New Zealand Photo Tour

2019 New Zealand Photography Tour

Sep / Oct 2019. Dates TBA.
Contact us to get on the priority list.


Sep / Oct 2019

12 days – Dates TBA

Contact us to get on the priority list.



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.


Get ready to photograph these stunning locations

Trip Highlights

new zealand photography workshop

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.

Sealy Tarns, Mt. Cook National Park, New Zealand

Mt Cook & Aoraki National Park

An instructor favorite location, Mt. Cook / Aoraki National Park showcases beautifully braided rivers, iceberg-dotted lakes, and more than 70 named glaciers, including the Tasman Glacier, the country’s longest. It’s also home to New Zealand’s highest peak, Mt. Cook, whose Maori name, Aoraki, means “Cloud Piercer.” But for all its ruggedness, Mt. Cook National Park is highly accessible, and a few short tramps will put us in position for some prime photography.

Bennetts Bluff, Queenstown, New Zealand


Near Queenstown we will find glacial valleys, vast lakes, and steep mountains. Here the opportunities for breathtaking photography are limitless.

Lake Wanaka willow in autumn, New Zealand Photography Workshop


Wanaka is a land of rolling hills, pastures, and idyllic scenes. Not to mention an enormous, gorgeous lake, alongside access to tremendous scenery in Mt. Aspiring National Park.

The Catlins

The Catlins is a little-visited section of the South Island celebrated for its ruggedness. In particular, the Catlins region is known for three things: waterfalls, wildlife, and a dramatic coastline. We will be photographing all three on this NZ photography workshop: yellow-eyed penguins making their home in Curio Bay, graceful McLean and Purakaunui Falls, and the endless coastal vistas this landscape boasts.

What to Expect

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.

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.  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

Itinerary and Logistics

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 3 or 4 hour 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 September, which will be GMT+13. 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. September and October are mid spring in NZ and mark the beginning of New Zealand’s transition from winter. 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 at this time 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.

What you Need

Camera Gear

• 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

Recommended clothing

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
• Flashlight

Fitness level

Our New Zealand Photography tour is appropriate for photographers of most fitness levels. We will walk approximately 3-5 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 – TBA

    • Discount if you register with a friend or if you are a returning client
  • Lodging Fee

    • TBA for double occupancy
    • TBA for single occupancy

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.

What’s Included

• 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 lodging at 3.5- and 4-star hotels
• All Department of Conservation concession, entrance, and permit fees
• Milford Sound boat cruise
• 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

• 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.

Cancellation Policy

• 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.


Lee, Florida

“I participated in multiple scenic workshops with various professionals…this was my first experience with Josh and Jim…wow…logistics were perfectly executed, personalized instruction commensurate to my knowledge level and safety was always a priority. I am unsure how Josh and Jim arranged perfect weather conditions with sunrises that were glorious, rainbows, dramatic clouds, mist, mirror-like water and sunsets that were dramatic…this didn’t happen just on one day – this occurred consistently throughout the trip. Josh and Jim kept us supplied with Tim Tams and other goodies..I would recommend not only New Zealand for wondrous scenic photography but Sea to Summit Workshop as the best way to photograph the South Island…

So specific to the most amazing days — I enjoyed the bus rides interacting with my fellow photographers, sharing challenges and learning from each other. I dropped lens caps and they were found amazingly by others. I learned not to be concerned regarding light rain and look at each condition as another way of finding different expressions in capturing my scenic images. Most dramatic was the changing light and conditions of Milford Sound and the surreal sunrise at Lake Moke. What was most impressive that within a 3 hour ride we traveled to arid areas, to the Southern Alps, to Glacier Lakes, to beautiful rolling landscapes, to craggy cliffs over water and ocean.”

John, California

“I knew New Zealand’s South Island would be unique as my plane from Auckland descended over Lake Wakatipu toward Queenstown. Wisps of clouds clung to the peaks of rugged mountains like none I’d ever seen. The explosions of sunrise color at Moke Lake and Tautuku Bay were beyond description, not to mention the rainbow! Then there were the waterfalls surrounded by mossy green forests, and the ever-changing moods of Milford Sound. The whole itinerary was well-planned and Josh, Jim, and our Kiwi driver Reg worked tirelessly to keep the whole thing running smoothly. I certainly hope to get back to New Zealand one of these days!”

Walter, Australia

“I couldn’t ask for any more than what got from the NZ workshop- amazing scenery, superb organisation, delightful fellow travellers and inspirational teachers Jim and Josh.”

Elisabeth, Austria

“The New Zealand workshop was beyond my expectations. Josh and Jim, I was wowed every day, thank you so much! The way the tour was put together was simply fantastic, I could feel how much passion and effort went into the process of making this tour possible. With Josh knowing New Zealand really well, sharing so many great photography locations with us, combined with knowing wonderful people/locals (thank you for our coach driver Reg!), cafes, restaurants and best chocolates, made this whole trip an unforgettable memory. The moment when Jim suddenly started to see southern lights and told me to look up to see the Aurora Australis was definitely a special moment. I was fortunate to join the workshop with my best friend, and we both loved each location as well as the camaraderie with all the workshop participants. My absolute favorite and my most memorable moment was arriving in Milford Sound. I have no words for the magic of Milford Sound, I would say, and can only recommend to others, to go there yourself in order to understand and feel the magic!”

Gail and Gary, Australia

“What an amazing experience we had with Josh and Jim on this workshop. These guys are so generous with their time and knowledge it’s almost impossible not to have some very special memories as well as some terrific shots of the places you get to experience. Combine that with their awesome talent and you could not be in better hands.

I went on this workshop with a very basic (and I mean basic) knowledge of photography and a new camera I had never used before, both Jim and Josh worked with me patiently and shared their skill so I was able to feel more and more confidant through out the trip.

If you’re looking for an adventure where you can break out your camera, learn something new or refresh some skills that may have gone a bit rusty or just meet some people who share your passion, then this is exactly the place to be.

I look forward to and can’t wait to join Josh and Jim on another adventure very soon.”

Your Instructors

landscape photography workshop instructors

Josh and Jim are both professional photographers and have been teaching together since 2010 (and separately since 2008) and have developed a tag-team approach to helping students understand photography concepts. Through a combination of theory, philosophy, examples, and on-the-spot feedback, they help students reach those “a-ha!” moments that take their photography to the next level.

Josh Cripps

Josh Cripps is Sea to Summit’s co-founder and co-lead instructor. He has been visiting New Zealand since 1998 and has spent over 6,000 hours traveling in, exploring, and photographing this amazing island nation. He even lived for a short time in the far north town of Kaitaia. He’s been chased by seals at Arnott Point, eaten the best whitebait sandwich in the country, and explored ice caves in the west coast glaciers. Josh thinks New Zealand’s South Island is quite possible the most beautiful chunk of land on the planet and relishes every minute he spends there.

Jim Patterson

Jim Patterson is Sea to Summit’s co-founder and co-lead instructor. His work has been featured in such prominent publications as National Geographic, Popular Photography, California Diver, and many more. Jim has been teaching photographers about the finer points of landscape photography for over half a decade.


Why Choose Us

Spectacular Locations
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.

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