TRAVEL FEATURE: Fantastic Photos From 8 Days in the South Island of New Zealand


Autumn is my favourite time of year for photography and each year (since I started taking photos) I like to spend a week or so in the South Island to try and catch the beautiful colours. This year I decided to spend some time in Tekapo, Twizel, and Wanaka and was rewarded with some beautiful light during my stay. Here's a summary of my trip:

Day 1 – Wanaka

I flew into Queenstown to some overcast and dreary skies and then drove to Wanaka. Being only an hour away the conditions there were much the same, so photography wasn't looking promising. Nevertheless I spent the afternoon scouting for potential locations for sunset and sunrise. Unfortunately the weather didn't improve and sunset proved to be a non-event. No photos today.

Day 2 – Wanaka/Tekapo

The next morning wasn't looking much better. Still, you never know what can happen so I made my way out to the lake to try and get some shots of that lone tree in the water that's pretty famous (I'm sure every photographer who's been to Wanaka has a shot of this!). The light didn't really turn up this morning but I took some shots anyway. When nature doesn't provide you with amazing colours, you can always try and black and white photos.

Lone Tree in Lake Wanaka

After sunrise, it was time to drive a few hour's north to Lake Tekapo. The conditions there were marginally better than in Wanaka, but it was still pretty gloomy with a lot of low-lying clouds hiding all the mountains.

With about an hour to go before sunset, things weren't looking great. I had a look out my motel window and all I could see was a blanket of grey. However towards the west I did see a gap in the clouds along the horizon Рmaybe there was hope after all, so I decided to head out to the lake just in case.  As I arrived I could see the sun was just about to peek through those gaps in the clouds. I quickly got set up and before long the magic started. Once the sun broke through it illuminated the lake, beautifully lighting up the autumn colours against the dark backdrop. The snow on the mountain was also a nice bonus Рit's unusual for this time of year and only lasted about a day before it melted.

The next hour or so produced some of the best light I've experienced, and I was really glad to be at such a beautiful place to capture it.

Lake Tekapo

Days 3, 4 – Tekapo

I spent the next few days shooting around Tekapo.

Lake Alexandrina

Lake Alexandrina Mountains


Lake Tekapo

Day 5 – Tekapo/Twizel

One last beautiful sunrise at Tekapo before leaving for Twizel.

Lake Tekapo Sunrise

I spent the afternoon wandering around Lake Pukaki. I really love the autumn colours in this area.

Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki

Days 6, 7 – Twizel

Twizel has some great little lakes and pond all within a small distance from each other.

Loch Cameron

Kelland Pond

Lake Ruataniwha

Day 8 – Twizel/Wanaka

Twizel is very close to Mt Cook, so I tried to get some sunrise photos of NZ's highest mountain. Unfortunately the mountain was hidden by clouds this morning, but the view was still worth catching.

On the drive back to Wanaka, I encountered some dramatic light at Lindis Pass.

Lindis Pass

And finally back to that lone tree in Wanaka for another attempt. This time I got some better light.

Lake Wanaka

All in all it was a great trip. You can never tell what sort of weather and light mother nature's going to throw at you, but this time she was kind to me.

You can view more photos from Chris Gin's trip on his website, Flickr, or Facebook.

About Author

Chris Gin is a landscape photographer based in Auckland, New Zealand. You can view more of his photos on Facebook, Flickr, or his website.

Wow! Those are some awesome shots!! I especially appreciate the first and the last shots.

Nice shots.
I was down at Tekapo for easter and put a few shots up at

We also went to mt cook village and went for a bit of a walk, but the lighting was absolutely horrible, so there’s nothing worth showing from there. The information centre was really cool, they have a bunch of old cameras; random box and folding cameras as well as some leica’s and other rangefinders.

we’ve been travelling to south island in auntum (think it’s sometime before you were there since the tree leaves are not as yellow). we missed the wanaka tree and surely will come back for another photo trip. too bad New Zealand only gave us single visa entry :-(. your shots are really inspiring.

That what I love about living and photographing in New Zealand. The light can change six ways to Sunday in a matter of a few hours, and have four seasons in a Day. Really looking forward to heading south. Love your Photographic eassy

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