So here's what we did:
(And by saying "here's what we did", I don't claim this to be an ultimate fool-proof travel guide of sorts. This is not a definitive 5-day South Island New Zealand itinerary.)
Day 1: Auckland
Arrive in Auckland late afternoon. Just enough time to take an evening stroll and enjoy a local burger joint (BurgerFuel!). Our trip also coincided with the British and Irish Lions Tour so I had a glimpse of Rugby Fever in Auckland that evening.
Day 2: Christchurch to Lake Tekapo
Early morning flight to Christchurch. They're strict with carry on baggage so here's a lifehack: wear a jacket with pockets big enough for cameras and lenses. *smart ass wink*
Arrive in Christchurch. Pickup the pre-booked rent a car. Not as photogenic as we wanted it to be, hence the lack of exposure for this shoot. Note to self: get a vintage-looking camper van next time.
3-hour drive to Lake Tekapo. In hindsight, we should have taken the more scenic inland drive instead of Highway 1. Took us four hours with occasional shooting stops along Highway 79. Not bad though.
Arrive Lake Tekapo two hours before sunset. Just in time for a golden hour shoot, rack of lamb for dinner and qarah ("right place right time, God-orchestrated") Milky Way shots. The Church of the Good Shepherd's silhouette + dark sky conditions + winter time = astrophoto perfection.
2-hour late night drive from Lake Tekapo to Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park. I slept almost the entire time. Jet lag, just a few hours of sleep the night before and the very cold weather. Arrive midnight, feverish, but excited nevertheless.
Day 3: Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park
4:00AM. More Milky Way shots before sunrise (which was at 7:00AM). This is what we came here for. A quick morning session near our log cabin, followed by a hearty-hefty lunch buffet at The Hermitage Hotel. Hike-cum-shoot to Instagram staple Hooker Valley Track. Leave for Queenstown shortly before sunset, but not after I take my bucket list shot of two people walking down an empty road with Mount Cook's prominent peak in the background. You can do that on your way down 20-minutes from the National Park.
Dinner at quaint Arrowtown, 1 hour shy of Queenstown. Really good artisanal pizza and craft beer (IPA!) at The Fork and Tap to end the day. Late evening at our Queenstown Airbnb. Best. Airbnb. Ever. Watch The Killing Joke on Netflix before hitting the sack.
Day 4: Queenstown - Lake Wanaka
Morning Airbnb shoot. Late lunch drive to Lake Wanaka for “That Wanaka Tree”. Consider spending a night here if you want to shoot at Roys Peak. Back to Queenstown for dinner and a late evening city shoot. (Fergburger! Give 'em a call instead of falling in line. Shake Shack is still better x far.)
Day 5: Auckland
Early morning flight back to Auckland. Enjoy a 12-hour layover - lunch at Depot Eatery, enjoy two local coffee shops - Mojo & Remedy - late afternoon catch up with a friend - before flying back home.
New Zealand Adventure Engagement Session. Charles & Nikki. June 2017. Canterbury - Lake Tekapo - Aoraki / Mount Cook Nationa Park - Lake Wanaka and Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand. Color remastered March 2018.