Combining the iconic and the untamed, this unique journey showcases the dramatic diversity of a lost continent. Each destination dances for your camera with shimmering mountains, burning desert, famous cities, and volcanic wonders. A juxtaposition of shades and colors provide the backdrop while a compelling cast of residents offer a focal point. There's always a new angle as these 13-day Australia and New Zealand photography tour exemplifies the wonders of New Zealand and Australia.
Welcome to New Zealand
Auckland provides a sleepy welcome to the continent, with New Zealand's biggest city as tranquil as they come. You'll be picked up from the airport in a luxury sedan and transferred to your hotel. After getting settled, wander around the harbor and pick a route through the city's old colonial buildings, all the while settling into the country's enduringly laid-back atmosphere. This day is at your leisure, giving you the day to adjust to the time difference and slowly explore the cute city center.
A Journey Through Hobbiton
A morning journey takes you through the North Island's volcanic countryside, with countless strange green peaks revealing the leftovers from cooling ash. Lost in the middle of this landscape is Hobbiton, hidden from the road and relishing its role as an enchanter. Walk through the swing gate and feast your eyes on the hobbit holes, 44 of them ready for your camera. Admire the intricate attention to detail, stand in a hobbit garden and take a self-portrait, and explore a movie set that is completely unchanged from the days of Gandolf and dwarf footsteps. It's so authentic that you're almost surprised that a wizard doesn't walk through your shot.
As smoke flickers from the Green Dragon Tavern chimney, step beneath the thatched roof and enjoy a mug of hobbit stout, before gazing back at the picturesque authenticity of Hobbiton. With a camera full of phantasmal shots, continue your journey through the North Island, weaving past rolling green fields and spending the night in Rotorua.
Geysers and Maori Culture in Rotorua
Bubbling beneath Rotorua's surface is the proof of an old volcanic existence, geothermal activity piercing the crust and exploding out of any holes in the rock. Natural geysers cover the town, great jets of steaming water extending over 60 feet towards the sky. It blazes out of rugged sorcerous domes, delighting your camera with great semblances of prehistoric fantasy. Zoom in for the explosive power, zoom out for the full photo of nature's control over the landscape.
Indigenous Maori have lived here for millennia, using the natural heat to their advantage. As a tribe gives you a traditional welcome, your dinner is being roasted on steaming rocks beneath the surface. Tonight's Maori experience is no museum show, but instead a very real evocation of tribal life. Your camera can reflect this. Capture the intensity and emotion of the Haka, a boisterous war dance performed before going into battle. Frame the Maori Chief in his traditional clothes, and admire the simplicity of classic Maori meeting places. With geysers spurting away in the distance, this evening in Rotorua is as authentic as they come.
Serene Beauty in Queenstown
Every photographer has days when nothing photographs as they want. They also have days when every click of the shutter produces dream-like results. Queenstown is one of those coveted destinations that makes every camera smile. When the valley is shrouded in mist, there's a mystique to the photos. When the sun shines, and the sky is crisp blue, few places on the planet are as picturesque. Dazzling peaks surround the town gazing down on a lavish blue lake that embellishes reflections.
Take a cable car to the peak and shoot it all from the sky, or sit on the pebbled beach and attach the wide-angle lens to enjoy the 360-degree panorama of the South Island's most beautiful destination. From Rotorua, you'll fly to Queenstown, arriving with plenty of time to explore this little piece of paradise.
A Dazzling Journey into Milford Sound
Keep your camera on full alert as you drive into the Fjordlands National Park. The park offers continual panoramas of rugged mountains and gaping blue lakes. This corner of New Zealand epitomizes the nation's natural splendor. The area is undeniably beautiful and pristine, but the overriding emotion is one of precocious power. Today will test your camera skills while also offering innumerable opportunities to experiment. After zigzagging through snow-engulfed mountains, you descend towards Milford Sound, an immense fjord that glistens before your eyes. An enchanting flutter of mist is often rolling between the towering peaks, a climatical addition to the rich blue of the water and the propitious white of 300-meter plus waterfalls.
A two-hour boat cruise takes you out to the water, gliding close to the 1,000-meter vertical cliffs and stopping beside groups of frolicking seals. Dolphins come out to play as you head towards the Tasman Sea before cruising back beside the rugged mountains. You'll need at least a couple of lenses today. Milford Sound offers wildlife close-ups, astonishing landscapes, and a million justifications for that new Leica you have been eyeing.
The journey back is even more hypnotic. Board a helicopter and fly above the Fjordlands, a succession of mountain ridges separating each body of water. From up there, it's possible to evoke the endless scale, mountains and water extending beneath a shutter happy finger. Touch down on an isolated glacier, an encompassing white posing a delightful challenge for the camera, before slicing between the peaks and landing in Queenstown, primitive beauty being revealed in the most memorable way.
City Sights and City Lights in Sydney
Scroll through the photos so far and there's one perspective that's missing: indelible city sights. It only takes a moment in Sydney to rectify this as one of the world's most memorable skylines comes alive before your eyes. Photograph the Sydney Opera House, each famous sail gently glowing in the late afternoon light. Capture Sydney Harbour Bridge as the sun sets behind it, and then keep the tripod in position as the bridge lights begin to flicker. A glistening modern cityscape stands over the harbor, while the dissecting river always offers an amazing contrast. You'll fly direct from Queenstown to Sydney and the rest of the day is free for you to explore the city.
Winding Through the Blue Mountains
Sydney's inherent beauty starts with its surroundings. There are the ocean rollers patrolled by surfers, rich green forests interspersed with modern neighborhoods, and a theatric mountain range that floats in the distance. Head out to the Blue Mountains, stopping at countless lookout points that gaze into a eucalyptus-clad canyon. A mystical blue dances between the sandstone cliffs, giving the region its name and contributing to its UNESCO World Heritage status. Descend steep paths and pick a route through waterfalls and rainforest, then ascend to a new vista of weather-beaten peaks. Today is a day for subtle shades and juxtaposing colors, each angle offering the kind of photographic nuance that every professional aspires to see. It's a day of always having your camera on hand, including on the journey back to Sydney. You'll stop at a wildlife park for some memorable shots with hopping marsupials, before boarding a boat and sailing back into central Sydney the local way.
Sydney From the Water and the Bridge
Yesterday's boat ride will have provided a glimpse of the city on the water. Today you're fully immersed on a luxury lunch cruise. Head out from Darling Harbour cruising beneath the famous archways and alongside, an even more, famous opera house. Historical narrative brings a story to your photos, the cruise inspecting penal islands and the places where colonial explorers first landed. There's something wonderfully serene about the experience; a luxury cruise on a famous river, through a city that revels in its iconic image.
Disembark and head to the sky, climbing the exposed spine of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and savoring a dramatic view of the city. Note that you won't be able to take your camera on the Bridge Climb. However, included in the ticket is entry to the bridge tower, a great place for aerial shots of the cityscape.
Shimmering Sunset at Uluru
Australia's red center provides the next 24 hours of adventure, starting with an airplane journey to the world's biggest monolith. Uluru stands large and proud, dominating a deserted landscape of burning oranges and dusty reds. It's been photographed millions of times before, but that doesn't make your shots any less impressive. Evoking scale requires experimentation and skill. Uluru, or Ayer's Rock, is over 1,000 feet high, and it takes 30 minutes to drive around the base. It's packed with nooks and crannies, and strange shapes that only become visible when you stand at the foot of this natural masterpiece.
For the ultimate Uluru photo, position your tripod at sunset and watch the rock magically plunge through the color spectrum. Time-lapse photography is particularly impressive at this time. After four hours exploring and capturing Uluru, return to the hotel and open the shutter for another of the desert's famous sights; the starry night sky. Gaze up and it defies belief. How do you decipher constellations when the whole sky burns white? Photographing stars are likely to consume your evening, the experimental possibility producing dazzling results. The nearest town is over 300 miles away, so nothing pollutes your surreal experience with the stars.
A Desert Sunrise and Onwards to Melbourne
Uluru isn't the only impressive rock in the desert. Most visitors say that Kata Tjuta is more memorable, the succession of individual domes rising higher than its famous neighbor. Wide angle is a good idea this morning as the sun rises over the desert and casts a glow on Kata Tjuta's majestic dimpled peaks. Only a small part of these rocks are open to visitors; the rest remain a sacred and unexplored place for local Aboriginal tribes. This connection with the land's ancestors provides an additional charm, because while Uluru and Kata Tjuta are aesthetically powerful, the ancient evocation of spirit and culture are a huge part of the experience.
Return to the hotel and transfer to the airport for a flight to another of Australia's cultural heartbeats: Melbourne. Inside this city, you'll discover an intriguing blend of styles. Explore side streets packed with markets and colonial relics, wander through Victorian era shopping centers, and enjoy the soothing city lights along the riverside. The city is easy to explore on foot and the afternoon and evening are free at your leisure.
Rolling Along the Great Ocean Road
Australia's endless coastline offers an idyllic day of entertainment as you journey south to the Great Ocean Road. Dramatically carved into the cliffs, this weaving stretch of tarmac rolls past deserted beaches, endemic rainforest, sheltered coves, fishing villages, glimmering white lighthouses, and 100 lookout points that focus on the Southern Ocean waves. Your journey culminates in the Twelve Apostles, a sandstone collection of cliffs that have been separated from the mainland, standing together in the ocean like forgotten Gods. After Uluru, they're probably Australia's most photographed natural sight.
Wind around a few more corners and an equally soporific collection of beaches and weathered cliffs take their turn to impress. There are few quiet moments today, each corner bringing new vistas and the memory card quickly filling to capacity.
Kangaroos and Koalas in the Wild
Australia's infamous marsupials fill your final day on vacation. This isn't photographing them in a sanctuary or wildlife park; today's photos won't have anything unnatural you need to edit out in photoshop. Walk into the bush and gaze skyward, searching for koalas in their eucalyptus trees. Zoom, focus, and wait. Keep your finger above the shutter and patiently the koala turns its head, yawning an indelible smile and rubbing eyes that are sleepy with dreams and emotion.
After a morning of these cute furry characters, you look for a clearing in the bush. Kangaroos wait in the distance, rising to attention, yet happy with your presence. Wildlife photography requires patience, illustrated by a close encounter with these hopping mobs. Take a shot from the distance and then silently creep forward, a few feet at a time until you've come within breathtaking proximity. A whole group plays before your eyes, so which way do you point the camera? You may be less than an hour out of Melbourne, but the natural splendor of Australia is rarely better symbolized than your meetings and greetings with marsupials.
After many days of adventure, you leave Melbourne and head home. Scroll through the multiple memory cards and begin to analyze your photos. Desert, mountains, city, wildlife, tribal chiefs, spurting geysers, famous movie sets; relive the experience through your images and it doesn't seem real. How can such diversity be squeezed into less than two weeks? That's the beauty of New Zealand and Australia. It might be a long way from home, but the countries certainly know how to reveal their diverse wonders for the camera.
- Gasp in delight as you wander through Hobbiton, the famous movie set, even more evocative when experienced first hand
- Capture the volcanic landscapes of Rotorua and then switch to portrait mode as you're welcomed by an indigenous Maori tribe
- Document the dramatic Fjordlands National Park, first cruising through famous Milford Sound and then taking a helicopter across the glaciers
- Immerse yourself in the wonders of Sydney, including climbing the exposed archway of Sydney Harbour Bridge and taking a boat cruise through the city
- Attach the wide-angle lens as you discover the mystical haze of the Blue Mountains, a thousand juxtaposing colors dancing before your camera
- Journey to the red heartbeat of Australia, Uluru (Ayer's Rock), burning red as the sun begins to set, the Milky Way glowing white through the night, and Kata Tjuta shimmering at dawn
- Keep filling the memory cards as you weave along the Great Ocean Road, stopping at hidden bays, secluded beaches, and famous sights like the Twelve Apostles
- Soak up the charm of Melbourne as you finish your trip in this enchanting cultural hub
Australia and New Zealand offer an untamed playground for your camera, their compelling landscapes providing a stage for a photographic adventure that exudes diversity. Multiple colors dance before your lens on this Australia and New Zealand photography tour. Dramatic geology provides a visual feast while the inimitable residents ensure a rich focal point. Keep the camera ready at all times as you journey through the finest landscapes the Southern Hemisphere can offer. Just driving to a destination offers innumerable opportunities to focus and click, while both countries revel in their ability to throw in a surprise. Some scenes are tailor-made for the camera; burning red Uluru in the desert, subalpine lakes and mountains around Queenstown, or capturing Sydney from any angle. Others provide intrigue and challenge, contrasting colors requiring a good eye and careful manipulation.
It all starts in New Zealand, the volcanic North Island providing the backdrop for the first three days. After flying into Auckland, you'll be journeying back in time, descending on Middle Earth and the hypnotic Hobbiton movie set. It's quite a journey with every angle offering the iconic New Zealand countryside. Geothermal activity rumbles beneath your feet, bursting out of prehistoric looking rock in the Maori town of Rotorua. Capture the sudden explosions of water before switching to portrait mode as a Maori tribe provides a traditional greeting and evening of entertainment. Ruggedness and drama shape the South Island's landscape, your camera tested by snow-capped peaks, thunderous waterfalls, and immense fjords. And that's just when you journey to Milford Sound. Helicopter over the Fjordlands and land on an exposed glacier, and later soak up the serene beauty of Queenstown.
After five days in New Zealand, you cross the Tasman Sea and take in the vibrant cityscape of Sydney. With the Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, and surfers on Bondi Beach, there are plenty of iconic scenes to keep you clicking away. Compliment the city exploration with a meandering trip into the Blue Mountains, a World Heritage Site that defies the eyes. Uluru at sunset is equally iconic, but your trip into Australia's red center comes with added surprise. Open the shutter and capture the incredulous night sky, and wake before dawn to see sunrise between the domes of Kata Tjuta and the world's biggest monolith.
Each day is packed with action and intrigue, picturesque scenes greeting you from every angle. There's also plenty of time to rest and relax, after all, these countries are famed for their indelibly laid-back rhythm. Completing the itinerary are three days of unique experiences around Melbourne. Weave along the Great Ocean Road, each corner bringing countless opportunities for award-winning photos. Enjoy the scenery with rainforest tumbling into the ocean, hidden sandy bays, and cliffs cast adrift in the ocean; it's a day of disbelieving sights. Then again, so is your trip into the bush and an intimate experience with wild koalas and bouncing kangaroos.
This lost continent and tailored itinerary will excite every photographer. Combining the iconic and the unknown, this Australia and New Zealand vacation hones your skills for capturing the images that make most of the world drool.
$3,245 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
Reviews of Zicasso's Referral Service
4.84 stars based on 850 reviews
Reviewed By Laura D.
Reviewed By Chuck H.
Reviewed By Erica B.
Reviewed By Sarah L.
Reviewed By Patrick C.
Reviewed By John C.
Get Weekly Inspiration and Expert Advice on Travel
during the COVID and post-COVID era