New Zealand provides stunning landscapes in very dark skies locations. For that reason is one of the preferred destinations for landscape astrophotographers around the world.
Finding the right spot can be quite time-consuming, even for locals. For that reason, I created a list of iconic landscape locations for astrophotographers on Google Maps. It is maintained by Skylabs NZ, and it also has contributions from other astrophotographers.
If you want to contribute to this list, please, contact us using the chat available on the current website.
Important notes for NZ tourists
Most probably, you have already been told that New Zealand is known for experiencing four seasons in one day. Weather can change quite quickly. Be ready for that. Consider using several layers of clothes, including a windstopper/waterproof clothes and good waterproof hiking boots.
Make a plan for the composition you want to create. Visiting the location during the daytime will help you to organise your ideas and schedule your astrophotography session at the right time. I highly recommend considering the PhotoPills and the Tides Near Me apps for planning.
Don't forget sunscreen during the daytime and repellent.
Check you have everything before you start your venture into wild New Zealand. Of course, you will need your regular night photography equipment, like a tripod, intervalometer, wide lens, and star tracker (if you are using it), but also the following important gadgets for the New Zealand conditions:
Lens heater. New Zealand can be quite wet. Humidity can condensate on your lenses and degrade the quality of your images.
Silica gel bags to prevent humidity from getting into your gear.
Small camping mat to protect your camera bag and gear from the humidity and mud in some locations.
Some locations require hiring a water taxi or hire a kayak. If you plan to get to those locations, consider getting a dry bag. You can get one from regular places like warehouse, torpedo7, Macpac or Bivouac. Otherwise, a regular waterproof bag will work.
If you are coming from the Nothern Hemisphere, you will find it quite tricky to find the South Celestial Pole. Consider getting one of our polar alignment adapters for your star tracker. You will find more information in this other blog post.
Nothing is more frustrating than coming back home after a long hike and freezing photo session and discovering that all the pictures are out of focus. Therefore, I recommend using our popular Enhanced Bahtinov Mask to ensure a very accurate focus.
New Zealand has very low light pollution, but that is because it is not very populated. Big cities are still very light polluted. Compositions near cities may require a broad spectrum light pollution filter. Consider using a neodymium-based light pollution filter.
Each location contains a short description and important tips. The colours define the difficulty or the fitness level required to get to those locations.
Green: easy (short walk)
Yellow: medium (considerable walk or 4WD required)
Red: hard (tramping or long distance)
I hope it helps. If you want to contribute to this list, please, contact me using the chat available on the right ➟
Good luck and clear skies!