New Zealand’s South Island is a photographer’s dream, boasting breathtaking landscapes and diverse natural beauty. From majestic mountains and glaciers to pristine lakes and rugged coastlines, there are numerous photo spots on the South Island of New Zealand that will leave you in awe. 

With four distinctive seasons all with their own charm and beauty, you can capture different landscape elements in every season. From the lush green, blooming spring months to the vibrant colourful autumn months or snow capped mountains and dramatic skies with winter. Every season in New Zealand has something new to offer. After traveling New Zealand for a few months in Spring and Autumn we are happy to share with you the 35 best photo spots on New Zealand’s South Island. You will find all the best photography spots divided per area so that it’s easy for you to plan.



Queenstown offers a huge variety of photo spots. From  majestic mountains including The Remarkables and Cecil Peak, to the crystal-clear lakes and lush forests. There is always an opportunity to capture the stunning views of Queenstown. We spend two different seasons in Queenstown to find the best photo spots and capture the ever changing nature. Where spring brings snow capped mountains and vibrant trees, is autumn a perfect season to capture the colourful foliage that turn yellow, orange and red.

Read in our complete guide about the best things to do in Queenstown

Jack’s Point Lake

Just a 15 minute drive outside of Queenstown is the newly developed district Jack’s Point. It doesn’t look like a photogenic place at first, because you’re in a newly developed neighbourhood. But don’t be mistaken, because there is a hidden gem to be found at the lake. You can find a stunning reflection of the pyramid looking mountain, and if you’re lucky like us with a stunning sunset, it will be a fantastic photo opportunity. This is definitely one of the secret photo spots in Queenstown, which is not captured a million times before such as some others photo spots on South Island New Zealand. 

Bring a tripod and shoot some long exposures here to smooth out the water. We were extremely lucky that evening with a very colourful sunset. A memorable photography evening in Queenstown! 


Lake Alta 

Lake Alta is a stunning glacier lake located at the Remarkables at 1800 meters height. The approximately 500 metres by 250 metre lake has a beautiful reflection of the mountain on a calm day which offers perfect photo opportunities. To get to Alta Lake you have to drive up via the steep road to the The Remarkables Ski Field which is high above Queenstown located. The entrance fee for this road is $10 NZD per vehicle, so with that being sad, you want to pick a nice, clear day to capture Lake Alta. Bring a tripod for long exposures and some snacks so you can relax along the lake after you’ve finished the 1.75 kilometers (1 mile) hike up to the lake from the parking lot.


The great thing about driving up this road is that you will see plenty of other photo spots along the way. If you bring a tele lens you can capture the stunning layers of mountains and you can easily spot Lake Hayes and Arrowtown in the distance from the stopover places along the road. 


Lake Hayes 

Lake Hayes became some of our favourite photo spots in Queenstown. This picturesque lake is a 20 minute drive from Queenstown and is the perfect combination when visiting Arrowtown. 

Because you can walk around Lake Hayes, there are plenty of beautiful photography spots to find.  And the best thing is, on calm days, the lake offers beautiful reflections of the surrounding landscape. Look for spots with minimal ripples on the water’s surface to capture clear and symmetrical reflections. 


The southern end of Lake Hayes offers breathtaking views of the Remarkables mountain range. While the northern end looks out over Coronet Peak. 


Another great thing about Lake Hayes is that during the autumn months in New Zealand (April to May), the trees around the lake change color. This creates a beautiful backdrop of vibrant red, orange, and gold foliage. Lake Hayes then becomes one of the most popular photo spots on the South Island of New Zealand. In fact, it’s one of the best places in New Zealand to capture the autumn colors!


Lake Wakatipu waterfront 

The most famous Queenstown photo spot must be from Lake Wakatipu waterfront. You can’t miss the lake when visiting Queenstown and because it’s so easy to access the shore on different spots, if offers a lot of beautiful photography locations! 

With stunning views on Cecil Peak and the Remarkables Mountain Range, you can’t miss including these iconic peaks in your photograph. 

There are various points from where you can capture stunning angles of Lake Wakatipu. One Mile Carpark is the easiest and most famous spot as it is a good vantage point to look over to Queenstown Gardens. From here you can capture the sunrise above the Remarkables or the last light hitting Walter’s Peak. 


Moke Lake 

Moke Lake is a stunning reflection lake hidden between the mountains west of Queenstown. This picturesque lake is surrounded by the tussock covered peaks of Ben Lomond, Ben More and Mt Hanley with freshwater wetland and farmland in the valley. On calm days and at the right time, the surface of Moke Lake turns into a mirror reflecting all surrounding peaks. It truly is a photographer’s dream with the crystal clear water and breathtaking surroundings. 


You can either stay along the lake shore to capture Moke Lake, or hike up to the viewpoint from where you can get a better, higher perspective of the lake and surroundings.


Bring a tripod for long exposure photography, or when you plan to capture the Milky Way or Aurora Australis. Moke Lake is a perfect place to camp and practice some night photography

Read in our complete guide everything about Moke Lake

Best Queenstown photography tours 

If you want an all organised photography tour, then booking one of the Queenstown photography tours is the best way to go. The huge advantage of booking a photography tour is that you don’t have to think about anything else except bringing your camera, SD card and tripod. 

Everything from transport, hotel pick up and drop off to a knowledgable and passionate guide is included. This will make it a carefree experience so that you only have to focus on taking pictures. There are plenty of different photography tours from Queenstown. Here are the best.

If you’re not looking for taking pictures yourself, but you like your adventures to be captured by a private photographer during the tour, then these are the best options: 



Glenorchy is a charming little town located at the doorstep of Mount Aspiring National Park. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, stunning lakes, glacier fed rivers and ancient beech forests, Glenorchy offers plenty of photography opportunities. 

Earnslaw Burn

Some of the most beautiful and unique landscapes in Glenorchy is Earnslaw Burn valley. This real life fairytale of hanging glaciers in a valley surrounded by countless waterfalls feels like a dream. There are two options to get there, either with a helicopter or hiking. 

Considered an advanced tramping track by the Department of Conservation in New Zealand, this challenging 28 km return track is advised to do as an overnight hike. It takes about 7 hours each way, depending on your fitness level. The Earnslaw Burn track begins to the left of Lovers Leap road just off Glenorchy Paradise road and meanders through thick bush and tussock grass plains until you reach the valley of waterfalls with hanging glaciers.


But, what a better option is if your budget allows, is to book a helicopter tour! During a helicopter tour you can capture the stunning landscape surrounding Glenorchy from an aerial perspective. Here are some of the pictures we took during our helicopter tour in Glenorchy.

diamond lake

There are many different helicopter tours from Glenorchy and Queenstown. It will be an unforgettable experience and definitely a bucket list thing to do in New Zealand!

→ Book here your Middle Earth helicopter tour

→ Book here your Lord of the Rings and Glacier helicopter tour


Glenorchy Jetty

One of the most photographed places in Glenorchy is without a doubt the wharf which can be used as a leading line in your compositions. The jetty extends out into Lake Wakatipu, providing a unique vantage point for capturing the beauty of the lake and the surrounding mountains. The clear waters of the lake sometimes offer mirror-like reflections, especially during calm weather with sunrise. This will give perfect photo opportunities adding charm to your photographs. 

Glenorchy Jetty is particularly popular for capturing sunrise and sunset shots. The changing light during these times adds a warm and magical glow to your images. Another great thing about this photography location is that with every season you can get different results. From lush greenery in spring and summer to golden foliage in autumn and snow-covered landscapes in winter, each season offers a unique atmosphere. 


Glenorchy willow trees

The Glenorchy sister trees are a pair of graceful willow trees that grow near the water’s edge on the shores of Lake Wakatipu in Glenorchy. They are known for their picturesque appearance and reflection in the calm waters of Lake Wakatipu with high tide. The trees are a favorite subject for landscape and nature photographers and are in particular great to capture with sunrise. The willow trees and the shoreline can be used as leading lines to draw the viewer’s eye into the frame and create a sense of depth in your photographs. 


Fiordland National Park

With its dramatic fjords, majestic mountains, glacier lakes and lush rainforests, Fiordland National Park offers an array of captivating subjects for photography. Both beautiful and diverse on moody, rainy days or clear sunny days which offer completely different landscapes and photography opportunities. For some of the photography spots in Fiordland National Park you need clear, dry days. But for others any type of weather works. Rain in Milford Sound bring the waterfalls to life, so if that is your purpose to capture, then make sure to visit on, or directly after rainy days. 

Gertrude Saddle 

Gertrude Saddle is a breathtaking viewpoint with stunning alpine views overlooking Milford Sound. It’s a hidden gem in Milford Sound as not any landscape photographers go here. The reason is that you have to put in some effort to get to Gertrude Saddle. A 7km (4.3 miles) length return hike will take you along steep ascents and exposed sections to this stunning point. Go with sunset for the best light. If you’re lucky you will be in for a treat when the golden light kisses the mountains peaks and light beams dance through the valley. But bring a headlamp and your hiking boots! This is not an easy hike for unexperienced hikers. 

Read in our complete guide everything about Gertrude Saddle hike


Lake Marian

Lake Marian is a stunning reflection lake in a valley surrounded by sheer cliffs and waterfalls. This glacier lake is surrounded by snow capped peaks that perfectly reflect in the mirror lake on calm days. Therefore it is important to plan your hike and visit to Lake Marian on a calm and sunny day. 


Via the 10 kilometres return hike through mossy forest you will get to Marian lake. So same as with Gertrude Saddle, you have to put in the effort to get to this photography spot. Sunrise is a great time for photography at Lake Marian, but even when you arrive at 10 or 11 AM, the lake is breathtaking and completely in the sun, making its color pop even more. 

Read in our complete guide everything about Lake Marian Track


Eglinton Valley 

Eglinton Valley is one of the most famous and popular photo spots in Fiordland. It’s easy access from the Milford Road, which connects Te Anau to Milford Sound, makes many people stop to take a photo. The valley is visible from the road, and there are several designated pull-off points where you can stop and take photos. So you can’t miss it when driving by. 

Eglinton Valley is flanked by the magnificent Earl Mountains and the stunning Clinton Range. These majestic mountain vistas offer incredible photo opportunities, especially during sunrise and sunset when the soft light illuminates the peaks. With the different seasons Eglinton Valley’s beauty changes. In the spring, the valley comes alive with vibrant foliage, while autumn brings stunning colors to the trees. Winter often sees snow-capped mountains, adding a touch of magic to the scenery.


We experienced that the best way to capture Eglinton Valley from the designated viewpoint is with a tele lens. You can then compress the background more to make the mountain appear to be closer. But another option is to drive a few minutes further past the official viewpoint and stop at another spot when you’re a bit closer to the valley. This spot is close to where the bend in the road to the left is, and before Mirror Lakes. 


Mirror Lakes 

The Mirror lakes are a collection of beautiful reflection ponds and lakes on the way to Milford Sound. It’s another perfect stop when driving from Te Anau to Milford Sound. On a calm day the lakes are truly like a mirror, reflecting the Earl mountains and showing the sunken tree branches. Via a short 1 minute boardwalk you get to the viewing platform that looks out over the lakes.

The best time to capture the Mirror Lakes is right after sunrise when the first light gives the snow capped peaks a golden glow. 

Read in our complete guide everything about the Mirror Lakes


Milford Sound

Famous Milford Sound shore can’t be missed in this list of best photo spots on the South Island New Zealand. Considered being the 8th Wonder of the World, Milford Sound with it’s dramatic fiords, towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and abundant wildlife is a photographers dream. But the weather circumstances sometimes make it a challenge to capture the landscape in it’s full glory. 

Often it is very moody in Milford Sound, which makes it hard to capture appealing pictures, because light is everything! We went 7 times to Milford Shore in total, trying to get the best moment with a good sunset. The last time we were in for a treat when the sky turned orange with a breathtaking lightbeam popping through the fiords. 


Lake Gunn

Lake Gunn is a picturesque glacial lake located in Fiordland National Park. Nestled amid a beautiful landscape with the Darren Mountains and the surrounding Fiordland peaks forming a stunning backdrop for your images.

This serene spot is a popular photography location known for its tranquil waters, surrounding beech forests, and stunning mountain views. Lake Gunn’s calm waters often provide perfect mirror-like reflections of the surrounding mountains and forests. Look for windless conditions to capture these stunning reflections in your photographs.

The best times for photography at Lake Gunn are during the golden hours, shortly after sunrise and just before sunset. The soft, warm light during these times adds a magical touch to your images.


Lake Te Anau jetty 

Lake Te Anau is the largest lake on New Zealand’s South Island and serves as the gateway to Fiordland National Park. It is a beautiful location for photography, offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the lake itself. The jetty at Lake Te Anau is a popular spot for photography to capture the essence of the area. Use a long exposure technique to create a smooth, misty effect on the lake’s water and enhance the overall serenity of the scene. We went with sunset which adds extra atmosphere to the location, but sunrise will work here as well. 


Mount Aspiring National Park

Mount Aspiring National Park is located in the Southern Alps of New Zealand’s South Island and is a haven for landscape photographers. With its rugged mountains, pristine glaciers, dense forests, and beautiful rivers, the park offers a diverse range of photography opportunities.

Rob Roy Glacier

Rob Roy Glacier is a permanent ice field that is fed by snowfall and is located at an elevation of 2,606 meters (8,550 feet). Via the Rob Roy Glacier track you walk through the forest towards the area of the upper lookout. Surrounded by gushing waterfalls from the sheer cliffs, glacier fed rivers and native forest, this places gives a truly enchanting feeling. Its beauty and majesty are a testament to the power of nature and the awe-inspiring landscapes that New Zealand offers. 


Rob Roy Glacier lookout point is a fantastic place for landscape photography with so many different elements to capture. From rivers which you can use as leading lines, to powerful waterfalls and the breathtaking glacier and glacier fed waterfalls. It’s one of those places to blows your mind and without a doubt some of the best New Zealand photography spots. 


Getting to Rob Roy Glacier lookout point is via the 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) return hike which is a fantastic hike and a must do on the South Island.

Read in our complete guide everything about Rob Roy Glacier track

Wanaka Tree

Situated in Lake Wanaka, That Wanaka Tree is the most photographed tree of New Zealand. It’s an iconic willow tree that has become an emblematic symbol of Wanaka.
The tree’s popularity stems from its photogenic quality and the contrast it creates against the beautiful lake and mountain scenery. It has become an Instagram hotspot and attracts photographers, nature enthusiasts, and tourists who seek to capture its beauty. 

At sunrise and sunset in particular, the Wanaka Tree offers a picturesque scene with vibrant colors illuminating the sky and reflecting on the water. This is definitely the best time to capture the Wanaka Tree, but be prepared for a line of photographers! The Wanaka Tree is one of the most famous photo spots on the South Island New Zealand.


Roys Peak 

Another one of the famous photo spots on the South Island New Zealand is Roys Peak. This popular Instagram spot has stunning views over Lake Wanaka and the snow capped peaks of Mount Aspiring National Park. The perfect mountain ridge is known as the photo spot and without a doubt the ultimate New Zealand photo you have to take home. 


Hiking Roys Peak before sunrise is a magical experience to see the first light peaking over the mountains. But with 8 kilometres and 1,258 (4,127 feet) meters elevation one way, you can expect Roys Peak hike to be hard. Nevertheless it is worth it, and you can’t get the best views for free! 

Read in our complete guide everything about Roy’s Peak hike


Isthmus Peak 

Isthmus Peak is another fantastic hike near Wanaka. The trail is easy to follow and a well maintained wide gravel path. But with 16 kilometres out and back and 1250 meters vertical incline you will have to put in some effort to get to the summit! The hike itself is quite comparable with Roys Peak, but the views at the summit are definitely different. 


At Isthmus Peak you’re facing Mount Aspiring National Park directly with Lake Wanaka in between. But along the way you will also have stunning views facing Lake Hawea. So in our opinion is Isthmus Peak track even more diverse than Roys Peak. It’s one of the photo spots on the South Island New Zealand which is hard to get to, but totally worth it. Especially if you love hiking!

Read in our complete guide everything about Isthmus Peak track


Mount Cook National Park 

Mount Cook National Park, also known as Aoraki National Park, is a paradise for landscape photographers. It is located in the central part of New Zealand’s South Island and is home to the country’s highest peak, Aoraki/Mount Cook. The park is dominated by the Southern Alps, a magnificent mountain range with towering peaks and glaciers and Aoraki/Mount Cook itself will be the eye catcher and focal point in most pictures. Home to numerous glaciers, including the Tasman Glacier, Hooker Glacier, and Mueller Glacier, Mount Cook National Park offers unique and impressive photography opportunities.

Read in our complete guide about the best things to do in Mount Cook National Park

Lake Pukaki 

The gatorade blue Lake Pukaki welcomes you to Mount Cook National Park. Along this lake you will see the first impression of Mount Cook. The intense turquoise color of Lake Pukaki is a mesmerizing sight and adds a striking and unique element to your photographs in combination with Mount Cook as backdrop. 


During the New Zealand spring and summer months (September to January), the shores of Lake Pukaki are often adorned with vibrant lupin flowers, adding bursts of color to your photographs. Another fantastic photo opportunity at Lake Pukaki is astro photography because of its remote location and low light pollution.


Hooker Valley 

The Hooker Valley track is the most popular walk in Mount Cook National Park. The track offers excellent views of New Zealand’s highest peak which will be the centerpiece for your photographs. During the spring and summer months, the Hooker Valley is adorned with vibrant alpine flowers, adding splashes of color to your images. At the end of the track is Hooker Lake located which provides perfect mirror-like reflections of Aoraki/Mount Cook on calm days. But there are also often icebergs dotted in the lake which are calved from the nearby glacier. This offers a unique photography subject.


The track follows the Hooker River, which flows through the valley and provides  stunning leading line to Mount Cook. And besides all the photo opportunities during the day, Hooker Valley also provides excellent conditions for astrophotography thanks to its remote location.


Tasman Lake 

Tasman Lake is a glacial lake which was formed by the retreat of the Tasman Glacier. The stunning bright blue water of the lake is often filled with icebergs that have calved off the Tasman Glacier. These icebergs provide unique and captivating subjects for photography. But the lake’s appearance changes with the seasons, offering different photography opportunities throughout the year. Each season brings its own charm to the area, from icebergs in summer to snow-covered landscapes in winter. Tasman Lake is easily accessible via a short walk from the car park, making it a convenient stop for photography and a great sunrise spot!

Read in our complete guid everything about Tasman Lake and Glacier viewpoint


Omarama Clay Cliffs 

Technically not located in Mount Cook National Park, but on an hour drive from Mount Cook Village you will find this interesting location. The Omarama Clay Cliffs is a unique and stunning geological formation that offers excellent photography opportunities. The tall, narrow pinnacles and spires are made of ancient clay and gravel deposits. It’s unique shape and textures are the perfect ingredients to make interesting compositions. Use the narrow passages between the cliffs to frame your shot or shoot wide angle to capture the whole scenery. It’s definitely one of those Lord of the Rings vibe locations and some of the most underrated photo spots on the South Island of New Zealand.

Read here everything about the Omarama Clay Cliffs


West Coast 

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island is characterized by its rugged beauty, dramatic landscapes, and diverse ecosystems, offering a wide range of photography opportunities. Home to two iconic glaciers – Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier you will have stunning photography opportunities which these massive ice formations offer. Especially with heli hiking in Franz Josef you can explore the ice caves, crevasses, and blue ice of the glaciers.

Hokitika Gorge 

The Hokitika Gorge along the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island is a stunning steep-walled canyon formed by the Hokitika River, which flows through it. The river is known for its vivid turquoise water caused by the suspended rock flour in the water. It’s an incredibly photogenic location with the contract of turquoise blue against the lush green of beech forest. Keep in mind that the turquoise color is particularly vivid during the spring and summer months. After rainy days the color is way less because of the muddy water. 

Read in our complete guide everything about Hokitika Gorge


Lake Matheson 

Lake Matheson is a stunning glacier lake reflecting views of the Southern Alps including Aoraki Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. It’s one of the most famous mirror lakes in New Zealand offering breathtaking views. But to get THE shot here, you have to go early morning and on a windless day. The golden hours of sunrise and sunset bathe the mountains and lake in warm, soft light. It’s highly recommended to bring a tripod and use long exposure techniques to create a smooth and misty effect on the water’s surface. With the right conditions, this is one of the most beautiful photo spots of the South Island New Zealand.

Read in our complete guide everything about Lake Matheson


Wharariki Beach

Wharariki Beach is a breathtaking coastal gem located in the Tasman region of New Zealand’s South Island. It is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, rugged landscapes, and unique rock formations, making it a paradise for coastal photography. The beach is famous for its iconic rock formations known as the Archway Islands. These distinctive sea stacks add a dramatic and otherworldly element to your photographs. Facing West, Wharariki Beach is the perfect place to visit with sunset. 


East Coast

Mouraki boulders 

The Mouraki boulders are a unique and fascinating geological formation located on Koekohe Beach in New Zealand’s South Island. These large spherical boulders scattered along the beach offer excellent photography opportunities. The simplicity and clean lines of the boulders lend themselves for minimalist photography. And the boulders can be used as natural leading lines, guiding the viewer’s eye into the image and creating a sense of depth. I highly recommend  using long exposure techniques here so you can smooth out the waves and create a dreamy effect around the boulders.


Nugget Point Lighthouse

Nugget Point Lighthouse is an iconic panoramic view on the eastern coast of the Catlins. The lighthouse is one of the country’s oldest lighthouses. 

It’s a short walk from the car park along the headland to get to the lighthouse. But for photography you might want to capture the lighthouse with the headland because its so beautifully perched on the dramatic cliff. This provides panoramic views of the rugged coastline and surrounding sea stacks.

Facing East, Nugget Point Lighthouse is a great place to capture the sunrise. But even during the day this viewpoint is worth a visit! 


Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo is a breathtaking glacial lake located in the Mackenzie Basin. It is renowned for its stunning turquoise waters, surrounded by snow-capped mountains and picturesque landscapes, making it a paradise for photographers. Especially in the spring and summer months when the shores of Lake Tekapo are adorned with vibrant lupin flowers. This adds a burst of color to photo’s which makes it a very popular time to visit Lake Tekapo. 

Lake Tekapo lake shore 

Lake Tekapo is famous for its intense turquoise color, caused by fine glacial sediments suspended in the water. It is the perfect subject for a unique element in your photographs. Especially with the lupins during the spring and summer months which can be perfectly used for compositions and provide a stunning contrast of colors. Lake Tekapo is, in particular around these months, some of the most popular and busy photo spots on the South Island of New Zealand.


Church of Good Shepherd 

The iconic Church of Good Shepard along Tekapo’s lakeshore is a very scenic spot with incredible backdrop. It is a popular photography subject, especially during sunrise and sunset. On a clear day you can see Aoraki Mount Cook and of course the stunning turquoise Lake Tekapo surrounded by mountain ranges. In the winter months the Church of Good Shepard is also a great place to watch and photograph the Milky Way. 


Arthur’s Pass 

Devils Punchbowl waterfall 

Devils Punch bowl is a spectacular waterfall in Arthur’s Pass National Park. The powerful 131 meters (430 feet) high waterfall cascades down a steep cliff face creating a spectacular misty display as the water crashes into the pool below. The surrounding area is full of lush native vegetation, including beech forests and alpine plants, which adds to the beauty of the setting.

Read in our complete guide everything about Devils Punchbowl waterfall


Catlins Forest Park 

Catlins Forest Park is a stunning and diverse natural area located in the southeastern corner of New Zealand’s South Island. Tis region is known as the area where land rises sharply from the coast to the inland ranges. ‘Where the forest meets the ocean’ is how locals also describe the Catlins. The rugged coastline with wide sandy beaches, lush, ancient forests with mossy trees, an abundance of waterfalls and rivers and both hilly and rolling green farmland offers a plethora of photography opportunities.

Read in our complete guide about the 20 best things to do in the Catlins

Koropuku Falls 

This charming, fairytale like waterfall can be found in the western part of Catlins Conservation Park, along the scenic Chaslands Highway. Although Koropuku Falls is only 10 meters high (about 33 ft), it might sound not too impressive. But the scenery, the walk towards the falls through the mossy forest and the perfect silk curtain like waterfall with lush surroundings make Koropuku Falls a hidden gem and great photography spot.  

Read in our complete guide everything about Koropuku Falls


Cliffs at Fortrose 

The cliffs at Fortrose provide a stunning lookout point over the ocean, the rugged coastline of the Catlins and a raw beach. The Fortrose Cliffs are located 2km south of Fortrose township and follow a gravel road until you get to the cliffs. From here you can watch a beautiful sunrise.


Purakaunui Falls 

The Purakaunui Falls are a beautiful three tiered waterfall in the Catlins surrounded by native forest. After a short walk through the mature beech forest you will get to the viewing platform of Purakaunui Falls. This 15 minute return walk is easy to follow and only has some stairs down to the waterfall at the end. The Purakaunui Falls are some of the most famous Catlins waterfalls and even some of New Zealands most photographed waterfall! With 20 metres height over 3 tiers it isn’t the highest waterfall in New Zealand, but because of it’s different tiers and the way the water is falling down the rocks, it’s definitely one of the most beautiful!

Read in our complete guide everything about Purakaunui Falls


Nelson Lakes National Park 

Lake Rotoito jetty 

The calm waters of Lake Rotoiti create perfect mirror-like reflections of the surrounding mountains and the jetty itself. This creates a sense of symmetry and together with the natural leading line of the jetty it adds depth to your photographs. The jetty is set against the backdrop of the towering Southern Alps, providing a dramatic and majestic setting for your images.

Because of the jetty’s orientation it is an ideal spot for capturing beautiful sunrises and sunsets over the lake and mountains, with the soft light adding warmth and glow to your photos.


What is the best time for landscape photography in New Zealand? 

New Zealand is a paradise for photographers with its diverse landscape and atmospheric conditions. The best time to visit New Zealand for landscape photography largely depends on what you seek to capture. But here are some considerations for the best time for landscape photography in New Zealand.

  • Spring is for blooming wildflowers, lush greenery and powerful rivers and waterfalls
    Spring (September to November) brings rainfall and melting snow, resulting in higher water flows in rivers and cascading waterfalls. This creates opportunities to capture the dynamic movement of water, adding a sense of drama and energy to your images. It’s also the time of the blooming wildflowers such as lupins and Mt Cook Buttercup. 
  • Summer provides long days and vibrant colors
    The summer season (December to February) brings out the vibrant colors of New Zealand’s landscapes. From lush greenery to colorful flowers and foliage, you’ll find a rich palette to incorporate into your photographs.
  • Autumn brings vibrant fall foliage for a picturesque setting
    Autumn (March to May) brings vibrant fall foliage, creating a picturesque setting. This season is ideal for capturing landscapes adorned with stunning red, orange, and golden hues.
  • Winter provides dramatic weather with snow-capped mountains
    Winter (June to August) is for the die hard photographers that want to chase storms, dramatic landscapes with snow-capped mountains, frozen lakes, and moody skies. It’s also a great time for astrophotography, as the clear nights allow for capturing the starry skies.

How to get around in New Zealand 

To experience New Zealand to the fullest and at your own pace, renting a carcampervan or motorhome is the best way to get around. With your own rental vehicle you can easily drive to all the best photo spots on the South Island of New Zealand. Whether you rent a car or campervan depends on your preference and budget. If you love camping, being outdoors all day and you don’t mind a smaller living space, then renting a camper van is the way to go. It also gives you the freedom to sleep at some of the most beautiful camping spots, but for some of them you’ll have to make a reservation and plan your trip accordingly. The same goes for a motorhome which is bigger than a campervan and fits about 4-6 people. Here’s what you need to know about renting a car, camper van or motorhome in New Zealand. 

Car rental New Zealand

Renting a car in New Zealand is the easiest and cheapest rental vehicle available. It will get you to all the best destinations with ease and gives you the freedom to stop for a break wherever you want. However, you should keep in mind that some roads in New Zealand are still gravel or that you have to cross shallow rivers to some destinations in National Parks. Therefore we personally recommend a mini SUV or SUV model to have enough clearance for these kind of roads. 

The best place to book your rental car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare different car models, prices, companies and terms and conditions. Make sure to secure the booking of your rental car as soon as possible to have the lowest price possible. Prices go up the closer you get to the pick up date.


Campervan rental in New Zealand

Traveling around in a campervan is one of the most popular ways for a roadtrip in New Zealand. With a bed, small kitchen and seating area you will have all the (basic) needs on four wheels. A campervan allows you to camp at plenty of beautiful places, sometimes for free, sometimes for a fee. It will you give you a true feeling of freedom and connects you with nature. We personally recommend to book your campervan with Travellers Autobarn. They have a wide range of Stationwagons, 2-berth campervans & 3-5 berth campervans to hire for all budgets. All Travellers Autobarn campervan hires in New Zealand come with free unlimited kilometers, 10% discount to premium campgrounds, 24/7 road side assistance & long term rental discounts. Check the availability and prices today to secure your campervan for a New Zealand dream roadtrip!

More New Zealand travel guides

I hope you enjoyed this complete guide about the best photo spots on the South Island New Zealand. We have many more New Zealand travel guides, so make sure to check them out for more tips and to plan your ultimate New Zealand road trip!

South Island New Zealand guides


30 best things to do in Queenstown – The Ultimate Guide

22 best photo spots in Queenstown – The Ultimate Guide

16 best hikes in Queenstown – The Ultimate Guide

12 best helicopter tours Queenstown – The Complete Guide

10 best wine tours in Queenstown – The Complete Guide


22 best things to do in Wanaka – The Ultimate Guide

15 best walks in Wanaka – The Complete Guide

Where to stay in Wanaka – The Complete Guide

Mount Cook National Park

10 best Mount Cook accommodations to book

20 best things to do in Mount Cook National Park

Best Mount Cook helicopter tours to book

12 best Mt Cook walks – The Ultimate Guide

Hooker Valley track – The Complete Guide

Sealy Tarns track – The Complete Guide


20 best things to do in Glenorchy – The Ultimate Guide

Glenorchy walkway & lagoon track – The Complete Guide

Earnslaw Burn glacier valley and waterfalls – The Complete Guide

Fiordland National Park

20 best things to do in Milford Sound – The Ultimate Guide

6 best scenic flights and helicopter tours in Milford Sound

Lake Marian Track – The Complete Guide

Milford Sound Cruise – The Complete Guide

Key Summit track – The Complete Guide

Gertrude Saddle hike – The Complete Guide

Franz Josef Glacier Country

Best Franz Josef heli hike tours –  All You Need to Know

15 best walks in Franz Josef – The Ultimate Guide

Lake Matheson walk – The Complete Guide

North Island New Zealand guides

20 best photo spots North Island New Zealand

25 best things to do in Rotorua – The Ultimate Guide

Best things to do in Coromandel – The Complete Guide

15 best things to do in Taupo – The Ultimate Guide

Best things to do in Whangarei – The Ultimate Guide

12 best things to do in Hawkes Bay – The Ultimate Guide

Best things to do in New Plymouth Taranaki – The Ultimate Guide

7 best KeriKeri waterfalls – The Complete Guide

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  1. Hi Ilse en Atiba,
    Wow, wat een fantastische foto’s weer!
    Ik geniet er elke keer enorm van.
    Wellicht ga ik het in de toekomst live zien. Zonder paard zijn biedt mogelijkheden 😉. Eerst naar Zuid Afrika in september.
    Liefs, Marianne

    1. Hi Marianne bedankt voor je lieve comment! Wat leuk dat je ons nog altijd zo actief volgt. Nieuw Zeeland is echt zo geweldig, wij zijn helemaal verkocht. Wel lang vliegen vanuit Amsterdam, maar wellicht kun je het tzt met een tussenstop ergens combineren. Zonder paard biedt inderdaad veel meer mogelijkheden, vrijheid! Maar het is ook altijd nog een gemis.. Onwijs veel plezier in Zuid Afrika, dat zal een super mooie trip worden!! Liefs Ilse

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