New Zealand: Landscape Paradise in Autumn

New Zealand’s South Island is one of the most scenic locations on the planet. It is a land where soaring mountain peaks descend to rugged fiords, glacial–carved valleys are crossed by braided rivers, and lush green rainforests are host to dramatic waterfalls. May is autumn in the Southern hemisphere, so we’ll be taking advantage of the warm fall colors in this stunning region.

Our New Zealand journey will begin in Queenstown. From there we’ll head to the Mackenzie Basin and Aoraki-Mount Cook National Park, in the heart of the Southern Alps, then to the UNESCO World Heritage region of South Westland on South Island’s wildest coast. Retracing our route back across the Alps, we’ll spend a further three nights in the picturesque lakeside town of Wanaka, where we’ll take a guided 4x4 drive to the history-rich Nevis Valley. We’ll also drive into the backcountry of the Matukituki Valley, where the riverside willows and poplars will be bursting into autumn color.

This workshop will be expertly guided by Muench Workshops Pro Neil Protheroe. Neil is a native to New Zealand and knows South Island intimately. We’ll be traveling in comfortable vehicles and on foot (some moderate hiking is required, with the ability to carry your gear). Expect abundant photo opportunities, and a few local secrets. Weather permitting, you’ll even get the unparalleled opportunity to shoot from the open doors of helicopters! 

This workshop is for any level of photographer, and non-photographer traveling companions are welcome! Our workshop group is small—only 5 guests—so you’ll get plenty of individualized attention. Neil will provide instruction in the field, and in classroom sessions and image reviews.

This workshop has been approved by the New Zealand Department of Conservation.


New Zealand’s
South Island




May 1–11, 2020

Fitness Level:

Walks of up to two miles on uneven ground, rocky and sandy beaches.

Your Pros:

3 Spots Left
Limited to 5 Guests

Thank you and your team for a wonderful workshop. New Zealand is spectacular and your workshop made the exploration even more enjoyable. My wife and I learned so much and came back with some memorable images.
— Ken Feeser, New Zealand 17'

Itinerary and General Information

Fly to Queenstown (ZQN airport code) no later than the morning of May 1, 2020. We strongly suggest arriving a day or two early to stave off jet lag, and can recommend activities and lodging in Auckland, Queenstown, or both. Contact us!

May 1, 2020:  Guests already staying in Queenstown can be picked up at their hotel between 2:00 PM and 2:30 PM by arrangement. We’ll then drive straight to Twizel, and check into our hotel for a meet-and-greet, followed by our first sunset shoot and dinner at a local restaurant. 

May 2, 2020:  We have reserved helicopters for an unforgettable doors-off flight at sunrise on one of the three mornings we're in Twizel. Based on the day’s weather, we'll take off at sun-up and fly through the Tasman Valley, past Mount Sefton and onwards for a dramatic close-up view of the summit of Mount Cook in the dawn light. We’ll then look down over the braided Tasman and Godley rivers, photographing them from this unique perspective. After breakfast we’ll spend some time shooting around Lake Pukaki and Twizel before heading out in the afternoon to photograph in the Hooker Valley until sunset, followed by dinner at Mount Cook Village.

May 3, 2020:  Sunrise at Peter’s Lookout for a picture-perfect view of Aoraki-Mount Cook at the head of Lake Pukaki. After breakfast, we’ll take some time out for an interactive image review session discussing composition and post processing techniques. In the afternoon we’ll head out to nearby Lakes Alexandrina and Tekapo. This area is the world’s largest dark sky reserve and offers spectacular opportunities for photographing the milky way on clear nights. 

May 4, 2020: Sunrise, breakfast, and check-out. Today is a leisurely travel day as we drive to Fox Glacier on the West Coast. We will stop at several places to photograph along the way to break the journey. We’ll check into our hotel and take a casual dinner within walking distance. 

May 5, 2020: Early morning walk to Lake Matheson, where the fog lingers just below the towering mountains above, reflected in a mirrored lake. After a great breakfast, we’ll spend some time photographing Fox Glacier and Mount Tasman from the roadside in the morning light. In the afternoon, we’ll stop at the Cook and Karangarua rivers and finish the day with a sunset shoot along the beach at Bruce Bay. Dinner in Fox Glacier. 

May 6, 2020: Sunrise shoot at Lake Mapourika, and then breakfast in the town of Franz Josef Glacier. We’ll photograph the kahikatea trees on the shore of Lake Wahapo, Franz Josef Glacier itself and some waterfalls. In the afternoon we’ll head to the coastal village of Okarito for sunset. 

May 7, 2020: After breakfast we’ll retrace our route to cross the Alpine Divide at Haast Pass and continue to Wanaka, stopping at several easily-accessed locations along the way, including a rain forest and a towering waterfall. Arriving in Wanaka in the afternoon, we’ll photograph the fall foliage around the Clutha River until sunset, before checking into our hotel for the next three nights. Dinner will be at our favorite local restaurant. 

May 8, 2020: Today will be an early start to meet our guides who will take us on an all-day adventure into the Nevis Valley, a backcountry wilderness with a rich history of Central Otago’s old gold mining industry. We’ll spend the morning photographing the rocky valleys, tussock grasslands, rivers and abandoned buildings of the Nevis before heading back down to the colourful vineyards and fruit orchards of Bannockburn and Cromwell in the afternoon. We’ll finish the day with a sunset shoot over Lake Wanaka and dinner at another great local restaurant. 

May 9, 2020:  An early morning helicopter ride up to Coromandel Peak, where we will enjoy exclusive access to photograph one of the country’s most spectacular views, over Lake Wanaka and Mount Aspiring. We’ll then return to the hotel for our second image review and post-processing session, before heading out again in the early afternoon to the Matukituki Valley. Here we’ll find colorful willow and poplar trees lining the river banks, set against a backdrop of mountain glaciers and waterfalls. We’ll be photographing at three locations, returning to Wanaka at sunset for a casual dinner in town. 

May 10, 2020:  An early morning to take advantage of the great light at the famous Lone Tree in Roy‘s Bay at Lake Wanaka. After breakfast, we’ll check out of our hotel and drive the short distance to Queenstown via the Crown Range. We’ll spend the afternoon photographing from the shores of Lake Wakatipu, before returning to town for a farewell dinner. 

May 11, 2020: Our final sunrise shoot at nearby Moke Lake will be followed by breakfast and checkout. Departing flights can be booked for any time after 12:00 PM.

What to Bring and How to Prepare for Your Workshop

Please see our How To Prepare For Your Workshop page now for guidelines on workshop prep, gear, and packing. Approximately 90 days before your workshop, you will be sent a PDF with more specific instructions.

What’s Included

  • Double occupancy lodging (single available, just ask)

  • All meals during the workshop

  • All transportation within New Zealand

  • All helicopter charters

  • Photographic guiding and instruction

  • Image reviews, post-processing instruction

  • Fun, inspiration, and a great time!

Whats Not Included?

Transportation to and from Queenstown, New Zealand. Visa and passport fees. Travel Medical and Trip Cancellation Insurance (optional, but recommended). Alcoholic beverages. Items of a personal nature. Anything not specifically mentioned in “what's included”, above.

Payment Terms

Your deposit of $4,000 will hold your place on this workshop. Further payment of $3,000 is due by November 1, 2019, and the balance of $3,495 will be due not later than February 1, 2020. All of our standard terms and conditions apply. Need special payment arrangements for your deposit? No problem, just ask us.

Additional Information

For an amazing group photo experience during the beautiful New Zealand fall, click the “Sign Me Up!” button, and we‘ll see you there! Got questions?