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New Zealand’s South Island is known for its epic views and oh-so-photogenic mountains. When visiting, I couldn’t help but want to take photos of everything.
To help my fellow travelers who love taking photos, I’ve put together this guide to the most Instagrammable spots on New Zealand’s South Island.
Psst: don’t worry if you don’t have the time to visit all these places.
New Zealand is so beautiful there are photogenic places everywhere!
So here are my favorite Instagram-worthy spots in New Zealand’s South Island:
1. Mueller Hut, Aoraki / Mt. Cook National Park
Mueller Hut has to be my favorite place I visited in New Zealand. This hut has oh-so-amazing views of Aoraki / Mt Cook and is 100% worth the loooong hike.
If you’d like to visit Mueller Hut, make sure you check out my guide to hiking up to Mueller Hut here.
2. Lake Tekapo, Tekapo
Known for its aqua-blue water, Lake Tekapo is especially famous for the lupin flowers that bloom in the spring by the lake. If you’re visiting during other times of the year, it’s also worth driving up to Mt John Observatory (or hiking up) for the beautiful views of the lake.
This photo was taken at the Earth & Sky Astro Cafe, which is located at the Mt John Observatory.
3. Lake Pukaki
Another aqua blue lake, Lake Pukaki is a great place to stop when you’re driving on the way from Mt Cook to Wanaka. This Lake is especially famous because on a clear day you can also see Aoraki / Mt Cook in the distance.
Want to include Lake Pukaki in your South Island itinerary? I’ve got a 10-day New Zealand South Island itinerary which will help you do that! It includes picturesque locations (just like this one), driving time and suggestions on places to stay.
4. Hooker Valley Track, Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park
If you’re not an experienced hiker, or you don’t fancy an overnight hike, the Hooker Valley Track is the most popular day hike in Mt Cook and a great alternative to more difficult hikes (like Mueller Hut!).
This hike is known for the iconic boardwalk leading to the mountains, making it one of New Zealand’s most photographed spots.
5. #thatwanakatree, Wanaka
I’m not going to lie, I actually avoided #thatwanakatree when in Wanaka. Part of me didn’t understand what the big deal was (I mean, it’s a tree!)
But part of me has a little regret because gee, this is an incredibly photogenic tree!
2020 Update: unfortunately, someone has cut off a significant part of #thatwanakatree and it isn’t looking quite the same as before. The tree, however, is still there and I still recommend visiting the place that has captured many photographer’s hearts!
6. Roy’s Peak, Wanaka
Did you really go to Wanaka if you didn’t hike to Roy’s Peak?
This hike is a super popular day hike in New Zealand, all because of that view from Roy’s Peak. If you’re a keen hiker and don’t mind the early morning wake up, I’d recommend hiking up for sunrise.
Psst: wondering where the photo at the top of this post was taken? At Roy’s Peak in Wanaka!
The crowds are smaller (though these days it can still get busy for sunrise!) and you get to see Roy’s Peak during Golden Hour (which honestly – is so magical!)
Note: The Roy’s Peak track is closed for lambing season every year from 1st October – 10th November.
7. Isthmus Peak, Wanaka
If you’re after an alternative to Roy’s Peak or Roy’s Peak is closed, Isthmus Peak is a great alternative.
The views are just as epic and grand, minus the crowds of tourists!
Note: Isthmus Peak is closed for fawning from 20th November – 20th December.
8. Milford Sound, Fiordland
I’m not going to lie, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Milford Sound.
I have one word for you…
But honestly, this place is so beautiful, you can ignore the fact that there are sandflies, for views like this…
9. Queenstown Hill, Queenstown
The Queenstown Hill walk is shorter than many of the South Island’s walks, but despite this, you’re offered amazing views of Queenstown and the surrounding lake.
Want more suggestions on photographic spots in Queenstown? Make sure you check out my guide to Instagrammable spots in Queenstown!
10. Onsen Hot Pools, Queenstown
The Onsen Hot Pools are a must for those wanting to get that Instagram shot.
If you’re planning on visiting, make sure you book in advance, especially if you want to shoot around sunset.
11. Glenorchy Wharf, Glenorchy
Glenorchy makes a great day trip from Queenstown, and these views from Glenorchy don’t disappoint. The area does get pretty busy during peak season, especially with tour groups, but is worth the visit.
12. Franz Josef Glacier or Fox Glacier, Fiordland
While Glaciers aren’t necessarily known for being “instagrammable” places, I’ve included Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers because they’re glaciers.
I haven’t quite figured out the trick to shooting on ice, but when do you get to stand on a glacier?
Almost never my friends!
13. Lindis Pass Viewpoint
Lindis Pass Viewpoint is a great place to stop if you’re driving around Wanaka / Queenstown area. We were driving from Aoraki / Mt Cook to Wanaka when we stopped here.
14. Bob’s Peak / Skyline Gondola, Queenstown
Another incredible place in Queenstown is Bob’s Peak. You can hike up here, or take the Gondola up! Once up here enjoy the incredible views over Queenstown, or you can partake in any of the activities up here (like bungee jumping!)
15. Mt Iron, Wanaka
Mt Iron is my favorite short walk in Wanaka, and for good reason! This walk may be short, but it provides incredible views over Wanaka. Here are some photos I snapped on a overcast and rainy day in Wanaka…
16. Nugget Point, Catlins Coast
The Catlins Coast is one incredible road trip along the south-east of New Zealand’s South Island.
My favorite spot along the Catlins was Nugget point.
It was a bit windy, but the Nugget Point Lighthouse is a short paved walk from the carpark.
17. Hot Tubs Omarama, Omarama
Yes, my second Hot Tub / Onsen recommendation in this blog post!
The town of Omarama is a 1.5 hr drive from Wanaka and is a cute town to stop at if you’re heading further east.
My favorite place in Omarama? Hot Tubs Omarama!
Even though I was solo road tripping, it was still fun to rent a Hot Tub here and relax my muscles after days of hiking.
So there you have it, my suggestions for Instagrammable places on New Zealand’s South Island!
New Zealand is so beautiful, I could have just written “all of New Zealand” and called it a day!
Regardless of where you go, you’ll find a beautiful spot or place even if it isn’t on this list!
Happy photographing my friends!
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