Photography Tour of Australia & New Zealand’s South Island

A 10 day trip to Australia & New Zealand 
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Capture the best of the Southern Hemisphere with your photography adventure of New Zealand and Australia immortalized in the memories you make and the photos you take. Your customized tour will take you along the trails of an ancient rainforest in search of historical tribal traditions and then bring incredible views around the sapphire water of the Coral Sea as sea turtles and clown fish graze on the Great Barrier Reef. Enjoy the sunrise coming over the coastal plains as it spreads across snowcapped peaks as your tour matches the splendors of fiords and glaciers with the wonderment of rainbow-colored reefs and white-sand beaches.

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Milford Sound, Christchurch, Mt. Cook National Park, Queenstown, Cromwell, Twizel, Cairns, Port Douglas, Mossman Gorge, Daintree Rainforest, Kuranda, Atherton Tablelands

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Christchurch – Arrive in South Island’s Capital with an Introductory Tour

Your flight will land at Christchurch Airport where your private transfer meets you upon your arrival.  As you drive into the city center, you will soon see how Christchurch combines European heritage with unbelievable amounts nature woven in and throughout. Lush trees surround the cityscape and gardens blossom with roses and jacaranda trees along the banks of the Avon River. An antique tram meanders along the cobblestone streets of the city center between the refurbished facades of Victorian buildings. Christchurch is picturesque in its ability to combine small town ambiance in the South Island’s largest city. Pocket gardens grow along the inner-city streets and murals decorate walls around the Central Business District leading passersby to Hagley Park.

After you check into your hotel and take some time to settle in after your long trip, you will meet your guide for an introductory tour of the city with your camera in hand to explore the blend of historical and contemporary streets. Couples ride down the Avon River on small boats propelled by gondoliers as lush willows and tall grasses dangle branches and leaves into the riverbanks. The Botanic Gardens encompass more than 74 acres with the Avon River winding through. Rhododendrons and azaleas blossom to provide a sweet fragrance to accompany the riotous colors. Your first image of Christchurch is an enthusiastic city, eager to remember its past while celebrating the future.  

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour

Day 2: Twizel – Traverse the Scenery of Mt. Cook National Park en route to Twizel

In the morning, the colors of the city rise with the sun. Punters take their boats to the water and gondolas traverse the slopes of Mt. Cavendish as they travel upwards of 3,100 feet to the 1,640-foot peak to offer stunning views of the Banks Peninsula and Canterbury Plains in the distance. After breakfast, your private transfer will meet you at the hotel and escort you towards Mt. Cook National Park. Outside of Christchurch, you will pass the outlined flatlands of the Canterbury plains as the lush crops fade to gold near the mountain foothills. The fertile flatlands shift to the Mackenzie Region where the lakes glisten with reflective waters and the mountains rise like high-rises across the sky.

Mt. Cook National Park embodies alpine ambiance with soaring mountain summits and gorgeous lupines growing on the lakeshores. As the daylight starts to set in the west, your guide will take you through a small portion of the more than 270 square miles of protected land to view where a permanent layer of snow and glacial ice blanket the landscape. Mt. Cook, also referred to Aoraki, towers over the surrounding peaks at the height of 12,316 feet above sea level. The crisp alpine air will nip at your cheeks as the last of the sunlight lingers. You will want to capture a photo of the rosy hues that glint off the snowcapped mountaintop in the distance that blends the rocky crags with the soft light that contrasts with the darkening sky.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Cromwell – Enjoy an Early Morning Tour and Traverse Lindis Pass

You will wake up before the dawn to the refreshing aroma of freshly brewed coffee as it fills the dining room. Before setting out for the day and well before the sun rises, your guide will point out the Southern Cross, a constellation visible only in the Southern Hemisphere. You will set your camera up under the guidance of your instructor and wait for the sunrise along a private access road to ensure a secluded view of the Southern Alps and nearby waters.

The sunrise spreads a deep purple and a rich orange across the sky beyond the silhouette of the closest summits. The reflection of the surrounding landscape will return to the water as you make your way out of the town of Twizel towards Cromwell.  You will travel along Lindis Pass, located at an elevation of 3,185 feet above sea level. Tussocks grow along the foothills and snow often dusts Longslip Mountain, the peak of which reaches a height of 4,900 feet above sea level.

You will gauge the light as it pours over the textured foothills of the pass and the flatlands in the foreground. Falcons often circle overhead, and you can usually hear the call of gray warblers in the distance as they rise above the trickling waters of the Lindis River. The afternoon light causes the tussocks and sporadic barren foothills to glow gold. As you venture closer to Cromwell, you will find thriving culture and delight in a unique roadside fruit stall that displays selections of giant fruit statues. The nearby market offers selections of apples, grapes, oranges, and peaches to accompany the sweet aroma that sweeps through the aisles.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Queenstown – Capture the Wilderness at Sunrise and Visit Lake Wakatipu

You will once again wake up before the dawn, indulging in the sweet aroma of freshly brewed hot chocolate. The image of the giant fruit statues rising out of the trees along the roadside linger in your thoughts, along with the naturally sweet flavor of the peaches you likely tasted. You will venture deeper into the Central Otago region, known for its luxurious wines and unique landscape. The sunrise spreads colorful light over the rugged mountains in front of which two rivers flow near the pristine edges of Lake Dunstan. As you travel to Queensland, you will pass the green seas of the vineyards that spread across the undulating landscape.

You will make a stop on the Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge, which was completed in 1880 and stands more than 140 feet above the Kawarau River. Stop first to see a perfect example of New Zealand’s contemporary culture in the form of the AJ Hackett Bungy Company. Take your camera out and capture the thrill of a young person ready to bungee jump over the sapphire waters of the winding river. The silver granite of the mountain rises out of the water and disappears behind the green hillside grasses before reappearing at the summit.

You will capture life as it happens as the mixture of exhilaration and fear is expressed on the bungee jumper’s face. The excitement and nervousness spread to everyone watching as the instructor says the word, and the bungee jumper dives head first down towards the river. Click your shutter as they fly down and just as quickly seem to ascend back up to the platform beaming with a look of relief and accomplishment.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Queenstown – Delight in a Full Day Scenic Exploration of Milford Sound

Wake up early surrounded by the beauty of Queenstown. The scent of cedar and Douglas fir trees sweep over the crystal clear waters of Lake Wakatipu. Take some time to look at the photos you took the previous day and marvel at the majestic colors and captivating landscapes of New Zealand. You will set out for a full day tour to travel along the Milford Sound, a southern fiord surrounded by sheer rock faces that reach heights of 3,900 feet above sea level. Upon reaching the shores of the fiord, you will step aboard a fantastic boat modeled after the 18th-century ships that once explored the turquoise waters.

The hint of salt in the air emanates from the seawaters that wind through the branches of the fiord. Lush forest clings to the precarious cliffs and you will oscillate between photographing the beautiful trees and mountains and trying to absorb the remarkable ambiance of nature’s beauty for yourself. The Bowen River travels from the hanging valley before trundling over the cliffs at the height of more than 530 feet, to create the stunning Bowen Falls. The Lion is a peak at more than 4,270 feet that resemble a crouching lion about to spring from the landscape. The captain of your boat will point out a pod of dolphins as they leap out of the water, arching elegantly into the air before splashing back down, adding to the enchanting scenery you have also captured on camera.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Port Douglas – Transfer to Cairns and Continue to Luxurious Port Douglas

In the morning, the sunlight will spread across the Remarkables Mountains, the peaks of which spread across the horizon on the opposite shores of Lake Wakatipu. The gondolas return to their circular journey of traveling up and down Bob’s Peak at an elevation of 5,735 feet above sea level. After breakfast, your private transfer will meet you at your hotel and escort you to Queenstown Airport for your flight to Cairns, Australia. As your plane descends into the airport, you will look out the window to discover verdant rainforest spreading across the Great Dividing Range to the west and several shades of blue glowing along the Coral Sea to reach the horizon.

Your private transfer will meet you at the airport upon your arrival and escort you to a luxurious hotel in the seaside town of Port Douglas. The scenic drive will take you along a portion of the Reef to Rainforest Road, where you will watch the jade hues of the canopy brush against the white sand beaches of the coastline. The remainder of the day is yours after you settle into your hotel. You could relax by the lavish pool or take your camera to the shores of Four Mile Beach to capture the coconut palms, the indigo hues of the water, and the drifting sailboats set against the rolling rainforest-clad foothills.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, breakfast

Day 7: Port Douglas – Relish a Full Day Photography Tour of the Great Barrier Reef

In the morning, the cafes along the main streets of Port Douglas will open their doors and the freshly brewed coffee and buttery pastries will blend with the scent of the Coral Sea. After an early breakfast, make your way to the Reef Marina. Yachts and fishing boats moor side-by-side along the calm waters, and you will step aboard a catamaran to watch the emerald canopy fade behind the western horizon. Sail to the Outer Reef at Agincourt Reef, known for vibrant coral, water clarity, and extraordinary sea life.

You will have brought your underwater equipment with you and will see what has inspired documentaries and children’s movies galore. The boat will dock against a floating platform from which a marine biologist will offer insight into the surrounding reef bodies. You will don your snorkel, your flippers, and your camera and jump into the crystal clear water. The sunlight may pierce through the sea up to 200 feet below the surface when conditions allow, bringing opportunity for incredible shots.

You will immediately find clarity as the stunning coral gardens glow in the subaquatic sunlight. Pillar coral rises out of the seafloor like cactus away from large platelets known as table coral. Blue coral shines with opal hues against the Elkhorn coral that spreads with branches resembling acacia trees. Gorgonian coral referred to as sea fans, wave in the gentle current. The water will embrace you with a warm temperature and gentle movements as you find clown fish hiding between the twisting tendrils of glowing anemones.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Port Douglas – Discover Historical Culture and the Rainforest of Daintree

The art galleries on the main streets of Port Douglas open their doors to showcase images of Australia captured by cameras, paint, and imaginative symbols. Each piece tells a different story from the artist’s perspective, from cultural identity to connection to the materials used. At breakfast, the scent of roasted coffee beans blends with the gentle aroma of the sea. Your guide will meet you in the lobby and lead you into the Daintree Rainforest to discover the world’s oldest living rainforest, which houses more than 3,000 species of plants.

You will catch subtle hints of the sea lingering in the herbaceous aroma beneath the canopy. Your guide will take you on an immersive walking tour through mangroves and gigantic fern trees. The soaring canopy of foliage winds along the banks of Mossman River in the heart of Mossman Gorge. Arrive at the Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre to find stories of Dreamtime etched into the art pieces displayed in the gallery. The culture of the Kuku Yalanji first-peoples will offer you and your camera an incredible view into traditions and heritage that are nearly 40,000 years old.

Follow the Rainforest Circuit around the underbrush and beneath the impressive canopy to find the shimmering wings of Ulysses butterflies and plants that remain utilized for medicinal purposes by the Kuku Yalanji. Your camera will capture more than just the beams of light that pierce the layers of leaves. You will listen to the stories of Dreamtime, the creation of the world by the Rainbow Serpent, and connect the captivating landscape to the enchanting stories.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 9: Port Douglas – Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Tour over Atherton Tablelands

In the morning, kingfisher perch on the branches of the trees that border the golden sandy beaches in search of an easy catch. Macaws call out to one another beneath the rainforest canopy and their voices fade beneath the rhythm of the waves that lull against the shore. You will wake long before dawn for one final sunrise tour, traveling inland to the plains of Atherton Tableland. A large deflated balloon overtakes the grassland, and the trees will form a dense silhouette to the east. Your guide will begin to inflate the balloon, and the sharp flame will light up the surrounding landscape as you bring your camera out to begin capturing the view.

Step into the gondola and ascend slowly into the sky, rising at almost an equal rate to the sunrise. The light will spread across the horizon in bright layers of orange, red, and blue. You can see the outline of the segmented plains below that touch the edges of the forest as the Barron River curves against the trees. The mountains roll across the landscape and reach north to south as the turquoise waters of the Coral Sea shimmer on the horizon. After your time spent in flight, return to your resort of a relaxing afternoon at your leisure.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 10: Port Douglas – Depart for Home

In the morning, the scenic train to Kuranda returns to the tracks to offer views of the dense vegetation of the rainforest on an antique journey into the hills. The Skyrail gondola provides a 360-degree view of the coastal plain and the shoreline that leads up the mountainside. At breakfast, you will bask in the scent of the sea and enjoy the view of tropical fruits that look as though they were farmed in Southeast Asia but were in fact cultivated on farms in Queensland. Take one last stroll along the soft white sands of Four Mile Beach as sailboats return to the waters and glide through the endless stretch of sapphire. Your camera will be filled with pristine photos that will tell the story of your journey from Christchurch to Daintree. Your private transfer will meet you at your hotel in Port Douglas and escort you to Cairns Airport for your flight home.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer

Price

Starting Price 

$2,495
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.