New Zealand is without a doubt one of the most picturesque places on earth. It is a photographer’s dream land, with incredible landscapes and idyllic vistas from one end of the country to the other.
In today’s social media-driven world, when a simple landscape shot just isn’t enough, a selfie can be the best bet to up your followers, make your mates jealous and add a bit of humour to the average travel diary.
There are classics like the signposts at the farthest point north and deepest south. Dramatic natural landscapes, of which New Zealand has more than its fair share, are an obvious choice but there are also some amazing man-made structures perfect for that distinctive ‘look-at-me’ selfie like New Plymouth’s shiny new Len Lye Centre – New Zealand’s latest architectural wonder – or the irresistible gardens of Hobbiton.
And then, since this is New Zealand, there’s always the chance that you might just find yourself in the right place at the right time to capture a visiting celebrity in your view, just like the crew of the Maori waka canoe who found themselves lining up with Prince Harry a few months ago.
Take a trip through selfie heaven - the opportunities are almost endless but here are the most famous and perhaps most photographed.
Cape Reinga – Northland
At the very tip of the North Island, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea is Cape Reinga. This truly is the last stop on the New Zealand mainland heading north and a magic spot for a selfie. The Cape Reinga lighthouse takes pride of place at the end of the path down to the cape and there’s a handy signpost pointing out how far you are from various locations - a good way to let everyone else know how far away from home you are. Steeped in history, New Zealand’s Far North is very special to the Māori people. A gnarled pohutukawa tree, believed to be over 800 years old, protrudes from the rocky cliff below the cape. The local Māori people believe the spirits of the deceased leap from this tree into the ocean to return to their ancestral homeland of Hawaiki.
Air New Zealand flies to Kerikeri twice a day from Auckland. Cape Reinga is a two and a half hour drive north from Kerikeri. GreatSights operates a day long bus tour from nearby Paihia.
Cathedral Cove – Coromandel Peninsula
Cathedral Cove on the Coromandel Peninsula is one of the most photographed spots in New Zealand. The white sandy beach and naturally formed archway that gives the cove its name deserves the photographic attention it gets. While it’s easy to grab a selfie in the ‘cathedral’ itself, another option is to ditch land and take to the sea with Cathedral Cove Sea Kayak Tours and snap the perfect selfie from the ocean. The crystal clear waters, pohutakawa-fringed cliffs and light bouncing off your pearly whites is sure to attract a number of likes and have everyone wishing they were with you. The Coromandel Peninsula is on the north eastern coast of the North Island and is a popular holiday spot for Kiwis. There are countless bays and beautiful beaches in a region that keeps delivering with the more exploring you do.
Coromandel Peninsula is a 2.5-hour drive from Auckland. Cathedral Cove can be accessed via a short, easy 45-minute walk from Hahei, a small beachside town in the Coromandel.
Hobbiton Movie Set – Waikato
No trip to New Zealand would be complete without a visit to a hobbit hole, and no Instagram feed can do without a selfie from The Shire. The original Hobbiton Movie Set from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movie trilogies remains intact and visitors can create their own Middle-earth adventure. There are endless selfie options at Hobbiton; in front of Bilbo’s famed green door, or looking out from inside a humble hobbit abode. Guided tours tell the tale of how Bag End came to life and finish with an ale at the Green Dragon Inn.
Hobbiton is near Matamata in the Waikato region on the North Island. Matamata is only a 2-hour drive from Auckland or 50-minutes from Hamilton.
Te Puia – Rotorua
Rotorua is New Zealand’s oldest tourism destination and attracts vast numbers of visitors each year who come to immerse themselves in Māori culture and marvel at the geothermal activity. Te Puia, in the Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley, ticks both those boxes. Listed in Lonely Planet’s top 500 places in the world to visit and set on a 60-hectare site, Te Puia is home to the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, a live kiwi enclosure and the world-famous Pohutu Geyser. Pohutu Geyser is selfie gold. Try to focus on your phone and get the snap as the boiling hot waters from below burst to the surface in spectacular fashion. Te Puia is a landscape packed with ancestral history, a tourism guiding legacy that stretches back to the 1800s and a must-see on the New Zealand selfie tour.
Air New Zealand flies to Rotorua twice a day from both Auckland and Wellington Airports. Alternatively, Rotorua is a 3-hour drive from Auckland or 5.5 hours from Wellington.
Len Lye Centre – New Plymouth
Possibly the newest and most visually appealing building in the world right now, The Len Lye Centre’s brilliant design and stainless steel exterior turns any selfie taker into an artist. Use the mirror-like walls to get an original quirky shot for your followers to admire. The centre is New Zealand’s first and only museum of contemporary art and the first institution dedicated to a single artist, the pioneering filmmaker and kinetic sculptor, Len Lye. Set in the coastal city of New Plymouth, overlooked by the majestic Mount Taranaki on the west coast of the North Island, the centre opened to the public on 25 July, 2015.
New Plymouth is located on the western tip of the North Island. It’s a 5-hour drive from Wellington or 4.5 hours from Auckland. Air New Zealand flies direct to New Plymouth from Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland.
The Church of the Good Shepherd – Tekapo
On the shores of Lake Tekapo, in the central South Island, you'll find the Church of the Good Shepherd, where the altar window frames a perfect view of the Southern Alps beyond the glacier-fed lake and its remarkable turquoise waters. The little stone church looks great framed up in a selfie and will have followers scrambling for the like button. Built in 1935 for the pioneer families of the Mackenzie District, it's become a popular year-round photo spot attracting over 100,000 visitors annually. Services and weddings still take place regularly in the church. The small town is picturesque by day and dazzling by night as it is part of an International Dark Sky Reserve.
Tekapo is a 3-hour drive from Christchurch en route to the Southern Alps and Queenstown.
‘#ThatWanakaTree’ – Lake Wanaka
Looking across Lake Wanaka toward the Southern Alps you can’t help but notice the conspicuous lone willow tree emerging from the water. The famous tree known as ‘That Wanaka Tree’ has been shared on social media so often that it has its very own hashtag (#ThatWanakaTree). During the summer and spring months, the graceful branches are laden with leaves, while in winter the bare form somehow amplifies the effect of the snow covered mountains in the background. A testament to its beauty, Lake Wanaka comes in at 94 in Lonely Planet’s top 500 places in the world to visit. Your face is the only thing that’s missing from the perfect shot across the water.
Lake Wanaka is a one-hour drive north from Queenstown, and on the road from Queenstown to the West Coast.
Ben Lomond Summit – Queenstown
Sometimes getting the best selfie takes some effort. Hiking to the summit of Ben Lomond can take up the best part of a day but the reward is worth it. While Queenstown’s many peaks look great from the bottom up, a view from the top is an entirely different experience and bound to stand out on your social media feed. Adventurous selfie takers have two options - you can take the gentler route and grab a scenic ride from town up the Skyline Gondola (4-hour return) or start your hike from downtown Queenstown (6-hour return) which makes a bit of a workout. Panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables mountain range and Mount Earnslaw await you at the top which is 1,748 metres above sea level. Maybe pack a selfie stick for this one, there is just so much landscape to fit in.
Queenstown’s busy airport receives daily flights from all major New Zealand city centres and direct international flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are just three hours.
Milford Sound – Fiordland
Milford Sound is a magnificent fiord cutting into the south-western coast of New Zealand's South Island. It sits within Fiordland National Park which is part of Te Wahipounamu - a UNESCO World Heritage Area. Ranked at 17 in Lonely Planet’s top 500 places in the world to visit, Milford Sound is a must for a selfie, and a shot from the water looking up to Mitre Peak is your best bet for maximum ‘likes’. Real Journeys can take you right into the heart of the sound on one of their scenic cruises and put you in the best position to grab the snap. Rudyard Kipling described Milford Sound as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ and whether it’s teeming with rain, shrouded in mist or glistening in the sun – prepare to be inspired.
Milford Sound is a beautiful 4-hour drive from Queenstown. Alternatively scenic flights and bus tours operate from Queenstown and Lake Te Anau.
Stirling Point, Bluff – Southland
Finishing how you began seems like the perfect tribute on the final stop of the selfie tour. Stirling Point at Bluff is at the opposite extremity of the country but, like northern Cape Reinga, is home to a handy signpost letting your followers know how far you are from home. For the intrepid, it’s also the finish line of New Zealand’s Te Araroa Walkway – a multi-day hiking trail that runs the length of the country. Famous for its oysters, Bluff is the last stop on the South Island mainland before Stewart Island across the Foveaux Strait and the last landmass before Antarctica.
Bluff is a 20-minute drive from Invercargill or 3-hour road trip from Dunedin and Queenstown.