Tours in New Zealand South Island - Spring Spectacular

Discover New Zealand's South Island through a lens

Tours in New Zealand South Island - Spring Spectacular

New Zealand South Island - Spring Spectacular

21 Nov - 4 Dec 2021
14 days & nights departs and returns Christchurch
Maximum 8 guests
AUD 11750

Come and join Beyond the Lens Tours on a small group luxury landscape photography tour of the spectacular South Island of New Zealand.

New Zealand’s South Island is a land of contrasts and spectacular scenic beauty. Larger than the North Island it is stunningly beautiful with a gorgeous, rugged coastline, snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps, glaciers, fjords, azure blue lakes, lush green valleys, an unforgettable journey into the heart of Fiordland National Park home to both the famous Milford & Doubtful Sound and for the adventurous, Queenstown, with its reputation for outdoor adventure or relaxation. You will be spoilt for choice as the photographic opportunities throughout the South Island of New Zealand will be on a grand scale.

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Tour Overview:

Tour Overview:

Our spectacular 14-day spring tour of New Zealand’s South Island is for the landscape photographer who wants to experience an amazing array of locations and activities. This tour will offer the beauty of New Zealand’s incredible landscapes, spectacular and diverse scenery, snow-capped mountains, glaciers, breathtaking fjords, lush rain forests and one of the world’s best dark sky reserves for astrophotography. We start and finish in Christchurch and after an exciting journey full of experiences, stunning photographic locations, 4WD safaris, sunrises, and sunsets, an incredible sunrise flight over Mt Aspiring and the glaciers and a cruise on Milford Sound to list a few of the amazing opportunities. Included are our specialised landscape photography and an astrophotography session with our local NZ professional photographers – Glen Howey (Wanaka/Queenstown), Joseph Pooley & Rachel Gillespie (Mt Cook/Lake Tekapo) that will ensure  plenty of fabulous photographs to take home for memories from one incredible photographic adventure with like-minded travellers.

Our travelling style is at a relaxed pace but with many fantastic sights to photograph we keep the schedule moving along as each day provides many opportunities. It may involve the golden hours of sunrise and sunset or the late nights viewing the dark skies as this light often provides some of the best lighting conditions for stunning scenes to photograph, these are always optional, but certainly worth the extra effort to participate. We have included multiple night stays in Wanaka (3) and Queenstown (4) with one full free day to explore this wonderful adventure playground on your own to ensure maximum enjoyment throughout the tour. At the end of each day, guests can relax in their luxury accommodation and enjoy quality restaurant meals in preparation for the next exciting day.

Tour Includes:

  • Small Group Luxury Travel Photo Tour – maximum 8 guests
  • No Single Supplements
  • 14 nights luxury 4 to 5-star accommodation with private facilities in hotels or boutique lodges
  • Daily breakfast & dinner included – enjoy a mix of fine restaurant meals at our accommodation or local restaurants with a free night in Queenstown to explore your own favourite dinner option (own expense)
  • Transport in 12-seater Executive Van/Mercedes Benz Sprinter with an experienced local driver and tour guide 
  • Welcome & Farewell Dinner in Christchurch
  • Experienced Professional Photographers – Glen Howey – Wanaka/Queenstown, Joseph Pooley, and Rachel Gillespie – Mt Cook/Lake Tekapo join us on specific days to share their expertise in the field covering landscape and astrophotography, work one on one within the group and provide some post processing sessions to get the most out of your photos on tour.
  • NZ Department of Conservation (DOC concession fees for photo locations)

Experiences include:

  • Guided Lake Tekapo region Photo Safari with photographer’s Joseph Pooley and Rachel Gillespie
  • Guided Hooker Valley Track Photo Safari with Photographer’s Joseph Pooley and Rachel Gillespie – Mt Cook/Aoraki
  • Guided Tasman Glacier Walk Photo Safari with Photographer’s Joseph Pooley and Rachel Gillespie – Mt Cook/Aoraki
  • Dark Skies/Astrophotography Photo Session with Astrophotographer Joseph Pooley 
  • Adobe Lightroom Photography post processing with Joseph Pooley & Rachel Gillespie – working on your images from the previous day/night on tour with Joseph and Rachel – in particular, the night sky photos 
  • Afternoon and Sunset 4WD Photo Safari with Photographer Glen Howey – West Matukituki, Wanaka
    Jetboat ride on the Shotover River, Queenstown
  • Afternoon and Sunset 4WD Photo Safari with Photographer Glen Howey – Skippers Canyon, Queenstown
  • Sunrise and Morning 4WD Photo Safari with Photographer Glen Howey – Glenorchy, Queenstown
  • Lunch followed by a 2-hour Adobe Lightroom Photography post processing  session with Glen Howey – working on your images from the previous few days with Glen.
  • 75-minute Sunrise flight over Mt Aspiring and The Glaciers in a fixed wing aircraft (weather permitting)
  • 2-hour cruise on Milford Sound
  • Choice of either free time in Dunedin, a visit to Larnach Castle with a guided tour or the Royal Albatross Tour

Tour Excludes:

  • International or Domestic Flights
  • Airport arrival or departure taxes, levies, excess baggage charges
  • Passport and visa fees
  • Travel Insurance – required for all our tours
  • Meals not specified – lunches, snacks, dinner does not include beverages with meals
  • All items of a personal nature including but not limited to alcoholic beverages, drinks, souvenirs, laundry services, personal clothing, medical expenses, email or phone charges, hot pools (where additional fees charged), other activities not mentioned in above itinerary.
  • Optional activities/tours/transfers 
  • Tips and gratuities


Day One – Arrive Christchurch

Make your way to our accommodation.

Rest of day at leisure.

Dinner: a welcome to New Zealand dinner to connect with your fellow travellers.

Day Two to Three – Lake Tekapo & Mt Cook/Aoraki National Park – 2 nights

Lake Tekapo is located in the Mackenzie region and is the highest, largest lake in New Zealand famous for its crystal clear turquoise blue colour lake and mountainous landscape. The iconic Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains from its altar window. Lake Tekapo is known for its clear nights and lack of light pollution and is part of the UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve making it an ideal destination spot for dark sky viewing of the stars and Milky Way or discovering the science of the southern skies at Mount John Observatory.

We will be joined by our professional photographer’s Rachel Gillespie and Joseph Pooley from Southern Photography Adventures for a wonderful day of photography locations throughout Lake Tekapo. Later tonight when the skies are really dark and the stars are striking in the night sky, we will try some astrophotography under the tuition of Rachel and Joseph, specialist Astrophotographer’s. They will guide us through the technical aspects to capture some dark sky images and help us with some of their specialist equipment to improve the quality of our photos. 

Mt Cook/Aoraki National Park is a rugged land of ice and rock with 27 peaks of more than 3000m, including the highest mountain in New Zealand, Mt Cook/Aoraki at 3754m which makes up the spectacular Southern Alps. It offers some of the best climbing in Australasia, but for the less adventurous, there are mountain walks that lead to alpine lakes, meadows, and spectacular views of the glaciers. Stargazing here is amazing with New Zealand’s only international Dark Sky Reserve.

There are numerous short walks from the Village at Mt Cook from the Tasman Glacier - a terminal lake to the Hooker Valley Track – three swing bridges, views of Mueller Lake, alpine streams, and glaciers in the shadow of Mt Cook/Aoraki before ending at an amazing view over the iceberg speckled Hooker Lake.

Perhaps a visit to the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre to learn about the Mt Cook region.

Included at Mt Cook/Aoraki will be a Photo Safari with Professional Photographer’s Rachel Gillespie and Joseph Pooley from Southern Photography Adventures who will share their favourite locations and guide us on a half day short walk to the Tasman Glacier, the Hooker Valley Track or similar for some fabulous photographic opportunities. They will share their photo tips with one-on-one tuition to help you take some memorable photos and improve your photography skills whilst in the field.

Day Four to Six – Wanaka – 3 nights

Amongst the backdrop of the stunning Mt Aspiring National Park lies the gorgeous natural beauty of waterfalls, blue pools, the infamous Wanaka Tree, lakes and rivers, alpine meadows and forest and a night sky full of stars when the sun goes down. We will have opportunities to photograph at sunrise or sunset along with the dark skies over Lake Wanaka we may have some astrophotography opportunities.

An included afternoon and Sunset 4WD Photo Safari with Professional Photographer Glen Howey to West Matukituki will have us all learning how to take great landscape photos and the opportunity to improve our photography skills.

Day Seven to Ten – Queenstown – 4 nights

Positioned on the shore of Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by impressive snow-capped mountains, green valleys along with the colour of Autumn. We will have opportunities to explore, photograph and indulge in a smorgasbord of activities including a visit to Arrowtown – a picturesque settlement from the gold-era.

Included in your Queenstown mini adventure are:

  • a jet boat experience on the Shotover River.
  • an afternoon and Sunset 4WD Photo Safari with Professional Photographer Glen Howey to Skippers Canyon – a historic, rugged, and scenic gorge with stunning mountain views.
  • a Sunrise and morning 4WD Photo Safari with Professional Photographer Glen Howey to Glenorchy - some of the most spectacular landscapes often depicted in feature films.
  • Lunch and a 2-hour Adobe Lightroom Photography post processing session with Professional 

Photographer Glen Howey – working on your images from the tour in a class setting.

As Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand you will have an opportunity to explore at your own leisure with one full free day. This may involve more adventurous activities – bungy jumping, canyon swinging or zip lines; improve your handicap on a championship golf course; relaxation and wellness – spa and beauty; hot pools; winery tours – the region is famous for Pinot Noir; take the Skyline gondola to Bob’s Peak for spectacular 220-degree panoramic views of The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Walter and Cecil Peak and stunning views overlooking Queenstown or enjoy some thrilling rides on the Luge; the Queenstown Gardens; a cruise on Lake Wakatipu; shopping or just enjoy a relaxing day. With so many wonderful choices or experiences to choose from, the choice is yours.

Day Eleven – Milford Sound

An incredible opportunity to see Mt Aspiring and the Glaciers of the Barrier Range and the Olivine Ice Plateau at first light in a fixed wing aircraft with a 75-minute sunrise flight departing from Queenstown. Flying over Mt Aspiring, the Southern Alps most beautiful mountain which rises majestically by 3000m in perfect symmetry to the stunning views of Passchendaele Icefall, the white expanse of the Bonar Glacier and the Olivine Ice Plateau. Discover the untouched nature as you fly over the national park with its hidden gems, the peaks and valleys, rivers, and glaciers inaccessible by car or only seen via some seriously long hikes. The area is so captivating it is often depicted in many blockbuster films, notably The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Wolverine, Mission Impossible Fallout just to name a few.

Lying deep within the Fiordland National Park is Milford Sound, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is a stunning natural attraction of steep cliffs, dense rainforest, gushing waterfalls, and enchanting views. Milford Sound is the wettest inhabited place in New Zealand and rains on average 182 days a year. However, this will only add to the spectacular sight of the waterfalls as they thunder down the cliff face into the sea leaving a trail of mist behind.

The road trip from Te Anau to Milford Sound is a journey into the heart of the Fiordland National Park and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage area. It is one of the most picturesque experiences and a landscape photographer’s dream. We will enjoy many photo opportunities and walks in the Eglinton Valley, Mirror Lakes where on a still day the reflections of the Earl Mountains may be captured, Homer Tunnel, a walk to the Chasm - a spectacular waterfall where the Cleddau River has eroded through solid rock before arriving at our accommodation for the night.

An opportunity to photograph the sun setting as it goes down behind Mitre Peak from either the Milford Sound Lookout or towards the cruise terminal – both offering great views.

Day Twelve  – The Catlins 

In the morning we will board our boat for a 2-hour cruise of Milford Sound. We will cruise through some of New Zealand’s most stunning scenery, cascading waterfalls and with the nature guide providing commentary we may find a pod of bottlenose dolphins or fur seals basking on the rocks. 

We leave Milford Sound for the east coast to discover The Catlins which will captivate you with their rugged beauty, natural landscapes, and fascinating wildlife. From native forests and high cliffs, to deserted sandy beaches and cascading waterfalls, a picturesque sunset at Nugget Point and perhaps an encounter with a yellow eyed penguin – one of the world’s rarest penguins, a fur seal or sea-lion or two may be experienced. The natural landscapes of the Catlins are fascinating and the wildlife is amazing.

Day Thirteen – Dunedin

Dunedin is a boutique city, second largest to Christchurch in the South Island that wears its Scottish heritage with pride. High up on the picturesque Otago Peninsula is Larnach Castle, one of New Zealand’s premier visitor attractions, rugged beaches, and the Royal Albatross Centre – a place where you can see the Northern Royal Albatross in their natural habitat.

You may have the choice from 3 options whilst visiting Dunedin: extended free time in the city of Dunedin to explore on your own; a visit to Larnach Castle with a guided tour or a visit to the Royal Albatross Centre.

In the afternoon, we shall seek to explore the many photo opportunities at Tunnel Beach where crashing waves, rugged coastal cliffs, the hole in the rock and if we experience a low tide an opportunity to explore the tunnel and hidden cave followed by St Clairs Beach for the most photographed iconic wooden poles which are the remains of an old breakwater.

Day Fourteen – Drive to Christchurch

As we drive back to Christchurch, we will enjoy some photo opportunities along the way stopping and photographing around the Katiki Point Lighthouse a haven for wildlife from Yellow-Eyed Penguins, Little Penguins and Fur Seals and a whole host of seabirds. Scattered along Koekohe Beach are massive, different size spherical boulders that were formed around 60 million years ago known as the Moeraki Boulders.

Oamaru is the largest town in the Waitaki District famous for its limestone architecture of the Victorian precinct and its blue penguin colony. A stroll through the best preserved Victorian commercial streetscape filled with artisans, galleries and foodie places offers some of the best heritage landscapes.
We will arrive in Christchurch early in the evening followed by a farewell dinner with your fellow travellers after a wonderful trip to New Zealand’s South Island.

Note: Itinerary is subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances, inclement weather, changes to timetables and transport routes or from third party suppliers. This can happen at short notice and we will endeavour to minimise any disruptions to our schedule and offerings and provide alternative options where applicable.

Flight Information to/from Christchurch

Christchurch Airport (CHC) is located 10km from the city centre and is approximately 15 to 20 minutes away by car.

Airport Transfers: Taxis – Christchurch Blue Star Taxis, Corporate Cabs, First Direct or Gold Band Taxis – the taxi rank is outside International Arrivals (exit through door 7). Prices vary by company and we recommend asking for an estimate before you begin your trip. An extra $5.50 is charged to collect or deliver to Christchurch airport.

Super Shuttle NZ – door to door service (shared multi-passenger vans). The Shuttle Van rank is outside International Arrivals (exit through door 7). Can be pre-booked via an app – see

Rideshare – to meet your driver, exit the terminal and follow the signs to the Rideshare Pick-up zone, located behind the Express Park Building. For drop-offs this will be in the Rideshare Drop-off zone. An extra $5.50 is charged to collect or deliver to Christchurch airport.

Passport and Visa requirements: always check entry requirements before you travel, give yourself enough time to renew your passport and/or apply for a visa at the relevant embassy or consulate if applicable.

If you have questions about visa requirements for visiting New Zealand please contact New Zealand Immigration on 02 8278 4529 (Monday to Friday 07:00 to 17:00 AEST).

Note: Australian citizens travelling to New Zealand must have a valid passport when entering New Zealand. It must be valid at time of arrival and departure dates. An Australian citizen or resident travelling on an Australian Passport does not require a Visa. It is your responsibility to confirm your own status and circumstances.