New for 2020 the Explorers series are New Zealand’s premier photo expeditions, created from our 14 years of photography workshop experience. With a maximum of only six participants this is the ultimate New Zealand photo adventure, exploring rarely-visited wildernesses as we photograph landscapes of unsurpassed beauty and majesty. The iconic giants Aoraki/Mt Cook, Milford Sound and Fox Glacier are also included on this expedition.
Winter is the optimum season for photographers who are wanting to capture the New Zealand landscape at its peak. The soft, clear winter light offers superb shooting conditions, and gives the landscapes a painterly feel. On this comprehensive workshop we will photograph an unbelievable variety of landscapes including imposing snow-draped mountain ranges, misty hidden valleys, sculptured glacial seracs, untouched alpine wildernesses, weather-beaten coastlines and enchanted fern-filled forests. While July is considered deep winter the weather is generally favourable and average daily temperatures are mild when compared to Northern Hemisphere winter conditions.
On this workshop we enjoy well-structured days as we photograph select New Zealand iconic landscapes, including Aoraki/Mt Cook and the Southern Alps, Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound, Lake Matheson and Punakaiki, as well as hand-picked remote backcountry locations. To access the untouched wilds of the Fiordland National Park we take chartered helicopter flights and photograph at surreal locations deep within the mountains. At Fox Glacier our doors-off helicopter aerial shoot of the blue-ice glacier, jagged ice pinnacles and majestic Southern Alps will leave you exhilarated, and quite likely also with a healthy dose of sensory overload.
The emphasis of this workshop is to maximise our time in the field photographing, which is why we do not have formal lectures or presentations. With a small group of only six participants there is opportunity on every shoot for one-to-one mentoring and instruction, making the mastering of new techniques and the fine-tuning of your creative style quicker and easier.
To ensure absolute comfort we travel in two luxury 4-wheel drive vehicles with three participants in each vehicle. When we venture into the backcountry, the roads and terrain we travel on are safe and we know these areas intimately. We stay in comfortable, modern lodgings which are well equipped. Meals are included as noted in the itinerary and are typical of New Zealand cuisine: fresh, local produce with choices to suit all tastes and appetites. If you have any special dietary requirements please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you.
You are most welcome to join us on the inaugural Explorers series workshop.
Arrival day ARRIVE QUEENSTOWN
Arrive into Queenstown and transfer to your hotel. The day is yours to spend at your leisure. We meet up for our welcome dinner.
Day one QUEENSTOWN – TE ANAU
We leave our lodging pre-dawn to be in position for sunrise in the Wakatipu. We will work the landscape in this area before returning for breakfast. We then depart for Te Anau, arriving in the early afternoon. Te Anau is situated on the fringe of the Fiordland National Park and gives us access to some of New Zealand’s most incredible and least-photographed landscapes. Our last-light shoot location will be selected based on the weather conditions.
Day two TE ANAU
Pre-dawn we set up along the Lake Te Anau shoreline for sunrise on the mountains. We then return to the hotel for breakfast and a break. In the afternoon we take a private helicopter transfer to a remote mountain location for last-light photography in the Fiordland National Park.
Day three TE ANAU
We are on the road well before dawn today for a full day shooting at rarely-visited backcountry and mountain-wilderness locations. We return to Te Anau in early evening.
Day four TE ANAU
Today we take another privately-chartered helicopter transfer into the Fiordland National Park to photograph this grandiose landscape. Depending on the weather this will either be in the morning or afternoon. The area we will be visiting is only accessible by helicopter or by multi-day arduous mountain hiking and climbing. The landscapes we will experience here are only ever seen by a privileged few.
Day five TE ANAU – PIOPIOTAHI/MILFORD SOUND
Pre-dawn we depart for Piopiotahi/Milford Sound at the northern end of the Fiordland National Park and photograph dramatic mountains carved out by glaciers, lush rainforest and crystal-clear rivers. Our last-light photo session will be on the shores of Freshwater Basin at the head of the fiord.
Day six PIOPIOTAHI/MILFORD SOUND – WANAKA
Our morning shoot is again on the shoreline facing Mitre Peak, The Lion and The Elephant. After breakfast we take a photography cruise through the fiord and out to the Tasman Sea returning late morning. We then leave the Fiordland National Park as we travel back to Wanaka.
Day seven WANAKA – FOX GLACIER
After breakfast we leave the lakes district behind us as we travel through the Haast Pass, over to the West Coast and our base for the next three nights: Fox Glacier. Along the way we will stop to photograph forest, waterfall and coastal scenery. We arrive at the village of Fox Glacier in the early evening.
Day eight FOX GLACIER
Today we take a private-charter helicopter flight for doors-off aerial photography. We will fly up the Fox Glacier shooting the blue-ice formations of the upper glacier and seracs before continuing on to photograph the majestic Southern Alps. The timing of this flight will depend on the prevailing weather conditions. We will plan our day’s shoots around the helicopter flight.
Day nine FOX GLACIER
This morning we will capture the first light at Lake Matheson, where on a still day New Zealand’s two highest peaks Aoraki/Mt Cook and Horokoau/Mt Tasman are reflected in the tannin-stained waters. After returning to base we enjoy a relaxed breakfast and then explore a nearby rainforest, the perfect place for contemplated macro photography. In the afternoon we drive to a hidden location for our photo session of the last light on Aoraki/Mt Cook, Horokoau/Mt Tasman and the Southern Alps.
Day ten FOX GLACIER – GREYMOUTH
After breakfast we travel north to the coastal town of Greymouth, arriving in the early afternoon. We take a short break to refresh before driving along the coast to Punakaiki for our last-light shoot of the unusual limestone rock formations known as the Pancake Rocks. For those who have photographed this area with us before, an alternate shoot location is also available.
Day eleven GREYMOUTH – ARTHUR’S PASS NATIONAL PARK
Pre-dawn we set up at a dramatic coastal location for our sunrise photo session. After breakfast we depart Greymouth and travel east to the mountainous Arthur’s Pass National Park. We spend the rest of the day photographing the imposing mountain landscapes of the Southern Alps found here.
Day twelve ARTHUR’S PASS NATIONAL PARK – CHRISTCHURCH – DEPART
An earlier than usual start as we take a hike to a panoramic vantage point overlooking the mountains and valleys. After breakfast we continue travelling east towards Christchurch, arriving in the afternoon in time for departing flights.
Note: The weather in New Zealand is subject to frequent change. We reserve the right to make last-minute changes to the itinerary to both avoid bad weather and to take advantage of good weather and light, as the elements permit. Our intention is to assess the prevailing weather and light conditions to determine where the best photographic opportunities will be.
2020: July 20 – 31
Workshop fee to be advised.
All in-workshop photographic instruction
In-field logistical support
All meals from lunch on Day One to breakfast on Day Twelve
Accommodation in private rooms for eleven nights
Two private helicopter charters at Fiordland National Park
Photography cruise at Milford Sound
Private helicopter aerial photography with doors-off at Fox Glacier
Meals: Dinner Arrival Day to Breakfast Day Twelve
Department of Conservation National Parks and Reserves fees
Goods and Services Tax (currently 15%)
All international air travel and domestic transportation within your home country
Any other travel services required to arrive at the workshop commencement location and all associated taxes, levies and insurances
Immigration, duty, passport and visa fees where applicable
Any personal items including alcoholic beverages, souvenirs and travel insurance
Click here for our Terms and Conditions.
▫ Explore six National Parks
▫ Aerial photography of Fox Glacier and Aoraki/Mt Cook
▫ Two private helicopter charters in Fiordland National Park
▫ 4WD access to wilderness areas
▫ Dark Sky Reserve astrophotography
▫ Photography cruise in Milford Sound
▫ Lake Matheson
“Over the last 30 years I have shot 35mm, medium format, and 4x5 large format films, and thus consider myself to be a fairly advanced amateur. It was therefore an added bonus that Phillip, a consummate professional, also taught me many new approaches to photography as I was capturing the stunning scenery of New Zealand.”
M. McBroom, USA
“It was indeed worthwhile to have taken the “plunge” to come to the other end of the world and to put the travel schedule into your hands. Your careful planning and knowledge of this beautiful island we explored together, paired with your professional know how has given us invaluable memories for a long time to come.”
A. Bulato, Switzerland
“I have participated in a number of photo workshops both in the USA and overseas, and this particular trip is the best I have attended.”
E. Hartmann, USA
“I learned a lot about camera settings, composition, light and right moment and much more. I also learned about the difference between a good picture, a postcard picture, art and fine art – this is essential on my way to artist!”
M. Rauvala, Finland
Almost 14 years ago I started guiding photographers and have been referred to as the most highly regarded landscape photography instructor in New Zealand. I believe this is because I know where the best coffee, and hot chocolate, is to be had no matter where we are.
The most valuable asset of digital photography, from a learning perspective, is being able to instantly assess each capture. This is immensely helpful when I am working with photographers to develop their individual style and master new techniques.
It is a privilege to share my enthusiasm for the New Zealand landscape with other passionate photographers. You are most welcome to join me on this awe-inspiring workshop.