×

New Zealand in Pictures: 15 Beautiful Places to Photograph

Written by Lana Law
Apr 15, 2020

New Zealand, with its varied terrain and mild climate, is an excellent place to snap some fantastic photos. Windswept coastlines in the north, lush fiords in the south, and volcanoes in the middle allow you to capture amazing pictures all in a small space.

New Zealand is more than just landscapes. Art Deco architecture in the city of Napier, frozen in time since the 1930s, is worth seeing. Animals also play their part, with wildlife you won't see in other parts of the world. On the North Island, crane your camera lens upwards at the giant kauri trees.

Enjoy a photo tour with our list of the most beautiful places to photograph in New Zealand.

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Milford Sound

Milford Sound
Milford Sound

Park of Fiordland National Park, the stunning scenery of Milford Sound will awe you. Steep mountains descend to the water's edge, lining both sides of the fiord. To really experience the sound at its fullest, take a boat trip. Some of the sights you'll be able to photograph include cascading waterfalls, virgin rainforest, and distant mountaintops.

Also in this area of the country is Doubtful Sound, another beautiful fiord.

2. Bay of Islands

Paihia, Bay of Islands
Paihia, Bay of Islands

The Bay of Islands is one of the top destinations in New Zealand for locals and tourists alike. Beaches and rocky shorelines are the dominant topographical features. Take a cruise through the 144 islands to the famous Hole in the Rock. Along the way, watch for fur seals lazing in the sun.

If fishing is more your thing, you've come to the right spot. The sportfishing here is legendary, with many anglers pursuing the elusive three species of marlin. Other fish you'll find are snapper, which grow to an enormous size, and kingfish, a real fighter sure to test your strength and endurance.

3. Tongariro National Park

Tongariro National Park
Tongariro National Park

Tongariro National Park is a wild and everchanging volcanic landscape. Desolate yet beautiful at the same time, this area is rife with fantastic photo ops. Steaming vents, hot springs, and turquoise lakes beg to be photographed.

An ideal way to experience this park is to undertake the Tongariro Crossing. This demanding day hike takes you up and between the two volcanoes, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu. Tongariro National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for both nature and for Maori culture.

4. Rotorua

Champagne Pool near Rotorua
Champagne Pool near Rotorua

Rotorua is a wonderful place to see and experience geothermal attractions. A short stroll from downtown brings you to Kuirau Park. This city park is free to enter and has a walkway over bubbling mud pots and boiling water.

For a more immersive geothermal experience be sure to head south 27 kilometers to Wai-O-Tapu, where you'll see the incredible Champagne Pool and Lady Knox Geyser along with all other kinds of geothermal oddities.

5. Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park

You could be forgiven for thinking you are in the Caribbean when you visit Abel Tasman National Park. Lush greenery, sparkling clear ocean waters, and beautiful beaches are some of the most stunning sights in the park.

An excellent way to see Abel Tasman is by taking a few days and walking the Abel Tasman Track. This 51-kilometer walk takes about three days, and you can do it in whatever style you like: rustic huts, camping, or in luxury lodges.

One of the sights along the way is Split Apple Rock. Wildlife is plentiful in the park, so keep your camera ready to capture images of seals, birds, and even penguins.

6. Queenstown

Queenstown
Queenstown

Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand. Set on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, this small city faces the snowcapped Remarkables mountain range. Test your photography skills by trying to capture the high-speed descent of a bungee jumper or filming a jet boat ride as you blast your way up the Shotover River.

7. Napier

The Dome in Napier
The Dome in Napier

Napier displays an impressive collection of Art Deco buildings. An earthquake in 1931 almost leveled the town. The rebuilding of the town saw the construction of some fabulous Art Deco architecture.

Get creative and explore the curved exteriors and intricate details of the buildings with your camera. A self-guided tour around the downtown area highlights the key buildings and is easy to follow.

8. Giant Kauri Trees

Giant kauri tree
Giant kauri tree

Located near the town of Dargaville is the Waipoua Forest, home to New Zealand's greatest concentration of old-growth kauri trees. To fully appreciate the immensity of these giant trees, stand at the base of one of them and look up.

Tane Mahuta, or Lord of the Forest as it is also known, is the largest of the trees. Estimated to be more than 2,000 years old, this relic from an ancient past will make you feel insignificant.

9. Aoraki/Mount Cook

Mount Cook
Mount Cook

Aoraki/Mount Cook is New Zealand's highest peak. Surrounded by other towering mountains and glaciers, this alpine wonderland is an exceptional place to visit.

Stay in nearby Mount Cook Village and organize expeditions that might including heli-skiing, hiking, or flightseeing. The area is a true wilderness, with a wide variety of plants and animals. In summer, try to time your trip to coincide with the flowering of the alpine meadows.

10. Cape Reinga

Cape Reinga
Cape Reinga

Located at the northernmost point in New Zealand, Cape Reinga is a wild and wonderful part of the country. Point your camera at the churning seas below, where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea meet. The resulting maelstrom of water and waves makes for spectacular photos.

Another great photo subject is the historic lighthouse. Frame the picture so the pathway leads your eye towards the lighthouse.

Getting here is half the fun, but the twisty road is paved all the way from Kaitaia.

11. Coromandel Peninsula

Coromandel Peninsula
Coromandel Peninsula

A short distance from Auckland lies the Coromandel Peninsula. Long beautiful beaches greet you, and ice-cold water takes your breath away. Go for a hike through the native forests and shrubs and keep an eye out for the plentiful birdlife. Soothe your hiking muscles by digging a hole in the sand at Hot Water Beach to create your very own hot tub.

12. Moeraki Boulders

Moeraki Boulders
Moeraki Boulders

Moeraki is located on the Otago Coast. This shoreline, with its fascinating spherical boulders, should be on your must photograph list. These odd boulders emerge from the surrounding sandstone mud due to wave erosion.

13. Hobbiton

Hobbiton
Hobbiton

Fans of The Lord of the Rings movie and book franchise will need to make a beeline to Hobbiton. The former movie set has been perfectly preserved and hard-core fans will be in their element touring through the various structures used in the movies.

14. Kawarau Gorge

Bungee jumping in Kawarau Gorge
Bungee jumping in Kawarau Gorge

Snapping the ultimate picture of a bungee jumper hurtling through space towards the rushing river below will be your photo assignment at this famous place. This is where the commercial bungee jumping phenomenon all started way back in 1989, with AJ Hackett leading the way.

15. Pancake Rocks

Pancake Rocks
Pancake Rocks

New Zealand is full of geological oddities, and the Pancake Rocks are no exception. Located on the West Coast of the South Island near Punakaiki, these layered rocks are best photographed early or late in the day. The rocks are reached via a 15-minute walk down an easy trail.

Discover destinations, find outdoor adventures, follow the journeys of our travel writers around the world, and be inspired.