Join Richard Young and Dave Buckton on a 7-day tour showcasing some of New Zealand’s rarest wildlife and most distinctive coastal landscapes. New Zealand’s underrated East Coast is full of surprises that include fossilised forests, curious boulders, outstanding coastal scenery and a huge diversity of rare wildlife: penguins, sea lions, fur seals and albatross. This week long East Coast Tour itinerary takes in the best photographic opportunities the area has to offer. Timing is planned to make the most of New Zealand’s most settled season and catch the last of the autumn colours.
Starting in the southernmost city of Invercargill, the tour the travels through the Catlins Coastal Rainforest Park, with opportunities to photograph the area’s waterfalls, rainforest, penguins and sea lions. North of the Catlins, we explore the Otago Peninsula, known as New Zealand’s wildlife capital. We photograph southern Royal Albatross and stay at Larnach Castle. Beyond, tour highlights include the Moeraki Boulders and then continuing on to Mt Cook National Park to photograph some of the amazing alpine scenery around New Zealand’s highest peak.
Boat trip on the Otago Peninsula
Stay at Larnach Castle
Invercargill - Christchurch
The Catlins Coast
Day 1 – The Catlins
Today we head east towards the Catlins. En route we visit the South Island’s most southerly point, Waipapa and its well-known lighthouse. We move on to a beach in the Catlins Coastal Rainforest Park where a low tide reveals long fingers of fossilised forest, some 160 million years old and now exposed by tide and time. From here we travel inland to explore the waterfalls of the Catlins. These may not be high, but have a subtle beauty all of their own.
Day 2 - The Catlins / Otago Peninsula
Heading north through the Catlins, we take in sunrise at the spectacular coastline of Nugget Point, where a lighthouse, wind-ruffled native shrubs and off-shore islands combine in a photogenic scene. Along the Catlins coast, we will hopefully get the chance to photograph penguins and the magnificent New Zealand sea lion, which in recent decades has begun breeding again in the Catlins area. The day ends at Larnach Castle, one of New Zealand’s most stately buildings, set on the crest of the Otago Peninsula near Dunedin. Dinner here will be a culinary highlight of the tour, eating in the castle’s grand dining room.
Day 3 - Otago Peninsula
The Otago Peninsula; home to penguins, albatross and sea lions, is often called the wildlife capital of New Zealand. We take a boat charter to view many of these species from the sea, visit the world’s only mainland breeding colony of Southern Royal Albatross. We end the day photographing sunset over the ridges and estuaries of the peninsula.
Day 4 - Moeraki
Heading north along the East Coast we stop to photograph the forest birds at Orokonui, which is home to New Zealand’s tuatara, a relic from the dinosaur age. The day also includes photographing a colony of shags along the coastline here. Then we head out into the last light of the day to photograph Yellow-eyed penguins at a coastal reserve on their return from a day out at sea. Tonight we stay near Moeraki, south of Oamaru.
Day 5 - Moeraki / Mt Cook
An early start to photograph sunrise over the famed Moeraki Boulders which are curiously round rocks known as ‘concretions,’ set into a scenic beachscape. Further north at historic Oamaru, we have the opportunity to photograph the whitestone buildings of this heritage town. W then head inland towards Mt Cook. After assembling at the Hermitage Hotel, our home for the next two nights, we will head out to explore locations in the park and then an evening shoot in the Tasman Valley.
Day 6 - Mt Cook
This morning we will have the option to do some aerial photography (optional extra) we will take a flight over Mt Cook and land for an hour with a guide to photography the glacier. The rest of the day will be taken up alternating between locations in the park. We will capture the panoramic views of the Tasman and Hooker valleys, including alpine lakes, sweeping river vistas, and views of New Zealand’s highest peaks. All the locations we visit are within easy walks along well-graded tracks on the valley floors.
Day 7 - Mt Cook / Christchurch
The day begins with the option for some pre-dawn astrophotography and sunrise shoot before heading back to the hotel for breakfast. We then leave Mt Cook and drive North to photograph around Lake Tekapo. In the afternoon we travel to Christchurch, stopping en route to capture the last of the autumn colours, arriving in time to meet flights or for your onward travel.
Tuition by Richard Young & Dave Buckton
Boat trip on the Otago Peninsula
Entry to Orokonui Ecosanctuary
6 nights hotel accommodation (twin share, single upgrade available)
Maximum group size of 8. Groups of 3-4 will be led by only one tutor and groups of 5-8 will be led by two tutors. Limiting class sizes ensures we provide you with the best learning environment possible, including expert guidance, instruction and personal attention, according to your learning style.
Our exact schedule will be determined according to the whole group’s photographic objectives and the weather. We keep a flexible itinerary to accommodate this. We will spend the workshop instructing and shooting, often from before dawn until after dark. At some point during the weekend the tutors will give a lecture on their photographic ability and how you can apply their systems and vision to develop your own unique style.
We will meet the group at Invercargill Airport at the start of the tour and provide transport to the whole workshop and return you to Christchurch at the end of the tour.
A minimum level of physical activity is necessary to enjoy the workshop. All locations we shoot will be within an easy walk along the coastline, but sometimes over rocky beaches carrying your own equipment. If fitness or mobility is an issue please let us know - there are often locations which offer great shooting possibilities close to the road or our accommodation, or sometimes we also have the option to split the group.
Equipment & Experience
Ideally, you will have a basic knowledge of photography and be comfortable adjusting camera settings such as aperture and shutter speed. An aim of the workshop is to give you more confidence in the creative control of camera settings and shooting in manual mode. We will have a brief session at the start of the workshop, covering camera settings and controls, to be sure everyone is up to speed.
Camera Equipment: Our workshops focus on how to use your camera, not your type of camera. A basic list of recommended camera equipment can be found hereClothing:A list of recommended clothing to wear on the workshop can be found here
Booking & Payment
A non-refundable deposit of NZD$700.00 is required to reserve your space for the workshop. The remaining balance is due 30 days prior to the start of the workshop. You may pay in full at time of booking, the balance (minus the deposit) will remain fully refundable until 30 days before the workshop.
Booking and Cancellation Policy: Please click here for our booking and cancellation policy.