My wife and I spent ten amazing days on a trip through New Zealand’s South Island, exploring its huge variety of landscapes: beautiful mountain ranges, lakes, waterfalls, and magnificent coastline. After visiting, I see why the filmmakers chose this location to film the “Lord of the Rings” movies. Here is a taste of what we experienced:

Lake Wakatipu
Lake Wakatipu, one of our first stops after leaving Queenstown, is almost 50 miles long and surrounded by mountains.
Routeburn Track
First day of hiking on the Routeburn Track.
Routeburn Track river
The Routeburn has rushing rivers and lush vegetation.
Nugget Point
One of the most stunning coastline scenes in the South Island, Nugget Point.
Parakanui Falls
This is Parakanui Falls. I positioned myself as low as possible on the rocks in front of this waterfall to take this shot. The light that day was perfect to accent the trees and water below the falls.
Florence Bay
The magnificent coastline of Florence Bay on the Catlins Coast.
Tahakopa Lagoon
Tahakopa Lagoon
sheep traffic jam
There are roughly 25 million sheep in New Zealand. This is probably the only rush hour traffic you will experience on the South Island!
Curio Bay
We came to Curio Bay in the evening and I was lucky enough to see this spectacular sunset. The surf was rough and I got wet taking this photo standing on the rocks…but it was so beautiful that I really didn’t care!
Rakiura Track
We took a small plane over to Stewart Island and here we hiked the Rakiura Track.
This New Zealand bird is called the Keruru. He was high up in the trees when I saw him, but I was able to get a good shot with a 200-500mm lens. This is one of many lovely birds we came across in New Zealand.
Queenstown from plane
Our last view of the South Island as we flew out of Queenstown, on our way back home to the USA.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this photo introduction to New Zealand’s amazing beauty. Many thanks to our guide, Peter Bersani, for a truly wonderful trip!

-Photos and text by 6-time WT adventurer Norm Vexler, New Zealand: Off the Beaten Path

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