Chasing Photographs (and Adventure) On Location In New Zealand

One thing that never gets old for me is the adventure of location photography. I thrive on the travel and escaping from one’s day-to-day, the challenges that Mother Nature conjures up and deploys on you at a whim, and the camaraderie of a crew – be it large or small – united on a mission in search of a stunning photo or two.

Now combine that “one thing that never gets old” with another – the stunning country that is New Zealand.  This is perhaps the mother of all location shooting – there’s a reason that Peter Jackson chooses this backdrop for all the fantasy films he makes. It looks like a goddamn made up place. One where you’d expect unicorns and rainbows – and that’s basically what you get.

But in truth, it’s mind boggling not just because of the landscape, but also because of the earnest, heartfelt people, the can-do culture, the close proximity of insane geographic diversity, the food, the heritage and..well, so many things.

So in taking those two things together – the adventure of location-based adventure photography, and the stunning location that is NZ – THIS was my privilege last week on my latest photo assignment. And while you’ve seen NZ vids from me before like this one and this other one and others like this in posts from the past, this trip was just a little different

While I confess we had many of the requisite over-the-top accoutrements to our shoot (a few yachts, a helicopter, some strikingly beautiful people and a few characters to match), this trip – now my 10th or 11th to this paradise – marked a heartfelt return to some of NZed’s most classic locations as well as some of my favorite local flavor.

Because this was for a client, I can’t yet unwind the campaign images on you here. But I can share 23 of my fav iPhone snaps from along the road over the past seven days.  Enjoy and hit me with questions or comments – and keep your eyes peeled for more.  I’ll be dropping some videos and such over the coming weeks.

Classic Milford Sound.   We arrived on location just as the sun was setting.  A crushingly epic view of the Fiordlands.   Managed to grab a snap with my phone just a moment before it got dark – hard to take a bad photo in that spot…

Of course we managed a timelapse of those very sexy clouds.  Standby for viewing this footage soon ;)

Location scouting and our chase boat (not Chase boat) with Erik and guide Rosco (aka The Mayor of Milford).

Yours truly + Scott and Erik, bout to board the heli with legendary pilot Jeff Shanks

Just another 150 foot waterfall with backlit mist + spray.

Quick selfie with Kate and Mitre Peak before the sun goes bye bye.

View from our condo in Queenstown.  Those remarkable peaks in the background are The Remarkables.  Photographed here too.

More Remarkables from the lake at another one of our locations.

And another snap from the lake, this one featuring a friend’s yacht….previously owned by none other than Winston Churchill.   Rumor has it the UK government tried to by it from our pal a while back…and he obviously said “nah”.

Right before my sunburn kicked in.  Classic dumbass move – forgot sunscreen.

Need an amazing producer in New Zealand?  Call Phil Turner.  Simply the best I know.  Scott and I trying to simultaneously radio for help AND hug him for the fresh location we found…

One needs lots of coffee when working 16 hour days.  This is a classic NZ cappuccino, but for the record, you know the new rage at Starbucks…the “flat white”?  That’s a kiwi tradition been around for ages.

Queenstown coffee shop hours.

Great food is a must when on the road.  And I’ll be damned if this is not the sexiest burger I’ve seen.  Compliments of Cafe Vudu in Queenstown.

Here’s Scotty getting after a few juices at the newly-opened restaurant at the Sherwood Manor hotel…strong reference from the Ace in both Palm Springs and NYC if you know what I mean.  Beetroot juice in one mug and something hella green in the other.  We often play the game “try to look tough whilst drinking from a straw.”

Juice shot from a helicopter.

Early rise one morning in Queenstown… Must get to our location before sunup.  Always stunning shit happening with the clouds down here.  Unreal.  This is literally #nofilter, just a snapshot from the road before we piled in the car.

The famous Shotover River canyon.  Yes we shot here – with those sick-ass 700hp jet boats.  It was a face-melter.  Just check out the color of that water.

A short jaunt up to Auckland for one last shot we needed to get in the can.   Here we are on the boats, waiting for the weather to clear – which it did.

The world’s best chocolate milk – compliments of NZ photog Brian Foose who tracked us down to say hi and was a big help with some location production needs.

Another gorgeous meal at the Depot on Federal Street in Auckland.  Highly recommended.  The oysters are sublime and the steak is close second.  Have a classic cocktail if you imbibe.


And finally, as seen only in NZ.  The most unusual toilet instructions I’ve seen in quite some time.

Thanks for indulging in these 23 behind-the-scenes shots that aren’t cameras, settings, model posing, and Photoshop.  All that is available in some tutorial somewhere – what’s not is knowing that a great part of being able to make an amazing photo is being an amazing headspace.  Do what you can to get there. and hopefully this helps you understand a little more about that end of things.

Until next time.

Biju says:

Now world-cup is going on there in NZ. Very good photography. Oh I took one of them “The most unusual toilet instructions ” :)

Love um little Brother. Lol. Really you the best!!!

Vikas Patel says:

Guys please support my project. I really appreciate it.

Now I’m just jealous! It’s too cold in La Conner today!

chase jarvis says:

the grass is always greener – take for example that I got a gnarly sunburn on the last day…forgot to apply my sunscreen yo – and paid for it!

faisal says:

New Zealand is your favourite, no?

chase jarvis says:

yes – my favorite for location based outdoor work. simply incredible.

Tim says:

Hi Chase,

Great article and as always brilliant shots! I’m an Australian and can tell you the toilet instruction are required. We have a lot of visitors from our Asian countries that don’t go no. 2 like we do… China for example. We have found in my high school that sitting on the toilet in the above picture can leave a mess! So that’s why…


chase jarvis says:

Ok – we’ll take your word for it ;)

Bluestill says:

NZ is on my bucket list. Thanks for sharing. I am curious to know how you got that photo of the instructions obviously meant for the interior of the ladies room?

chase jarvis says:

HA! lol. it was shared to me by one of our crewmembers ;)

Great pictures as always, and I think anyone who’s ever visited NZ will agree – it never gets old.

My wife and I just happened to stop in NZ for ten days on our way home from a couple of months in Australia, but the moment we got home we immediately started saving up for another trip. Two years later we ended up getting married on a mountaintop outside of Queenstown, and drove around NZ for another two months!

Can’t wait to see more videos and photos from what you describe so well – Paradise!

David says:

Hi Chase, nice picture.. love to visit NZ myself..

I have a question.. these pictures, is they all taken with you phone? and may I ask whick phone you used?

Best regatds David

chase jarvis says:

Yes – all these BTS taken w iphone 6 !!

(30,000 taken w my Nikon D4s)

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