My 28 Favourite New Zealand 2015 Landscape Photos

2015 was a big year for professionalphotos with quite a bit of travel and seeking out some of the nicest locations in New Zealand. There is no way that all of the 10,000 photos taken can be posted and some of them are really epic and they are not posted in this blog because they are being saved for their own special blog.

So these photographs are special images that have meaning to me and some have a little bit of a story behind them. I will share with you why these landscape images of New Zealand have stood out and why they are special to me. Enjoy!

Mossy Glory

This was taken in the North Island of New Zealand, although it is more befitting the South Island. The area around where this photo is taken looks more like the North of the South Island to me. The track to get to this location is not an easy walk and carrying a load of gear made it a little more difficult. The scenery as you walk up the sometimes steep track, looks as if it is straight out of a fantasy movie. I could spend days photographing and filming this area and it amazed me that on a hot summer day, the temperature here is so cold that you can see your breath.

a small waterfall and green mossy rocks in new zealand


This is the typical photo that you see of Queenstown in New Zealand because you are a little limited in high vantage points around the town. I was determined to get something a little different so I went up later afternoon and hung around for sunset and the night. The weather was not the best and the wind was unbearably cold. I was rugged up in a balaclava, snow boarding jacket and gloves. As the sun was setting, it managed to shine for a moment through the clouds and hit the Remarkables Mountain range on the other side of the lake. As far as I was concerned, I had my unique photo of Queenstown from above.

queenstown at night with the lake and mountains and a sunset in the south island of new zealand

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That Tree

This tree in the lake is one of the most photographed trees in New Zealand. I arrived at Lake Wanaka in the late afternoon and there were probably 12 photographers at this tree already. I had to decide if I was going to try for a photo of this tree or just photograph the general area. I decided to go for the tree and this is the first snapshot I took as I was walking to the spot. It was very windy and I then set up and took some lovely long exposures. Watch out for another blog where I will post those long exposure images. This photo stood out to me just because of the way the light was hitting the tree and shore at that exact time. I have more commercial photos that look nice but I think this one is special because I had just decided to go for it.

a tree in the lake with mountains and snow in the south island of new zealand

Swinging Twenties

I travelled to a selection of beaches that are just beautiful for photos. I was looking for photos of pohutukawa trees in bloom but the trees this year have been erratic, with some not blooming at all. It was a really nice day in early December before everyone was on vacation and the temperature was in the mid to high twenties Celsius hence the name of the photo. I saw this swing and waited for the right light and moment to take the photo. I was at the beach for around half a day and this photo is a stand out for me because rather than photograph it in the shadow, I worked out that at some stage the swing would be in the light. My patience and planning was rewarded.

a swing hanging from a pohutukawa tree on a white sand beach in new zealand

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Southern Stream

Do you ever have a day when everything just comes together? This was one of those days and I as was driving to another location and I drove past this. I had to stop and take in the mountains, snow and the stream. I didn’t even plan to take the photo because the light was not lighting the mountains. The light was also very strong and to the side of the scene, so it would create real flare problems, even with a lens hood. As I stood in the very cold stream, I just knew I had to give it a go. With a note book blocking the light from hitting the lens, I got this. About an hour later I was eating eggs benedict with bacon and coffee, thinking about the amazing scene I almost drove straight past.

a stream and mountains with snow in the south island of new zealand

Walk on water

This is a local spot and it is just so darn pretty when the tide is in. When the tide is out it is not as nice. I drove out to this point on a sunny day mid week in summer because in the weekend it is packed. I have spent a lot of time here and I always seem to get great photos of this wharf. This day, the colours were off the scale. There are more photos of this location in one of my first blog entries that you can view here

a white sand beach and wharf with people on it fishing in new zealand

Milford Morning

Never has photographing something made me feel so humble as when I was photographing this location. I had to travel quite far to get here and I arrived in the late afternoon and photographed through the sunset until night. I went to my accommodation and had the worst night sleep but got up early for the sunrise. As I stood and photographed, I looked at these amazing mountains, which surround you, and I felt very small. There are quite a few photos in this set but I think this one is my favourite.

mitre peak at milford sound in the morning with a pink sky in new zealand

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Soul Fuel

I was on a mission photographing around the Central North Island of New Zealand and I visited this place as more of an afterthought after a day of successful waterfall photography. Located near Lake Taupo, this little stream is thermal which means it is hot water. It is just the right temperature that you can sit under that little waterfall or a bigger one down stream and get a nice massage on your shoulders. Be careful to not put your head under the water though as you can get amoeba meningitis from the water and that is not a nice way to die. This location is simply magical. As night falls and the air cools, the stream disappears under a blanket of steam.

a waterfall and stream in a beautiful forest in new zealand

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Simple Sunset

The first sunset of 2015 and I was not awake for the first sunrise. This was taken at a favourite spot on the Coromandel Peninsula about 3 hours from Auckland City. If 2015 was a good year for you, this could be the picture for you.

a sunset on a beach with the sun reflected in a pond in new zealand

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As I was driving to another location in the South Island, I came across this expansive valley and just had to stop to capture the moment. I could see the horses of Rohan, in my mind. Although the actual filming of the Lord of the Rings Rohan scene was about 2-3 hours north of this location, I have it on good faith that the hills in the distance you see, are home of the River Anduin and also the Fangorn Forest in the movies. Even without all of the Lord of the Rings references, this is a magical spot.

an empty valley surrounded by high hills in the haze in new zealand

Red Road

The view here is simply breath taking and there will be a blog about Waiheke Island, where this was taken. What you don’t see is how strong the wind was here. It was so strong that it proceeded to blow over my camera and tripod. Only quick reactions stopped a very unexpected and expensive accident. Still, you can see all the way down the Firth of Thames and the full Coromandel Peninsular from this location and that is just great because those are some of my favourite places.

a red road and coastal view in new zealand

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Private Dreams

Here is a beautiful beach nestled in a location where you would not really expect to find one. It is tidal so when the tide is out, the beach reverts to a mud flat. But when the tide is in, the colours are stunning. It is a very safe place to swim and that is just what I did.

a white sand beach in new zealand

Little Drop

This is a little waterfall that I have visited before and it was quite difficult to get to. You can read about the adventure here. However I have since found out that there is an easier way to get to it and rather than crossing streams and walking some distance up muddy tracks, it is an easy 5 minute walk from the other side. So after finding this out, I had to go and photograph this waterfall and others close by again. It was a beautiful day and as I have written about taking waterfall photos here, I wanted it to cloud over. I waited about an hour just enjoying the scenery when the clouds obliged and I managed to grab a few great photos before the sun came back again. Sometimes you have to wait for the good stuff!

a waterfall with mossy rocks and a stream in new zealand

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Path to Peace

I found some pohutukawa trees that were in full bloom and made the most of the scene. This beach that these trees front onto is one of the most beautiful that I have been to but I would be reluctant to swim there because it can have dangerous under currents. Still, walking down this path to the beach, under the beautiful pohutukawas is a real joy and you can’t help but at least put your feet in the water.

pohutukawa trees in flower on a white sand beach in new zealand

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Old Faithful

Tractors on the beach! What says New Zealand summer more than pohutukawa trees, the beach and tractors! I love this beach for so many reasons but generally I avoid it over the main summer holidays. Except when I go to photograph the tractors. And the swimming here is awesome! It is just a pity that it is not the easiest place to visit… or is that a good thing?

tractors parked on the beach after launching boats in new zealand

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a tractor parked on the beach after launching a boat

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Mystical River

Now this river is not easy to get to but the long drive on private gravel roads that you have to pay to use is worth it. This place is really hard to photograph because you can’t get far enough away from the subject to fit it into the frame. I was wanting to take a multiple photo panorama but most of them didn’t work very well. After working the location for almost an hour, I got a series of images that I was happy with. The colours of this river are only rivalled by one other that I know. Once again I will probably create a blog on this location as this was on the way to a very spectacular waterfall.

a clear water river with trees in the forest in new zealand

Evening Faith

This is a location that I have had my eye on for a while and I have visited it several times but never managed to even pull out the camera because the sky just didn’t look inspiring. This evening I arrived and it was a heavy, brooding evening and I had a feeling it was going to really be an awesome sunset . I was not disappointed and the series of photos that I managed to capture were very diverse. The lake or pond in front of this church is thermal so it has steam coming off it. You can see a pipe with steam coming out of it on the left side of the photo by the pond. This area is very strange with very narrow streets and many of the houses have holes in their yards that are open thermal vents with steam pouring out. I guess that could be one way to heat your water.

a church complex at sunset by a lake in new zealand


Southern Autumn

This photo just sums up the South Island of New Zealand in Autumn for me. This particular day I was racing against the clock but I managed to take a little time out and photograph not what I was in the area for. It is amazing that sometimes the things you were not expecting to photograph actually make better photos than the things you were planning to photograph. It snowed that evening and I wish I could have stayed to photograph in that area the next morning.

poplar trees in autumn by a lake in the south island of new zealand

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Jewel of the near South

I don’t like to admit it but this is the waterfall that I have photographed the most. It is in a few of my waterfall blogs and it changes so much through the seasons. In summer it is more of a single stream of water and in winter it looks like this. Normally I would not try and photograph a waterfall on a sunny day and this day was also quite windy. I was at a loss for something to do and I felt like getting close to nature so I went for a drive to this waterfall. The wind was whipping up the spray and the sun was catching the droplets and forming a cute little rainbow. I am so glad that I took my camera.

a waterfall with a rainbow in new zealand


One of the most beautiful drives in the world is the drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy. The views really are spectacular and I don’t think I had time to fully capture the grand scale of this place. At the end of the road is Glenorchy and there is a famous red boatshed there. This is something that I was wanting to capture but the weather was not playing ball. Once again I had to hang around and wait for the sunlight to hit the shed just right and even then it was still quite dark and cloudy in the background. Right at the moment when the sun came out a bunch of tourists flocked the area so this photo has had people painstakingly removed from it. I will go back to this area early in the morning to see if I can photograph the famous trees in the lake there in the fog.

autumn colours including yellow trees and a red shed at glenorchy new zealand

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Mauve Morning

Getting up early before dawn has never been a strong point of mine. So when I do, I really hope that I am going to get a good sunrise full of colour and character. I had been to this location the previous evening and was struggling against the wind to get a good photo. The next morning the wind was still there but not quite as bad and the sunrise was totally worth it. I managed to capture a time lapse of the sunrise and will include that in a future blog. This was worth getting up early and I am very happy with the results.

a wharf by a lake at sunrise with a pink sky in new zealand

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Early Summer

Pohutukawa trees in bloom with their characteristic fire red flowers, are New Zealand’s signal that summer is here. They are a real favourite of mine and this year they have not bloomed quite as full as they normally do. I arranged to go and photograph this tree and I was hoping that it was in bloom. Getting to this location means a boat ride and arranging accommodation, so I was relieved when I arrived to see there were blooms on the tree. Once again, the weather was a big factor in getting this photo. I went to this location 4 days in a row, at differing times and on the 4th day I managed to get what I was after.

a pohutukawa tree in flower on a white sand beach in new zealand

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Coromandel is an old gold mining town and it really has character. I spend as much time here and in the area as I can because there is just something great about being out of Auckland City. The Star and Garter is a great pub and they do a pretty good steak. I walked into town one evening and the light was just right so I am sharing the image with you.

the main street of coromandel town at sunset in new zealand

Coastal Colours

I have had my eye on this characteristic building for quite some time and I managed to get this panorama. I liked the little scooter parked in front of the building and the beach to the left of the photo is stunning. What you don’t see is a pizza truck that is parked to the right of the building. They do pretty good pizza there too.

a colourful shed by the beach in new zealand

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Autumn Grace

Autumn is such a great time to be out taking photos and especially if you are in the South Island of New Zealand. There seem to be more trees that loose their leaves there so the countryside becomes a splash of oranges and yellows. This building is in a favourite town of mine and I loved they way the light was lighting the leaves and the building. Once again, this only happens at a certain time of the day and I was lucky no cars were parked there.

house in the autumn leaves in new zealand

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These sort of barns and sheds are all over the place in rural New Zealand. They make such interesting subjects to photograph but a simple snap on the run will probably not get the best out of these kind of locations. I spotted this early one morning and I photographed it with the light coming across it. I was not happy with the light and went back in the evening. Once again there were shadows that didn’t look right so I worked out the best time to go there by looking at the sun. Around 11am seemed best and it certainly was. The flowers along the gravel drive really make this photo for me and remind me of a happy late spring day.

abandoned barn and gravel road in new zealand

Coastal Road

So many roads along New Zealand’s coastline have pohutukawa trees between the road and the beach. In the right season, at the right time of day, you can’t help but be stunned by the beauty of these trees and the coast. It is hard to keep your eyes on the road when you are driving past scenery like this.

a pohutukawa tree in flower on a coastal road in new zealand

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Welcome Rainbow

I had just landed in the South Island of New Zealand and as I was getting off the plane I could see a rainbow over the Remarkable Ranges. I took some photos with my phone and I really didn’t think too much more about it. After I had picked up the rental car, I drove to Lake Wakatipu and as I stood on the shore of the lake in the freezing wind, another rainbow appeared. I raced for my camera and tripod and quickly set up. I managed to capture this image and I love the combination of the clouds, hills and the rainbow.

a rainbow on lake wakatipu in the south island of new zealand
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