When it comes to bucket list-worthy travel destinations, there are many reasons why New Zealand's South Island is a popular choice. With rolling green hills, dense green forests, capped mountains, and stunning lakes, not many other places on Earth flaunt our planet's natural beauty in such a magnificent way.
Blessed with diverse landscapes, this island definitely won't fail your photography skills. South Island has an abundance of photo opportunities for beginner and veteran shooters that will make you want to book your flight right now. Check out the best photography spots that your camera won't be able to resist in South Island, New Zealand below.
Most visitors will tell you that it's almost impossible not to fall in love with this charming, tiny town located in South Island. Sitting on the edge of a crisp, blue lake surrounded by stunning greenery and mountains, the views from Wanaka come straight out of vacation fantasies. Be sure you don't leave without capturing the most sought-after “Wanaka Tree,” which rests peacefully in the middle of the lake.
2. Nugget Point Lighthouse
Along the Otago Coast, you can find one of the island’s distinct landmarks where the ocean and the sky meet. Sitting atop the steep, rocky headland enclosed in tiny, well-distributed islands, Nugget Point Lighthouse is one ideal location for some rewarding and unique panoramic shots.
3. Isthmus Peak
Located between Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea, Isthmus Peak can be reached by climbing a lengthy hike that could take between two to four hours. While hitting the peak, you'll be able to gaze a 360-degree perspective of the two lakes that are surrounded by layers of mountains and rock formations. The view can change with different seasons and climates, so be sure to be strategic about your visit.
4. Milford Sound
Apart from being known as the earth’s second wettest place with over 11 meters of rainfall every year, Mildford Sound is truly one of the most photographic places in New Zealand, and possibly the world. You'll be stunned as you chase the colossal waterfalls pouring straight out of the clouds and can take shots of the adorable seal colonies, dolphins, and penguins splashing out of the water. If you are into marine or wildlife photography, you can also snap some of the rare black corals and other marine life that's right under your nose.
5. Mount Cook National Park
This location might be quite challenging to photograph, as it usually hides behind a thick layer of clouds blowing from the ocean, but if you’re lucky enough, you can witness the Hooker Valley Trail. Through the trail, you can photograph the infamous, flowing Hooker River in the forefront. Lake Pukaki’s astonishing milky blue glacial water and Lake Tasman are two spots your camera won't be able to miss shooting.
Lying on the shore of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown isn’t just a tourist destination, but an adventure awaiting. The awe-inspiring alpine ranges, as well as the exquisite mountains and rivers, will turn your trip into a complete memory. This place tends to be busy and crowded during peak season, but that shouldn't stop you from discovering peaceful spots to photograph.
7. Lake Tekapo
Lake Tekapo is another remarkable lake your camera can discover in New Zealand’s South Island. If you arrive in December, you'll be astonished by the blooming flowers surrounding the edges of the water. Make sure your camera is always accessible as you can take advantage of capturing the signature vibrant blue lake and purple lupins. A quaint church with a sensational backdrop of Lake Tekapo and the Southern Alps makes Tekapo a prime shoot location in New Zealand.
You might have seen some panoramic scenes in films such as The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Did you know that some impressive snow-capped mountains, untouched lakes and rivers, and green forests from those scenes were captured in Glenorchy? A true slice of heaven, Glenorchy is surrounded by Kinloch and Paradise settlements, which are also famous for their fantastic scenery and tranquility.
Almost every single location you get to visit in New Zealand’s South Island is photogenic and jaw-dropping. Make sure you have enough time to stay on the island, as you will find yourself wanting to see more landscapes and views to feed your eyes and add into your photography portfolio.
To stay fully prepared for your next photography trip, check out of Beginner Photographer's Travel Guide.