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The Magic of New Zealand

A Visual Feast for Photographers

Next Trip TBD

Join American photographer Jeff Hirsch in cooperation with Exclusive Tours Limited (a New Zealand based tour company) on a 14 day photo adventure.

The trip begins and ends in Christchurch and carries you to some of the most inspiring and beautiful locations on the South Island of New Zealand. From the Southern Alps to the marine and bird sanctuaries near Dunedin and Akaroa, the magnificent scenery and wildlife will leave you breathless.

New Zealand offers an astounding variety of natural environments that range from glaciers to rain forests to grasslands to fiords. Our trip crosses over diverse landscapes from the Canterbury Plains to the Mackenzie Country before moving on to the spectacular Southern Alps and the towering Aoraki / Mount Cook. We then travel to the southern part of the South Island including a magical overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound and finally over to Dunedin and Akaroa along the southeast coast before returning to Christchurch.


20170618 IMG 6226Welcome to New Zealand! On arrival at Christchurch airport, travellers will be met and transferred to their accommodation in the heart of the city.

Christchurch city promises an eclectic mix of historic elegance and contemporary culture. As the gateway to the South Island, it's a must on any itinerary. Described by Lonely Planet as a "vibrant city in transition, coping resiliently and creatively,” Christchurch's energy is evident wherever you go. The city has bounced back after the Canterbury Earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 with innovative new attractions, as well as some old favourites. Visit the Re Start container mall, the transitional Cardboard Cathedral, and some of the many pop up restaurants and bars. Contemporary art galleries, boutique shops and open-air markets add to Christchurch’s creative vibe.

6:30PM Tour briefing and welcome dinner at a local restaurant.
Overnight: Quest Apartments, Christchurch.
Meal included today is dinner.

Day 2 - Wednesday - CHRISTCHURCH

20170618 IMG 6390 HDRToday we will visit the Christchurch botanic gardens, view the "re-building" that is happening in the city centre, and visit nearby Lyttelton and Sumner Beach.

Overnight: Quest Apartments, Christchurch.
No meals included today.


This morning we will depart Christchurch and travel across the Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps.    You can expect spectacular scenery along the entire route.  Our three and a half hour drive will take us   from the silvery beaches of the East Coast to the jagged peaks of the Southern Alps. The Canterbury Plains landscape is impossible to ignore. Big scenery is the order of the day with huge panoramas of ocean or mountains, great sweeps of pastureland, and massive amounts of sky. It's easy to be awestruck. Highlights en-route will include the small rural town of Geraldine, Lake Tekapo and Church of the Good Shepherd.

Group dinner tonight.
Overnight: Aoraki Court Motel, Aoraki - Mount Cook.
Meal included today is dinner.

Day 4 - Friday - AORAKI - MOUNT COOK

20170621 IMG 7598Today is reserved as a free day for hiking/walking and great photo opportunities in this fabulous alpine area of Aoraki - Mount Cook. The highest point of the Southern Alps is the highest point of New Zealand. The spectacular Aoraki/Mount Cook stands at 3,754 metres (Aoraki is Maori for Cloud Piercer). Morning, noon, and night this area offers an endless variety of light and landscape to tempt the photographer’s eye. Optional helicopter flight, weather permitting.

Overnight: Aoraki Court Motel, Aoraki - Mount Cook.
Meal included today is breakfast provisions.


Today we will depart Mount Cook bound for Queenstown, again traveling through spectacular scenery along the way. Queenstown’s stunning scenery, huge range of activities and renowned warm welcome cement its reputation as one of New Zealand’s favourite visitor destinations. Surrounded by majestic mountains and set on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, the natural beauty and the unique energy of the region create the perfect backdrop for a holiday full of adventure, exploration or relaxation.

About 3 hours driving time.
Overnight: Copthorne Hotel and Resort Lakefront, Queenstown.
Meal included today is breakfast provisions.


20170623 IMG 8114 HDRAfter a free morning to wander and play in Queenstown we will depart in the afternoon bound for Te Anau. The two hour drive to Te Anau includes stopping en-route for a tasting of the world famous manuka honey. The picturesque township of Te Anau will serve as our jumping-off point for the glacier-carved wilderness that is Fiordland National Park. Te Anau, located in the Southland region of the South Island, sits on the eastern shore of Lake Te Anau – the largest lake in the South Island.

7:00PM dinner at Distinction Hotel Te Anau followed by the first of our two photo critiques.
Overnight: Distinction Hotel Te Anau, Te Anau.
Meal included today is dinner.


The day begins with an optional early-morning photo shoot right outside of our hotel on the shore of beautiful Lake Te Anau.     

8:45AM depart Te Anau bound for Manapouri.
9:30AM Depart Manapouri via ferry bound for Doubtful Sound overnight cruise with Fiordland Expeditions.

20170625 IMG 9375 HDRFor the next two days we will immerse ourselves in the vast and untouched wilderness of Doubtful Sound, the second largest fiord in Fiordland National Park. With its rugged peaks, verdant rainforest and twisting, hidden inlets, Doubtful Sound will take your breath away. Home to abundant wildlife, you may see bottlenose dolphins and fur seals at play, or catch a glimpse of a rare Fiordland Crested Penguin.

Getting to Doubtful Sound is an adventure in itself. With no direct road access, the only way you can get to the sound is by a cruise across Lake Manapouri and a coach trip over Wilmot Pass. This isolation makes the fiord a very special place, a place only those in the know get to see.

Our overnight stay on this small-cabin boat is always a high point for photographers. The scenery is breath-taking and the variety of atmospheric lighting is inspiring. Our captain can navigate the boat to wherever the light is best or wherever the activity is happening. Waterfalls, fur seals, mist and fog cover the complex folds of the sound. Our photographic canvas ranges from the dock where we board all the way out to the Tasman sea and back again. You will learn first-hand why the area is sometimes referred to as “Shadowland”. Your overnight also includes a number of scrumptious meals made by the ship’s cook and eaten in the cozy confines of the galley.

20170624 IMG 8773Lunch and dinner on vessel.
Overnight: Vessel on Doubtful Sound. Small intimate vessel where travellers will share cabins and facilities.
Meals included today are breakfast, lunch and dinner.


Breakfast and lunch on vessel.
5:15PM approximate arrival time back at Manapouri. 

After taking making our way from Doubtful Sound back to the dock in Manapouri, we will travel about 90 minutes by van to Gore where we will stop for the night. The rural town of Gore has a special attraction for country music fans. Every year in early June, Gore hosts the New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards, which incorporates the New Zealand Line Dancing Championships.      

7:00PM dinner at Heartland Hotel Croydon.
Overnight: Heartland Hotel Croydon, Gore.
Meals included today are breakfast, lunch and dinner.

20170626 IMG 9950Day 9 - Wednesday - GORE TO DUNEDIN

9:00AM depart Gore bound for Dunedin. About 2 hours driving time.
2:00PM meet driver / guide from Elm Wildlife and commence tour of locations where you may see such creatures as yellow eyed penguins "Hoiho" (only found in New Zealand), Hooker sea lions (only found in New Zealand), New Zealand fur seals and marine birdlife.  This excursion offers fantastic wildlife, landscape and scenery photo opportunities.
6:30PM approximate arrival time at accommodation.

Dunedin, located at the head of Otago Harbour on the southeast coast, is known for its Scottish and Maori heritage, Victorian and Edwardian architecture and a large student population. Hiking and cycling trails crisscross the dramatic landscape of the adjoining Otago Peninsula, home to colonies of albatrosses, sea lions and rare yellow-eyed penguins (Hoiho).

Overnight: Motel on York, Dunedin.
Meal included today is breakfast.

Day 10 - Thursday - DUNEDIN

20170627 IMG 0785 HDRFree day in Dunedin. Optional activities include visiting the Chinese Garden, Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin botanic gardens and more. Travelers are also invited to participate in a guided tour of Olveston historic home. In the evening, we will gather for the second of our two photo critiques.

Overnight: Motel on York, Dunedin.
No meals included today.

Day 11 - Friday - DUNEDIN TO AKAROA

This morning we depart Dunedin and head up the eastern coast bound for Akaroa – about 5 hours driving time. Our first stop of the day will be a photo shoot of the miraculous Moeraki Boulders followed by breakfast at a nearby café. Then it’s on to the rural towns of Oamaru and Timaru. We will have fabulous photo opportunities in the Victorian precinct in Oamaru which is home to a wide variety of artisans, craftspeople, and the always entertaining Steampunk Museum. Other highlights along our route include  Birdlings Flat and Little River.

20170628 IMG 1066 EditAkaroa is a historic French and British settlement nestled in the heart of an ancient volcano. Explore the village with its colonial architecture, galleries, craft stores, and cafés.

Overnight: Akaroa Waterfront Motels, Akaroa.
No meals included today.

Day 12 - Saturday - AKAROA

Akaroa is New Zealand's only French influenced village.    

In the morning, there will be free time to discover this delightful "French" village.

In the afternoon, there will be an option to participate in a Black Cat dolphin cruise on Akaroa Harbour, home to the rare Hector Dolphins.

Overnight: Akaroa Waterfront Motels, Akaroa.
No meals included today.


20170629 IMG 1768 HDRNOTE: Winter solstice 2019 in Southern Hemisphere will be at 3:43AM today.

In the morning we will depart Akaroa bound for Christchurch via Governors Bay, the port of Lyttelton and New Brighton Beach.  About 2 hours driving time.

6:00PM We will gather for a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
Overnight: Quest Apartments, Christchurch.
Meal include today is dinner.


Travellers will be transferred from motel to Christchurch airport for their return flights to the United States.
No meals included today.


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