New Zealand South Island Masterclass Workshop Report 2016

In May of this year I lead my annual masterclass workshop to the South Island of New Zealand with co-nature photographer and friend Phillip Bartlett. Our 2016 masterclass workshop itinerary was based on our years of prior experience operating in the South Island and had been designed to provide us the best possible opportunities for photography utilising a number of different locations as bases in the South Island. We focused our efforts on certain key areas to really maximise our chances to get everyone the best photographs. We then lead an extension to the northern tip of the South Island to further expand our opportunities.

The South Island of New Zealand is home to some of the most spectacular scenery and landscapes in the world. Perhaps nowhere else in the world can one see and photograph precipitous mountains plunging into temperate rainforest and wild ocean beaches in so short a space. New Zealand is home to an unbelievably diverse range of subject matter, all packed together in a very small land area. Glaciers, majestic mountain ranges, moss-covered rain-forests, hidden valleys, and ocean-beaten coastlines are among the incredible array of natural wonders found there. It is an island of ever-changing weather and spectacular light conditions. To quote myself, it is a country made for photography._MG_5578-EditThis masterclass landscape workshop was about maximising our time photographing in some of the most spectacular parts of New Zealand. Our small group size of just six photographers provided us a really small intimate group that enabled us to put in some long hours in the field in some of the most spectacular parts of the South Island. The workshop ran for 12 days (11 nights) with an optional four day extension and we stayed in good hotels which were functional and clean. We travelled by private 4-wheel drive vehicles. We utilised several primary locations as bases from which we travelled to each shooting location. We had a good mix of weather and light during the workshop and although we encountered some rain in the Fox Glacier area we were still able to maximise our opportunities with some extraordinary light and conditions. We also managed all three of our planned aerial shoots from helicopter, despite some touch and go weather. Helicopters and aerial photography really add an extra dimension to photography in New Zealand’s South Island. The ability to quickly get up into the mountains to take advantage of weather and light is a significant advantage.NewZealand-1988I wrote quite an extensive report on our South Island masterclass workshop last year (read the Full Report) and so rather than re-iterate the same itinerary with different language I have instead detailed our extension to the northern part of the Island as this aspect was a new addition.

The northern part of the South Island is home to some pretty fantastic coastline that in many ways complimented many of the areas we visited in the southern part of New Zealand. We began our extension in the picturesque seaside town of Kaikoura and were out pre-dawn for our sunrise shoot of first light on the coast. The impressive Kaikoura mountain ranges tower above the clear, blue waters of the Kaikoura bay making for dramatic photo opportunities. Sunrise at Kaikoura ever disappoints and we were blessed with some pretty fantastic colour. After breakfast we left Kaikoura and travelled north along the coastline as we made for Golden Bay, at the top of the South Island._MG_5607

An even earlier start this morning to drive into the Abel Tasman National Park for our sunrise shoot. This pristine coastal location has isolated beaches with rich, golden sand, backed by limestone rock formations and dense forest. After exploring this area we returned for lunch before going out to photograph the last light, and sunset, along the coast._MG_5661Another early start as we made for the North-west coast, which is completely different to the coastal scenery we had been photographing. Characterised by dramatic sea cliffs and imposing rock formations, there are also intimate lake and tidal inlet scenes so we were kept busy for the whole day in this unique location. We returned to our lodge in the evening._MG_5656-EditWe departed early this morning for the drive back to Christchurch. This was a full day on the road and we stopped along the way to photograph forest, country and mountain scenery as we took the Lewis Pass route south. We arrived into Christchurch in the early evening and enjoy a relaxed dinner to conclude our workshop.

Our 2016 Masterclass workshop provided us with some fantastic opportunities to create really unique images and it was an absolute pleasure to share it with all the participants. The South Island of New Zealand is a fabulous country for landscape photography and should be high on any landscape photographers wish list of places to visit and photograph. Our 2017 masterclass workshop is now close to capacity with only one place remaining before it will be sold out.  If you would like to join us, you can register your interest in this last place by dropping me an email.


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