New Zealand 2019

Micro 4/3 travel photography on the North and South islands

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Friends of ours live in New Zealand. They were over in the UK and during dinner they wondered why I hadn’t ever been to New Zealand, particularly knowing I enjoyed photography. I wondered the same, and about 6 hours later after a bit of research and checking out flights, we were booked for the massive long-haul trip to get over there.

Why Micro 4/3?

Simple, in late 2017 I sold all of my Nikon DSLR kit and dipped a toe in the Micro 4/3 waters with a used Olympus Olympus O-MD E-M5 Mk II. For this trip, it enabled me to bring the camera, plus a range of lenses that covered 12-400 mm (24-800 mm equivalent) along with a laptop in my small cabin bag.

Getting there

New Zealand is a long way from the UK, a very long way, as it is on the opposite side of the world. Nobody flies direct from the UK, and I was certainly not going to fly all that way in economy. Business class tickets from the UK were in the region of £5500, and economy class was still over £1200, so we started in Stockholm. By beginning in Sweden, we could fly business with Qatar, which was exceptional, for just £1900 each.

It’s still a long way from Stockholm, with a 7-hour flight to Qatar, followed by 17 hours to Auckland! But, having a fully flat bed made it a lot more bearable for my 6ft4 frame!

As Qatar is part of the One World alliance, we were able to credit our tier points to British Airways. Combined with the flights to and from Stockholm, we earned enough tier points for a British Airways Executive Club (BAEC) silver card, which gives lounge access when flying in any class, free seat selection, extra baggage allowance, and priority boarding.

The plan

First, a few days in and around Auckland with friends, then all flying down to Dunedin on the South Island, before working our way up to Wanaka for a few days before splitting up. where we would continue on to Franz Josef followed by a few days in Nelson and the Abel Tasman National Park. After that, it was back to Auckland for a few days, then grab another hire car and head to Paihia, finally spending the last night in Auckland, just to be close to the airport for the flights home.

The Results


Auckland and surrounds



Franz Josef

Nelson, and Abel Tasman National Park



New Zealand is a stunningly beautiful country. In three weeks there we only saw highlights of what was on offer. From glaciers to semi-tropical rainforests, there are so many different landscapes and habitats. It is, however, a very long way to go, so three weeks is really a minimum unless you want to rush about everywhere.

We will be going back, at some point, as there are plenty of places we didn’t get to which would be good to see. Also, as we was there in the spring, there was a lot of rain at times. Clearing clouds do make for good skies, but it would be nice to feel a bit of heat from time to time.

Camera equipment

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Olympus O-MD E-M5 Mk II

This is the camera I have shot exclusively on land since ditching my Nikon DSLR’s. I love it. 16MP sensor which is enough for what I do with my images, it’s compact, and has really nice retro styling.

This is now (2023) quite an old camera and is freely available second-hand, or the brand new OM SYSTEM OM-5 is 2 generations newer.

Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 Asph.

This was, by far, my most used lens of the trip. It takes up almost no room, and when mounted to the camera it barely adds to the profile. It is very compact, good in low light, and gives a really nice field of view. It’s my standard ‘walkaround’ lens and is also good for landscapes where you don’t want to go too wide. I have also found it good for panoramas. This is still available new.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm F2.0

My second most used lens on this trip, I have owned and used this since I first bought into the M4/3 system. It is compact, sharp, enables easy manual focusing, and produces a lovely sharp image. I knew there were going to be some big landscapes, so a wide-angle was essential. This lens is still available new.

Leica DG Vario-Elmar 100-400mm F4.0-6.3 Asph. Power OIS

Knowing I would be going to some wildlife colonies, I needed to bring a long lens. Despite being over twice the size and weight of the M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150 mm F4-5.6, New Zealand is too far to travel to compromise on lenses, so I took the 100-400.
It’s a cracking lens, with a 35 mm equivalent reach of 200-800 mm in a package that weighs less than a kg and is only 170 mm long when collapsed. However, I have since replaced mine with the M.Zuiko DIGITAL ED 100-400mm F5.0-6.3 IS, as that allows for the use of teleconverters. The Panasonic is, however, still available new.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm F1.8

This lens is tiny, and exceptionally sharp. I took it as a bit of infill between the Panasonic 20 mm and the short end of the 100-400 mm. However, I barely used it on this trip. It makes a fantastic portrait lens when the right opportunity arises. It is still available new.