The PhotoPills Expedition to New Zealand is Sold Out (Join the Waiting List)

By Rafael Pons

The PhotoPills Expedition to New Zealand is SOLD OUT!


All 12 spots are already gone!

Thanks so much :D

Wish to join us?

Don't give up!

There are always cancellations...

Click here to join the Waiting List.

Be the first one to know when a cancellation occurs.

We’re going to New Zealand's South Island...

Are you in?

Around the New Moon...

From June 3rd to June 15th 2024, Marco Grassi and Daniel Murray (PhotoPills Masters) will be traveling across New Zealand’s South Island to photograph the winter’s Golden Light and the majestic Milky Way along with some of the treasures hidden in this southern hemisphere paradise...

Where Nature's majesty meets the soul!

Of course...

We’ll be taking photos all day long...


Can you imagine it?

To photograph the winter’s Golden Light and the Milky Way with iconic trees, strange rock formations, infinite waterfalls, lonely wild beaches, isolated fjords, endless glaciers, immense snow-capped peaks, lush rainforests, rugged coastlines, hidden turquoise lakes, picturesque churches and maybe one of the rarest penguins on the planet…

We’re dreaming about it!

To achieve it, we’ll use the planning power of PhotoPills and the expert knowledge of Marco Grassi and Daniel Murray to always be at the right place at the right time.

Top secret: we have quite a few legendary photos planned already...

The Deal (Only 1 Spot Left)

We're offering you a €500 discount on the regular price!

All you have to do is to book the last spot available before Sunday March 3rd.

Read carefully all the details of this unique adventure.

And when you’re ready, click here to book your spot.

Please, book as soon as possible. The seats are sold on a first come, first served basis.

The Adventure

12 PhotoPillers | 2 PhotoPills Masters | New Zealand | Endless legendary photos

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Warning! This is not a honeymoon...

We’re recruiting 12 brave PhotoPillers (PhotoPills and photography nerds) to join us on a 13-day expedition to photograph winter’s Golden Light and the Milky Way along with some of the most precious treasures hidden in the wild South Island of New Zealand...

Or “Aotearoa”, the Māori name for New Zealand, that can be translated as “Land of the Long White Cloud”.

It’s winter and it’s going to be cold!

The average temperature is between 5ºC (41ºF) and -4ºC (24ºF). The peaks will be covered in a white blanket of snow, creating a dramatic winter scenery.


This is a non-stop adventure to chase legendary photos and you are a key asset!

We have planned tons of photos, and we’ll travel many kilometers to capture them...

But we also want to maximize our flexibility in terms of itinerary and schedule in order to take advantage of all the opportunities that the changing weather will surely put in our way.

If we see something interesting happening in the sky, we’ll pick the best location possible, stop and take advantage of the occasion.

When we are hungry, we’ll stop and eat. When we are tired, we’ll stop and rest...

You are about to embark on a PhotoPills’ style journey. And it’s not going to be a honeymoon precisely... :P

You’ll be a true photographer!

Are you in?

Day 1. Monday, June 3rd - Welcome to New Zealand

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10:30 am

It’s Monday morning...

And you land at Christchurch Domestic Airport (CHC) located in New Zealand’s South Island, at 12 km (7.5 mi) to the northwest of the city centre of Christchurch.

Christchurch, the Garden City of New Zealand's South Island, is a resilient urban hub known for its English heritage, picturesque Avon River, and lush green spaces like the expansive Hagley Park.

Despite recovering from significant earthquakes, the city thrives with a rich cultural scene, innovative architecture, and a blend of historical charm and modern creativity.

It is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand and the third most populous in the country, after Auckland and Wellington... 384,800 people live here.

11:00 am

It’s time to meet Marco Grassi and Daniel Murray, and the rest of the PhotoPillers on the expedition.

We'll break the ice with some intros and dive into the briefing of our adventure ahead.

11:30 am

PhotoPills Class with Marco and Daniel. Get ready to learn lots of tips that will help you master PhotoPills once and for all :)

12:35 pm

Lunch time!

1:30 pm

All aboard for our road trip to Kaikoura!

Get your cameras ready, this drive is a feast for the eyes.

Nestled on the east coast of New Zealand's South Island, Kaikoura is a scenic gem where mountains meet the sea.

It's a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts, renowned for its rich marine life, including whales, seals, and dolphins, thanks to the deep Kaikoura Canyon running close to shore.

The town itself exudes a cozy, welcoming atmosphere, offering fresh seafood and local charms.

With a backdrop of majestic snow-capped mountains, Kaikoura provides a plethora of photographic opportunities, from dramatic coastal landscapes to intimate wildlife encounters.

It's a place where nature's grandeur is on full display, offering a tranquil escape and a heaven for outdoor adventurers.

4:00 pm

We hit Kaikoura and make a beeline to Point Kean. Get ready for some coastal magic.

Located just a short drive from the heart of Kaikoura, Point Kean is a stunning coastal viewpoint that offers a unique blend of wildlife and breathtaking landscapes.

Renowned for its seal colony, it's a place where New Zealand fur seals bask in the sun on the rocky shoreline, providing fantastic opportunities for wildlife photography.

The rugged coast, dotted with striking rock formations and tide pools, is a testament to the raw beauty of New Zealand's shores.

4:15 pm

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Golden hour's here and it's showtime!

Those sea stacks are about to turn into gold. Perfect for those long exposures – let's blur some water!

As the Sun sets in the west, we watch the light play games with the rocks and waves.

Time to shoot!

5:19 pm

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Golden hour's waving goodbye, but the blue hour's stepping in. Let's get those last moody shots in before we head back.

Golden hour begins at 4:15 pm, Sunset is at 5:00 pm, golden hour ends at 5:19 pm and blue hour ends at 5:32 pm.

5:45 pm

Quick pit stop at the hotel to freshen up – we're not done yet!

6:30 pm

Dinner time!

8:00 pm

We’re back to Point Kean...

Open PhotoPills and check the position of the Milky Way so you can choose your shooting spot:

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Insert your second screenshot here

I love how high the Core is in the southern hemisphere... and in New Zealand in particular!

The Moon (14%) is out of sight, and the Milky Way is all ours. Above the sea, those rocks are just begging to be photographed with the galaxy.

Galactic Center visibility begins at 6:40 pm and it ends at 6:06 am.

11:00 pm

What a day!

Tomorrow we will go north...

Sweet dreams, team!

Photographic pills:

  • Sunset, golden hour, and blue hour at Point Kean.
  • Milky Way and the Galactic Center above the sea and rock formations at Point Kean.

Day 2. Tuesday, June 4th- The Wonders of Wharariki

6:30 am

Rise and shine, PhotoPillers! Today's a day packed with awe and wonder.

6:50 am

After a quick brekkie, we say goodbye to Kaikoura. But wait, there's more – a final coastal shoot at Point Kean. Cameras at the ready!

Blue hour is our warm-up. Get those cool, serene shots in before the main event.

Suddenly, the Sun's peeking over the horizon, aligning perfectly with that little islet. Whether you want the Sun in your shot or the mountains bathed in gold, it's your call.

Blue hour begins at 7:15 am, golden hour begins at 7:27 am, Sunrise is at 7:47 am and golden hour ends at 8:31 am.

8:45 am

With our golden memories captured, it's time to hit the road to St Arnaud.

11:45 am

Hello, St Arnaud! Lunch by Lake Rotoiti awaits. The Sun's high, perfect for those iconic jetty shots with the lake as your canvas.

12:45 pm

Buckle up; Wharariki's calling. It's a scenic drive, so keep those eyes peeled.

Wharariki Beach is an unspoiled gem at the northern tip of New Zealand's South Island, known for its wild and dramatic beauty.

Its expansive, windswept sands are bordered by towering sand dunes and framed by rugged cliffs, creating a raw and untamed landscape.

The beach's most iconic features are the Archway Islands, a group of large, weathered rock formations that rise majestically from the sea, offering a captivating subject.

The powerful waves of the Tasman Sea crash against the shoreline, adding to the dramatic atmosphere.

4:00 pm

We've made it!

A brief stroll to Wharariki Beach, and there they are – the majestic Archway Islands. Low tide is gifting us some amazing shots.

Golden hour's making a grand entrance, casting its warm glow on the Archway Islands.

Whether you're capturing the Sun's farewell next to the rock formations or basking them in the evening light, it's a sight to behold.

As the golden hour is taking a bow, we're capturing those final tranquil moments of the blue hour.

Golden hour begins at 4:26 pm, Sunset is at 5:09 pm, golden hour ends at 5:28 pm and blue hour ends at 5:40 pm.

5:50 pm

Time to retreat to our hotel Wharariki Holiday Park.

7:00 pm

Dinner time!

8:00 pm

Back to Wharariki Beach we go, chasing the night's canvas. High tide at 9:10 pm adds to the drama.

As twilight fades, the Milky Way's tail takes center stage, aligned with the sea stacks.

Galactic core or swirling water around the rocks?

You’ve got lots of decisions to make!

Galactic Center visibility begins at 6:47 pm and it ends at 6:08 am.

10:00 pm

As we tuck into bed, our hearts and SD cards are full. Dream of stars, PhotoPillers – tomorrow awaits!

Photographic Pills:

  • Blue hour, Sunrise and golden hour at Point Kean.
  • Midday snapshots at Lake Rotoiti, utilising the iconic jetty as a compositional element under the high sun.
  • Golden hour, Sunset and Blue hour with the Archway Islands at Wharariki Beach.
  • The Milky Way’s tail aligned with the sea stacks or Star Trails.

Day 3. Wednesday, June 5th - The West Coast’s Pancakes

3:30 am

Wake up!

It's the middle of the night, but adventure calls. Grab your gear; we're heading back to Wharariki Beach.

4:00 am

This early bird trip is all about that Milky Way panorama. The Archway Islands under the starry arch? Pure magic!

4:30 am

With the galaxy arching above the sea stacks and the moon out of sight, it's your chance to capture the heavens in all their glory.

6:08 am

As the Galactic Center bids farewell, we prepare for the Sun's grand entrance.

First, the world is drenched in a surreal blue hue. The rising thin moon (3.6%) might just add that extra sprinkle of magic to our shots.

Then, the golden hour arrives, painting our scene with the softest, most forgiving light. This is what we live for!

Finally, with the Sun rising, we're after that perfect blend of drama and tranquillity in our long exposures. Fingers crossed for those clouds!

Blue hour begins at 7:15 am, golden hour begins at 7:27 am, Sunrise is at 7:46 am and golden hour ends at 8:28 am.

8:45 am

Time to pack up and set off on our journey to Murchison, our lunch destination.

We’re going south, driving along the west rugged coastline in search of its world famous pancakes made of stone.

12:45 pm

A quick stop at Murchison to refuel both our bellies and spirits before hitting the road to Punakaiki.

3:15 pm

Punakaiki is a small community nestled between the lush, green Paparoa National Park and the rugged coastline of the Tasman Sea.

It's most famous for the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes.

These fascinating limestone formations resemble giant stacks of pancakes and have been sculpted by the relentless action of wind and water over millions of years.

During high tide, the sea surges into caverns beneath the rocks and bursts through blowholes in a spectacular display.

We will settle into our hotel in Punakaiki (Ocean View Retreat) before we explore the famed Pancake Rocks.

4:24 pm

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And here we are, at the Pancake Rocks, ready for the golden light.

The Sun is quickly dipping into the Tasman Sea, silhouetting the Pancake Rocks.

So act fast, choose your composition. Let’s immortalise this moment!

Golden hour begins at 4:24 pm, Sunset is at 5:09 pm, golden hour ends at 5:29 pm and blue hour ends at 5:41 pm.

6:00 pm

After a day full of photographs, it's time to relax, eat, and share our experiences.

7:00 pm

As night falls, the thin Milky Way presents yet another photo opportunity. Or perhaps, you'd fancy some Star Trails over the Pancake Rocks?

If the sky is clear, we’ll go out and photograph the stars.

9:00 pm

Bed time!

Photographic Pills:

  • Milky Way panorama above the Archway Islands at Wharariki Beach.
  • Sunrise and long exposures with side-lit sea stacks and potential thin moon at Wharariki.
  • Sunset and blue hour photography at the fascinating Pancake Rocks.
  • Optional night shoot with a vertical Milky Way or star trails at Pancake Rocks.

Day 4. Thursday, June 6th - The Low Tide

2:00 am

Wake up!

Our day begins while the night still reigns...

We embark on a short drive to Motukiekie, followed by a moonless walk to our location, timed perfectly with the low tide.

3:30 am

The Milky Way is arching over the rugged Motukiekie Rocks and starfish.

The Core stands bright up in the sky!

What else?!

4:30 am

With the tide turning, we make our timely departure, ensuring our safety and carrying memories of the stars.

5:00 am

We return to our hotel in Punakaiki for a well-deserved, albeit brief, rest.

6:45 am

A short drive takes us back to the Pancake Rocks, ready to capture the changing morning light.

The blue hour ushers in a serene tranquility, a soft light enveloping the landscape.

The golden hour illuminates the scene, casting a warm glow that transforms the familiar into the extraordinary.

Sunrise at Pancake Rocks offers a fresh perspective, the eastern light painting a dramatic scene as waves crash against the coastline.

What a morning!

Blue hour begins at 7:26 am, golden hour begins at 7:38 am, Sunrise is at 7:57 am and golden hour ends at 8:42 am.

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8:50 am

After capturing the morning's glory, we return for breakfast and prepare for the next leg of our journey.

10:00 am

We set off toward Hokitika, anticipating new sights and a chance to replenish our supplies.

11:15 am

A brief stop in Hokitika allows us to gather essentials and enjoy a leisurely lunch.

12:45 pm

Our drive continues to Lake Matheson, with a planned pause at Lake Ianthe to capture a few daytime shots of its serene waters.

3:30 pm

We arrive at Reflection Island on Lake Matheson, embarking on a quest to immortalise the majestic reflections of the highest mountain in New Zealand: Mount Cook (3,724 m, 12,218 ft).

4:24 pm

As the golden hour approaches, we ready our cameras for the evening's spectacle.

Sunset casts its golden rays, illuminating the peaks of Mount Cook and creating a mirror image on the lake's still surface.

Golden hour begins at 4:24 pm, Sunset is at 5:11 pm, golden hour ends at 5:31 pm and blue hour ends at 5:43 pm.

6:00 pm

Dinner in the field offers a moment of camaraderie and reflection amidst the natural beauty surrounding us.

7:00 pm

As night settles, the vertical Milky Way and Mount Cook engage in a celestial dance, reflected in the mirror-like Lake Matheson.

Let’s hope for clear skies!

10:00 pm

After a day of capturing the sublime interplay of stars, sea, lakes and summits, we surrender to sleep, eager for the next day's adventures.

Photographic Pills:

  • The Milky Way arch over Motukiekie Rocks and starfish.
  • Blue hour, Sunrise and golden hour at Pancake Rocks.
  • Daytime landscapes at Lake Ianthe.
  • Golden hour, Sunset, blue hour and reflections of Mount Cook at Lake Matheson.
  • The Milky Way next to Mount Cook with reflections in the lake.

Day 5. Friday, June 7th - The Lone Tree

6:00 am

Wake up!

A brief drive takes us back to Lake Matheson. We trek to Reflection Island in anticipation of the morning light.

Darkness prevails as the visibility of the Galactic Center concludes.

7:35 am

The blue hour graces us with its tranquil pre-dawn hues. The golden hour commences, casting its ethereal glow on our surroundings.

Suddenly, the Sun rises illuminating Mount Cook and the surrounding peaks, their reflections mirrored perfectly in Lake Matheson's still waters.

Blue hour begins at 7:26 am, golden hour begins at 7:38 am, Sunrise is at 7:57 am and golden hour ends at 8:42 am.

9:00 am

After capturing the morning's first light, we return to the hotel for breakfast and check out.

10:45 am

We embark on our journey to Wanaka, pausing along the way to capture the landscapes, including the cascading Thunder Creek Falls.

Thunder Creek Falls is a spectacular natural attraction located within the lush rainforests of Mount Aspiring National Park.

Cascading from a height of around 28 m (92 ft), the waterfall is a part of the Haast River system and is fed by the melting snow and glaciers from the Southern Alps.

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4:00 pm

Arrival in Wanaka. We make our way to the world-renowned Wanaka Tree.

When the golden hour approaches, we prepare our cameras for the evening's shoot.

Sunset offers a chance to photograph the Wanaka Tree in varying lighting conditions.

We’ll also take advantage of the pre Sunset moments to use PhotoPills to plan our compositions for the Milky Way.

Hint: our idea is to photograph the Milky Way and the Galactic Center completely vertical with the tree.

Golden hour begins at 4:21 pm, Sunset is at 5:09 pm, golden hour ends at 5:30 pm and blue hour ends at 5:47 pm.

6:00 pm

We return to our hotel Edgewater Resort to check in and unwind before the evening's adventures.

7:00 pm

Dinner time.

8:30 pm

We head back to the Wanaka Tree for nighttime photography opportunities, including the Milky Way and Star Trails.

12:00 am

As planned...

A completely vertical Milky Way aligns with the Wanaka Tree. With the Milky Way core high in the sky, the scene is set for a spectacular celestial display.

1:00 am

We conclude our day's photographic journey and retire for the night.

Photographic pills:

  • Blue hour, Sunrise, golden hour and reflections of Mount Cook at Lake Matheson.
  • Landscapes and features during our drive to Wanaka including Thunder Creek Falls.
  • Golden hour, Sunset and blue hour with the Wanaka Tree.
  • Vertical Milky Way with the Wanaka Tree.
  • Star Trails at the Wanaka Tree.

Day 6. Saturday, June 8th - Lakes and Peaks

6:30 am

Wake up!

The first light of dawn is not far away, and we must be ready to greet it.

7:10 am

We venture out on a short morning walk, bound once more for the solitary Wanaka Tree, anticipating the sunrise.

The blue hour casts a serene glow, a brief interlude before the dawn. Then the golden hour seeps across the landscape, painting everything in soft, warm tones.

As the sun breaches the horizon, its rays kissing the lone tree, a silhouetted figure against the awakening sky, the water of the lake reflecting the unfolding day.

Blue hour begins at 7:42 am, golden hour begins at 7:55 am, Sunrise is at 8:15 am, and the golden hour ends at 9:03 am.

9:00 am

We retreat from the lakeside with our morning's bounty of photos, returning to our accommodation for a well-deserved breakfast and checkout.

10:00 am

Photo editing class with Marco and Daniel. It’s time to learn how to edit the Milky Way!

12:45 pm

We set off for Glenorchy, the road winding along the lakeside. Along the way, we stop for snapshots, capturing vistas such as Bennetts Bluff, where the rugged grandeur of the land unfolds before us.

3:45 pm

We arrive in Glenorchy, where the old wharf waits quietly for its moment in the fading light of day.

Glenorchy is a small settlement nestled at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu. Its charm lies not only in its stunning vistas but also in its rustic character. The iconic red Glenorchy shed, the quaint streets, historic buildings, and a small wharf create a sense of stepping back in time to a quieter, slower-paced world.

4:30 pm

The sun begins its descent, and we seize the chance to capture the play of light on the wharf, the surrounding mountains, and the reflective waters.

Golden hour begins at 4:23 pm, Sunset is at 5:11 pm, golden hour ends at 5:32 pm and blue hour ends at 5:45 pm.

6:00 pm

Our bus takes us to 12 Mile Delta, where the evening's night sky photography will unfold. We prepare to capture the Milky Way straight over Lake Wakatipu, its core a glowing heart against the night.

Galactic Center visibility starts at 6:57 pm and Galactic Center visibility ends at 6:33 am.

7:45 pm

The final leg of today's journey brings us to Queenstown, where Peppers Beacon awaits.

We check-in. It feels like home!

8:30 pm

Dinner time!

10:00 pm

Retreat to the comfort of our rooms, our minds already dreaming of the images we will create tomorrow... from up in the air!

Photographic pills:

  • Blue hour, Sunrise and golden hour at the Wanaka Tree.
  • The journey to Glenorchy, capturing daytime landscapes and the sunset at the historic wharf.
  • Milky Way over Lake Wakatipu at 12 Mile Delta.

Day 7. Sunday, June 9th - Highs and Fjord-side Hues

5:30 am

Wake up!

Our first scenic flight of the adventure awaits!

6:00 am

Brief drive to Queenstown Airport. Today we’ll be photographing the white mountains from above.

7:15 am

With engines humming, we rise above, eyes fixed as Mount Aspiring (3,033 m, 9,951 ft) comes into the frame—a behemoth bathed in the soft glow of dawn, its peaks and valleys an otherworldly realm for our lenses.

Below us, a world of patterns, shapes and shadows awaits to be discovered (and photographed).

Blue hour begins at 7:46 am, golden hour begins at 7:59 am, Sunrise is at 8:19 am, and the golden hour ends at 9:08 am.

9:00 am

Post-flight, the camaraderie unfolds over breakfast, where tales of the sky dance and photographic triumphs are shared amid the aroma of fresh coffee and pastries.

10:00 am

The road beckons, and we heed its call, Te Anau-bound. The journey is our canvas, each curve and crest a brushstroke of nature's grand design.

1:00 pm

Refuelled by the quaint charm of Te Anau's lunch offerings, we venture towards Milford Sound.

The path is rich with visual treasures; Mirror Lakes reflect the world in still life, demanding a pause, a capture.

4:00 pm

As the waters recede, Milford Sound stands revealed. The fjord, a masterpiece of geological artistry, is accentuated by the sun's retreat. It's a dance of light and shadow, where every captured angle tells a story of eons.

We find our spot as the day's final performance commences. The golden hour paints the fjord, and we're there to immortalize the fleeting serenade of light—lenses focused, breaths held, as twilight whispers the promise of night's return.

Golden hour begins at 4:25 pm, Sunset is at 5:14 pm, golden hour ends at 5:35 pm and the blue hour ends at 5:47 pm.

6:00 pm

Dinner time!

The day's end finds us retreating to the haven of Milford Sound Lodge, a moment to regroup and reflect on the day's bounty.

8:30 pm

As night unfurls its canvas, we may choose to return to the shore. If the stars align, we'll capture the cosmic tales woven above—Milford Sound, our silent sentinel, and the cosmos our timeless muse.

10:00 pm

The final curtain falls, and we bid adieu to a day of heights and depths. In the hush of night, we rest, minds adrift in the dreamscape of today's captures, hearts yearning for the morrow's light.

Photographic Pills:

  • Dawn ascent with a scenic flight over the formidable Mt. Aspiring, capturing the grandeur of its snow-capped peaks from above.
  • The journey to Te Anau, seizing the dynamic landscapes that unfold along the way, including the serene reflections at Mirror Lakes.
  • Golden hour, Sunset and blue hour at Milford Sound.
  • Optional night photography session, if weather permits, showcasing star trails and the Milky Way over Milford Sound.

Day 8. Monday, June 10th - The Secret

I’ve been giving you lots of details of this amazing expedition to New Zealand.

Maybe far too many...

But on June 10th we’ll do something very special...

What will that be?

Well, you'll have to be there, with us, to figure it out :P

Day 9. Tuesday, June 11th - Fjordland’s Wonders

7:00 am

Wake up!

The day starts early to seize the serene ambiance of Milford Sound at sunrise. The morning light is promising for capturing the landscape’s awakening.

7:35 am

A short drive takes us to the perfect sunrise spot. The low tide at 8:00 am will expose unique patterns and textures on the foreshore for us to capture.

As the blue hour sets in, we’ll be ready at our location, cameras in hand, to capture the tranquil pre-dawn light.

The golden hour light will paint the landscape, offering us a chance to capture the dramatic illumination of the peaks.

The main event as the sun crests the horizon, highlighting the grandeur of the fiord. A wide-angle lens is essential, but a telephoto can capture the detail of the sunlit peaks.

With the soft golden light receding, we'll finish our sunrise session, aiming to have captured the Milford Sound in its morning glory.

Blue hour begins at 7:54 am, golden hour begins at 8:07 am, Sunrise is at 8:28 am, and the golden hour ends at 9:17 am.

9:30 am

We'll drive back for a well-deserved breakfast, then pack up and check out from the hotel.

10:30 am

Next, we embark on a scenic drive towards Marian Cascades in Fiordland National Park, preparing for a different kind of nature photography.

11:10 am

A brisk walk to the cascades followed by time spent photographing the dynamic falls and lush forest. Long exposure shots will be the focus here.

1:15 pm

We'll walk back to the bus and commence our journey towards Te Anau for a late lunch and any last-minute supplies.

3:30 pm

The journey to Queenstown will be filled with stunning landscapes, providing ample opportunity for spontaneous photography, especially as golden hour approaches.

4:20 pm

We’ll be on the lookout for the perfect sunset spot to capture the changing sky.

We aim to find a picturesque location to capture the sunset before continuing on to Queenstown.

And as twilight fades, we’ll complete our journey and check into our Queenstown hotel.

Golden hour begins at 4:20 pm, Sunset is at 5:09 pm, golden hour ends at 5:30 pm and the blue hour ends at 5:43 pm.

7:00 pm

After a full day, we’ll enjoy a well deserved dinner.

8:30 pm

For the brave ones... We offer you an optional session for capturing stars over Lake Wakatipu, conveniently located within walking distance from the hotel.

10:00 pm

Bed time!

Rest is essential, as we prepare for the adventures of the following day.

Photographic Pills:

  • Blue hour, Sunrise and golden hour at Milford Sound.
  • Long exposure photography at Marian Cascades.
  • Golden hour, Sunset and blue hour en route to Queenstown.
  • Optional night sky photography session over Lake Wakatipu.

Day 10. Wednesday, June 12th - Mount Cook

6:45 am

Wake up! Today we’ll photograph the majestic Mount Cook.

7:10 am

Early breakfast and check out.

Our journey north begins with a short drive to the tranquil Moke Lake, a hidden gem known for its reflective waters and peaceful surroundings.

In the ethereal pre-dawn light, the world takes on a cool, serene hue, providing a moment of calm before the day truly begins.

As the golden hour dawns, we await the sun's rays to cast their golden glow, promising a spectacular play of light against cloud and lake.

The sun peeks over the horizon, the sky alight with colors as the reflections dance upon Moke Lake—a symphony of light and shadow, inviting a flurry of shutter clicks.

Blue hour begins at 7:47 am, golden hour begins at 8:00 am, Sunrise is at 8:21 am, and the golden hour ends at 9:09 am.

9:15 am

We leave behind the lake's allure for a scenic drive towards Twizel, punctuated by brief stops, each an opportunity to capture the heart-stopping beauty of the landscapes we traverse.

12:30 pm

A midday pause in Twizel allows us to refuel before continuing our photographic odyssey.

Twizel is a picturesque town located in the heart of the Mackenzie Basin. It was established in 1968 to house construction workers for the Upper Waitaki Hydroelectric Scheme.

1:00 pm

The path to the Hooker Lake carpark marks the beginning of our trek towards one of New Zealand’s most awe-inspiring views.

Our walk is as much a part of the experience as the destination itself, with the trail offering its own array of photo-worthy moments.

Including the stops for photos, it’ll take us about 2h to reach the hidden lake. The hike’s difficulty is easy-moderate.

4:00 pm

Insert your image here

And we arrive at Hooker lake...

The view of Mount Cook here is stunning, we're so close to it that we feel we can touch it.

As the golden hour once again graces us, we stand in the presence of Mount Cook’s grandeur, mirrored in the icy waters of the lake—a photographer’s dream.

Golden hour begins at 4:21 pm, Sunset is at 5:08 pm, golden hour ends at 5:28 pm and the blue hour ends at 5:41 pm.

5:45 pm

The fading light guides us back to our starting point, the memory of the day’s final light still fresh in our minds.

7:00 pm

We settle into the comforts of Mt Cook Lodge.

7:30 pm

Over dinner, we share stories, comparing captures, and basking in the camaraderie that only a shared passion can forge.

8:30 pm

Under the clear skies, we venture out once more to immortalise the Milky Way over the nocturnal landscapes, our lenses pointed towards infinity.

10:00 pm

Bed time!

Photographic Pills:

  • Blue hour, Sunrise and golden hour at Moke Lake.
  • The journey to Hooker Lake presents an epic montage of rugged terrains and alpine vistas.
  • Golden hour, Sunset and blue hour at Hooker Lake by Mount Cook.
  • Milky Way and Star trails near the hotel.

Day 11. Thursday, June 13th - The Tasman

6:15 am

Wake up!

Light waits for no one!

6:40 am

We take a short drive to Tasman Lake's carpark, where our walk to the lake begins. The path unwinds for 40 minutes, leading us to the day's first photographic location.

In the tranquil blue hour, a serene light lays the groundwork for the morning's first shots.

The world warms with the golden hour's onset, preparing us for the sunrise's captivating dance of light.

Tasman Lake greets us with its crystalline morning beauty. The icebergs and peaks are bathed in gold, offering perfect scenes to capture through our lenses, with the added allure of ice crystals as a foreground.

As the golden light retreats, we pack our gear and return to the carpark, carrying with us the captured morning light.

Blue hour begins at 7:38 am, golden hour begins at 7:50 am, Sunrise is at 8:10 am, and the golden hour ends at 8:57 am.

Insert your image here

10:30 am

Breakfast at The Hermitage where we’ll enjoy a delicious meal and even better views.

11:30 am

Second photo editing class. Marco and Daniel will show you their workflow to create such stunning landscape images.

1:30 pm

Lunch time!

A moment to unwind and savor local flavors before the afternoon's excursions.

2:30 pm

Choose your adventure: the rewarding Kea Point walk or the scenic drive to Peter's Lookout, both promising exquisite views and photographic opportunities.

4:20 pm

As the day wanes, golden light returns to grace the landscapes.

Whether by Mueller Lake's tranquil waters or the majestic vistas of Lake Pukaki, Mount Cook's backlit silhouette during sunset is an experience beyond words.

Golden hour begins at 4:20 pm, Sunset is at 5:08 pm, golden hour ends at 5:28 pm and the blue hour ends at 5:41 pm.

7:30 pm

Dinner time!

8:30 pm

We revisit yesterday's venture, seeking the perfect shot of the Milky Way, this time perhaps over a gently flowing river.

10:00 pm

Time to go to bed!

Rest well my friends.

Photographic Pills:

  • Blue hour, golden hour and Sunrise at Tasman Lake.
  • Golden hour, Sunset and blue hour at Kea Point's reflective waters or Peter's Lookout with panoramic views.
  • Star trails and vertical Milky Way over a nearby river.

Day 12. Friday, June 14th - The Church and the Lake

5:15 am

Wake up! We’re going back to Hooker Lake for Sunrise. Hoorey!

5:45 am

We depart under the veil of twilight, embarking on a pilgrimage back to the ethereal Hooker Lake.

The trail calls for an early start, but promises unparalleled rewards – a symphony of light and landscape that awaits us at dawn.

It takes us 90 min to hike there.

As we reach our destination, the blue hour sets the scene – a tranquil prelude to the day's natural concert, with the alpenglow waiting in the wings.

The golden hour dawns, its golden light casting a hallowed glow on Hooker Lake. It's an encore to yesterday's performance, equally stirring and profound, as the sun bathes the peaks in a gentle radiance.

Sunrise at Hooker Lake is akin to a symphony's crescendo, with light and shadow dancing in harmony. The peaks and glaciers serve as the choir, the lake's reflection as the orchestra, and the rising Sun as the conductor.

Blue hour begins at 7:38 am, golden hour begins at 7:51 am, Sunrise is at 8:11 am, and the golden hour ends at 8:58 am.

9:00 am

With our hearts and cameras full, we retrace our steps, leaving the serenity of the lake to commune with our thoughts and the gentle hum of the awakening day.

11:00 am

A hearty brunch at the Hermitage Hotel allows us to gather our energy and share our morning's triumphs, recounting tales of the dawn with zest.

12:30 pm

Our convoy sets forth to Lake Tekapo, with the journey punctuated by photographic interludes that capture the heart of the South Island's landscapes – a visual feast of blues and greens, framed by the distant mountains.

Lake Alexandrina will surely be one of our tops :)

5:00 pm

As the day wanes, we find ourselves at the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd.

Here, the last light of day sets the scene for a stunning photographic opportunity, with the stone edifice standing sentinel by the shores of the turquoise Lake Tekapo and the snow-capped mountains behind.

Golden hour begins at 4:18 pm, Sunset is at 5:05 pm, golden hour ends at 5:26 pm and the blue hour ends at 5:39 pm.

6:30 pm

Delicious dinner to comfort our souls.

8:30 pm

As night descends, the sky becomes a canvas for the stars, and we prepare for the nocturnal ballet of the Milky Way. Positioned ideally by the lake, the Church offers a historical foreground to the cosmic spectacle.

Photographic Pills:

  • Blue hour, Sunrise and golden hour at Hooker Lake.
  • Journeying to Lake Tekapo, with each stop offering new perspectives and compositions.
  • Golden hour, Sunset and blue hour at Lake Tekapo and the Church of the Good Shepherd.
  • Milky Way with the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd.

Day 13. Saturday, June 15th - The Farewell

Insert your image here

6:30 am

Our adventure begins with the break of dawn. As we rub sleep from our eyes, the day promises a grand finale – a flight that will soar over the majestic Mount Cook.

7:00 am

We make our way to Tekapo Airfield, the excitement palpable. The scenic flight's exact time is to be confirmed, but anticipation fills the air as we imagine the bird's-eye views of Aoraki that await us.

As the blue hour commences, we find ourselves in a state of serenity, the prelude to the sun’s morning performance, casting a cool glow that heralds the new day.

The golden hour begins, and whether we are aloft among the peaks or grounded by the church, the light that washes over the landscape is soft, warm, and utterly transformative.

We witness the sunrise, a daily rebirth, its golden beams piercing the sky, igniting the heavens, and bathing the land in hues of hope and splendor.

Blue hour begins at 7:38 am, golden hour begins at 7:51 am, Sunrise is at 8:11 am, and the golden hour ends at 8:58 am.

Insert your image here

10:00 am

After the morning scenic flight a leisurely breakfast provides a moment of communion with our companions.

11:30 am

The road to Christchurch Airport beckons, our convoy winding through the landscapes that have become familiar, each mile a step closer to the journey's end.

2:30 pm

At Christchurch Airport, the time has come to part ways. With bags packed and cameras laden with irreplaceable images, we say our goodbyes.

Until next time, farewell!

Photographic Pills:

  • Morning scenic flight to etch the grandeur of Mount Cook
  • The tranquil beauty of Lake Tekapo, a silent witness to our parting shots.

Book now and save €500 (Only 1 Spot Left)

To book your spot to join the expedition to New Zealand at a reduced price of €9,000 (the official price is €9,500), a €3000 deposit is required by Sunday March 3rd.

Payment in full is required by April 7th, 2024.

Please, finalize your booking as soon as possible. The seats are sold on a first come, first served basis.


What’s included in the price
  • PhotoPills Welcome pack.
  • A 13-day expedition photographing New Zealand South Island’s most iconic features along with the winter’s Golden Light and the Milky Way.
  • 13 days of learning, fun and adventure with Marco Grassi and Daniel Murray (PhotoPills Masters) and the funniest geek community – the PhotoPillers.
  • Full immersion in the PhotoPills method (Imagine.Plan.Shoot!).
  • 12 nights of lodging, sharing a double room with another PhotoPiller (Optional single room supplement upon availability).
  • All breakfasts at the hotels.
  • All activities on the Secret day.
  • 1 scenic flight over Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.
  • 1 scenic flight over Mount Aspiring.
  • Ground transportation during the expedition.
What’s not included
  • Flights/transport to Christchurch, New Zealand.
  • Medical and travel insurance coverage (strongly recommended).
  • Breakfasts out of the hotels.
  • Lunch & dinner.
  • Snacks, alcohol and beverages.
  • Visa.
  • Anything not mentioned in the “included” list.

Do you want an example of how huge this will be?

This is a glimpse to what happened in the 2016 PhotoPills Expedition to Iceland. We had so many adventures and so much fun... We can’t wait for New Zealand!

But you don’t have to take our word for granted. Here’s what some PhotoPillers say about the PhotoPills adventures:

“I went to Iceland expecting to have the opportunity to photograph the marvelous landscape and master nightscapes. What I encountered was so much more – 14 kindred souls from across the globe who share a passion for photography. Together we expanded our creative boundaries, learned from one another and had an insane amount of fun in the process. I am confident that everyone came away from the experience a better photographer.”

“From the very moment the guys from PhotoPills announced the expedition to Iceland... I didn’t think it twice! I was using PhotoPills but not at its full capacity, so I had no better chance to learn from the creators of this amazing app. The experience was even more amazing than anything I could have imagined. In Iceland, I discovered a bunch of folks as crazy about photography as I am. I had a blast!

Photography is a continuous learning process, you always find something new that motivates you to improve. And this adventure made me improve more than I could imagine.”

"The PhotoPills guys know how to create a fantastic experience. They bring an infectiously fun energy and are always willing to drop some handy photography knowledge on you that you will take with you. You take their trip and you'll for sure have a good time, get some amazing pics and leave a better photographer."

“During my experience in Iceland I lived wonderful moments and had surprises that were beyond the expected. It completely exceeded my initial expectations! Sharing knowledge, experiences and ways of working and living photography with such a great group has been one of the most enriching life experiences I have ever had.

Who he said that learning and knowledge sharing can not be wonderfully fun?”

“I can't say enough about what a fantastic time I had during the PhotoPills Iceland photo tour! The guys from PhotoPills and Donal Boyd were so knowledgeable, accommodating, and especially lots of fun. Never a dull moment – nonstop action and shooting of amazing landscapes for 10 days. I came away with enough images and memories to last a lifetime!”


What’s the temperature in New Zealand in June?

It’s winter and it’s going to be cold.

The average temperature is between 5ºC (41ºF) and -4ºC (24ºF). The peaks will be covered in a white blanket of snow, creating a dramatic winter scenery.

It’s key to wear different layers of clothing (base, middle and shell layers) to be able to adapt to any temperature change, snow and rain.

What do you recommend I bring along for the expedition?

Your sense of adventure and fun, your camera and your sense of humor, of course.

Besides that? When you book your seat, we’ll send you an Information Package that will give you further details and suggestions about what to bring (gear, clothing, etc.).

Is travel insurance included in the price of the expedition?

No. Participants are suggested to purchase national or international medical and travel insurance coverage.

Also, we recommend you to choose a travel insurance that:

  • Covers trip cancellation costs.
  • Covers Covid-19 health, travel and cancellation costs.

What is the cancellation policy?

We hope you don’t need to cancel your spot, but if a situation arises where you don’t have a choice, our cancellation policy is the following.

If you cancel and the expedition is otherwise filled, we'll refund you the full booking fee you have paid, minus a €300 administrative fee.

If you cancel and the expedition doesn’t fill, then you’ll be refunded according to the following schedule, based on the full fee of the expedition:

  • 61 days or more before the expedition: 100% refund, minus the deposit payment and the non-refundable costs that are withheld by our travel partners.
  • 60 days or less before the expedition: No refunds will be given.

Refunds will be paid using the same original method of payment.

Credits: Cover image by Daniel Murray.

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