Stunning New Zealand Scenery – South & North Island | Photo Essay

This is a wonderful guest post contribution from David M Byrne: 

Introduction

New Zealand, the Land Of The Long White Cloud, needs no introduction. Everybody is aware of its sheer beauty, a beauty brought to a worldwide audience thanks to Peter Jackson’s 2001-2003 Lord of The Rings movie trilogy. Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to spend 6 weeks travelling around this remote, sparsely populated country (with 40 million & counting it has 10 times as many sheep as people) & I present here a photo essay, from the very tip of the North Island to the windswept bottom of the South, showcasing some it’s unparalleled natural beauty & must-see highlights.

North Island

Sunset on a beach at remote Tawharanui Regional Park. April 27th 2012.

  1. Sunset on a beach at remote Tawharanui Regional Park. April 27th 2012.

Northland is a rugged finger of land stretching for some 400+kms north of Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city (although not it’s capital). Up there it’s all about natural attractions; it’s a sparsely populated area of deserted beaches & breathtakingly beautiful coastal scenery.

The end-of-the-world feeling at Cape Reinga

  1. The end-of-the-world feeling at Cape Reinga. April 30th 2012.

You can’t get much further north than this, Cape Reinga, sitting at the tip of land that forms NZ’s northern extremity. Things get very remote up here & the end-of-the-world feeling one gets looking out over the vast expanse of ocean, with the waters of the Tasman Sea (to the west/left) and Pacific Ocean (to the east/right) breaking together, is hard to portray in pictures.

A giant Kauri tree in Waipoua Kauri Forest, one of the last remaining kauri tree sanctuaries on earth.

  1. A giant Kauri tree in Waipoua Kauri Forest, one of the last remaining kauri tree sanctuaries on earth. May 1st 2012.

This is Tane Mahuta who, at 51 metres high, 13.8 metre in girth and with a wood mass of 244.5 cubic metres, is the largest & one of the oldest kauri trees alive. He’s found in the Waipoua Kauri Forest, one of the great natural highlights of Northland’s west coast. Kauri forests were once widespread in the northern part of the country but they diminished with the arrival of the Europeans in the mid-19thcentury. Now only remnants of the once-great forests remain.

Geothermal Activity at Steam Hells Gate Geothermal Reserve, Rotorua.

  1. Geothermal Activity at Steam Hells Gate Geothermal Reserve, Rotorua. May 5th 2012.

Rotorua is the tourist hotbed of the North Island, a geothermal wonderland full of geysers, bubbling hot mud pools & clouds of rotten egg-smelling sulphurous gasses. It sits on the Rotorua caledra, one of several active volcanoes in an area known as the Taupo Volcanic Zone. Hell’s Gate is one of the many $35-entry-fee thermal reserves in the Rotorua vicinity, but the only one owned & operated by a Maori (indigenous New Zealanders) tribe.

A Silver Fern, the emblem of New Zealand, rests on an illuminated forest floor on the outskirts of Rotorua.

  1. A Silver Fern, the emblem of New Zealand, rests on an illuminated forest floor on the outskirts of Rotorua. May 5th 2012.

The medium-sized tree fern is endemic to New Zealand & is the symbol commonly associated with the country – it appears on the country’s coat of arms & many New Zealanders get it tattooed on themselves to show their Kiwiness.

Volcanic topography in the heart of the Tongariro National Park.

  1. Volcanic topography in the heart of the Tongariro National Park. May 9th 2012.

The volcanic centre of the North Island is dominated by the Tongariro National Park. Established in 1887 this was New Zealand’s first national park & is probably it’s most famous… & definitely it’s most spectacular. The park is dominated by three peaks, 3 active volcanoes. In winter (the northern hemisphere’s summer) it’s a haven for skiers & in summer it’s a haven for hikers, offering some of the world’s best tramps/hiking, crossing martian-esque terrain of active craters, steaming vents & beautiful coloured sulphur lakes.

South Island

Late afternoon sunlight off the rain-soaked West Coast.

  1. Late afternoon sunlight off the rain-soaked West Coast. May 17th 2012.

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island is one of the more remote and most sparsely populated areas of the country. It’s synonymous with beauty, rugged beauty; wild coastlines, snow-capped mountains & glaciers are its forte.

A party of climbers look very small as they descend Fox Glacier.

  1. A party of climbers look very small as they descend Fox Glacier. May 19th 2012.

There are over 3000 glaciers in New Zealand longer than 100m in length & this, Fox Glacier, along with nearby Franz Joseph Glacier, is one of the South Island’s must-see sights. The two glaciers, geographically 23km apart, are unique in that nowhere else in the world at this latitude do glaciers come so close to the ocean.

The wow factor at Lake Haweh.

  1. The wow factor at Lake Haweh. May 20th 2012.

A sign that says it all about the stunning scenery inland of the Haast Pass on the road from the West Coast of the South Island to Lake Wanaka.

Early morning at Lake Wanaka.

  1. Early morning at Lake Wanaka. May 21st 2012.

In a country overrun with stunning locations there can be very few as beautiful as Wanaka, a charming lakeside town surrounded by mountains and situated at the southern end of the lake of the same name. This is an early morning picture taken from the shores of the lake looking out towards the Southern Alps which make a stunning backdrop to the town.

Queenstown, the adventure/adrenalin capital of the Southern Hemisphere, as seen from Bobs Peak

  1. Queenstown, the adventure/adrenalin capital of the Southern Hemisphere, as seen from Bobs Peak. May 23rd 2012.

Surrounded by majestic mountains & nestled on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is another South Island location with a drop-dead gorgeous setting. The so-called adrenalin capital of the Southern Hemisphere (some say the world), it is an immensely popular stop on the travellers circuit, especially in the winter months of July & August when the après ski crew are in town.

Exposed Waipapa Point on The Catlins coast

  1. Exposed Waipapa Point on The Catlins coast. May 27th 2012.

The Catlins, in the extreme south-east of the South Island, is yet another area of untouched costal scenery. Waipapa Point, a rocky promontory not too far from Slope Point, the most southern point on the South Island, is an exposed location infamous for it frequently wild weather, heavy ocean swells & as the scene of New Zealand’s worst maritime disaster – on April 29th 1881 the passenger steamer Tararua, en route to Melbourne, Australia, foundered offshore with the loss of all but 20 of the 151 people aboard. The lighthouse seen here, Waipapa Point Lighthouse, was built in response to the tragedy. It began operating in 1884 & became fully automated in 1976.

The snow-capped peaks of Mount Cook National Park

  1. The snow-capped peaks of Mount Cook National Park. May 30th 2012.

Mount Cook National Park sits in the centre of the New Zealand’s South Island. 22 of the 27 highest peaks in the country are to be found in this area, with the highlight being Mount Cook itself, the highest peak in the country. This is an extended exposure image taken in the White Horse Hill Camp Ground in the shadow of some of the other impressive park peaks, about a 2-hour walk from the glacier lake at the foot of Mount Cook.

Sunset at The Church of The Good Shepard on the shores of Lake Tekapo.

  1. Sunset at The Church of The Good Shepard on the shores of Lake Tekapo. May 31st 2012.

The expansive inland plains of the South Island, Mackenzie Country, is an area of high ground, clean air, distant mountain ranges & turquoise lakes. Right in the heart of all this is stunningly beautiful Lake Tekapo, on the shores of which you’ll find the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd, arguably one of the most photographed buildings in New Zealand (& for good reason).

Bio/About the Author

David M is a hobbyist photographer, Getty Images Artist & ardent traveller. His photography blog contains an ever-growing collection of quality images captured all over the world. You can also find him on facebook, twitter, Google+ & flickr.

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{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

prebble October 20, 2012 at 4:01 am

Fantastic Photography…great descriptions… loved it :-)

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Nomadic Samuel October 25, 2012 at 1:23 am

Thanks! I’m certainly more inspired to visit NZ soon :)

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Loz in Transit October 20, 2012 at 6:10 am

The humanist in me always seems to want to see people in landscape photos, even if just for scale purposes. hmmm
Stunning photos. New Zealand is easily one the most breathtaking places in the world. Its up there with Turkey in the places I’ve personally witnessed.

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Nomadic Samuel October 25, 2012 at 1:24 am

Both Turkey and New Zealand are countries I’m dying to visit hopefully as soon as next year :)

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Agness (@Agnesstramp) October 21, 2012 at 2:46 am

I love the photos. They look amazing, taken from different perspective. My favourite is #9- the wow factor at Lake Haweh- stunning scenery. New Zealand is obviously on my bucket list, not sure when I’ll visit it though, but I’m sure it’s worth seeing.

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Nomadic Samuel October 25, 2012 at 1:24 am

I’m in the same position as you Agness. I really want to go but I’m not sure when I’ll get a chance.

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Arti October 21, 2012 at 3:05 am

Stunning indeed!! NZ is such a beautiful country with amazing landscapes. Well captured.

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Arti October 21, 2012 at 3:07 am

Stunning indeed!! NZ is such a beautiful country with amazing landscapes!! Well captured.

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Nomadic Samuel October 25, 2012 at 1:26 am

I certainly agree with you Arti. The rugged scenery looks gorgeous.

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Bethany ~ twoOregonians October 21, 2012 at 7:56 am

I adore New Zealand! Great fun looking at your photos. I haven’t been since 2004, and I’m so excited to be taking my husband with me on a return trip in…ten days : )

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Nomadic Samuel October 25, 2012 at 1:26 am

Wow! You must be incredibly excited :) Best of wishes to you both.

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Shing @ The Culture Map October 21, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Mountains, volcanoes, glaciers – these photos reveal the unique and diverse topography of New Zealand perfectly! I really must experience it for myself NOW!

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Nomadic Samuel October 25, 2012 at 1:27 am

Thanks Shing, I feel the exact same way. I can’t wait to go there soon.

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memographer October 21, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Wow! David got a great set of pics! I can see why Lord of the Rings was pictured there.
Night sky shot is my favorite.

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Nomadic Samuel October 25, 2012 at 1:27 am

It was the perfect location for Lord of the Rings. To be honest I never realized how beautiful NZ was until I watched the Trilogy.

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Laurence October 21, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Gorgeous photos of one of my favourite countries in the world. Love the angled West Coast in the rain shot in particular :)

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Nomadic Samuel October 25, 2012 at 1:28 am

I’m really looking forward to visiting NZ and Australia after seeing yours and David’s photos :)

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Jade - OurOyster.com October 22, 2012 at 3:38 am

Amazing photos….. totally jealous! I need to go back to NZ now that I have a better camera….

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Nomadic Samuel October 25, 2012 at 1:29 am

Most definitely! I need to go for the first time :)

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Duncan October 22, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Stunning photos – can’t wait to visit one day!!

Duncan

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Nomadic Samuel October 25, 2012 at 1:29 am

Thanks Duncan! I’m looking forward to visiting for the first time.

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Angela October 22, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Such a diverse and wonderful scenery, great pictures!

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Nomadic Samuel October 25, 2012 at 1:30 am

Thanks Angela!

I’m really impressed with David’s photos.

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Addison S. @ Visa Hunter October 22, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Everytime I see photos of New Zealand I remind myself that the country must be added to my list of 50+ visited destinations. I know my time will come soon enough. Can picture myself now taking a stroll along The Catlins coast whilst admiring the stunning landscapes surrounding me.

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Nomadic Samuel October 25, 2012 at 1:30 am

It’s moving higher up my list as well Addison. Hopefully we’ll both get to visit sometime soon!

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Shamis @ Gawaya Travel Blog October 23, 2012 at 7:18 am

Stunning views and beautiful photography! It’s funny how you said there are 10 times more sheep than people in New Zealand.

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Nomadic Samuel October 25, 2012 at 1:31 am

10 times more sheep certainly paints a very rural scene.

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Doreen Pendgracs October 23, 2012 at 11:56 am

Stunning photographs! I’ve not yet been to NZ, but certainly intend to visit in the next 2 years as research for my chocolate travel book. I’ve never heard anything bad about this lovely destination. Thx for the visuals to entice us.

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Nomadic Samuel October 25, 2012 at 1:32 am

That sounds like a fascinatingl project Doreen. I’m guessing the chocolate is just as wonderful as the scenery.

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Nick - Goats On The Road October 24, 2012 at 3:17 am

Stunning pictures! New Zealand was always high on our list of places we must see…but now it’s been bumped even further up the list :) Cheers.

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Nomadic Samuel October 25, 2012 at 1:32 am

Feel the exact same way Nick! It’s moving on up on my list too.

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hotel in manchester October 24, 2012 at 9:51 am

NZ certainly has no lack of pretty scenery! Breathtaking photos!!!

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Nomadic Samuel October 25, 2012 at 1:33 am

It sure is gorgeous.

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Flights to nigeria October 24, 2012 at 10:25 am

Stunning images specially the beaches and natural views are awesome. Right place to travel although a long journey.

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Nomadic Samuel October 25, 2012 at 1:33 am

I have a feeling it’s a country best explored slowly.

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David M October 25, 2012 at 11:10 am

The Great Firewall of China has finally let me see this. Yahoo. Thanks for posting my very first guest posting Sam! & thanks for all the positive comments on my photography. It’s very gratifying. NZ truly is a unique world destination. Pack a camera… and plenty of money – it’s not cheap location but believe me it’s worth every cent!

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Nomadic Samuel October 31, 2012 at 4:21 am

Thanks for contributing a great guest post David! You’ve certainly inspired me and a lot of others to go to NZ sooner rather than later.

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Cam @ Traveling Canucks October 25, 2012 at 8:18 pm

These are great images – well done!

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Nomadic Samuel October 31, 2012 at 4:21 am

Thanks Cam, I’m impressed with David’s photography.

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Andrew October 30, 2012 at 8:28 pm

That is one really massive tree. Neat.
I think we saw the same ducks at Wanaka.
That is so cool you found a silver fern. I looked everywhere we went and though I saw plenty of ferns, I didn’t find such a nice pictures. I think I saw the plant, but it didn’t look so silvery to me.

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Nomadic Samuel October 31, 2012 at 4:22 am

The ducks at Wanka seem really interesting.

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Anita October 30, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Wow Samuel this pictures are absolutely great! Love them

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Nomadic Samuel October 31, 2012 at 4:23 am

Thanks Anita, I’ll be sure to pass that on to David.

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Turtle November 2, 2012 at 10:41 pm

What stunning photos! I love the variety in the subjects – but also the weather conditions and times of day. New Zealand really is beautiful all the time, isn’t it?

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Samuel November 5, 2012 at 5:27 am

Thanks :) It’s certainly inspired me to go – hopefully rather than later.

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Adela @FourJandals November 7, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Ah my beautiful country:) Tongariro is beautiful isn’t it.

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AnitaMac December 7, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Wow – NZ has always been stunning, but these shots have nailed her beauty! Gorgeous. Makes me really want to dive right in to another southern hemisphere adventure!

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Michael @ Holiday Backpack February 1, 2013 at 8:07 am

Gorgeous photos, I particularly love the long exposure night shot with the camper and the moving clouds. New Zealand tops my wish list after crossing Patagonia off in 2012. Had perfect weather for the full circuit at Torres Del Paine in Chilean Patagonia and snagged some of the best shots of my life. Keep it up man!

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Qacro March 13, 2013 at 9:33 am

I am speechless and off to check David’s blog.

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Mira Ahipara March 23, 2013 at 6:38 pm

A nice shot of The Church of The Good Shepard at the end. This view of the Lake Tekapo is still one of the brightest memories of my first visit to New Zealand South Island.

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Sam @ Travellingking.com May 10, 2013 at 2:49 am

Love Queenstown – Love New Zealand!
Love Skiing in NZ

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Nicole @ Green Global Travel July 18, 2013 at 1:59 am

Incredible photos! We did a 2 week road trip around both islands and had the time of our lives. Some of the scenery is unbelievable there.

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