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  • Writer's pictureRach Stewart


Queenstown .. the thriving city nestled amongst the 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 landscape photographers heaven.

Home to some of New Zealand's most incredible mountains, including the Remarkables mountain range, and home the South Islands largest lake, Lake Wakatipu, this area has so much to offer and I always feel a slight sense of sadness whenever I have to leave.

Sunrise at Moke Lake Queenstown
Sunrise at Moke Lake

When you make the trip to New Zealand and in particular the South Island, Queenstown is an absolute must do and should be right at the top of your New Zealand photography list!

I've listed my favourite Queenstown Photography spots in this blog so that you can go and enjoy these stunning locations for yourself. Don't forget to take your camera and your tripod if you're shooting scenes in low light conditions like sunrise and sunset.

Also be sure to check out my Complete Photo Guide to Queenstown South Island New Zealand for even more info and photography locations in Queenstown NZ.

Complete Guide to Queenstown South Island New Zealand Blog

I hope you enjoy Queenstown as much as I do!

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My Top 5 Queenstown Photography Spots in no particular order:



Lake Hayes is a beautiful little lake that can be found about 10 minutes out of Queenstown by car on the way to Arrowtown.

Sunset at Lake Hayes Queenstown New Zealand
Sunset at Lake Hayes

It has quite a few access points, but if you take the Bendemeer Bay access way, and stroll approximately 100m you will find the old jetty featured in most of my shots from Lake Hayes.

On a still day Lake Hayes reflects the surrounding mountains including Coronet Peak and the Remarkables.

Sunrise at Lake Hayes Queenstown
Sunrise Lake Hayes


You will have more of a chance of capturing a reflection during the sunrise or sunset hours when there tends to be less wind.

Sunset at Lake Hayes Queenstown
Sunset at Lake Hayes

Lake Hayes is a location that works well at both sunrise and sunset, however there will be less people at sunrise so it just depends on whether you'd like to be with other people or not. It is not a crowded spot so a lot of the times I have photographed here I've had it to myself and it has been bliss!

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On the outskirts of Queenstown tucked away down a gravel road is one of Queenstown's best kept little photography secrets, Moke Lake. When I first started out in landscape photography, I had heard of this lake, but never seen it. I knew it took a bit of a bumpy road to get there, with a 4wd being a must during winter, which meant there weren’t many photographs around of it.

Sunrise at Moke Lake Queenstown
Moke Lake sunrise

Fast forward a few years later and it has become a little more popular, but it is one of those locations with plenty of room for everyone and it still doesn't get as busy as some of the other more famous Queenstown photography spots.

Moke Lake with its stunning mountain backdrop is actually a Department of Conversation reserve with options to camp overnight for a small fee. In the morning you will often wake up to a beautiful mist on the water as the sun rises, and in the evening the mountains light up with the setting sun.

Astrophotography at Moke Lake Queenstown
Astrophotography at Moke Lake

Most of my shots are taken from the campground itself, just drive right to the end of Moke Lake Road and you will see it. If you're up for something a little more adventurous, try the goat track behind the campground .. NOT for the faint hearted.


The lake points south so when there is any aurora action, this is the place you want to be to capture the Aurora Australis. It is gorgeous at sunrise and at sunset, and capturing the stars and astrophotography is incredible under the dark sky.

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Just 45 minutes from the centre of Queenstown and surrounded by the stunning Humboldt Mountain range is the quaint town of Glenorchy. Getting there is one of the highlights of visiting this small town as it has one of the most scenic roads New Zealand has to offer. Surrounded by towering mountains and driving along the foreshore of Lake Wakatipu, the trip out to Glenorchy is an absolute must do.

The Road to Glenorchy Queenstown
The Road to Glenorchy

Once you've reached Glenorchy there are three amazing photo spots that I recommend you check out and tick off the Queenstown photography bucketlist.


Sunset at Glenorchy Lagoon Queenstown
Sunset at Glenorchy Lagoon

The Glenorchy Lagoon has a beautiful walking track that meanders around the water and there is a stunning platform spot to take a rest and grab a magical landscape shot. Mt Earnslaw can been seen reflecting in the calm waters as well as other surrounding mountains.

Best at sunrise and sunset.


Glenorchy Wharf Queenstown
Early morning at the Glenorchy Wharf

The Glenorchy Wharf has become quite a famous photography location, and can often be very busy during the day, but if you're up early and want to photograph it at its best, I suggest getting there before sunrise to grab a good spot and then wait until the sun rises to catch that beautiful golden light hitting the Humboldt Range.

Best at sunrise.


Sunrise at the Glenorchy Sister Trees Queenstown
Sunrise at the Glenorchy Sister Trees

The Glenorchy Sister Trees are next to the Glenorchy Wharf on the right hand side. These beautiful Willow trees are all lined in unison and create a beautifully composed image, especially when using ND filters and long exposure techniques.

Like the wharf, this location has become quite popular, and I would again suggest arriving at sunrise to beat the crowds.

Best at sunrise.



Queenstown waterfront is one of the easiest locations in Queenstown to take a photo of the magnificent Remarkables Mountain range and Lake Wakatipu.

Sunrise at the Queenstown Waterfront
Sunrise at the Queenstown Waterfront

Head to One Mile Carpark just out of the city centre heading towards Glenorchy and there is a beautiful set of schist rocks that make for a stunning foreground to your image just near the car park.

Sunset along the Queenstown Waterfront
Sunset along the Queenstown Waterfront


I have shot this location at both sunrise and sunset and found it works beautifully during both. If you want to capture colourful skies behind the Remarkables then I would suggest trying at sunrise, where the sun rises behind the mountains. If you'd like to capture sunlight on the mountains I would suggest going at sunset, however the waterfront tends to be a little busier during that time.

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Shotover River Gorge Queenstown

One of my absolute favourite Queenstown photography spots and another one that is relatively easy to get to.

If you've booked to go jet-boating on the Shotover River you will actually pass over the bridge where this shot was taken from.

The Edith Cavell bridge on Arthurs Point Road is around 15 minutes from the city centre heading towards Coronet Peak ski field. There is public carparking available just past the bridge on your left.

Please note the bridge is very skinny and you will need to stand on the provided footpath and steer clear of any large vehicles crossing the bridge while you are on it.


Because the canyon is in shadow most of the time I would suggest photographing during the day so you can achieve the best light possible.


Thanks for taking to time to read my Top 5 Queenstown Photography Spots blog. I hope it inspires you to come to New Zealand and explore the Queenstown Region 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.



You are awesome to share. And your photography is gorgeous!!! We're coming! We're actually staying in Te Anau for 4 nights, and I was wondering if we should do Queenstown too!



Thanks for sharing all this information Rach. I’m originally from Dunedin but live in Oz. I need to get back for a visit and some photograph.

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