman and Mount Cook from the Lake Matheson walk
Mount Tasman and Mount Cook from the Lake Matheson walk

The short walk around Lake Matheson provides you with some of the best views of New Zealand’s highest peaks, Mount Tasman and Mount Cook, and on a good day, the lake creates a magnificent reflection in the dark waters beneath. Absolutely worth the drive to one of the most stunning places on earth.

That's it from me for this blog! I hope you might find some inspiration here and some ideas for your own winter trip to the South Island.

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.

1 Comment

6 days ago

Dear Rach,

Your hard work driven by passion, Your skill with the camera, and most of all Your generosity to share your knowledge... makes you truly a GREAT MAN. Hats off to you.

Warm regards

Tom Cherian, Liver Transplant Surgeon, Hyderabad, India.

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