2018 New Zealand Photography Tour
12-day South Island Spectacular
New Zealand. Aotearoa. Land of the long white cloud. No matter what you call it, New Zealand will leave you speechless with the beauty of its mystical fjords, pristine beaches, and glacier-carved mountains. Join seven other adventurous photographers on the trip of a lifetime through the dramatic landscapes of New Zealand’s South Island. From the stunning grandeur of Milford Sound and the soaring peaks of Aoraki National Park to the unreal azure of Lake Pukaki and the wild Catlins, this 12-day New Zealand Photo Tour and workshop will provide photographic opportunities on an epic scale. The photography will be incredible, the scenery breathtaking, and the memories will last a lifetime.
Expect the trip of a lifetime. Photographers will find NZ’s South Island to be a land of stunning beauty and wonderful photographic opportunities. The landscapes are dramatic, varied, and accessible. In addition to the photography, you will find New Zealand to be a charming country that’s easy to explore. The Kiwis are an extremely friendly people who are in love with their wonderful land. Prepare yourself for incredible scenery, stunning photos, and memorable experiences with our New Zealand photography tour and workshop. We will take advantage of the most spectacular sights on the South Island which contains some of New Zealand’s most dramatic and varied landscapes. We will photograph marvelous glaciers, soaring snow-capped peaks, breathtaking fjords, lush rain forests, and rugged coastlines.
Milford Sound & Fiordland
Part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, Fiordland National Park comprises over 4,800 square miles of glacier-carved fjords and sounds, deep river valleys, and rugged peaks. One of the high points of Fiordland, Milford Sound, has been called the 8th wonder of the world. From a deep, tranquil bay Mitre Peak rises straight up over a mile high to present a truly breathtaking view. Abundant precipitation and sheer-walled mountains create two powerful year-round waterfalls and hundreds of ephemeral ones.
Near Queenstown, we will find glacial valleys, vast lakes, and steep mountains. Here the opportunities for breathtaking photography are limitless.
New Zealand Photo Tour & Workshop
Our New Zealand photography tour is for photographers of all experience levels, from novice to experienced. In short, this tour is for anyone who wants to explore and photograph stunning scenery with a fun group of like-minded people. The workshop is limited to 8 participants for a small, personal feel. And there are two instructors, giving the workshop a 4-to-1 ratio for maximum 1-on-1 feedback and instruction.
This is a learning-focused tour and workshop, meaning that we make every effort to have you leave the workshop a better photographer. But that doesn’t mean we spend our time in a classroom. On the contrary, all instruction on this tour takes place in-the-field in amazing locations, and is relaxed, constructive, and personal. We encourage understanding your camera’s settings in order to break into new creative realms. There is a strong emphasis on producing striking and powerful compositions, as well as telling a story with your photos. New Zealand has supremely dark skies so we’ll also talk about night photography and light-painting. In addition, the workshop will discuss aspects of post-processing and digital workflow. Topics we will discuss include:
• Transforming your artistic vision into memorable photographs
• Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO – their interaction and how to change them for exposure control
• Metering and getting a correct exposure
• Histograms, how to read them, and how to fine-tune exposure
• Creative depth-of-field effects using aperture control
• Capturing motion within your photos using different shutter speeds
• Timing waves to capture crashing spray, water streaks, and sandy reflections
• White balance and creative coloration
• Creating perspective, depth, and a sense of “being there” in your photos
• Creating powerful compositions with impact
• Composing to control your viewer’s attention in your photos
• Composition: balance, tension, and visual flow
• How to use filters to capture dramatic light or create long-exposure effects
• Low-light and night photography
• How to capture stars, the Milky Way, or star trails
• Light-painting experiments
• Aspects of post-processing and digital workflow
• Shoot planning and how to be at the right place at the right time
Getting to the Workshop
This workshop meets and disbands in Queenstown, a vibrant city on New Zealand’s South Island. Participants are responsible for their transportation to and from Queenstown Airport.
Transportation during the workshop
Transportation is provided throughout the workshop, from our first hotel until our return to Queenstown. Transportation during the workshop will be in a comfortable mini-bus capable of holding the entire group plus our photo gear and luggage.
11 nights of comfortable hotel lodging throughout the South Island. Single or double occupancy lodging choices available.
New Zealand Photography Tour Itinerary
Our itinerary is organized to visit some of the most spectacular locations on the South Island. The workshop is 12 days total: 10 shooting days book ended by an arrival day and a departure day. We’ll set a relaxed pace on the trip, with emphasis on shoots during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset, with breaks in the middle of day for meals, optional side-trips, or transit between locations. NZ is a small country and most of our locations are only a few hours’ drive apart. Also note that nothing is mandatory on this workshop and if you feel like taking a break from one of our scheduled stops just let us know.
Day 1, Arrival Day
Arrive in Queenstown. Meet at our group’s hotel for orientation and introductions. We will plan to relax in vibrant Queenstown this night to prepare for the upcoming workshop.
Days 2 – 11
Our tour follows a rough clockwise loop out of Queenstown, first heading up Lake Wakatipu to the glacial Rees and Dart River valleys near the village of Glenorchy. Next we will venture to Wanaka for a night before setting off for Mt. Cook National Park, where rugged mountains and azure-blue lakes dominate the landscape. From there it’s a trip past the iconic Moeraki Boulders on our way to Dunedin, the second largest city on the South Island. Next it’s down to the southern end of the South Island to the Catlins and Curio Bay, the best place in NZ to see one of the world’s rarest penguins, the yellow-eyed. While in the Catlins we will also shoot waterfalls and rugged cliffs. Leaving the Catlins we will drive to Te Anau for a night before venturing into the grand finale of the trip: Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound. There we will spend a few nights drinking in the spectacular scenery, both by land and by a cruise through the Sound.
Day 12, Last Day and Departure
On our last day we return to Queenstown and get ready for departure. Bid your new friends and fellow photographers goodbye and reminisce about an awesome workshop.
Note: all times and dates in this itinerary are given for New Zealand in October, which will be GMT+12, putting it 20 hours ahead of Los Angeles. When making flight bookings, please make sure the date you arrive in Queenstown coincides with our itinerary. Sea to Summit reserves the right to revise this itinerary at any time. For detailed trip information please contact us.
Note: dates and weather may change. October is mid spring in NZ and marks the beginning of New Zealand’s transition into summer. Days will be mild and nights may be chilly. Kiwis often claim their country can experience all four seasons in a single day, so participants on this workshop should be ready for a variety of conditions from rain and snow to warm sun. Average temperatures in Queenstown in October range between 35°F lows and 65°F highs (2°C – 18°C). Temperatures throughout the South Island will be relatively similar, with perhaps +/- 10°F (+/- 5°C) differences.
• Digital SLR camera
• Lenses. Wide and ultra-wide angle lenses are highly recommended
• A sturdy tripod
• Footwear with good traction (waterproof or rubber boots recommended) and warm socks (very important!)
• Creativity and a positive attitude
• Warm clothes in layers, gloves, a warm hat, and a rain jacket
• A wide-brim hat and sunscreen
• A one-liter (or larger) water bottle
Due to variable conditions, we recommend bringing multiple layers of non-cotton clothing (like polypropylene base layers and fleeces), a warm jacket and pants, a warm hat, gloves, warm socks, and sturdy footwear (waterproof boots or hiking shoes are recommended), with lighter layers for warm days. We also recommend bringing a windproof rain jacket and rain pants. Light colored clothing is recommended as mosquitoes and sandflies are attracted to dark colors. A wide-brim hat, sunglasses, and a large water bottle will also be indispensable. New Zealand experiences strong UV so sunscreen is also a must.
Highly recommended items
• Filters (ND, Grad ND, Polarizer)
• Remote shutter release
• Camera rain sleeve
Our New Zealand Photography tour is appropriate for photographers of moderate fitness levels. We will walk approximately 5-8 miles over the course of each day of the workshop. This includes walking on hilly, uneven, and slippery terrain. Walking in the mountains can be strenuous. All participants are expected to be able to carry their own camera, personal gear, and water during the workshop.
- Workshop Fee – $5950 per person
- $400 discount if you register with a friend
- $975 discount if you would like a double-occupancy (shared) room
A deposit of $495 is required to reserve your spot. The balance will be billed in quarterly installments such that the final balance is paid a minimum of 90 days before the workshop.
• An incredible tour of some the most photogenic sights of the incomparable South Island of New Zealand
• Quality, professional, 1-on-1 photography instruction on par with your level as a photographer
• All transportation during the workshop
• 11 nights of comfortable, single occupancy lodging at 3.5- and 4-star hotels
• All Department of Conservation concession, entrance, and permit fees
• Milford Sound boat cruise
• Water and delicious Kiwi snacks throughout the workshop
• A fun, positive, interactive learning environment
• Small group size of 8 photographers maximum
• Memories of a lifetime
What’s Not Included
• International Airfare to New Zealand
• Domestic transport / airfare to Queenstown
• Meals, though the group often eats together throughout the workshop
• Personal items, souvenirs, passport/visa fees as applicable, and gratuities
• Optional activities such as scenic flights, gear rentals, bungee jumping, etc.
• Trip insurance
Costs in New Zealand
While not as expensive as Europe, New Zealand is still a first world country and travel costs should be expected accordingly. Currently the New Zealand dollar is worth about 75 cents US. Conversely, a US dollar is worth about $1.33 NZ. To help you plan your trip, here are some sample items and their cost in NZ dollars:
• Coffee – $4 NZD
• Fish and Chips – $7-13 NZD
• Dinner – $15-40 NZD
• Domestic Beer – $7 NZD
You should expect your total daily budget for meals to be in the $30 – $70 NZD range depending on your choices.
Also note that the internet, while widely available, is slower than in many Westernized countries. We will generally have access to wifi at our hotels but expect that it may not be available everywhere.
• For this workshop a deposit is required to reserve your spot. If you cancel at any time, this holding deposit is non-refundable; however if we are able to fill your spot before the workshop we will refund your holding deposit. If Sea to Summit Workshops cancels this workshop for any reason, your entire registration fee will be transferred to another workshop or refunded to you at your discretion. We strongly recommend purchasing trip insurance to cover your costs in case of cancellation or withdrawal. If you have a personal emergency such as a death in the family, please contact us. We are willing to work with you to reschedule or refund your fee on a case-by-case basis. This workshop requires a minimum of 5 participants. In the case of under-subscription we reserve the right to cancel the workshop, in which case your registration will be transferred to another workshop of your choosing. Or we may conduct the workshop with a single instructor.
• Please view our full cancellation policy here.
People really love our workshops. Here’s what they say…
I just wanted to thank you two for an awesome workshop. I thought you guys were terrific. You’re both incredibly knowledgeable about photography – and better yet – awesome instructors. I’d consider taking another workshop just to hang out and see more locations. I especially appreciated that you guys were always available for questions both during the workshop and afterwards. Dinner and lunches were great too. I learned a ton and got all my questions answered. I loved that we were out all day! Best workshop I’ve taken.
This was an outstanding trip for multiple reasons. The cost was reasonable, and the instructor to participant ratio was perfect! You guys do a great job at reading our levels and “feeding” us at the right pace….POSITIVE support with great tips and encouragement. I would definitely take another workshop.
[This workshop] exceeded my expectations, I had a really wonderful time. [Josh and Jim] researched locations to photograph and matched them nicely with the time of day, [they were] very friendly and full of useful knowledge, [and] indicated an extreme interest in helping every attendee.
Thank you for a great class. Both of you were so good at explaining things and so willing to help. Not only are you both good at explaining things, but you are both polite, knowledgeable, and helpful. My favorite part of the workshop was the one-on-one attention. It was so much better than a previous class I had taken. Thanks. A+ from this teacher.
Thank you for a wonderful time. You guys have a great way of explaining difficult concepts and its always fun to learn from people who clearly have a passion for what they do.
[My] favorite part of the workshop [was] just being around people motivated to shoot in a cool-ass location. [Josh and Jim] proactively sought to give personalized instruction to each of the attendees. [I learned to] rely more on my histogram to evaluate exposure. Would I take another workshop? Hell yeah.
View our New Zealand Photo Gallery.
Check out stories, images, and videos of New Zealand in our blog.
Want different dates or a highly tailored experience? Contact us to arrange a private photography workshop along the California coast. Available for individuals, groups, and companies.
Why Choose Us
Our workshops combine the very best scenery we can find along with in-depth knowledge of the areas we’re visiting. From the coast to the mountains to the desert, our workshops visit some of the most breathtaking landscapes you can imagine. And with hundreds of hours spent scouting and shooting in each location, Jim and Josh know the best times to visit, the best things to see, and the best shots to get. Plus we’re constantly adding new and cool locations to our line-up so you can keep expanding your photographic horizons.
1-on-1 Instruction at Your Level
We take a three-tiered approach to our photography instruction: Philosophy. Theory. Technique. This means that no matter what level of photographer you are, you can expect to walk away from a workshop with your head bursting with ideas about how to refine your vision and find your own style, an understanding of camera techniques and composition concepts that will springboard your photography, and the actual “How-To” of nailing a shot in the field. And with our relaxed, casual, 1-on-1 approach, you can soak up just the information YOU need to become a better shooter.
Small Class Size
Our international workshops have an 8 person maximum to insure you get ample one-on-one time with the instructors. Our small groups also help us build camaraderie, plus we can go places big photography tours can’t. And with Josh and Jim running every single workshop themselves, there’s never more than 4 students for every instructor.
A “Go Happy or Go Home” Attitude
We believe that photography is as much about enjoyment as it is about scoring a keeper for your portfolio. We create a fun and dynamic environment where you can meet other photographers, learn at your own pace, enjoy the beauty of nature, and have a great time while doing it.
We Never Stop Scouting
Sea to Summit is never content to rest on its laurels. Before and after every workshop we are scouting, scouting, scouting. Whether it’s to find new and exciting locations to shoot or to provide a different view of the old icons, we strive to show you the absolute best places for photography.
Fully Insured and Permitted, Leave-No-Trace Advocates
Sea to Summit takes pains to ensure our activities are 100% above board. We obtain all the necessary permissions and insurances required in order conduct our workshops.
We are also strong advocates of Leave No Trace (LNT) wilderness ethics. We teach responsible photography practices and never sacrifice the environment for the sake of a photo. Our goal is to leave our photography workshop locations in better shape than the way we found them.