New Zealand

New Zealand Photo Prep Part 5 – Photography Planning for Lake Tekapo, South Island

For those of who read my Art of Travel Photography series, you know that one of the most important tips for taking good travel photos is to understand what you will be photographing before you travel.  This is important for a number of very good reasons.  First and most importantly, if you aren’t familiar with what is at your destination, you might not even make time to see some of the amazing things you could have seen, let alone photographed them.

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Even if you do have a good itinerary planned that covers all of the top things that you would like to see at your destination, understanding exactly how you are going to photograph these subjects or locations before you travel can save you valuable time.  I like to know where the best spots that give you the best angles are before I arrive.  That way I am not wasting valuable travel time trying to figure out where to take the best shots.

Finally, understanding what you want to photograph and how you want to photograph those subjects or landscapes before you travel will help you prepare what type of gear you will need to have with you.  For instance, what time of day is best to photograph at these locations?  Where are the best spots at these locations to capture sunrises or sunsets?  What type of lens will be best for capturing the subjects or landscapes at these locations?  These are just some of the questions that the proper advanced research can answer.

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With about a month to go until our trip to Australia and New Zealand and the itinerary for our trip all set, I figured now was as good a time as any to start doing the photo prep for the trip.  In this series, I am going to walk you thru my photography prep for each of our destinations in Australia and New Zealand.  If you haven’t had a chance to review my planning process for our Australia and New Zealand trip, I have linked those articles for you to review below.

In the fifth installment of my photography planning for the trip, I am going to cover our fifth destination, which is Lake Tekapo.  I am going to outline the research I did on what the top photography locations in Lake Tekapo are, where it is best to photograph in those locations, which time of day it would be best to photograph the locations, and what type of photography equipment I will need to get my desired shots.

Resources I Used

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When doing photography planning for any trip, the first step I take is to do research on the location to see what there is to photograph, where the best places to photograph those subjects or landscapes are, and when and how to photograph them.  When it came time to do my research on Lake Tekapo, here are some of the best resources that I used to do my research.

With these resources in hand, I sat down to start looking for places and things that I would like to photograph in the Lake Tekapo area.  By doing this research now, it will ensure that I don’t miss photographing anything spectacular when I arrive in Lake Tekapo and it will also help save me time trying to determine when and how to photograph the subjects and locations that I have identified.  If you would like to learn more about the process I use when I do my photography research, I would suggest that you check out my Art of Travel Photography – Planning Your Shots guide.

Photo Spots I’ve Identified

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After doing my research, I identified ten locations in CITY that I really want to take photographs at.  I am going to cover each of these locations in greater detail, but as a summary, I have included a map and a list of all ten locations for you to review below.

Lake Tekapo Photo Locations Map

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Church of the Good Shepherd
Mount John Viewpoint
Lake Alexandria Viewpoint

Church of the Good Shepherd

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The first location that I want to highlight in my photography planning for Lake Tekapo, New Zealand is the Church of the Good Shepherd, which sits near the shore of Lake Tekapo.  This beautiful stone church is an amazing addition to the photos that you take of the stunning Lake Tekapo.  This is, without a doubt, the number one shot that I would like to get when I am in the Lake Tekapo area.  For an idea of where the church is located, I have included a map below for you to review.  I would recommend bringing a wide-angle lens with you so that you can capture the church and the beautiful lake in the same shot.

Church of the Good Shepherd - Photo Map

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When I visit Lake Tekapo in late September, the sun should be both rising and setting in a position where I will be able to get some great sunrise or sunset shots of the church and the lake.  If you are planning on getting some sunrise or sunset shots of the Church of the Good Shepherd, I would strongly recommend having a sturdy tripod with you.

Church of the Good Shepherd - Sunrise and Sunset Detail Map

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Lupines on the Lake Shore

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The next item I would like to detail in my Lake Tekapo, New Zealand photography research isn’t an actual location, but a subject to shoot while at the lake.  Every year in New Zealand during the spring and summer months, typically between September and February, the most beautiful Lupines bloom all over the South Island.  These beautiful flowers can add an extra element of beauty to any landscape photography shot.  If you are visiting the Lake Tekapo area during this time of year, you should be able to get some fantastic shots with these flowers incorporated.

When I will be visiting Lake Tekapo in late September I should be able to get some great sunset shots of the lake with Lupines near the shore from the east side of the lake facing west and some great sunrise shots of the lake with Lupines while on the west side of the lake facing east.  I have included a map that details the sunrise and sunset locations while I will be visiting below for you to review.

Lake Tekapo - Sunrise and Sunset Detail Map

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Mount John

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Image taken from Google Streetview from the viewpoint near Mount John

Another one of the spots that you will want to make sure to hit when photographing around Lake Tekapo on New Zealand’s South Island is the viewpoint near Mount John, which lies just to the west of Lake Tekapo.  From the high vantage point of this lookout, you can get some absolutely amazing shots of Lake Tekapo and the surrounding area.  To understand exactly where this viewpoint is and how to access it, please refer to the map I have included below.  If you are planning on shooting from this location, I would recommend having a wide-angle lens with you to capture the lake and the mountain range behind it, but also have a lens with some reach to get some closer shots of the city and other features around the lake.

Mount John Viewpoint - Photo Map

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As you can see in the map below, the sun will be rising in an almost perfect location for me to get some great shots of the sun rising over Lake Tekapo from the Mount John viewpoint when I visit the area in late September of this year.  In fact, you can get some great sunrise shots from this viewpoint pretty much year-round.  If you would like to visit this viewpoint to get some great sunrise shots, I would recommend bringing a sturdy tripod with you.

Mount John Viewpoint - Sunrise and Sunset Detail Map

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Rocky Shoreline

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Another piece of subject matter that you can find in abundance around Lake Tekapo that is really great to work into your landscape shots is the rocky shoreline.  As you can see in the image above, the texture of the rocky shoreline can be a really interesting element to add to your photographs of Lake Tekapo.  Instead of starting your shot out over the water, I would start it at the rocky shoreline to contrast with the water of the lake.  If you are planning on taking some landscape shots with the rocky shoreline in your shots, I would recommend bringing a wide-angle lens with you.

When I will be visiting Lake Tekapo in late September I should be able to get some great sunset shots of the lake with the rocky shore from the east side of the lake facing west and some great sunrise shots of the lake with the rocky shore while on the west side of the lake facing east.  I have included a map that details the sunrise and sunset locations while I will be visiting below for you to review.

Lake Tekapo - Sunrise and Sunset Detail Map

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Lake Alexandria

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Image taken from Google Streetview from the viewpoint near Lake Alexandria

The last location that I would like to highlight in my photography planning for the Lake Tekapo area on New Zealand’s South Island is not actually at Lake Tekapo, but the nearby Lake Alexandria.   Although this lake is much smaller than Lake Tekapo, it is every bit as beautiful as its larger neighbor.  If you would like to change up the scenery a bit during your visit to the Lake Tekapo area, I trip to nearby Lake Alexandria can be a nice side photography excursion.  I have included a map below that outlines how to access the lake and where to photograph in case you are interested in exploring the area.

Lake Alexandria - Photo Map

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While I am in the Lake Tekapo region of New Zealand’s South Island in late September, the sun will set in an ideal location for me to get some fantastic sunset shots over Lake Alexandria.  In fact, you can get some great sunset shots from the east side of Lake Alexandria almost year-round.  Remember, if you do decide to try and get some sunset shots, I would definitely bring a sturdy tripod with you.

Lake Alexandria - Sunrise and Sunset Detail Map

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12 replies »

  1. Man, Josh, these images are absolutely incredible. The first image, of the fall colors with the mountains in the background, absolutely blew me a way. Fantastic photos!

    • That is such a great comparison!!! It really does look like a midwestern town next to the Rockies! I am so excited to visit!

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