Join Richard Young and Dave Buckton on a 7-day tour showcasing some of New Zealand’s rarest wildlife and most distinctive coastal landscapes. New Zealand’s underrated East Coast is full of surprises that include fossilised forests, curious boulders, outstanding coastal scenery and a huge diversity of rare wildlife: penguins, sea lions, fur seals and albatross.
Starting in Queenstown, the tour the travels through the Catlins Coastal Rainforest Park, with opportunities to photograph the area’s waterfalls, rainforest, penguins and sea lions. North of the Catlins, we explore the Otago Peninsula, known as New Zealand’s wildlife capital. We photograph southern Royal Albatross and stay at Larnach Castle. Beyond, tour highlights include the Moeraki Boulders and then continuing on to Mt Cook National Park to photograph some of the amazing alpine scenery around New Zealand’s highest peak.
Day 1 – The Catlins
Today we head south towards the Catlins. En route we visit the South Island’s most southerly point, Waipapa and its well-known lighthouse. We move on to a beach in the Catlins Coastal Rainforest Park where a low tide reveals long fingers of fossilised forest, some 160 million years old and now exposed by tide and time. From here we travel inland to explore the waterfalls of the Catlins.
Day 2 - The Catlins / Otago Peninsula
Heading north through the Catlins, we take in sunrise at the spectacular coastline of Nugget Point. Along the Catlins coast, we will hopefully get the chance to photograph penguins and the magnificent New Zealand sea lion, which in recent decades has begun breeding again in the Catlins area. The day ends at Larnach Castle, one of New Zealand’s most stately buildings, set on the crest of the Otago Peninsula near Dunedin.
Day 3 - Otago Peninsula
The Otago Peninsula; home to penguins, albatross and sea lions, is often called the wildlife capital of New Zealand. We take a boat charter to view many of these species from the sea, visit the world’s only mainland breeding colony of Southern Royal Albatross. We end the day photographing sunset over the ridges and estuaries of the peninsula.
Day 4 - Moeraki
Heading north along the East Coast we stop to photograph the forest birds at Orokonui, which is home to New Zealand’s tuatara, a relic from the dinosaur age. The day also includes photographing a colony of shags along the coastline here. Then we head out into the last light of the day to photograph Yellow-eyed penguins at a coastal reserve on their return from a day out at sea. Tonight we stay near Moeraki, south of Oamaru.
Day 5 - Moeraki / Mt Cook
An early start to photograph sunrise over the famed Moeraki Boulders which are curiously round rocks known as ‘concretions,’ set into a scenic beachscape. We then head inland towards Mt Cook. We will head out to explore locations in the park and then an evening shoot in the Tasman Valley.
Day 6 - Mt Cook
This morning we will have the option to do some aerial photography (optional extra) we will take a flight over Mt Cook and land for an hour with a guide to photography the glacier. The rest of the day will be taken up alternating between locations in the park. We will capture the panoramic views of the Tasman and Hooker valleys, including alpine lakes, sweeping river vistas, and views of New Zealand’s highest peaks. All the locations we visit are within easy walks along well-graded tracks on the valley floors.
Day 7 - Mt Cook / Christchurch
The day begins with the option for some pre-dawn astrophotography and sunrise shoot before heading back to the hotel for breakfast. We then leave Mt Cook and drive North to photograph around Lake Tekapo. In the afternoon we travel to Christchurch.