2023 - West Coast Wilderness Photography Tour
- Duration: 7 Days (approx.)
- Product code: 7-WWC
Join Ken Wright and Glen Howey on this exceptional seven-day photography tour of the South Island’s wild west coast. Timed at the end of winter, when the light is crisp and low, the West Coast Photography Tour offers excellent opportunities to capture the area’s wild beaches, forests and waterfalls, and the snow-covered Southern Alps.
The South Island’s west coast boasts more forests, mountains, and protected lands than any other region of New Zealand. Here, wild and remote coastlines are flanked by primaeval rainforests, with the high peaks and glaciers of the Southern Alps rising beyond.
Te Wāhipounamu World Heritage
Amazing coastal sunsets
Lake Matheson sunrise
White Heron Sanctuary Tour at Waitangiroto Reserve
QUEENSTOWN - NELSON
Punakaiki Pancake Rocks
Westland National Park
Paparoa National Park
Kahurangi National Park
Nelson Lakes National Park
Day 1 – Queenstown - Fox Glacier
After meeting in Queenstown, we drive over the Crown Range and climb up to Haast Pass—the gateway to the west coast. Along the way, we photograph a number of extraordinary waterfalls, including a beautiful 30-metre cascade in stately beech forest. Tonight we capture our first west coast sunset. We travel along the coast, exploring the magnificent rainforest of the Te Wāhipounamu (a UNESCO World Heritage area), before heading to Fox Glacier. At sunset, we visit a remote west coast beach offering panoramic views of the snow-covered peaks of the Southern Alps.
Day 2 - Fox Glacier
This morning, we photograph sunrise at Lake Matheson, capturing the often-perfect reflections of Aoraki/Mt Cook and Mt Tasman—New Zealand’s highest mountains. If the weather is right, you have the option (at additional cost) to take a helicopter flight onto the vast upper neve of the Fox Glacier for some unparalleled photo opportunities. Sunset tonight will see us heading out to Okarito Lagoon, with panoramic views of the Southern Alps rising beyond a sweeping extent of rainforest.
Day 3 - Fox Glacier - Punakaiki
This morning, we drive up the coast to Whataroa, stopping for a Guided White Heron Sanctuary Tour up the Whataroa river; this is the only way to access the Waitangiroto Nature Reserve. Here, we will photograph the country's only nesting site for the beautiful White Herons (Kotuku), along with the Royal Spoonbill. Following this, we drive further up the coast with several stops en route, including the turquoise waters of the Hokitika Gorge. We reach Punakaiki and its famous Punakaiki rock formations in time for sunset photography.
Day 4 - Punakaiki
The day begins with an exploration of the exquisite limestone and river landscapes of Paparoa National Park. We will spend the rest of the day exploring the exceptional coastline and sunset sees us heading out onto stunning beaches to capture the last light hitting the coastline and huge breaking waves.
Day 5 - Punakaiki - Karamea
From Punakaiki, we drive north along the west coast, headed for the area’s northernmost town, Karamea. En route, we stop at the impressive Ngakawau Gorge for a walk up the river, following the line of an old mining railway. If the weather allows, we also have the opportunity to visit the fascinating former coal-mining township of Dennistoun, high in the mountains. We end the day at Karamea, photographing the sunset over the tranquil Karamea River estuary.
Day 6 - Karamea and Kahurangi National Park
Kahurangi National Park is famous for its geological diversity. At the secluded Oparara Valley, sub-tropical rainforest mixes with impressive limestone arches. We will spend our morning here, moving on to photograph the Kohaihai River mouth in the afternoon. The river mouth marks the start of the famous Heaphy Track, renowned for its striking nikau palms and fine coastal scenery. We finish the day with a sunset shoot over the coast.
Day 7 - Karamea - Nelson
On the last day of the tour, we turn away from the west coast for somewhat of a long drive to Nelson, peppered with outstanding photo stops. These include the mighty Buller River from Hawke’s Crag, Maruia Falls, and the jetty and mountains at Lake Rotoiti, Nelson Lakes National Park. Our tour ends in Nelson, the main city at the top of the South Island, in time for catching late afternoon flights.
7 days’ photography guiding by Ken Wright & Shaun Barnett
6 nights’ hotel accommodation (twin-share, single upgrade available) mostly 4✩
White Heron Sanctuary Tour
Transport during the tour
DOC (National Park) concession fees
Copy of our Pocket Guide to Landscape & Wildlife Photography
Donation to our Conservation Fund
Native tree planting to Carbon Offset your tour