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A Pictory Guide to New Zealand

I’ll admit it. I’ve never been to New Zealand. But with a little help from some friends, I’ve put together this primer.


Let’s start with some practical tips: kiwis (an acceptable term for New Zealanders) drive on the left side of the road.



We overslept that morning and had to make a three hour drive in two in order to catch a cruise from Milford Sound. Despite our rush, we were overwhelmed by the incredible beauty of the Fiordland National Park. I would have loved to stop and explore! We made it to the cruise in time, but what I’ll always remember is the drive there.

Photographer: Michelle Choy

I’m a photographer and student in Melbourne, Australia.


Rental vans are the cheapest, easiest way to see the country.



When my husband and I decided to quit our jobs and take a 13 month trip around the world, we picked New Zealand as our starting point. Little did we know what a great fit the location would be with our carefree mental states. To me, this is New Zealand: a randomly chosen camp spot for the night, miles of endless coastline, and a moment taken to watch the sun as it dips into the endless horizon.

Photographer: Hope Meng

Hi, I’m Hope Meng, a freelance graphic designer based in San Francisco. Though the majority of a designer’s time is spent behind a screen, I also love looking out at the world from behind a camera’s lens.


Some say New Zealand is the Canada of the Southern hemisphere. (Complete with brutal winters and super polite people.)

Rangitata Sunrise

Rangitata Sunrise

The sun rises on a fresh fallen snow in the Rangitata River Valley, creating a serene break from the barrage of gale force winds that blew every other day. The high country on the south island of New Zealand is known for its steep, rugged terrain, and often violent winds.

Photographer: Tyler Sharp

Tyler Sharp is a photographer, writer, and videographer who is seeking more professional and meaningful work.

The Moment

The Moment

To be honest, I was not happy. I was giving up a summer to work through the winter in New Zealand. It was cold, gray, and not at all what I expected after spending time in neighboring Australia. But I loved the internship and the people, so I stuck it out.

I finally snapped out of the culture shock the day I took this photo outside Queenstown. That was when I let go of my expectations and learned to appreciate the slower pace and natural beauty for what they were.

Photographer: Samantha Smith

I am just a girl figuring out life. Currently living in San Antonio, Texas and dreaming of living everywhere else …


Local pastimes: adding ‘u’s to words and eating fush & chups by the beach.

Heaps As

Heaps As

Mom always raved about her youth in New Zealand, but we didn’t make it out there as a family until after college. Our shabby rental car zig-zagged across both islands over the course of a few weeks. We almost exclusively stayed in what my dad called “beer-tels,” the rooms for rent above the town’s pub. It was a bit rough at times, but my family is close and we made it through.

This photograph is of my brother, messing around on a rope swing we found on the beach near that night’s resting spot.

Photographer: Ian Collins

I live and work in SoMa as a programmer and designer, mostly for web projects.


While they can be quick to belittle their success stories (“tall poppies”), NZers show the utmost pride in the beauty of their backyard.

Something in the Air

Something in the Air

The trip itself was somewhat of a disaster. We lost our bags on the train, and our kayaking plans were ruined by rain and high winds. We opted instead for a hike along Kaikora’s verdant coastline. As we stood on the edge of a cliff admiring the view, the wind suddenly grew violent. It felt so shocking to have our hair and clothes whipped around unexpectedly, that we could only do one thing: Go with it. We laughed hysterically and stripped off our clothes. When I look at the photo now, I remember why “Go with it” has become my mantra whenever I travel.

Photographer: Michelle Holshue

Philly-born, world-traveling photographer-turned-nurse with an eye for adventure and a passion for storytelling.

Rotorua Redwoods

Rotorua Redwoods

I’ve never felt as small as I did the day we hiked through the monstrous trees of this forest.

Photographer: David Yeh

David works as a waiter at a casual sit-down diner and practices photography in his free time.


Life moves a bit slower in New Zealand. Visitors can even feel like they’ve travelled back in time.

One Winter’s Morning in Christchurch

One Winter’s Morning in Christchurch

New Zealand isn’t just all green hills, lakes, mountains and sheep. People live there too, you know.

Photographer: Matthew Joseph

Part-time photographer, full-time photo lab monkey. Originally from Christchurch, New Zealand but relocated to Melbourne, Australia four years ago for love. Likes panoramas and wide angles. Dislikes HDR.


New Zealand has wine growing regions that parallel Napa’s — kiwis take their beer and wine seriously. And while most people like coffee, these folks want to marry it.

The Mussel Inn, Golden Bay

The Mussel Inn, Golden Bay

Reuben Lee, master brewer, leans on a keg-washing machine against a backdrop of native bush. Like most places in New Zealand, The Mussel Inn is laid-back, in the middle of nowhere, and built on Kiwi ingenuity. Most of the brewery equipment was built by the owner, Andrew Dixon. Waste from the brewery is composted for use in the brewery orchard. Sustainability is the guiding philosophy of the bar and brewery.

Photographer: Jed Soane

I am a photographer and software developer based in Wellington, New Zealand. I am currently working on a documentary photography project documenting the rise of craft beer culture in New Zealand.


NZers are the first in the world to see the light of a new day, and the first to see night. (They’re a full 21 hours ahead of Pacific time.)

Wild Wild West

Wild Wild West

My road trip adventure along the west coast of New Zealand brought windswept terrain, roaring waves, miles and miles of untouched beaches, and occasionally nights of sleep inside a surfboard bag.

Photographer: Summer Hollis

I am currently living in West Africa doing volunteer work, but I cannot wait to get back to my home, New Zealand.

Auckland Afterhours

Auckland Afterhours

The first time I tried to get a night shot of this stunning city, a police officer didn’t take too kindly to my positioning on the side of the motorway. The second time, I broke my tripod. Thankfully the third time I was able to capture a small amount of the beauty this city has to share.

Photographer: Ben Lilley

Ben is a web developer in Auckland, New Zealand. He enjoys great design, italian food, photography, gaming and the outdoors.


New Zealanders were first to bungee jump, split the atom, and conquer Mt. Everest. As an island nation, they’ve always invented stuff because they had to. That culture of innovation persists alongside quirky surprises.

Race Day

Race Day

Every year in October, yachts of all sizes gather below Auckland’s downtown skyline for the start of the largest coastal yacht race in the southern hemisphere — from Devonport wharf to the nation’s former capital, Russell.

Photographer: Matthew Buchanan

Father of two and typography nerd in Auckland, New Zealand.

Piece and Love

Piece and Love

I was feeling homesick on the far side of the world when I stumbled upon the misspelled lyrics of one of my favorite hip hop songs (Unity by Afrika Bambaataa). I cued up the song on my iPod, snapped a photo of the felt letters, and grinned.

Photographer: Spike Morris

Spike Morris is a young video director who gets paid to make awesome music videos and loves taking photos that aren’t for sale.


Christchurch is a gorgeous old English town on the surface, but hides an artistic and creative city underneath.

Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are

If you’re ever in Lyttelton, a small port town outside Christchurch, you must pay a visit to the Monsterbar. And if you see Nelson, say hello!

Photographer: Jilske Cornelis

Photographer. Belgian in Australia. Interested in mind’s eye, music, lens flare, many a random fact and maths.


The indigenous people of the island nation, the Māori, have influenced the culture of New Zealand.

My Aotearoa

My Aotearoa

The most important thing New Zealand taught me is summarized in a Maori proverb that goes like this: “Toitü he whenua, whatungarongaro he tangata,” which means “Land is permanent, man disappears.”

Photographer: Rachele Maggiolini

Rachele is a 27-year-old translator and journalist living in Italy but still dreaming about New Zealand.


The Māori name for the country means ‘the land of the long white cloud’, which is probably not a drug reference.

Pushing the Boundaries

Pushing the Boundaries

The almost perfect circle that forms the boundaries of the Egmont National Park is a reminder that New Zealand used to be covered in ancient forest, before so much of the land was converted to dairy farming. Thankfully someone traced a circle on a map to conserve what they could.

Photographer: Romain Perin

I’m a web designer currently living in Auckland, New Zealand. I spend most of my spare time tending my garden, exploring with my family, and staring at my chickens.


But all you really need to know about New Zealand is that the people are kind, the land is beautiful, and life moves at about half pace.

Schlooz Family Reunion

Schlooz Family Reunion

New Zealand gave me photos enough for ten ridiculous nature calendars, but I’ll also never forget the cousins who showed me Auckland and bought the first few rounds only hours after we’d met for the very first time.

Photographer: Andrew Collins

Andrew Collins is a travel-hungry data addict who designs interactive things and sometimes static things. He toots and cusses @inRGBwetrust.


Maybe once you have that sorted you’ll hitch a ride with a bogan, grab a pack of cheese sizzlers and a few flagons of beer, and head to Raglan. Good luck!

thirty-three  — Acknowledgements

Special thank you to guest designer Tim Kelleher. He cleverly chose typefaces designed by fellow kiwis: McCahon typeface by Luke Wood, and Meta Serif which Kris Sowersby helped design.

Also, thanks to those who helped me gain a better understanding of the country through their tweets or emails: Matthew Buchanan, Andrew Collins, Jordan Gillman, Sue Wells, and the other awesome @Pictory followers who replied to my call for info.

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