Queenstown Photography – 11 BEST Places to Take Photos
Queenstown is a beautiful town with stunning surroundings making it the perfect place to take amazing photos! I know this because I actually lived in Queenstown and loved it!
However, knowing exactly where to take the best photos for someone who doesn’t have much time can be difficult. Luckily though I’m going to share with you the 11 best places to enjoy some Queenstown Photography.
It’s going to include some obvious places but also some off the beaten path spots that only a local would know!
11 Best Places to Take Photos in Queenstown
1. Lake Wakatipu
Lake Wakatipu is probably the most popular Queenstown photography location on this list. Queenstown itself sits on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and its impossible to miss the lake during a visit to Queenstown.
This is because it’s so easy to access and so large there are so many amazing places for great photography!
With so many stunning mountain Peaks in the background, it isn’t hard to see why Lake Wakatipu is so popular and so photographed!
There are a few great spots on Lake Wakatipu that make for the ideal Instagram shot. Some of the best ones include:
- 7 Mile Delta Track Carpark
- On a Lake Wakatipu Scenic Cruise
- On the Queenstown jetty
- Corner of Wakatipu Heights and Hensmen Road
- Up the Remarkables Mountain Range
For an even better shot though doing a little hiking will go a long way. Some of the best hikes in Queenstown for views of Lake Wakatipu include Queenstown Hill Walk, the Ben Lomond Summit Track, the Fernhill Loop and the Mt Crichton Loop Track.
Regardless of what viewpoints you visit or which hikes you do, one thing is for sure, while in Queenstown, you are bound to get a photo of Lake Wakatipu – it’s essentially Queenstown’s’ backdrop!
2. Queenstown Hill Walk
Queenstown Hill is the large hill right in Queenstown. Hiking to the top of Queenstown Hill is a popular activity for both locals and tourists alike. The view from the top of Queenstown Hill is just spectacular!
Along this trail, there are many opportunities to get amazing photos of Queenstown. However, the best are at the viewpoint at the top of Queenstown Hill.
From here you can not only photograph Queenstown itself but also Lake Wakatipu, The Remarkables, Frankton, Ben Lomond, and many other mountain Peaks.
From the top, you get a 360-degree view of the area and can point and shoot in any direction!
This amazing photography opportunity does come at a price though. Don’t be fooled by the word “hill”, Queenstown Hill Walk is a challenging hike. It takes about an hour and it is straight-up the entire way. By the time you get to the top, you might be too sweaty to actually be in your photo!
If you plan on hiking Queenstown Hill make sure to wear good shoes and bring lots of water. The trails are clearly marked and easy to follow. The hike is accessible right from Queenstown town center and can be found on Google Maps.
3. Moke Lake
Moke Lake is most famous for the mirror-like reflection the lake creates. At Moke Lake on a calm day, the mountains that lie around the lake are reflected perfectly off the water’s edge.
If you’re after an even better place to shoot then you’ll need to hike up to the Moke Lake viewpoint. This viewpoint is only known to locals and is not signposted, however, I have a secret Moke Lake viewpoint blog post to help visitors find the trail.
When the sun sets Moke Lake also becomes a very popular spot among astrophotographers. Because of the mountains that surround Moke Lake, the area is completely free of light pollution. This makes the stars really stand out and its a very good spot to watch the Aurora in Queenstown.
Moke Lake is about a 30-minute drive from Queenstown town center and you will need access to a vehicle to get there. The majority of the drive is along a gravel road that is 4wd only during winter months however I drive it all year round with a Toyota Hiace van with no problems.
4. The Road Between Queenstown and Glenorchy
The Queenstown to Glenorchy road is said to be one of the most beautiful scenic drives in New Zealand. To be honest, I agree! There are literally hundreds of spots along this road to pull over and take amazing photos.
As you drive out you will pass plenty of small pull over bays and carparks that offer stunning views. You can head out here at sunset, sunrise or even at night to get some awesome shots. My favorite place to take Astro shots is along this road at one of the pullover bays at around the halfway mark at Bennett’s Bluff Lookout.
The road between Queenston to Glenorchy is 45km long and takes around 1 hour to drive without stopping. If you truly want the freedom to shoot this area you will need your own car to get there.
If you don’t have transport there are lots of tours that drive this road including this half-day scenic tour and this Lord of the Rings Tour which goes to Glenorchy. I’ve personally done this tour and loved it!
5. The Crown Range
The Crown Range is New Zealand’s highest main highway. It climbs up the mountains around Queenstown and then heads off to Wanaka. Just as you reach the highest point of the crown range there is a pullover bay and it is here you get the stunning views of Queenstown and the surrounding area.
This was the first place I ever took a photo from when I arrived in Queenstown with all my belongings from Auckland. If you have the time and love photography or just amazing views make the trip up to the Crown Range and enjoy a sunset up there!
From Queenstown, the top of the Crown Range is around an hour’s drive. In winter you must check weather conditions before leaving as the Crown Range often closes during snowfall.
Glenorchy is nicknamed the “gateway to paradise” and it only takes one trip there to see why. This small town of only 200+ people is located on the doorstep of both Fiordland National Park and Mt Aspiring National Park arguably two of New Zealand’s most popular national parks.
From the local jetty to the outer attractions such as the Routeburn track there is so much to explore. However one of my favorite places is the Mirror Lakes.
These small swamp-like lakes are the perfect place to catch the reflection of the impressive Humbolt Mountains. To get to the lakes head to the Glenorchy Lagoon walkway just outside of town towards the Routeburn track.
Other than the Mirror Lakes there are plenty of other unique spots along the lake’s edge and in the surrounding mountains just waiting to be explored!
As mentioned above Glenorchy takes around an hour to reach from Queenstown by car. However this photography mission should be paired with the drive out and will likely take most of the day if you’re a keen photographer,
7. Skyline Gondola / Bob’s Peak
This Queenstown photography location is likely the most iconic and it’s plastered over thousands of postcards throughout New Zealand. The famous shot from the Skyline building at the top of the gondola is a shot that should be on everyone’s Queenstown photography bucket list.
The best time to take photos here is at sunrise, however, the only problem is the gondola doesn’t open that early. Luckily there is another way up but you have to walk.
The Tiki Trail the track that winds its way up through the forest towards Bob’s Peak. This hike takes around an hour to complete and the path is reasonably well maintained. With that said there are a few sections that could be dangerous in the dark so be sure to take a flashlight if you hike up for sunrise.
If hiking up is not your thing then consider going up for a sunrise shoot! You can book your Queenstown Gondola Ticket here in advance.
8. The Remarkables
The Remarkables Mountain Range is famous for being the subject of stunning photos but did you know these mountains also provide the best vantage point? Using the access road to the Remarkables Ski Field you can get yourself high above Queenstown and get a very unique view of the area.
If your feeling even more adventurous then park your car and start hiking one of the many trails within the ski field. These hikes include the famous Lake Alta hike.
Of course, during Queenstown’s winter, you will need snowshoes and will have to dodge the thousands of skiers and snowboarders but in summer this area is actually very peaceful!
From Queenstown, it takes around 45 minutes to reach the top carpark of the Remarkables. In winter it is recommended you carry snow chains.
9. Ben Lomond Summit or Saddle
For those who like to hike, Ben Lomond is a treat. It is an incredible hike with 360-degree views you can’t even imagine until you are there for yourself.
The hike to the summit takes around 7 hours from Queenstown however you can shorten that by taking the Gondola up to Bob’s Peak. From Bobs Peak, the summit is only around 5 hours return instead of 7 which makes this rather challenging hike more manageable with lots of camera gear!
If the summit still seems too much then you can always just hike to the saddle. From the top of the gondola, the saddle is only a few hours return and the views are still breathtaking.
This is one of the most beautiful hikes in Queenstown and therefore is common to see on Instagram! In the winter, it isn’t always possible to hike to the summit as it can get very icy and dangerous, but in the summer, this hike is a great way to spend a day.
10. Jacks Point Golf Course Lake
This is a very random spot I found one day while out looking for new places to shoot. I stumbled across it after seeing the golf course had a lake and just had to see what kind of views I could get from it. In the end, what I found was one of the most breathtaking reflections I have ever shot.
To find this place just drive out the Jacks Point Golf Course and walk around the lake. It won’t be hard to find this exact spot by looking for the pyramid looking mountain pictured below.
The one problem with this spot is the area is under major development and is changing rapidly. The last time I was there you could still access the lake and I think it will stay that way, but who knows.
I also recommend wearing hiking boots or old shoes as the area seems to be much muddier since construction started nearby!
11. Lake Hayes
Last on our list of Queenstown Photography locations is another stunning lake called Lake Hayes. Lake Hayes is around a 20-minute drive from Queenstown and is a beautiful place to both visit, and photograph.
Around the lake, there is a walkway and from here you can explore all different parts of the lake looking for the composition you’re after. A hot tip is to find the Lake Hayes Jetty, it is somewhere around the lake but I unfortunately never got time to find or photograph it!
If you don’t have a car then you can get the bus to lake Hayes. You can find out how in this Queenstown bus journey planner.
If you like taking photos then Queenstown is a great place to visit! While these 11 Queenstown photography locations I have listed above your guaranteed to get some awesome shots.
The beautiful places to explore in and around Queenstown are literally endless! The best thing to do is to explore for yourself and make finding the perfect Instagram photo an adventure all on its own!
If you plan on traveling New Zealand then be sure to check out our New Zealand page. It includes lots of our top articles and laid out to make planning your trip so much easyer! Or for a much more specific search check out our Queenstown page.
November 9, 2019