The 7 Best Landscape Photography Spots in New Zealand

17 May 2021

With travel bans in place for most of the past year, we’ve all been itching for the chance to add another stamp to our passports. While jet-setting to the other side of the world is still on hold, we can jump across the pond to New Zealand — and what a reward!

For landscape photographers, it doesn’t get much better than New Zealand. Home to some of the most beautiful natural wonders in the world, there’s a photo opp around every corner, and between the South Island and North Island, you can truly tailor your trip to your interests.

In our photographer’s guide to New Zealand, we cover 7 of the most scenic places in New Zealand, and what to pack for your photography trip to these iconic photo spots.

Milford Sound

Nestled in the South Island’s Fiordland National Park, Mildford Sound is one of the park’s most majestic fjords. It’s famous for its crystal-clear, inky water and sky-high cliffs, and it’s home to abundant marine and wildlife. Think seals, penguins, and dolphins, plus rare species of coral.

Mildford Sound is also one of the wettest tourist destinations in the world, but you won’t find yourself cursing the rain. Instead, you’ll be thanking it for creating hundreds of beautiful, cascading waterfalls that are just begging to be captured. Some of them are as high as 1,000 metres!

The 7 Best Landscape Photography Spots in New ZealandThe 7 Best Landscape Photography Spots in New Zealand

Must-have travel camera gear: Don’t forget to pack a tripod and set of ND filters to take your waterfall photography up a notch. For peace of mind, it’s worth investing in a durable, weather-resistant camera and lenses as well. That way, you won’t worry about any spills or splashes as you explore the fjord.

Moeraki Boulders

Give yourself a few days on the South Island, because you’ll want to carve out time for the Moeraki Boulders. Scattered across Koekohe Beach, these massive boulders have intrigued history buffs and geology enthusiasts for years. They weigh several tonnes each, have varying sizes and were formed over 60 million years ago. 

They’re also the stuff of Maori legend, which believes the spherical stones were washed ashore as the result of a shipwreck. Whatever your reasons for visiting, you’ll love bearing witness to these historical boulders and photographing them in all their glory.

The 7 Best Landscape Photography Spots in New ZealandThe 7 Best Landscape Photography Spots in New Zealand

Must-have travel camera gear: To frame the collection of boulders in a way that does them justice, use a wide-angle lens. You’ll be able to get up close and capture a single boulder, or stand back to photograph a few unusually large stones strewn across the beach.

Piha Beach

Staying in Auckland? Hop in the car, and 45 minutes later you’ll land at Piha Beach — one of the most beautiful beaches in New Zealand and a popular spot among tourists and locals alike. 

Its surf and panoramic views aside, Piha Beach is known for its rugged cliffs and textured black sand, which is actually made up of small volcanic rocks. As you make your way across the beach, there are a few scenic landmarks you won’t want to miss, including Lion Rock and Kitekite Falls.

The 7 Best Landscape Photography Spots in New ZealandThe 7 Best Landscape Photography Spots in New Zealand

Must-have travel camera gear: For any landscape scene, the only gear you need is a digital camera, wide-angle lens and a travel tripod. Like any of New Zealand’s beaches, Piha Beach is at its most beautiful during the golden hours, which are the hour before sunrise and the hour before sunset. The light is soft and warm, and highlights the horizon as well as the natural features on the beach. 

Waitomo Caves

Over in the North Island village of Waitomo, this huge underground cave system is one of the most Instagrammable places in New Zealand and waiting to be explored. The name “Waitomo'' combines the Maori words for water and hole, which is pretty apt considering the caves are known for their many waterfalls and streams, as well as their luminescent limestone formations and glow worms. Fun fact: Arachnocampa luminosa, the species of glow worm that lights up the cave, only exists in New Zealand!

Waitomo Caves is close to the town of Piopio, which was home to many filming locations seen in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. If you’re a fan of the famous movie franchise, have time, why not make a day of it and get some extra sightseeing in?

The 7 Best Landscape Photography Spots in New ZealandThe 7 Best Landscape Photography Spots in New Zealand

Must-have travel camera gear: Since caves are poorly lit by nature, you’ll want to have a camera that performs well in low light conditions. If you have room in your budget, a full-frame mirrorless or DSLR camera will serve you well. These models will allow you to raise the ISO to brighten up the scene without adding even more “noise” and graininess.

Lake Tekapo

Like some of the best landscapes in New Zealand on this list, Lake Tekapo is geographically small but jam-packed with picturesque spots — making it the perfect place to polish your landscape photography skills.

A three-hour drive from Christchurch, Lake Tekapo is full of natural and man-made wonders. You’ll fill your frames with the turquoise Alpine Lakes and snow-capped mountains of the Southern Alps, as well as the Church of the Good Shepherd. This beautiful stone building has been photographed many times before, so challenge yourself to find a new angle or perspective.

The area is breathtaking by day, and just as magnificent at night, when millions of stars blanket the clear, dark night sky. It’s actually part of the UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve. You can take a guided stargazing tour if you like, and this is a great opportunity to try your hand at astrophotography.

Must-have travel camera gear: Speaking of astrophotography, you’ll want to add a few items to your kit if you plan to aim your camera at the dazzling night sky. These include a modern DSLR or mirrorless camera, wide-angle lens, tripod and remote control.


Perched on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, Kaikōura is a wildlife lover’s haven. Its biggest calling card is that sperm whales live there year-round, while it’s rare to spot them anywhere else in the world.

Other species of whale inhabit the coastal area at certain times of the year, so if you have a particular species you would like to see, plan your trip to this area accordingly. There are also plenty of rugged rock platforms that play host to fur seal colonies, who often put on entertaining shows for their visitors. And in winter, the mountains get a dusting of snow, which adds to the beauty of the landscape.

The 7 Best Landscape Photography Spots in New ZealandThe 7 Best Landscape Photography Spots in New Zealand

Must-have travel camera gear: Planning on going whale watching? Be sure to pack gear that can handle the occasional splash! A telephoto lens is another essential, as is usually the case with wildlife photography. These lenses offer a more magnified view of the scene, so you can capture the tiniest of details on distant subjects (like fish and marine life).

Lake Wanaka

If you’ve been itching to get to New Zealand for a while, chances are you’ve seen photos of “that Wanaka tree.” Lake Wanaka is home to one of the world’s most photographed trees, a lone, crooked willow tree that sits close to the shore, with its branches just skimming the surface of the water. The lake itself is still, with a gorgeous mountain backdrop, and all of these elements make it one of the best places to visit in New Zealand. In other words, this is the “money shot” that you’ll want to snap and share to Instagram.

Along with its serene appearance, Lake Wanaka is a go-to holiday destination for people who enjoy outdoor sports. When you’re done shooting for the day, you can spend your time snowboarding, skiing, sailing and kayaking and enjoy the adrenaline rush.

Must-have travel camera gear: The best way to capture these memories is with an action camera for travel, like the GoPro Hero 9 Black. And don’t worry — it can withstand any spills or drops on your thrill-seeking adventure!

The 7 Best Landscape Photography Spots in New ZealandThe 7 Best Landscape Photography Spots in New Zealand

Put together the best camera kit for travel to New Zealand

From its sandy coastlines to snow-capped mountains and lush rainforests, New Zealand is a landscape photographer’s dream. If you’re planning a trip, make sure you have the camera equipment you need to do these scenic spots justice.

Shop cameras and accessories online and earn free shipping on all orders over $100, or to drop by a Ted’s Cameras store. Our team will be more than happy to point you in the right direction and walk you through our 100% Australian stock.

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