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James Kay


New Zealand's Southern Alps   August 20-31, 2019



"Thank you for an awesome, mind-altering New Zealand adventure. As always, it was with the now-expected excellence that the two of you bring to your craft. The group was wonderful; the learning exceptional; the lodging and meals over the top. You are, without a doubt, the best of the best of photography workshop planners, instructors, and hosts. Again; thank you for a lifetime of memories, images, and just flat-out fun!"  Fred Kraut - Salt Lake City, UT  See all testimonials


This adventure is the flip side of our New Zealand workshop in February (summer) where we travel the breadth of the South Island for the ultimate photographic experience. For this shorter, 11-day excursion, we'll concentrate our efforts exploring and photographing the most awe-inspiring mountains within the Southern Alps when they're illuminated with beautiful low-angle winter light and blanketed with fresh, sparkling snow. Winter in New Zealand - with its relatively mild temperatures - is a magical time of year and also the best time for astrophotography with the Milky Way Galaxy filling the sky. We've timed this trip to coincide with the last quarter and new moons for ideal astrophoto conditions. We'll spend 4 of our 11 nights in the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, the largest such reserve in the world where we'll photograph glistening snow-covered peaks during the day and again at night under brilliant, star-filled skies. Just like our February workshop, this all-inclusive tour includes spectacular lodging - perfectly situated for the most breathtaking views of the Southern Alps - and exceptional meals at some of New Zealand's finest restaurants plus 2 private, customized helicopter flights for extraordinary aerial photography opportunities. We'll travel with an intimate group of 8 guests and we'll maximize our time in the field capturing images in a wide diversity of awe-inspiring locations.   READ MORE


$10,500.00 - Single Occupancy 
$9,575.00 - Double Occupancy (Only one bed per room in 2 of our lodges.)
What's included: 11 nights accommodations, all meals, ground transportation, plus 2 private customized helicopter flights (see details below) for aerial photography over the most dramatic portions of the Southern Alps.
What's Not Included: Airline flights to and from Christchurch, New Zealand; alcoholic beverages.
Add your name to the wait list using the above button. Please email us if you have an interest in this workshop for 2020. We'll add your name to the advance-notice list to receive an email before we post it on our site next year.  Cancellation Policy    Spouse/Partner Policy


Dates: August 20-31, 2019

Maximum number of participants: 8

Accommodations: Included in the price. For information on each of our lodges, click this link: Accommodations  We've reserved the most desirable rooms in 4 of New Zealand's finest hotels & lodges; all 4+ Star properties based on New Zealand's 1-5 Star Qualmark Rating System. One of our intimate lodges only has one king bed per room so the double-occupancy discount would only be available for two people sharing one bed.

Excursions: Included in the price.  2 private, customized 1-hour helicopter flights with snow/glacier landings in Mount Cook & Mount Aspiring National Parks. Based on countless helicopter flights throughout the Southern Alps over the last 30 years, Jim has designed the ultimate flight paths and timing of the light to maximize our photo opportunities.
Meals: Included in the price. New Zealand has a wonderful variety of excellent restaurants and we'll enjoy meals at some of the best. We will handle all meal reservations and we'll dine together as a group. Alcohol is not included and will be the responsibility of each guest.
Ground Transportation: Included in the price of this workshop. You are responsible for your travel arrangements to Christchurch Airport on New Zealand's South Island. During the workshop, we will use 3 comfortable SUVs to travel around the South Island.
Photography Skill Level: Novice to advanced - Jim will work with each participant based on his/her individual skill level.
Physical Difficulty: EASY  While this is one of our easiest workshops where we'll have easy, short walks from our vehicles to the vast majority of our photography locations; we'll also have 2 easy/moderate hikes of 3 miles each. Each participant will need to be in good physical condition.


About Jim     Our Philosophy/What You'll Learn      FAQ      Customer Testimonials 




We'll meet at our hotel in Christchurch for one night before departing for our adventure into the heart of the Southern Alps where we'll base ourselves for 4 nights at the Hermitage Lodge, with its stunning views of Mount Cook in the heart of the park; and 3 nights each in the towns of Wanaka and Queenstown, the gateway communities for Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks. These are the core regions in the Alps with the most  spectacular mountain scenery.


Mount Cook National Park
Surrounded by stupendous mountains and glistening glaciers, we'll spend 3+ days exploring and photographing some of the most magnificent mountain scenery in the world. We'll spend 4 nights at the Hermitage Hotel in the heart of the park in their Premium Rooms with their jaw-dropping views of Aoraki/Mount Cook. Whether you prefer the more recent name of "Mount Cook" or the original Maori name of "Aoraki" this 12,218-ft glacier-wrapped peak will take your breath away as it towers more than 10,000' above us. Once you see these mountains, you'll understand why Sir Edmund Hillary used this area as a training ground for his accent of Mount Everest. We'll capture first and last light as it illuminates the highest summits in the core of the park as well as brilliant star-filled skies at night. Mount Cook NP is located in the heart of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, the largest such reserve on earth and the only one in the southern hemisphere. With virtually zero light pollution and crystal clean air at this time of year, the views of the Milky Way Galaxy will simply take your breath away. During our 3 days in the field, we'll take one easy/moderate hike of 3 miles round trip, plus a variety of other short walks to our photo locations. One of the highlights of our time here will be a private, customized, 1-hour helicopter flight with tandem helicopters through the heart of the most stupendous mountains in the Southern Alps. From his many years of experience with aerial photography in New Zealand, Jim has designed the ultimate flight path to maximize our photography potential as we fly past tumbling glaciers, towering ice cliffs, and soaring ice-clad peaks. Halfway through the flight, we'll land on the surface of a glacier, shut down the engines, and jump out of our tandem helicopters to photograph the ice-covered mountains surrounding us. After that, we'll jump back into our tandem helicopters for more aerial photography as we fly the entire length of New Zealand's longest glacier.  
Queenstown Region (Fiordland & Mount Aspiring National Parks)
With the jagged crest of the Remarkables Range as a backdrop, Queenstown serves as a gateway to both the southern portion of Mount Aspiring National Park and the eastern section of Fiordland N.P. Located on the shoreline of 60-mile long glacier-carved Lake Wakatipu on a narrow strip of land at the base of the mountains, you'll understand why Queenstown has become one of New Zealand's most desirable destinations. During our 3-night stay here, we'll spend 3 days exploring and photographing the stunning mountains, turquoise rivers, and deep glacier-carved valleys of both Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks, at the headwaters of the lake. We'll also venture out after dark to capture star-filled skies above the snow-covered Southern Alps. This area was one of the primary filming locations for Lord of the Rings due to its other-worldly landscapes. In the evenings, we'll return to our very comfortable one-bedroom suites in our lodge at the water's edge with their tremendous sweeping views across Lake Wakatipu. Accessing our photo locations here will involve very easy short walks.

Wanaka (Mount Aspiring National Park)
Serving as the gateway to the central and northern portion of Mount Aspiring National Park and located along the shores of its magnificent, 25-mile long, namesake lake; the small village of Wanaka still possesses the same wonderful, sublime charm we discovered during our first visit over 30 years ago. One of the highlights of our 3-night stay here will be a breathtaking 1-hour private helicopter flight into the heart of Mount Aspiring National Park. Based on his years photographing this region from the air, Jim has designed a unique customized flight path to maximize our photography potential. Part of this flight will involve a snow landing high on a remote mountain with one of the most spectacular views in the park. Our pilots will shut down the engines of our tandem helicopters so we may enjoy the serenity of this location as we photograph the sea of ice-covered peaks around us.  Once back on the ground, we'll spend 3 full days photographing glaciated peaks in the heart of the park during the day and star-filled skies at night. At the end of each day, we'll return to our one-bedroom suites in our lodge; the only accommodation in Wanaka located directly on the shore of the lake. Accessing our photo locations here will involve several easy hikes.


"Thank you for a memorable adventure!! It was beyond my wildest expectations! It was a wonderful trip; certainly one of the very best I have ever had. You and Susie do such a wonderful job in making every aspect of a photo workshop a winner! I know it takes months of planning to make such a complicated itinerary a success. Your personal attention to details is so much appreciated. I cannot think of one item to improve the workhop. It is not surprising that all your workshops fill up so quickly. You two are great!!!"  Dr. Carl Kjeldsberg - Salt Lake City, UT

"I want to thank you for planning and executing the ultimate workshop! I can’t think of a better way to see and photograph New Zealand than being a part of a small and very nimble group of like-minded people led by two individuals who truly know the country. Whether it was shooting locations, wineries, accommodations, great places to eat or knowing the history and geology, you know New Zealand as well as you do Utah. The accommodations and the cuisine were off the charts and the aircraft and boat rides really made the trip special. The quality of everything we experienced was top notch but what really impressed me most about this workshop was that it was such a great value. Here's a link to my images: " John Morrison - San Diego, CA
"Many thanks guys. What you accomplished was nothing short of magnificent. Your hard work and dedication to excellence and detail was obvious. I cannot imagine that any other photo excursion could come close to what you gave heartfelt thanks!"  Dr. Murray Robertson - Edmontal, AB
"Thanks for two glorious weeks in New Zealand. Even though this was your inaugural NZ workshop, it felt like you've done it many times before. The photo locations, the lodging, and the adventure was unmatched. You guys offer so much more than a typical workshop; you make us all feel like family, much appreciated and well looked after. Secondly, your expertise and familiarity with New Zealand is unmatched for US-based tour providers. Thanks to all your trips to New Zealand over the years, you certainly know "The Land of the Long White Cloud". You made the workshop feel like a family vacation. Taking great photos in spectacular locations is certainly a plus, but being able to tour, enjoy great food and lodging, learn new things and do it with like-minded and adventurous people makes this workshop one not to be missed. Thank you both!"  David Benson - Denver, CO
"The New Zealand exploration was my best workshop ever! An epic voyage through a fascinating and picturesque world with the best guides on the planet! Many thanks for a marvelous trip - best one yet!"  Paul Kaufmann - San Diego, CA
"Thank you for the best workshop ever! You are wonderful guides, and even better people, and your commitment to creating a great experience for us was evident throughout the trip.  We will be looking at your other workshops, and plan on signing up for at least a couple more next year. I'm afraid you haven't seen the last of the Pigotts!"  Paul Pigott - Seattle, WA
"Thanks for an incredible time in New Zealand!! I really do not have any word but unfathomable!!! Thank you for creating an amazing experience for the tribe!!"  Lynda Holman - Marietta, GA
"Thinking back to all our adventure trips in the last 17 years, I recognized one central element in which your trip differed fundamentally from every other trip: Every single element of this trip to New Zealand was determined and overseen by the two of you, no one else.  In every other trip experience, the trip leader was an important element of the trip, but only ONE element; (many) other people were responsible for the many parts of the trip.  You two OWNED this trip!!  What a positive difference that made to us."  Michael & Linda Roberts - Darnestown, MD
"I looked at my photos and was amazed at how well they turned out. So in addition to having a fun trip filled with new adventures and friendships, I have a renewed passion for photography. Thank you again for making it all possible!"  Claire Benson - Denver, CO
"We had a fantastic time! It was such a fun group of people, and, of course, the scenery was amazing. Enjoy the rest of your time in New Zealand. We hope to see you again soon!"  Molly Forstall - San Francisco, CA
"I just wanted to thank you again for an awesome New Zealand workshop. As always, it was with the now-expected excellence that the two of you bring to your craft. The group was wonderful, the learning exceptional, the lodging and meals over the top. This trip was not about removing an item from a photographer's bucket list, it wiped out the entire bucket list in one trip! You are without a doubt, the best of the best photography workshop planners, instructors, and hosts. Again, thank you for a mind-altering 3 weeks of friendship and photography and a lifetime of images, memories, and just flat-out fun!"  Fred Kraut - Salt Lake City, UT

Jim is a regular contributor to Outdoor Photographer Magazine and has served as one of their professional advisors for more than 25 years. His work has been featured in the Nikon Legends Collection and his photographs have been published in a wide variety of magazines including Nikon World; Los Angeles Times; Arizona Highways; Sunset; National Geographic Adventure; and Time. A short list of his commercial clients would include The New Zealand Tourism Board; VF Corp; American Express; Sundance Institute; Nikon USA; Visa; and The Nature Conservancy. His landscape photographs have been displayed in the Utah Museum of Art & History; the Natural History Museum of Utah; and in the US Capitol Rotunda in an exhibit advocating wilderness protection for Utah's Colorado Plateau region. His recent book, Resurrection Glen Canyon, published by Mountaineers Books, showcases his ongoing project to document the legendary canyons of Glen Canyon as they have emerged from the waters of Lake Powell due to the ongoing drought in the American Southwest. See his full biography.








Photographer James Kay hosts photography workshops on South Island New Zealand. Join us for this photography workshop where we will photograph New Zealand's six premier National Parks: Mount Cook National Park, Fiordland National Park, Abel Tasman National Park, Mount Aspiring National Park, Westland National Park, Paparoa National Park, plus Milford Sound, Wanaka, Queenstown, and the Kaikoura Peninsula. This photography workshop in New Zealand is open to photographers of all skill levels.