Split by glacier-carved mountains and fringed by wild beaches and stunning fords, New Zealand’s South Island beckons thrill-seekers to find adventure amid its natural wonders. Experience the island’s epic landscapes, exploring them as an adventurer would—from hiking and biking to snowboarding and rafting.
Our expedition begins in the coastal city of Christchurch. Head out on your first assignment to document the city’s innovative street art installations, interview shopkeepers at an outdoor market, or snap portraits of local artists. Visit an animal sanctuary and get up close to native species from around New Zealand, including the peculiar kiwi bird.
Travel north to the alpine village of Hanmer Springs. With camera in hand, explore forests of giant redwoods on foot or mountain bike, and soak in thermal pools. Then head to the spectacular West Coast to explore the rugged coastline on foot, hiking to hidden caves and taking photos of powerful sea bursts surging up through Punakaiki’s intriguing “pancake rock” formations. Spend a day black-water tubing through caverns lit by thousands of tiny glowworms, traveling to the cave entrance via zip line and finishing the adventure on a series of natural rock slides. Continue south to Westland Tai Poutini National Park, home to the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, and take in the views on a sunrise hike around Lake Matheson. Practice light painting and night photography on Haast Beach, at the heart of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage area.
Spend two days exploring Wanaka, one of the best skiing and snowboarding destinations in the Southern Hemisphere. Hit the slopes, and then hone your action photography and filmmaking skills as you capture local athletes performing aerial tricks and stunts. One of the iconic symbols of the area is the Wanaka Tree, a lone tree that grows tenaciously out of the waters of Lake Wanaka. Rise early to photograph the tree at sunrise, set against a backdrop of snowy peaks. Traverse the surrounding wilderness on horseback, and hike up Mount Iron for panoramic views of the surrounding lakes and mountains.
Kick the adventure into high gear with a mountaineering expedition on the slopes of New Zealand’s highest peak—Aoraki, or Mount Cook. Soar above the snow-covered Southern Alps, and touch down on top of the massive Tasman Glacier. Outfitted with snowshoes and ice picks, we’ll join expert guides to explore this wintry wilderness of glacial icefalls and otherworldly ice caves. Later, dive into a glacial pond for a chilly bath. Break out your camera to frame an amazing sunrise over these spectacular landscapes, or go on an after-dark photo or video shoot to capture scenes of a star-studded sky.
Head east to the colonial town of Oamaru and try your hand at sheep shearing during an overnight stay in a farming community. See the giant spherical Moeraki Boulders on a visit to Koekohe Beach, and ride a high-wheeled penny-farthing bicycle. Then spend the night in a marae, or meeting ground, and delve into Maori culture with tribal elders. Our adventure concludes in Christchurch, where we’ll wrap up our On Assignment projects and present them to the group before your flight home.