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10 Photogenic Places In New Zealand’s North Island You Have To See

The famous round door of a Hobbit home in the Hobbiton movie set tour in New Zealand

There are simply too many beautiful places in New Zealand to fit into just one post. I recently covered the South Island and it seems only fair to pay a visit to the North! Here are a handful of the most photogenic places in New Zealand’s North Island you have to see on your next trip.

Reasons To Visit The North Island Of New Zealand

The North Island of New Zealand is known for a volcanic landscape and gorgeous coastline, Hobbiton and vibrant cities, cultural heritage and modern innovation. Basically, there’s a lot to love about this part of the country, and undoubtedly plenty more reasons to visit the North Island of New Zealand!

I’ll admit to being a little biased towards the South Island of New Zealand. But, I can’t deny that the North Island has SO much to offer. From the quirkiest little capital in Wellington to the juxtaposed city and tropical beach life in Auckland – you can have your pick of awesome places to visit. And best of all, they’re pretty darn gorgeous.

Just a few of those reasons can be well-documented to inspire and showcase the North Island’s virtues through photography. So, following my post highlighting some beautiful photos of New Zealand’s South Island, here are some photogenic places to visit on New Zealand’s North Island that you must see!

Mountain at sunrise overlooking grassy plains

Top Tips For Taking Photos In New Zealand

Before we kick off with some of the most photogenic places in New Zealand’s North island, here are a few tips for capturing New Zealand at its best while you’re taking your photos.

  • don’t forget to charge your camera. There’s nothing worse than realising halfway up to the viewpoint that you’re running low on battery!
  • Be sure to keep a spare SD card just in case you run out of storage. Similarly, you don’t want to be attempting your perfect shot just when you discover there’s no more room to store them.
  • Choose the time of day wisely if you want to capture a certain atmosphere. I truly believe that all of New Zealand is photogenic in whatever conditions and daylight, but if you’re trying to get a certain vibe from your photo it’s recommended to avoid taking photos in the harshest daylight hours (around midday or when the sun is highest). Instead, aim for golden or blue hour. These are the times of day around sunrise and sunset where it’s all lovely and glowy.

bright sunset over lake in Taupo

  • Don’t be put off by poor weather. NZ skies are unpredictable, but that’s ok! Just because there are massive clouds in the landscape, don’t worry about it or abandon your shoot. Adjust your settings accordingly to allow the right exposure and white balance. Remember, you can always work on an image through editing too. Embrace the raw atmosphere of the location – drizzle and all!
  • Check your camera settings. You don’t want to get overexposed or blurry landscapes! There’s nothing worse than thinking you’ve shot  a winner when actually the focus is just all wrong. Take your time, take plenty of different shots, and make sure you check your photos before you leave!
  • Take as many photos as possible, you might capture something you least expect. Play around with angles, settings, and even props to find your most creative shots. It’s a great way to try new styles out and see what you enjoy most and find aesthetically pleasing. And where better than somewhere as gorgeous as New Zealand to have a play around?

10 Photogenic Places In New Zealand’s North Island

1. Hobbiton

Yellow hobbit house door in Hobbiton NZ

I’ll admit. I am a MASSIVE Lord of the Rings nerd. Visiting Hobbiton is like Disneyland for me! And for a shutterbug, it’s up there as one of the most photogenic places in New Zealand’s North Island! With the cute hobbit homes, quaint Shire countryside, and of course the Green Dragon Pub there is SO much to capture!

Top Photo Tip: Ask your guide to snap some photos with you in them! Visiting such an important and awesome location absolutely deserves having the proof you were really there. There are plenty of points of interest and moment to pause and photograph THE place where such iconic scenes were filmed. Be sure to keep snapping along the way but don’t forget to enjoy the moment too!

gate and door to hobbit house in Hobbiton NZ

2. Tongariro National Park

Tongariro Alpine Crossing at sunrise overlooking volcano

Tongariro National Park is one of the most breathtaking parks in the country. The 19km Tongariro Alpine Crossing is easily one of the best walks to do on your visit. Such diverse landscapes surely make it one of the most photogenic places in New Zealand’s North Island! From the towering heights of Mount Ngauruhoe (AKA Mount Doom!) to the Emerald Lakes, there are so many awesome photo opportunities along the track!

Top Photo Tip: Prepare for changeable weather on your visit. What may start as blue skies may quickly become overcast and stormy. That means settings will need to be adjusted frequently to accommodate changing light. Keep an eye out and be sure to bring protective covers for yourselves and your equipment!

3. Te Mata Peak

View over rolling hills from volcanic summit

Along the Hawke’s Bay region there are plenty of spots to photograph this beautiful part of the North Island. Te Mata Peak is a prime example of just that, with sweeping views over rolling hills. Take a hike or drive to the top and bask in the feeling of standing on top of the world!

Top Photo Tip: Consider the time of day you visit to be sure your photos won’t become overexposed or subject to harsh light. Golden hour is the ideal time as the sun is lower and softer. This will give you the dreamy landscapes that are so appealing!

4. Napier

black sand beach and waves on sunny day

Napier is one of my personal favourite photogenic places in New Zealand’s North Island. With an unforgettably unique Art Deco-inspired vibe throughout the city, there are surely a fair few photos waiting to be taken. Head over the pier for views of the coastline where black sands meet crashing blue waves. It’s a really spectacular sight!

Top Photo Tip: You won’t be short of cool photos to take in Napier! If you’re looking to escape the city life and get a more rustic scene, head to one of the many nearby wineries. Not only can you sample the tipples, but the earthy tones make for a different perspective of Napier.

5. Coromandel

cove looking through to beach and large rocks

One of the most photogenic places in New Zealand’s North Island is without a doubt Coromandel. Cathedral Cove alone is a picturesque spot where photography fans flock to capture the magic. As impressive as it sounds, Cathedral Cove has dramatic waves wash through the rocks, making for quite the scene for a beach shoot.

Top Photo Tip: Be patient with the crowds as this can be a busy spot for tourists. You might need to wait a while to snap a moment without other people in the shot! If you want to avoid crowds altogether, head to the cove outside peak times of day and year (such as winter – it’s still just as gorgeous!).

6. Auckland

City view of Auckland from volcano summit

The country’s largest city of Auckland is not without its own brilliant photogenic spots. From the 360 Sky Tower views to the luscious greenery of the Auckland Domain there are some fabulous ways to see the city from a distance.

A particularly special spot that’s well worth a visit on a trip to New Zealand is Mount Eden Summit. Sat just on the outskirt suburbs of Auckland, the volcanic crater is a dramatic foreground to the cityscape. Being outside the CBD is a chance to take in the open space and see more to the city than the skyscrapers which is always a perk for travel and photography!

Top Photo Tip: For something a bit different, try a timelapse of the sunrise or sunset from Mount Eden Summit or Auckland Domain. These higher viewpoints will show a changing landscape as the day progresses, and make for both beautiful photos and a cool video!

7. Taupo

blue waters and waves at waterfall in New Zealand

There is plenty to do in Taupo – an outstanding beauty in the heart of the North Island which is 100% deserving of a visit. Home to Lake Taupo, the largest lake by surface area in NZ, there are tons of awesome ways to enjoy the outdoors and take beautiful photos during your stay! If you’re sticking around the lake, then sunset is the perfect time to settle in for a truly magical photo opportunity.

Visit the thunderous crashing waters of Huka Falls for some seriously great photos in the North Island! With waters bluer than you’ve ever seen, visitors can choose to take the short track around the waterfall or enjoy an exhilarating boat trip right up to the falls. Feel the spray on your skin as you soak up this amazing feat of nature.

Top Photo Tip: Play around with your camera settings to capture the milky smooth flowing waters of Huka Falls from a slower shutter speed. Or see what other tricks can give you the most unique shots from this spot in Taupo! Likewise with the sunset, see what makes the colours really pop by adjusting your light settings to bring out the best of the skies.

8. Rotorua

green plants in calm fresh spring water

Sure, Rotorua is famed for the geothermal geysers and Maori cultural presence, but there is so much more! Waters clearer than glass are but a dream, right? Not in New Zealand they’re not! Head to Hamurana Springs on the northern edge of Lake Rotorua for a really unique spot that is well off the usual tourist trails. It’s actually the deepest natural fresh water spring on the North Island. So if that isn’t a real to take a dive in these cooling, still waters what is?

Top Photo Tip: Make the most of the clear waters by bringing a GoPro or underwater camera to get under the surface! Show a different side to the spring with shots of the greenery beneath, or get creative with artistic over-under photos.


9. Wellington

City views of Wellington from tree lined view point

The coolest capital city of Wellington is a vibrant mix of culture, history, and nature. This metropolitan destination is one of the most photogenic places in New Zealand’s North Island thanks to its variety of sights alone! The waterfront is one of my favourite spots, where statues, art, neatly maintained gardens, and views over the harbour make for awesome urban photos.

Top Photo Tip: Get some elevation to your photos by heading to Mount Victoria for views over the harbour. Alternatively, visit Wellington Cable Car for a different vantage point of the city.

10. 90 Mile Beach

still waters on beach at sunset in New Zealand

At the top of the North Island is a stretch of uninterrupted, idyllic coastline. 90 Mile Beach feels far from the rest of the world, and is a wonderful place to take beachy photos!

Top Photo Tip: Head to the beach for a golden sunset over the waters. There’s not much that can beat such an outstanding view of nature! Simply sit back, and enjoy the wonders of Earth while your camera captures the memories for you.


Now you know the most photogenic places in New Zealand’s North Island, time to get out there and starting capturing nature’s awesomeness!

I hope you’ll agree that these photogenic places in New Zealand’s North Island are worthy of capturing on your next trip!


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  • Reply
    Clazz - An Orcadian Abroad
    08/01/2019 at 8:23 pm

    Awww I want to go back! I can’t believe I missed Cathedral Cove. That view from Te Mata looks stunning too!!

    • Reply
      08/02/2019 at 7:13 am

      It’s the kind of country one could return to over and over! ah that just means you HAVE to go back! So much to explore and so little time, right?!

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