Day two CHRISTCHURCH – AORAKI/MT COOK NATIONAL PARK
We depart Christchurch this morning and travel south across the pastoral Canterbury Plains towards the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park and our base for the next two nights in nearby Twizel, which provides an array excellent photographic options and flexibility to respond to changing weather in the mountains. Aoraki/Mt Cook is New Zealand’s highest mountain at 12,218ft. (3724m), the centerpiece of the majestic Southern Alps. Aoraki was given by the indigenous Maori and means ‘cloud-piercer’, an apt description as this mountain backdrop soars 10,000 feet above turquoise Lake Pukaki and the braided Tasman River which offer stunning foreground subject matter. In the early evening we take a short walk to position ourselves to capture the last light on the mountains.
Day three AORAKI/MT COOK NATIONAL PARK
We are out in the field pre-dawn, and drive to a nearby location to photograph the first light in the Tasman Valley. The setting is once again Aoraki/Mt Cook and the Southern Alps, with this location offering stunning panoramic perspectives. We then return to Twizel for a late breakfast. After lunch we are out in the field again and spend the rest of the day photographing the Southern Alps from a new perspective.
Day four TWIZEL – NORTH OTAGO
Another chance to photograph sunrise on the Southern Alps before we depart and travel east out to the coast. We arrive in the afternoon in time to photograph the late light at the Moeraki Boulders. These unusual spherical concretions, which look as though they simply dropped out of the sky, are embedded in the sandy beach and can reach nearly 10 feet in diameter.
Day five NORTH OTAGO – CATLINS – INVERCARGILL
This morning we are on the beach well before sunrise for our first-light session at the Moeraki Boulders. We then travel south through the Catlins area on the south-east corner of the South Island, where we photograph intimate waterfall and forest scenery. We arrive at Invercargill in the early evening.
Day six INVERCARGILL – MILFORD SOUND
We leave Invercargill this morning and make our way to Milford Sound, which is located in the northern part of the Fiordland National Park. While most visitors make this a hurried day trip, we will be staying for two nights to take best advantage of the vast range of wonderful opportunities found in this area. The drive to Milford Sound passes through breathtaking glaciated valleys and we make stops to photograph along the way. We arrive at Milford Sound in the afternoon and shortly after set up on the water’s edge to photograph the iconic Mitre Peak and surrounding mountains.
Day seven MILFORD SOUND
We have a full day of magnificent photography in the Milford Sound area today. At sunrise we will be down on the waterfront making use of the early light on Mitre Peak. After breakfast, we explore tree fern-filled rainforest and pristine rivers. After lunch we take a break before joining our private-charter photography cruise through the fiord and out to the Tasman Sea. In addition to the tremendous landscape of sheer mountains, plummeting waterfalls, and untouched coastline, we may encounter penguins, seals, and dolphins. At last light we are back on the Milford Sound shore hoping for a colorful end to the day.
Day eight MILFORD SOUND – TE ANAU
After a sunrise photo session of the fiord we journey back through the mountains to the lake town of Te Anau, arriving in the afternoon. The rest of the day is at your leisure to allow the instructors to prepare for the following morning.
Day nine TE ANAU – WANAKA
A very early start for us this morning as we are packed and gone well before dawn. Our first-light shoot is at a high-country lake location hidden in the mountains. The golden tussock grasses growing here give the scene a distinctly New Zealand-wilderness flavor. We then drive back out to the main highway and make a stop for breakfast before we continue on to Wanaka, arriving in the afternoon. We take a break and meet up again to shoot the last light on Lake Wanaka.
Day ten WANAKA
Pre-dawn we are down at the famous lone tree, which has now become a local institution. After breakfast we explore the mountainous backcountry, photographing spectacular wilderness scenery. In the afternoon we travel into the hill country where we shoot expansive views of the surrounding mountains.
Day eleven WANAKA – HAAST
One more chance to perfect our lone tree image before we leave the lakes district behind us and travel over to the wild and isolated West Coast to the village of Haast. In the late afternoon we set up at a stunningly beautiful and ancient rainforest wetland. Last light finds us out on a nearby beach, which is covered with twisted and knotted driftwood.
Day twelve HAAST – FOX GLACIER
We continue north today and arrive at the Fox Glacier village in the late morning. A nearby forest offers wonderful macro opportunities of moss-covered trees, ferns, and cascading creeks, and we will spend time exploring this magical location. In the late afternoon we drive to a rural location to photograph Aoraki/Mt Cook and the Southern Alps. Overnight at Sunset Motel.
Day thirteen FOX GLACIER: HELICOPTER AERIALS
This morning we go down to the nearby heli-pad for an exhilarating aerial shoot of Fox Glacier and the Southern Alps. This is aerial photography at its best with the doors removed for unobstructed shooting. We will make a series of flights in a capable Hughes 500 helicopter with two guests per flight in the right-side photo positions, along with one photo leader seated behind the pilot, not photographing, but instead directing the pilot and offering guidance to set up photographic compositions for the guests. Please note that this is weather-dependent for the helicopters to operate, though in the case of inclement weather we have two mornings and two afternoons to find a suitable weather window for these flights. After returning to the base we will have breakfast and then venture out again to photograph forest and glacier scenes. In the afternoon we take a well-earned rest before re-grouping for our evening of photography with the mountains as the backdrop. Overnight at Sunset Motel.
Day fourteen FOX GLACIER – GREYMOUTH
We leave our accommodation pre-dawn to capture the famed mountain reflections of Aoraki/Mt Cook and Mt Tasman at a nearby lake. After breakfast we depart Fox Glacier and travel north towards the coastal town of Greymouth. We take a short break to refresh before continuing along the coast to the Punakaiki area for our last-light shoot of the unique limestone formations of the Pancake Rocks.
Day fifteen GREYMOUTH
We spend the day exploring the rugged Paparoa National Park coastline north of Greymouth, including a foray into the backcountry. This area is one of the best remaining examples of New Zealand coastal forest and is dominated by towering tree ferns and the endemic Nikau palm, giving a tropical feel to the landscape. Our sunset shoot finds us out of the coast again, capturing the last drops of light on this dramatic seascape.
Day sixteen GREYMOUTH – CHRISTCHURCH – DEPART
After breakfast we depart Greymouth and travel from coast to coast. The journey takes us directly east through the Arthur’s Pass, which is at the northern end of the Southern Alps. We will make brief stops along the way to photograph the imposing mountain scenery. For those departing this afternoon we say farewell and safe travels. Accommodation for this night can be arranged for guests who plan to fly home the following day.
2018: OCTOBER 12 – 27
USD15,495.00 per person twin share
INCLUDED: Accommodation for fifteen nights, based on single occupancy (prorated double-occupancy available). All meals and beverages (including wine or beer with dinners). All in-workshop photographic instruction and guide services by leader team of two photo pros plus one group field support. Private-charter boat excursion: Milford Sound photography cruise. Private-charter helicopter doors-off photography at Fox Glacier. Department of Conservation concession and permit fees, all local taxes. All gratuities.
EXCLUDED: All international air travel and domestic transportation within your home country, any other travel services required to arrive at the tour commencement location, along with all associated taxes, levies and insurances. Immigration, duty, passport and visa fees where applicable. Personal items including gifts or other purchases, any paid communications, hotel room service or minibar charges, travel insurance, etc. Optional activities not listed as included in the itinerary, e.g. additional helicopter flights.
▫ Explore six National Parks
▫ Private charter Milford Sound photography cruise
▫ Aerial photography of Aoraki/Mt Cook
▫ 4WD access to wilderness areas
▫ Dark Sky Reserve astrophotography
▫ Lake Matheson and Fox Glacier
▫ Moeraki Boulders and the Catlins
“I have travelled the world taking photos, but this was by far the best photography experience of my life.”
J. Veder, USA
“Thank you again for making my trip around the South Island so spectacular and memorable. I’ve learned so much. Every day was filled with several incredible shooting opportunities. You worked so hard to get us to those special and “secret” spots. ”
S. Thomas, USA
“What an amazing trip! Thanks so much for your instruction, my images are so much better due to you both.”
S. Williams, USA
Just over twelve 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 teaching photographers how 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 and many workshop participants have become friends and repeat clients. You are most welcome to join me on this workshop.
He has been on assignment the past eleven years mostly for the National Geographic magazine, celebrating the marvels of our National Parks: Acadia, Glen Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, Waterton/Glacier, and Death Valley, and a cover story on Our National Parks in Peril (2006). Michael recently shot for National Geographic’s “The 50th Anniversary for the Wilderness Act” (2014), which was ranked #2 story of the year by the readers of National Geographic. Other National Geographic stories include: “Saving Civil War Battlefields,” “King Herod: Architect of the Holy Land,” and “Russian Kronotsky Preserve: Let it Be.” and “Solar Energy”.
Michael has produced photography for eight books for National Geographic, including three in Alaska, his favorite being Treasures of Alaska. He has received many awards for his photographs, but prefers to remain humble and share his knowledge, his love of nature, and his sense of humor with students of photography.