After very successful workshops in 2014 and 2015, we are teaming up with Visionary Wild again to offer another spectacular Spring photo adventure in October 2016. SOLD OUT. Waitlist available.

Visionary Wild South 15 Day Workshop

This 15-day photo expedition will again be led by National Geographic photographer Michael Melford, who recently covered the South Island on assignment for Nat Geo; and Phillip Bartlett, New Zealand landscape and nature photographer and guide.

Towering mountain ranges, hanging alpine glaciers, wind-swept coastlines, crystal blue lakes, pristine river valleys, and primordial tree-fern rainforests are just some of the scenes we will photograph as we explore the South Island. This workshop itinerary has been designed to photograph in locations off the regular tourist path, and to access these areas we will be travelling by modern 4WD vehicles, with two passengers per vehicle. In addition, private charter excursions by helicopter and boat – at Fox Glacier, Milford Sound and Kaikoura – provide us access to some truly phenomenal opportunities. All the while, your trip leaders offer generous guidance and instruction to ensure that you make the most of the photographic possibilities. Our recently completed 2015 workshop was again exceedingly well-received – reflecting our dedication to deliver a photographic experience of the highest calibre.

This journey will take you from the garden city of Christchurch south into the heart of the Southern Alps, where we photograph New Zealand’s highest peaks still draped in snow. We then continue south to Queenstown, home to the aptly-named Remarkables mountain range. To the west are the glacier-carved valleys of Fiordland and Milford Sound, which offer extraordinary photographic opportunities in all weather conditions. We take an exclusive boat charter through the fiord to make the most of this incredible location. An off-road foray into the Fiordland National Park follows for incredible mountain vistas. Then, it’s on to Wanaka before we travel over to the rugged West Coast via the Haast River Valley. Here we enjoy the opportunities along rugged beaches and coastal wetlands where few have photographed before. Farther north at Fox Glacier, we helicopter over the glacier itself to shoot aerial views of the Mt. Cook massif, ice caves, crevasses, and hanging-ice formations. Traveling up the coast and through mountain passes, we arrive on the east coast at the seaside town of Kaikoura, where the highlight of our stay at this mountain-ringed bay is a private charter boat trip to photograph the acrobatics of the Dusky dolphins, as well a variety of different albatross, giant petrels, and other pelagic birds.

This workshop is limited to only six participants to ensure that each guest receives a superior level of instruction and advice from Michael and Phillip. If you are interested in this workshop please send us an enquiry or register now using the links at the bottom of the page.

Testimonials from our New Zealand guests:

“Thanks for a first-class photo adventure!” Tom H.

“The NZ trip was really spectacular, we thought, and you’re to be congratulated for ensuring that it was such a great experience for us from beginning to end. Logistics could not have been better, small group size was perfect, and all three instructors were extremely helpful and approachable. I really appreciated all the advice and assistance that was available. I made plenty of mistakes for sure, but feel I really learned a lot (about the initial capture as well as the subsequent processing) over the 2 weeks and hope I’ll be able to put some of the lessons I learned into practice with even nicer photos in future. Since we were last there 20 years ago, I had quite forgotten just how beautiful the South Island is. But it takes planning and knowledge to take full advantage of that, and you, Phillip and Michael always got us to the right spots at the right times. Lastly, all the “extras” you included, such as the helicopter ride, the dolphin excursion, the comfortable and roomy vehicles, the excellent food and drink, and even the luxury of having 3 professionals for only 6 clients, made the trip truly special. Thank you so very much.” Kathy and David R.

“Thanks again for another fabulous trip. New Zealand was everything I hoped for and more.” Barry A.

“Thanks again for the great New Zealand Trip – we had a great time and learned so much.” Nancy R. and Greg C.

“The expedition greatly exceeded my expectations. It was no doubt an amazing and awesome experience of a lifetime!” Susan S.


Our adventure starts this morning as we depart Christchurch heading for Twizel, South Canterbury. The MacKenzie area is surrounded by spectacular mountains and lakes, and is adjacent to the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, home to New Zealand’s highest peaks. We arrive at our lodging in the mid-afternoon and get settled in before going out for our evening shoot of the Southern Alps and Aoraki/Mt Cook. (L)

Day two TWIZEL
We leave our lodging pre-dawn to be in position for the first light on the mountains. We will work the landscape in this area as the sun rises before returning for breakfast. Following breakfast we are out in the field again exploring this rugged terrain. We return for lunch and a break, departing for the mountains again for the late afternoon light and sunset. (BL)

Another chance to photograph sunrise on the mountains before we depart, and travel south towards Wanaka. A side trip takes us offroad to a superb mountain location and we spend time shooting this area before continuing on to Wanaka, arriving in the early evening. (BL)

Day four WANAKA
We get down to the heli-pad pre-dawn this morning and are transferred up into the mountains to capture the spectacular sunrise views over Lake Wanaka and the surrounding mountains. After breakfast we drive into the mountains for a morning of spectacular autumn-colour shooting. We return to the town for lunch before departing to a remote location for our last-light shoot of the expansive Central Otago countryside. (BL)

Just for a change we are up even earlier this morning as we drive up into the hills in time for the first light. This rugged environment is marked by other-wordly rock tors set amongst fields of golden tussock and provides expansive views of the surrounding mountains. After photographing here we travel to a nearby town for breakfast, before continuing on to Te Anau, to check in to our lodgings. In the afternoon we drive to a hidden wilderness location, where we will spend most of the afternoon photographing. We return to Te Anau in the early evening. (BL)

We spend the full day in the Milford Sound area of the Fiordland National Park. We will be photographing dramatic mountains carved out by glaciers, lush rainforest draped in mosses and lichens, and crystal-clear rivers. We finish the day with sunset at Milford Sound. (BL)

After photographing Mitre Peak at sunrise we take a boat journey along the fiord and out to the Tasman Sea. As well as shooting this incredible landscape of sheer mountains, cascading waterfalls and untouched coastline it is possible we will see seals and dolphins. After our cruise we make our way back through the mountains to Queenstown. We arrive at Queenstown in the mid-afternoon and take a break before setting up on the shores of Lake Wakatipu for our sunset shoot. (BL)

Our last pre-dawn start as we travel along the road to Glenorchy to photograph the spectacular mountain, lake and autumn landscapes found in this area. In the late morning we return to Queenstown to prepare for our travel home. (B)


michael-melfordMICHAEL MELFORD
National Geographic Photographer Michael Melford has worked with the Society for over 30 years. He has produced 19 feature stories for National Geographic Magazine, and over 30 stories for National Geographic Traveler magazine.Born in New York, Michael received a bachelor’s in photography from Syracuse University and returned to New York City in 1977 to start his career.
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). 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.

Born in Nelson, at the top of the South Island, Phillip is a professional wilderness and nature photographer who, since pioneering multi-day photo expeditions in his home country, has been at the forefront of the best and most exclusive photography workshops in New Zealand. In his constant search for new perspectives and vistas, Phillip has explored the island nation from top to bottom, from mountains to rainforest to fiords to coastlines and has been responsible for opening up some of New Zealand’s most magical locations for photographers. Phillip is intimately familiar with the range of seasonal opportunities and very special hidden locations off the beaten track. He is the most highly regarded landscape photography instructor in New Zealand, well-known for generously sharing his knowledge, expertise, and love of the place with photographers from around the world. His passion for photography and his desire to help others capture outstanding images and take their photography to the next level is remarkable, and Visionary Wild is very pleased that he has joined the instructor team.


2016: OCTOBER 10 – 25 (includes arrival day prior to the commencement of the workshop)

US$15,495.00 per person on a double or twin-share basis
US$1000.00 single supplement


All in-workshop transportations and photography guide services
Accommodation for fifteen nights
Milford Sound private photography cruise
Fox Glacier private helicopter charter (doors removed for photography)
Dolphin watch private boat charter
Meals as indicated in the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner), including wine or beer with dinners
Department of Conservation National Parks fees


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 souvenirs and travel insurance

Please note that the Terms and Conditions of Visionary Wild apply to this workshop.