Photo Tours

West Coast Spectacle

Where: West Coast of the South Island in New Zealand - 10 days - ALL INCLUSIVE

When: 26 APRIL 2021 - 06 May 2021

18 SEPTEMBER 2021 - 27 SEPTEMBER 2021

21 SEPTEMBER 2022 - 30 SEPTEMBER 2022

Price: NZ$8,270,- per person, based on twin share occupancy

single occupancy surcharge - NZ$900,-

Group Size: max 6 (min 2 participants)

Deposit: NZ$1,000,-

RESERVATION FORM: download pdf

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Department of Conservation Approved


New Zealand has very unique location on planet. It is situated in the middle of Pacific Ocean on so called “Ring of Fire”, exposed to all weather patterns oceans can throw at it and thanks to its undisturbed seclusion for millions of years, a natural, scenic wonderland had a chance to form. New Zealand has become a destination with perhaps some of the most diverse, wild and colourful landscapes on Earth. Quite possibly for this reasons, it is a dream destination – once in a lifetime experience for many people.

West Coast of the South Island in particular is an absolute heaven for any landscape photographer, offering such a remarkable diversity on so small piece of land, which is unparalleled in the World.

In total, New Zealand has 13 National Parks. 3 are up in the North Island, 1 is in Rakiura/Stewart Island and 9 NP are on the mainland/the South Island. Out of these 9 NP of the South Island, we are going to shoot in 4 of them, each presenting us with its specific beauty which is briefly outlayed below.

Kahurangi National Park – coastal, rivers, rainforest, Nikau Palms, limestone arches

Paparoa National Park – coastal, rivers, limestone, Nikau Palms

Westland National Park – coastal, rainforest, mountains, glaciers, lakes, rivers, lagoons

Mt. Aspiring National Park – rivers, streams, waterfalls, alpine, lakes, lagoons, bogs

There will be other Reserves of special significance in which we may shoot.

Wild and remote coastal scenes, limestone formations and blowholes, Nikau palms, lagoons, dense, juicy green rainforests give way to tussocky alpine heights. Snowy mountains and glaciers, valleys filled with pristine, wild rivers and streams, prehistoric lakes, bogs and swamps, waterfalls and much more; all these breathtaking locations awaits participants of Petr Hlavacek's photographic tour – 600km of the West Coast Spectacle.

All these breathtaking locations awaits participants of Petr Hlavacek's photographic tours.

To reserve your place in tour, a completed Reservation Form, and a non-refundable deposit is required at time of your booking.

For more informations and bookings, please read our Terms and Conditions before you make your reservations.

Please see or download a full itinerary of our tour in this spectacular part of New Zealand below:

Itinerary [PDF version]

Your arrival and start of the trip in Christchurch - gateway to the South Island.

Day 1 - Christchurch/Karamea


Start: 8am at specified assembly point in Christchurch

Pick up from assembly point in Christchurch.

After initial meeting, we’ll leave Christchurch at appropriate time toward the northern part of the West Coast to Karamea, our first destination of the tour. We can't afford to loose any time at this stage, as it is going to be a long day on the road. The main briefing outlaying the entire tour will happen in the evening after our arrival in Karamea. Before that though, for the warm up with our cameras and to make some of our first clicks in NZ, we are going to break today's transfer in the middle, in the Lewis Pass, where one of the alpine tramping tracks starts. In the middle of nowhere, we will have an alpine tarn, surrounded by densely cloaked in moss and lichens beech trees for ourselves to get excited about. Depending on our travel progress, we may be able to get in Karamea in time for our first West Coast sunset. If we're too late, there will be one more opportunity for the sunset shoot.

First evening – getting to know each other – itinerary – official start.

Day 2 - Karamea

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today, we jump right into the business full on, as we have a lot to cover. Starting with sunrise shoot at Kohaihai after which we'll return for a breakfast in our motel. It's only about 10 min by car. After breakfast we'll come back to Kohaihai to photograph NZ native, beautiful Nikau Palms. These palms grow in abundance up in the North Island but in the South Island, it is only here in the very northern part of it where they grow, right next to the Tasman Sea. Beside these palms, we'll have stunning brown, tannin stained Kohaihai River at our feet to photograph. We'll be crossing this river over the swingbridge to access the Nikau Palm grove. The lunch will be had outdoors at Kohaihai after which, we'll move into the nearby Oparara Valley to photograph limestone formations and its famous arches, juicy, moss cloaked ancient beech forest mixed with tree ferns and stunning brown, tannin stained Oparara River. We’ll return back to Kohaihai to hike about 40min to the Scott Beach to capture sunset here. We’ll need head torches for our way back, as we’ll be returning in dark.

  • Oparara Rainforest
  • Scotts Beach
  • Nikau Palms

Day 3 - Karamea/Punakaiki

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Our second chance to capture sunset in Kohaihai but today, we don't have a long distance to travel so we can leave Karamea at leisure pace. The aim is to get to Punakaiki in the late afternoon for some magical sunset on the famous Pancake Rocks. On our way to Punakaiki, we'll stop in Tauranga Bay for a nice cup of coffee and lunch in a stylish Bay House Cafe & Restaurant with great views over and with surfers popular bay. Since the bay is all surrounded by large boulders constantly exposed to crashing waves, there are going to be plentiful opportunities to photograph not only the bouldery coastline but also nearby seal colony, calling it home here on these rocks. The viewing distance is approx. 20-30m from an elevated platform. From here, it's only 30min drive to Punakaiki but those 30min will be packed with fantastic corners of the rugged coastline. We should be on our way just after the lunch time so we can make use of these corners to make some great images in the afternoon light. After checking in to Punakaiki Resort, we'll move to our location to make some great images of the famous Pancake Rocks at sunset. The dinner will be in Punakaiki after sunset.

  • Pancake Rocks
  • Punakaiki Coastline
  • Punakaiki Sunset

Day 4 - Punakaiki/Hokitika

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Early start to capture some brilliant skies, as the sun rises on the east coast. Like on the last night's sunset session, ND graduated filters will be a must because lit up skies will contrast with a still in a shadow Pancake Rocks. This morning exercise will take us through for a late-ish breakfast, after which we may further explore the area. The time to move on will be after lunch in Punakaiki, as we'll head off towards Hokitika where we'll spend a night. Before that though, Hokitika Gorge with its turquoise coloured river awaits us for some afternoon shooting before returning back to capture sunset on the beach at the Hokitika River mouth.

  • Punakaiki Coast
  • Hokitika Gorge
  • Hokitika Sunset

Day 5 - Hokitika/Whataroa/Franz Josef Glacier

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

From here on, as we venture further south on our trip, the landscape starts to get more and more dramatic. Our road starts to cut through the dense rainforest at the mountains feet, we will be getting closer and closer to them, crossing wild rivers and streams and driving alongside of the pristine lakes. Should the weather be favorable, snowcapped tops of the Southern Alps will frequently tease us with its gorgeous panoramas.

We'll have an early morning start for the sunrise at Lake Mahinapua, which is only 15min away from Hokitika by car. For a breakfast, we stop in a nearby gold mining town Ross.

  • Lake Mahinapua
  • Lake Ianthe and Road
  • Rainforest Road

After breakfast, we'll head to Whataroa Valley with its beautiful, turquoise coloured waters of Whataroa River. Stunning, open views of the Southern Alps will decorate the background. Open valley may be occupied with grazing live stock, only to add an extra and typical West Coast element to the frame. This, one of the most beautiful valleys on the West Coast is penetrated with side creeks and streams flowing into the bouldery Whataroa River, offering an endless photo opportunities. In Whataroa, weÕll also have a stop in Petr Hlavacek Gallery for viewing. To capture colours of sunset, we'll move to 20min away Okarito Lagoon to hike 30 min up the the lookout with some of the best vistas over the Southern Alps.

  • Alpine Vistas
  • Whataroa River
  • Kahikateas at Lake Wahapo

Day 6 - Franz Josef Glacier/Fox Glacier

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning we'll photograph possible morning fogs at sunrise at nearby Lake Mapourika and after breakfast we’ll hike into the Franz Josef Glacier valley. We’ll head straight for the Sentinel Rock Lookout for some great views of Franz Josef Glacier. Then we’ll explore the Franz Josef Glacier valley before having lunch in town. After lunch, we’ll carry on towards Fox Glacier and Gillespies Beach/Lagoon from where we’ll be photographing magic views of the Southern Alps reflecting in lagoon at sunset. Dinner will be at Lake Matheson Restaurant before spending the night in Fox Glacier.

  • Lake Mapourika
  • Franz Josef Glacier
  • Gillespies Lagoon

Day 7 - Fox Glacier

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

If the weather will be suitable today, we have an option of photographing Fox Glacier itself. If someone doesn't feel comfortable to hike for 2-3 hrs on the ice, there are options to substitute the glacier hike but for those who are keen on hiking on the ice we will arrange this before our arrival to Fox Glacier and I would be part of the group on ice. We could be making some amazing images on one of the most unique glacier in the world, the Fox Glacier. Depending on weather and our preferences, we might opt for a helicopter ride which would take us into icy wonderland of Fox Glacier higher up or just to take a walk through the valley and get on the ice on foot. After glacier experience, we’ll have lunch in town where we’ll discuss our next location. The Glacier Country region is full of magic places and we want to hang around for a bit longer. At this point we have several options which I’d like to leave open and make decisions in accordance with weather. We may photograph Fox River with majestic Southern Alps and Fox Glacier in background or we may explore densely in moss cloaked rainforest before photographing sunset at Lake Matheson.

The night and dinner will be in Fox Glacier.

  • Blue Ice
  • Fox Glacier
  • Lake Matheson

Day 8 - Fox Glacier/Haast

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Before we leave Fox Glacier to deeper south, we can't afford to miss a sunrise at the most photographed lake in NZ – Lake Matheson and its mirror like reflections of NZ highest peaks – Mt. Cook (3.724m) and Mt. Tasman (3.497m). It takes just under 2 hrs to get to Haast from here, therefore, we can enjoy the morning in Fox Glacier, have a breakfast back at Lake Matheson Cafe and photograph some of the best, iconic NZ vistas with magic panoramas of the highest NZ mountains and farmland at your fingertip. Following 2 hrs of drive to Haast are all through an UNESCO World Heritage Area and are fully packed with breathtaking scenery. We'll have a couple of stops in this area; one at Lake Paringa, which is a magic, pre-historic, remote lake surrounded by native white pines – beautiful kahikateas, the tallest NZ trees. Don't be surprised if a dinosaurs taps on your shoulder, that magic it is here...and the second stop will be at Ship Creek with its beautiful white beach and sand dunes covered by sand grass or with some of the best examples of the fantastic, boggy rainforest just like the one from a Jurassic Park. A few more, quick pit stops may be possible between Lake Paringa and Ship Creek along this coastal road. From Ship Creek, it's only a few more minutes to the Haast, where we will spend the night. Our sunset session will be a few minutes away from Haast, at Haast Beach and adjacent small lagoon.

  • Fox Glacier Farming
  • Ship Creek
  • Westland Road

Day 9 - Haast

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Early morning sunrise shoot at Haast River after which we'll have breakfast. Then we'll take a ride along the Haast River towards the Haast Pass. We are going to visit and photograph several waterfalls which are in abundance along this scenic road toward the pass. We'll take a packed lunch with us. We'll be quite away from hotel but we'll get back to it in the afternoon for an early dinner before we move on to our last photo location in Jackson Bay. Here we'll be photographic sunset on a very scenic rocky coastline. Then we'll return back to our hotel for conclusion and closure of the trip.

  • Arawata River
  • Jacksons Bay
  • Thunder Creek Falls

End of the workshop before dinner after return to Haast.

Day 10 - Haast/Christchurch

Breakfast, Lunch

Transfer from last location back to Christchurch.


Petr Hlavacek's tours/workshops are designed to suit broad range of fitness levels. However, some longer walks (2-4 hrs return) over uneven, uphill and rugged terrain may be required on this tour. Therefore, good level of fitness is recommended, as well as the ability to carry your own small back pack with extra clothing, snacks and camera equipment.

Please, discuss this with us if you have any concerns.

Photographers of all skill levels, from beginners to professionals will benefit from our tour.

Beginner needs to have a good working knowledge of their own camera system to benefit the most from this tour.

Professionals will benefit since we take care of the logistics and bring them to the best locations straight away so they can purely concentrate on shooting, rather then waisting time scouting.


All of Peter's tours are designed to make most of the locations and weather the group we'll be presented with.

You will learn variety of creative techniques in field which professionals use to capture most compelling images, including ND Gradual and polarizing filters.

We'll be pre-visualizing images, assessing light conditions, we'll learn how to find a strong composition within a scene to make a photograph speak, whether in a landscape or icescape.

In the evenings, you will learn about photography RAW workflow from capture to output and how to bring the best from the image file in postproduction using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.


Due to New Zealand's location the weather can be extremely changeable. We are not going to be shooting in pouring heavy rain, but it is well possible that some rain will get us on our way to or from the location.

Below are some MUST have items for all our tours:

- camera gear

- tripod and filters

- warm layers of clothing

- hat and gloves

- waterproof clothing (jacket, pants)

- day backpack

- head torch

- sturdy boots (ankle high recommended)

- if possible, laptop with 5 of your favorite photos and loaded with latest version of Lightroom

- great spirit


Due to the geographical location of New Zealand, the weather can be extremely changeable and will play a major role on our tour. For this reasons and other specifics of this tour, this itinerary is fully flexible and subject to change.

We will continually be assessing the weather conditions on daily basis and alter the tour to the benefits of the photography. For instance, should the weather be too bright and sunny for the shoot in a bush, we may change the location and leave the bush for the overcast day if possible. These possible changes will be made by us in the mornings.

Because of the variability in weather, we're also leaving open an option to even change starting point of the tour to its benefits, should the forecasted weather pattern suggest.

Many locations on our tour offer other shooting options, therefore it won't be difficult to come up with alternative location.

Some sunrises are also subject to changes, allowing clients to decide should they be tired but otherwise we will be attempting to photograph during every available sunset and sunrise.

Sessions on RAW workflow, Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop will be inserted into evenings or into time windows when suitable.

What's included:

- 9 nights accommodation

- meals during the tour

- Transportation throughout the tour with pick up and drop off in Christchurch

- Photography tuition and guidance fees

- Goods and Services Tax

- Department of Conservation Fees

- Image reviews

- Session on photography RAW workflow

- Session on image processing - Lightroom and Photoshop workflow

What's NOT included:

- All air or other travel fees to arrive in New Zealand to and from the tour departure point

- All associated taxes, levies and insurances including travel insurance

- Immigration, duty, passport and visa fees where applicable

- Glacier Guide fee and a scenic helicopter flight for the hike on Fox Glacier

- Individual alcoholic beverages during meals

- Optional activities such as helicopter, plane flights, boat rides, kayaks etc.

- Anything not listed in inclusions above

We highly recommend purchasing the travel insurance and insurance of your air ticket in case you will not be able to attend the tour and have to cancel the air ticket.

Bookings and Recommendations

How to make bookings, more info on recommended fitness level and other important informations, please read our Terms and Conditions

Every work of art has its necessity; find out your very own. Ask yourself if you would do it if nobody would ever see it, if you would never be compensated for it, if nobody ever wanted it. If you come to a clear 'yes' in spite of it, then go ahead and don't doubt it anymore.

- Ernst Haas