- Day 1 - Auckland - Rotorua
After Airport and city hotel pickups we depart Auckland for Rotorua, passing through the lush, rolling farmland of the Waikato en route. Rotorua marks the edge of the land of volcanoes. A hub for geothermal activity in New Zealand, the city features hot springs, waterfalls, bubbling pools of mud, and impressive hues from acids boiling beneath the earth. It is a land of mysteries; a photographer’s dream.
- Day 2 - Rotorua
Today we explore the Rotorua area, capturing a hidden hot water waterfall that is often missed by many. Later today, we travel further afield—deep into the forest—to experience the Bay’s most majestic waterfall, 65m tall in full flood. This location is simply breathtaking; and if we like, we can go above the cliff line to photograph another hidden fall. After dinner, we will end our day with a long-exposure session at one of the many jetties along Lake Tarawera.
- Day 3 - Rotorua - Tongariro
This morning, we head out to photograph a geothermal reserve close to Rotorua before moving on to Taupo, visiting Huka Falls en route. Although not particularly high, these falls are one of the most voluminous in New Zealand: here, the entire Waikato River (New Zealand’s longest river) plunges over an ignimbrite cliff. After we’ve had our fill of the falls, we journey south, past Lake Taupo. This is both New Zealand’s largest lake and the site of the country’s greatest-ever recorded eruption (186AD): an event noted by both the Chinese and the Romans. We spend the evening photographing the sunset over Mt Ruapehu—at 2797m, this is the highest mountain in the North Island, and the country’s loftiest volcano.
- Day 4 - Tongariro
Active volcanoes Mt Tongariro and Ngauruhoe offer striking subjects for a sunrise shoot; Ngauruhoe, in particular, bears the distinctive “classic” volcano shape. Today, we explore a number of the area’s stunning waterfalls, staying again within Tongariro National park for another chance of a sunset over the mountains.
- Day 5 - Tongariro - Taranaki
We pass through several small towns today, pausing to capture the landscapes of the Rangitikei Gorge en route to Taranaki. Flowing from the Kaimanawa Ranges, this important river carves its way through pale cliffs made of papa, a type of mudstone that creates impressive features. During the afternoon, we take a 4WD trip across private farmland to visit a set of unusual round boulders in a forest. We arrive in Taranaki in time to photograph the sun setting over a dramatic coastline—a scene including volcanoes that have eroded into offshore islands.
- Day 6 - Taranaki
If any New Zealand volcano has the perfect shape, it is Mt Taranaki—which, at 2518m, is the second-highest peak in the North Island. This volcano forms the centrepiece of Egmont National Park, one of the country’s oldest national parks. Wonderfully stunted forest and shapely waterfalls flowing over old lava escarpments offer excellent photography opportunities. This afternoon, we can journey further south—to the North Island’s western-most point at Cape Egmont, well known for its iconic lighthouse—or north, to capture dramatic black sand beaches.
- Day 7 - Taranaki - Auckland
Today we start the return trek toward Auckland. We head back through the Waikato via Raglan, where we shall stop by Bridal Veil Falls—the highest waterfall in the North Island. In the afternoon, we continue our drive back to Auckland.
- Day 8 - Auckland - Rangitoto Island
Today you have a free day to explore Auckland, with the inclusion of a return ferry ticket out to explore the volcanic landscape Rangitoto Island, a pest-free island that sits in the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland. It is the youngest volcano in New Zealand and offers some great photography opportunities, from old lava flow to beautiful Pohutukawa trees.
- Day 9 - Auckland - Hokianga
Today we drive to the beautiful Hokianga Harbour, where we will stay tonight. En route, we stop to explore native Kauri forests, reaching the Harbour for sunset over the West Coast. The scenes we will be photographing today are unlike any you’ll find elsewhere across the country.
- Day 10 - Hokianga - Cape Reinga
Today we say goodbye to Hokianga and begin to make our way to one of mainland New Zealand’s furthest-north points, Cape Reinga. We will be stopping en route to capture several picturesque jetties—these are well-suited to black and white ‘fine art’ style photographs. As we drive up, we will check into our next hotel before heading to Cape Reinga, a location of great significance both geographically and culturally. A beautiful lighthouse sits high above the meeting of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean: this is where we shall capture sunset tonight.
- Day 11 - Cape Reinga - Karikari Peninsula
Today, we head back up the Cape to the Te Paki sand dunes—humongous desert-like dunes created over millions of years through volcanic eruptions. Later, we travel down to the Karikari Peninsula and its white-sand beaches, where we will spend the next two nights at the luxury Carrington Estate Hotel.
- Day 12 - Karikari Peninsula
We will spend the day exploring the stunning Karikari Peninsula, with its white silica sand beaches and serene bays, fringed with the red blossoms of pohutukawa trees.
- Day 13 - Karikari Peninsula - Russell
This morning, we set off toward the picturesque Bay of Islands: the historic Duke of Marlborough Hotel in Russell will be our home for the next two nights. Russell features many historic sites, as it was the first capital of New Zealand during European colonisation. Our day ends with a sunset shoot over the picturesque coastline, on one of many beautiful bays nearby.
- Day 14 - Russell
We have an early start for a sunrise shoot this morning, followed by breakfast back at the hotel. On our chartered boat, we spend the day exploring the Bay of Islands by sea, including parts of the coastline not accessible by road. We have some beautiful island stops to look forward to, and we will capture these at our own pace.
- Day 15 - Russell - Auckland
Another early-morning sunrise shoot across the Bay of Islands allows you to hone your field technique and capture more stunning beaches. Today, we depart the Bay of Islands and head towards Whangarei and the beautiful Whangarei Falls. In the afternoon, we drive back to Auckland. This is the last stop on our journey, and we will be driving back to Auckland in the afternoon to meet with evening flights from the airport.