Explore

14 Day Self Drive Photography Trip in New Zealand’s South Island

Book Now
Trip Summary

Discover the South Island and experience the real New Zealand through the eyes of an award-winning local nature photographer.
All from the comforts of your own home whilst on the road!
Photograph the mirror reflections at Lake Matheson, take a scenic flight and cruise to the incredible Milford Sound, experience the adventure town of Queenstown and visit the awe inspiring Aoraki/Mt Cook for some of the best hiking in New Zealand.

From: $2,845 AUD
Enquire
Storyteller

Meghan Maloney

A landscape and travel photographer from New Zealand’s North Island, Meghan Maloney gets adventure. Seeking out New Zealand’s most beautiful and underrated locations, Meghan is devoted to capturing its rich beauty through the trusted lens of her camera. Her feel for the community and sharing New Zealand with the rest of the world allows our travellers to experience the real New Zealand. With Meghan’s expert knowledge, a trip to New Zealand will take your breath away as you create lasting memories. She is also a waterfall enthusiast — need we say more?
What's included

Included

PACKAGE INCLUSIONS:

• Standard campervan hire (Certified Self Contained)

• Franz Josef Kayak Adventure
• Lake Wanaka Cruise & Island Nature Walk
• Milford Sound Nature Cruise
• Ultimate Alpine Experience
• Star Gazing at Tekapo Springs
• 1 hr Traditional Maori Stone Carving
• Conservation Campsite Pass
• Airport transfer

PLUS:

• Meghan's exclusive travel guide, including secret photography locations and local tips to discover the best of New Zealand

Excluded

Package Excludes:

• Flights (unless otherwise included)
• Travel insurance
• Alcohol (unless otherwise mentioned)
• Visas

itinerary

DAY 1

keyboard_arrow_down

Day 1: Christchurch to Hokitika

Pick up your motorhome and head straight for one of the best drives in New Zealand, the famous Arthurs Pass. Along the way you'll explore Castle Hill (filming location for The Chronicles of Narnia) and Devil's Punchbowl. You'll finish the day on the West Coast town of Hokitika.

- Included

Pick up your mid-range 4 or 6 berth motorhome

We offer a range of mid to premium motorhomes to suit solo, couples or families. All fully certified and fully functional kitchenette and bathrooms.

- Optional

Castle Hill

You can find yourself lost for hours in Castle Hill, wandering among the limestone formations that cover a huge area and providing a wealth of rock climbing and photographic opportunities!

Devil's Punchbowl Falls

The walk to Devils Punchbowl Falls is an easy 1-hour walk right in the heart of Arthur’s Pass taking you through beautiful beech forest and a 131-metre waterfall.

- Overnight

Freedom camping (DOC)

DAY 2

keyboard_arrow_down

Day 2: Hokitika to West Coast Glaciers

Start your day by visiting a local carving studio where you will learn what traditional carving is all about and immerse yourself in the Maori culture. Then it's time to start your trip down the awesome West Coast to the glaciers.

- Included

Carve your own Bonz n Stonz

Carving your own piece is more than creating a hand made piece. It is a 360° experience that would allow you to experience the NZ carving tradition. You will be able to understand what carving is all about and immerse yourself in the Maori culture. With the help of our master carvers, we will be able to reveal the practical skills you did not know you had.

- Optional

Lake Matheson - The best reflections you'll ever see

You'll never see a more perfect mountain reflection than those at Lake Matheson. This is Meghan's all-time favourite South Island view!

Hokitika Gorge

Half an hour inland from Hokitika lies Hokitika gorge, with water such a vivid turquoise colour you won't believe it's real. Meghan couldn't believe her eyes and even now when she looks back on her photos, she still can't!

- Overnight

Freedom camping (DOC)

DAY 3

keyboard_arrow_down

Day 3: West Coast Glaciers

On your second day in the West Coast Glaciers, you'll experience the Original Franz Josef Kayak Adventure! This guided kayak tour takes about 3 hours and leads you right into the heart of the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary. A truly magical experience.

- Included

Franz Josef Kayak Adventure

Paddle effortlessly across Lake Mapourika's mirror-like water, taking in the spectacular views of the Southern Alps and glaciers. Once on the far side, your guide will take you to a small bush clad beach where you will get the chance to explore some of Westland's oldest untouched rainforest! Our magical Rainforest Trail is designed to take you on a walk through another time. Jurassic Rainforest, abundant bird life and home to the rarest kiwi's on the planet - simply unforgettable.

- Overnight

Freedom camping (DOC)

DAY 4

keyboard_arrow_down

Day 4: West Coast Glaciers to Wanaka

Start the day by visiting the mind-blowing Blue Pools. Then make your way to Lake Wanaka to meet the famous Wanaka tree, it can get very busy at times so plan carefully! Meghan's tip is to get at least one sunrise here - it is an undeniably picturesque setting despite the crowds. Lake Wanaka is one of the loveliest backdrops for photography with the mounts of Mt Aspiring National Park towering behind the lake.

- Optional

Thunder Creek Falls

Thunder Creek Falls is a beautiful specimen of a waterfall set right next to the road, and it's not the only one you'll spot along this road. Keep an eye out for Roaring Billy Falls, Fantail Falls and the Gates of Haast all within a short drive of each other through the Pass and all worth stopping to capture. Thunder Creek Falls is Meghan's pick of the bunch because of the way the Haast river flows right by providing a lovely foreground to the shot.

Blue Pools

Set in New Zealand's beautiful beach forest, the half-hour walk to Blue Pools ends in a setting with water so blue you won't believe your eyes. It's a true New Zealand gem.

- Overnight

Freedom camping (DOC)

Day 5

keyboard_arrow_down

Day 5: Wanaka

Rise and shine on your second day in Lake Wanaka. Today you are in for a treat! Enjoy a boat cruise on Lake Wanaka followed by a unique nature walk on the remote and magical Mou Waho Island (a predator-free nature reserve that's home to the rare flightless Buff Weka bird).

- Included

Lake Wanaka Cruise & Island Nature Walk

This half-day lake cruise takes you a really unique spot, Mou Waho Island, known as 'the island in the lake on an island in a lake'. With epic views to write home about and awesome native New Zealand wildlife (weka, wetas and more), this will be a day out to remember!

- Overnight

Freedom camping (DOC)

DAY 6

keyboard_arrow_down

Day 6: Wanaka to Queenstown

Take the gondola up for the best view over Queenstown. You’ll be carried 450 metres above Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu to the top of Bob's Peak, where you’ll enjoy a spectacular 220 degree panorama with breath-taking views. Then jump aboard the luge for a few thrilling rides down the mountain.

- Included

Queenstown Gondola and Luge Rides

Jump on board the Skyline Queentown's eight-seater Gondola cabins and experience spectacular views of Lake Rotorua, the city and steaming geothermal vistas. Once up top, join the fun on the Luge tracks. Hop into a Luge cart (part go-cart, part toboggan) and hit the intermediate and advanced tracks.

- Overnight

Freedom camping (DOC)

DAY 6

keyboard_arrow_down

Day 6: Wanaka to Queenstown

Take the gondola up for the best view over Queenstown. You’ll be carried 450 metres above Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu to the top of Bob's Peak, where you’ll enjoy a spectacular 220 degree panorama with breath-taking views. Then jump aboard the luge for a few thrilling rides down the mountain.

- Included

Queenstown Gondola and Luge Rides

Jump on board the Skyline Queentown's eight-seater Gondola cabins and experience spectacular views of Lake Rotorua, the city and steaming geothermal vistas. Once up top, join the fun on the Luge tracks. Hop into a Luge cart (part go-cart, part toboggan) and hit the intermediate and advanced tracks.

- Overnight

Freedom camping (DOC)

DAY 7

keyboard_arrow_down

Day 7: Queenstown

The choice is yours. Queenstown is New Zealand's adventure heart land. Take your pick from a range of thrill seeking adventures, or if you can spend the day visiting some incredible hikes where you'll capture some amazing photos. You can even have the option to have a 2 day photography masterclass with Meghan Maloney.

- Optional

Moments with Meghan: A Photography Masterclass

Learn how to capture the beautiful images you've seen in this trip guide by spending 2 days with Meghan on a personalised photography masterclass. We'll cover techniques such as using filters for long exposure photography, trying out astrophotography (if the time of the year and weather permits), and capturing beautiful images around golden hour and sunrise/sunset in awesome locations around Queenstown. Meghan will take you to locations not on the tourist map and you'll create beautiful images you never even knew you were capable of! To attend this masterclass you'll need: 1. a DSLR/mirrorless camera with 2 lenses, one that can go as wide as 10-18mm and a zoom up to 200-300mm 2. A tripod 3. Ideally a laptop with Lightroom to try out editing techniques (though not essential) The masterclass needs to be booked at least 3 months in advance and is subject to Meghan's availability. Alternative location: Mt Cook

AJ Hackett Bungy Jump or Swing!

When in Queensland, you take a leap of faith with AJ Hackett Bungy, the first commercial bungy operator in the world. Choose out of a bungy jump (Kawarau Bridge, Ledge or Nevis) or a Swing (Ledge or Nevis) to get your heart racing!

Wilderness Jetboat Ride and Funyak Adventure

This unmissable experience combines the exhilaration of a wilderness jet boat ride with a leisurely downstream float on our easy to use Funyaks. With a sumptuous lunch included, this trip is ideal for the whole family. If you only do one tour in Queenstown, this is it! The diversity and value of what's on offer in this full day of adventure is second to none.

- Overnight

Freedom camping (DOC)

DAY 8

keyboard_arrow_down

Day 8: Milford Sound

Time to visit the mighty Milford Sounds. You'll depart early via a coach and head out along one of the most stunning roads you'll find anywhere in the world. We're not exaggerating! You'll be blown away by cruising through Milford Sounds, before catching the coach back to Queenstown. Option is to take a scenic flight from Queenstown to Milford Sound!

- Included

Milford Sound Nature Cruise

Departing Queenstown via coach you will enjoy one of New Zealand's most incredible roads out to Milford Sound. This all-day tour takes around 12.5 hours. Once you reach Milford Sound you'll join a leisurely cruise of this spectacular fiord. From thundering waterfalls to sky-high mountains to lush rainforests, Milford has it all. Experience the spray of a waterfall as you cruise close to sheer rock faces. Informative, participative, and relaxed, this is the perfect way to experience Milford Sound to the fullest.

- Overnight

Freedom camping (DOC)

DAY 9

keyboard_arrow_down

Day 9: Queenstown to The Catlins

The Catlins is a highly underrated and untouched area of New Zealand filled with amazing waterfalls and extensive coastal views. Capture the flow of Purakaunui Falls and Matai Falls and be amazed by the coastal Cathedral Caves.

- Optional

Purakaunui Falls

Purukaunui Falls is one of the loveliest waterfalls to photograph in New Zealand, with a photogenic three tier flow in a mossy forest setting. If you visit when it's raining like I did, the flow will be even more impressive to capture! It's only a short 15 minute walk from the road to the viewing point.

Matai Falls

The Catlins is known for its waterfalls and you're certainly spoilt for choice with so many to choose from! Matai Falls is a short walk through native forest and can be done on the same day as visiting Purakaunui Falls.

- Overnight

Freedom camping (DOC)

DAY 10

keyboard_arrow_down

Day 10: The Catlins to Moeraki Boulders (Via Dunedin)

The Moeraki boulders are a real feature of the Otago coastline in an otherworldly, prehistoric kind of way. They're worth visiting at both sunset and sunrise to get the best lighting conditions and to capture long exposures of the waves rushing around the rocks. Make sure to check the tide times as well - mid tide is best!

- Optional

Nugget Point Lighthouse

The sunrise at Nugget Point lighthouse is one of Meghan's favourite sunrise experiences ever especially as it was in such an epic coastal location - the entire sky caught fire! Visit at the right time of year and you'll also have the opportunity to capture the Milky Way rising above the lighthouse and if you're even luckier a chance to see the Southern Lights as well (Aurora Australis).

Dunedin - Tunnel Beach

Meghan was totally wowed by the unique landscapes of Tunnel Beach with cliffs rising dramatically above the sea and a secret tunnel you can take down to the beach. There are so many cool and different compositions to create at Tunnel Beach, especially on a moody, dramatic day. You'll easily find yourself losing an hour or two here!

Moeraki Boulders

Sunrise or sunset at the 5.5 Million years old Moeraki Boulders. One of the most unique features of the Otago coastline. Local Māori legends explain the boulders as the remains of eel baskets, calabashes, and kumara washed ashore from the wreck of Arai-te-uru (sailing canoe).

- Overnight

Freedom camping (DOC)

DAY 11

keyboard_arrow_down

Day 11: Moeraki Boulders to Aoraki/Mt Cook

Starting your day on the East coast of NZ you'll have time to explore the coast and hopefully catch sight of the little Blue penguins who call this coast home. Then make your way to Aoraki/MtCook and explore the national park surrounding NZ's tallest peaks is a photographer's dream and must be on your NZ itinerary. The sheer number of day walks and short walks could keep you occupied for days, and it's also one of the best places in NZ to experience the incredible night skies with no light pollution.

- Optional

Hooker Valley Hike

The Bay of Fires Bush Retreat is located at the southern entrance to the Bay of Fires, 2 minutes drive to the township of Binalong Bay, and 10 minutes from St Helens, Tasmania. Travel North from the retreat along the Gardens Road to find the iconic white sand beaches, crystal blue water and the orange hued granite boulders the Bay of Fires is so famously known for. Travel south towards the coastline to find the Binalong Bay township, more white sand beaches, rock pools, snorkelling and diving nooks, and a lagoon that serves as the perfect location for kayaking and stand up paddleboarding.

- Overnight

Freedom camping (DOC)

DAY 12

keyboard_arrow_down

Day 12: Aoraki/Mt Cook

Exploring the national park surrounding NZ's tallest peaks is a photographer's dream and has to be on your NZ itinerary. The sheer number of day walks and short walks could keep you occupied for days, and it's also one of the best places in NZ to experience the incredible night skies with no light pollution. Included in the trip is the ultimate scenic flight experience.

- Included

Mt Cook Ski and Heli Scenic Flight

Fly in a ski plane and a helicopter on the same day for an unforgettable experience of Aoraki/Mount Cook. Enjoy a scenic adventure that includes a glacier snow landing on the Tasman Glacier. From takeoff to landing, you will enjoy spectacular views! Fly up the Tasman Valley over the breathtaking blue glacier lake. See the Hochstetter Icefall and the cloud-piercing Aoraki/Mount Cook before landing on the upper snowfields of the Tasman Glacier. Take time to enjoy this unique alpine environment before swapping aircraft and returning to Mount Cook Airport.

- Optional

Sunrise at Tasman Lake

Experiencing a sunrise at Tasman Lake amongst the icebergs and watching the first light of the day kiss the top of Aoraki is both humbling and extraordinary - being here for sunrise can be absolutely freezing, below zero and with ice on the ground. You'll never feel more alive! It's only a short 20 minute walk from the carpark to the river outlet where you can get the best angle for a shot taking in both the lake and the tallest peak in NZ.

- Overnight

Freedom camping (DOC)

Trip Images
No items found.
frequently asked questions

Which style of trip is right for me?

keyboard_arrow_down

Every trip is different! We have trips suitable for families, couples or singles. We do our best to design inclusive trips that most people can enjoy, but some are more physically demanding than others. Please give us a call and we'll help match you with your dream adventure.

Are your trips family friendly?

keyboard_arrow_down

Most of our self-guided trips are designed with families in mind and can be personalised to suit children of all ages.

How do I pay for my trip?

keyboard_arrow_down

At the time of booking you will be asked to pay a deposit to secure your place on the trip. We ask for full-payment to be made prior to 60 days before arriving in your destination.

Will I get some free time whilst on tour?

keyboard_arrow_down

This is a big yes! Our goal is to help you create your own adventure, and this includes giving everyone the opportunity to explore. We will always be there to offer suggestions, but we firmly believe some of the best parts of holidays come from unplanned moments.

What if there are Covid restrictions?

keyboard_arrow_down

We do our best to protect travellers from the unlikely event of new restrictions. Please see our Covid guarantee for more information.

Newsletter

Don't miss your next adventure. Sign up and be the first to discover new trips.