10 Photos That Will Make You Want to Explore New Zealand Right Now© @xploringwithjoey
10 Photos That Will Make You Want to Explore New Zealand Right Now

10 Photos That Will Make You Want to Explore New Zealand Right Now

© @xploringwithjoey
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
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A New Zealand Photo Story

Isolated in the lower depths of the South Pacific, New Zealand is a once-in-a-lifetime destination for many. But for Australian photographer, Joey Harb, it’s just across the pond. It’s an advantage that Joey has made the most of time and time and, literally, time again; he’s been to Aotearoa three times and a fourth trip is in the works (with the help of NZPocketGuide.com, of cours).

Joey can hardly be blamed for exploring New Zealand over and over again, especially with the breathtaking photos captured of volcanoes, raging waterfalls and Hobbit Holes. Seriously, check out his New Zealand photo story below, which was taken over the span of three years. Additionally, head over to his Instagram, @xploringwithjoey, for more New Zealand inspiration.

1. December 19 – Hobbiton

The Hobbiton Movie Set in the rolling North Island hills of Matamata is often the first major stop for Lord of the Rings fans in New Zealand. It was a destination that Joey wasted no time getting to.

“December 19 2017 is the day I lived my Hobbit fantasies, ” says Joey. “Taking the bus from Rotorua’s main office to the film set was super exciting for me and the inner fangirl was in overdrive.

“After two hours of wandering The Shire, a refreshing drink and pork pie in the Green Dragon pub and sitting by the fire pretending I was a lost brother of Bilbo or Frodo was the perfect way to end the experience.”

Joey© @xploringwithjoey

2. December 21 – Tongariro Crossing

“The day started well for me at least at 5.30am on December 21 2017; an early wake up in preparation for what turned out to be one of the greatest days of my life and my favourite hike of all time,” says Joey.

“As a fan of The Lord of the Rings, my inner fangirl was kicking in as I was journeying through Mordor and got a peek and a feel of Mt Doom. The 6-9 hour hike turned into an all-day affair for me doing 11 hours of hard labour (or brilliant exploring depending on your fitness level and perspective) due to me taking my sweet time and taking one too many photos along the way – and maybe several selfies.

“Overlooking the Red Crater thinking how beautiful this world and nature is, I was thanking the Lord for his creations and feeling blessed to even be able to hike on this particular day, as the previous two days it was advertised not to attempt the crossing due to extreme heavy winds deemed dangerous.”

Get tips for tackling the Tongariro Crossing in The Guide to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

Joey© @xploringwithjoey

3. January 14 – Arthur’s Pass

Three years later, Joey was back in New Zealand, this time to explore the South Island and the glorious landscapes of the Arthur’s Pass National Park.

“I guess learning about what braided rivers are has made me feel a fair bit more knowledgeable and insightful,” says Joey. “Wow, this place was brilliant to drive through on the way to Fox Glacier. I mean 360-views of amazingness, what can I say? I’m in heaven. This was an opportunity for me to try out some of my new filter gear for the first time and was pleasantly surprised with what was captured on January 14.”

Joey© @xploringwithjoey

4. January 14 – Hokitika

“January 14 on the road to Fox Glacier saw me stop and have some lunch at Hokitika, a beautiful wild West Coast beach on the South Island. I kinda swapped the ‘having lunch’ part for some delicious gelatos, as it was a pretty warm summer day and, in my opinion, was a better option at the time. I mean mango and rockmelons gelato with a beachside view; how could I go wrong?!”

Aside from licking gelatos, check out more experiences in the area with the 10 Best Things to Do in Hokitika.

Joey© @xploringwithjoey

5. January 16 – Ben Lomond

“It was an early start on January 16 2020 to prepare for Queenstown‘s best hike and my personal second favourite behind the Tongariro Crossing.

“On this hike, I decided to come out all guns blazing and bring along all my camera and gear to capture the best photos possible and boy what beautiful shots I ended up capturing. The day was amazing; you couldn’t get any better than the sunshine and clear skies I got.

“Reaching the saddle, I decided to take a break and actually have a nap for 25 minutes as a form of a timeout, as I had had a slightly late night the night before and my fitness levels have dropped in recent years. After that, I was refreshed and brand new to continue the ascent to the peak. The 6-8 hour hike took me 10 hours to complete due to my take-my-time approach.”

Need more tips for hiking Ben Lomond for getting epic photos? Check out the 10 Best Walks in Queenstown.

Joey© @xploringwithjoey

6. January 17 – Milford Sound

Milford Sound is a bucket list item for many travellers exploring the South Island. An amazing way to see the glacier-carved fiords to their fullest is on a scenic cruise, which is how Joey achieved his dramatic shot of one of the fiord’s many waterfalls.

“January 17 2020 was my third time visiting a true wonder of this world and getting them Middle-earth and Jurassic Park vibes, not to mention the smell of the fresh air of the sounds.

“It is said a splash from one of the many waterfalls would reduce your age and get you feeling seven years younger. Well, I’m not too sure if it’s accurate but it was brilliantly refreshing, that’s for sure. Oh, and yes, I got completely soaked #makingmemories.”

Joey© @xploringwithjoey

7. January 19 – Lindis Pass

“January 19 2020 had me heading to Lake Ohau. On the journey, I stopped at Lindis Pass and found a cute lookout that was irresistible. I mean, I’ve never really gotten to take photos of roaring hills and winding roads in one shot, so I guess it was destiny and, wow, just wow. Brilliant photos were captured. It is definitely one of the top five drives of New Zealand.”

What are the other top drives in New Zealand? Check out the 10 Most Beautiful Roads in New Zealand.

Joey© @xploringwithjoey

8. January 29 – Huka Falls

January three years previously had Joey continuing to explore the highlights of the North Island. One such destination happened to be New Zealand’s most visited natural attraction, Huka Falls just outside of the town of Taupo.

“On January 29 2017, going to Huka Falls made me just stand there admiring. I mean, I kinda wanted to jump in for a swim since it was a decently warm day but the ferociousness of the water hurting and or injuring made and the idea grow less.”

Joey© @xploringwithjoey

9. February 2 – Queenstown

“On February 2 2017, I took the Skyline Gondola, costing me 45 bucks from memory, which included some rides of The Luge. It was super fun pretending to race randoms and pushing myself to go the fastest speed possible was super satisfying – a must for anyone hanging around Queenstown. I then went for a stroll to see multiple lookout points of what I can safely say is my favourite place in the world, the gorgeous Queenstown. I stood there thinking: ‘Yeah, I gotta live here. I just gotta’.”

Joey© @xploringwithjoey

10. February 3 – Mirror Lakes

Finally, Joey’s photo story of New Zealand concludes with one of the most intriguing natural wonders found along the Milford Sound Road from Te Anau.

Mirror Lakes in Fiordland National Park was actually the first time I’d seen reflections of the surrounding mountains in so much detail and, boy, it was beautiful and a photographer’s dream to get that effect going. I’ve been to this location three times before and, honestly, the first time was probably better, as the next two times were overcast rainy days which basically kills the vibe and views.”

Joey© @xploringwithjoey

More Inspirational Photos of New Zealand

That’s it for Joey’s New Zealand photo story. For more New Zealand photos from Joey, check out his Instagram, @xploringwithjoey. Otherwise, you might like to discover more photography from New Zealand in the following articles:


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Laura S.

This article has been reviewed and published by Laura, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Laura is a first-class honours journalism graduate and a travel journalist with expertise in New Zealand and South Pacific tourism for over 10 years. She also runs travel guides for five of the top destinations in the South Pacific and is the co-host of over 250 episodes of the NZ Travel Show on YouTube.

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