It’s no secret that New Zealand is highly photogenic. From the warm coastlines frequented during the summer months to the white mountains that invite during winter, this island nation seems to have it all for photographers.
But in between those busy seasons is autumn, the time of year when crowds dwindle and the landscapes beam. To help you find this season’s most photogenic sites, here are six places to get you started.
Crisp autumn mornings on the shores of Lake Wanaka are hard to top. Surrounded by mountains, the lake’s blue water contrasts the pulsing yellows and golds of poplar trees, creating a striking scene. Roys Bay, where the town of Wanaka is located, is a perfect place to start since there are countless views and hikes (like Roys Peak Track) nearby to help you get that perfect shot.
You might have seen them, those photographs of Highway 80 and its scenic pavement curving around the banks of Lake Pukaki en route to Mt Cook. The views never get old, no matter the time of year. Already rich with color, it’s hard to imagine this landscape improving, but what spices up this classic shot is the golden, roadside foliage that comes with every autumn season.
On the shores of one of the country’s largest lakes, you’ll find Tekapo, a small town situated in the middle of New Zealand’s South Island. Photographers are consistently drawn to this area due to its remote and powerful landscapes. For intimate shots, explore the popular Church of the Good Shepherd site, where you’ll find the nearby shoreline dotted with yellow and gold. For a broader angle, check out Mt. John, a point that can be reached by foot or car and offers staggering views of the bright lake basin below.
Though most of New Zealand’s North Island is headlined by surf breaks and volcanoes, the region of Hawke’s Bay is known for its coastal vistas and gorgeous vineyards. It’s also one of the country’s best destinations to visit during autumn. This time of year, the coastal foliage and vineyards seemingly change overnight, quickly sporting a new, golden garb. So when you head to that beach or wine tour, make sure to bring your camera, too!
What better way to enjoy the colors of fall than by strolling through peaceful Hagley Park? Located in the city of Christchurch, the park boasts a vibrant palette of colors come April, its grounds littered with leaves, golden light shooting through the soon-to-be-leafless trees. Comprised of 161 hectares (nearly 400 acres), the area is filled with narrow lanes and walkable riverbanks, creating a calm setting where you can pick out your shots at a relaxing pace.
Only a 20-minute drive from Queenstown, Arrowtown is a quaint community that embraces the changes of autumn to their fullest. Each year, when leaves begin to turn, the streets grow busy with shades of yellow and orange, making the picturesque town even more photogenic. And to celebrate the turn of another season, there’s the Arrowtown Autumn Festival — a good place to meet locals who might know a secret spot or two for the best photo-ops.