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Being a photographer, I have extensively explored New Zealand. So much so, people always ask me where they should travel to. Or what are my must-sees.

Here are my 8 favourite South Island locations:

1) Fox Glacier

My favorite adventure to date in Fox Glacier has been my overnighter at the Chancellor Hut. Situated precariously overlooking the glacier this hut has arguably the best views in the country. I flew up with @HeliServices. They also gave me a scenic flight over the glacier before landing on Chancellor Dome, the view from here was incredible!

A friendly Kea stopped by to say a quick Kia Ora to my friend Kirsty.
Bonus: Be sure to visit the iconic Lake Matheson to capture Aoraki Mount Cook and Mount Tasman reflecting in this tranquil lake on a calm day!

2) Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

Aoraki Mount Cook feels like my second home. Ever since I laid eyes on it I’ve felt its pull, heard its call, as a result I have returned to gaze at this beautiful mountain many times now and each time it’s just as moving.
Hooker Valley Track.
My favorite sunrise spot has to be Tasman Lake – if you time it right you might get lucky and get to see it filled with icebergs like I did on this particular morning. I find late winter and early spring to be the best time to visit.
If you’re looking at sunset it’s hard to beat the 1.5-hour hike into the Hooker Valley to stand directly before Aoraki Mount Cook overlooking the Hooker Lake and Glacier. In winter the lake freezes and if you’re brave enough it’s possible to walk out onto the ice, it’s not something I’d recommend if you don’t know what you’re doing, but it sure makes for some cool pictures!
If you’re fit and like stairs – 2,220 stairs with a 500m elevation gain to be exact, the views from the Sealy Tarns are incredible! These small alpine tarns make for epic reflections of Aoraki Mount Cook.
From here you can continue on to Mueller Hut – the perfect place to base yourself if you’re wanting to spend a few days in the mountains escaping the world below.

3) The Church of the Good Shepherd

Situated on the shores of Lake Tekapo, the Iconic Church of the Good Shepherd is a photographers dream come true. A small, beautiful old church, nestled under the mountains right next to a lake, on a clear night, blanketed with stars, in spring surrounded by wildflowers, in winter there’s snow, and year-round; plenty of people to appreciate it!

4) Nugget Point

The Catlins Coast is a place you’ll never forget! Right at the beginning of this incredible drive situated on the edge of a cliff perches Nugget Point, since 1870 the lighthouse has been warning boats of this treacherous piece of coast. I think you really have to see it to understand how awesome this place is!
If you’re really lucky, you might get to see the Aurora Australis aka Southern Lights, like I did on this particular night!
Pro Tip:

Don’t forget to check out the awesome nearby waterfalls, like the multitiered Purakaunui Falls.

5) Wharariki

Situated at the North Western most Corner of the South Island this place is definitely out of the way and is a place most travelers skip while exploring New Zealand, a silly decision if you ask me! The first time I ventured over the farmland, through the sand dunes and down to this remote beach I was greeted with a wind that threatened to bowl me over, a roaring sea, and a colorful sunset! I’ve been back many times since and each time I’ve been just as captivated.

Recently I had the opportunity to fly over Wharariki Beach with @GoldenBayAir – the views were phenomenal!

6) Milford Sound

Rudyard Kipling had previously called it the eighth Wonder of the World, and once you’ve seen it yourself it’s easy to see why. Despite being the second rainiest place in the world seeing upwards of 6.8 meters of rain a year, this place is beautiful whatever the weather.
The result of the heavy rain is some epic waterfalls!
If you’re lucky enough to get a clear night, the stars here are phenomenal!

7) Queenstown

World famous for the invention of the bungee jump, this place isn’t only for the thrill seekers, but also the sightseers! Nestled amongst the mountains and next to Lake Wakatipu Queenstown has a huge array of stunning landscapes on offer.
The Remarkables are called such due to the fact that they are only one of two ranges in the entire world that runs perfectly North to South!
Moke Lake makes for a great spot to stargaze! On this particular night, we were lucky to see a faint Aurora while the stars above were reflecting in the stillness of lake.

8) Lake Wanaka

Perhaps most famous for what is quite possibly the most photographed tree in the world – ‘#thatwanakatree’ this place has so much to offer! The lakeside views are enough to persuade anyone they need to move to New Zealand right now.
The view from Roy’s Peak makes the 4-hour slog to the top well worth it!
Talman Madsen

Author Talman Madsen

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