Lesley Whyte
+64 27 4747 347

Mackenzie Basin Landscape Photography Retreat

Are you looking to combine your photography passion with an awesome long weekend which includes a helicopter flight to a location seldom visited where you have the opportunity to capture stunning landscape panoramic images?

Then come join our small group (maximum 6) Landscape Photography Retreat which is suitable for all levels, especially beginners, hobbyists and intermediate level, although I’d you have advanced photography skills, you are welcome to also join us.

This photography retreat is hosted by Lake Ohau Quarters which is situated on Lake Ohau Station in the heart of the beautiful Mackenzie Basin and is led by multi-award winning photographer Lesley Whyte.

For those wanting photography mentoring, you’ll have multi-award winning photographer Lesley Whyte to coach you on how to use simple composition techniques and help you master your camera’s settings. She’ll work with you to enhance your images and will help you to take your RAW images and create an awesome images using both Lightroom Classic and Photoshop on your laptop.  If you don’t have a laptop, you can load free versions of Lightroom & Photoshop Mobile on your tablet.

Shall we mention the food?  Well, we should as each day you’ll enjoy an amazingly tasty cooked breakfast, lunch plus dinner (with desert) and wines.

Not only will you have an amazing time, but you will also come away with having met some amazing photography buddies and be more confident with your photographic and image processing skills.

We will be up really early and out late so pack some good walking shoes and layers of clothing, gloves, beanie and puffer jacket.

Over these four days, you will have Lightroom & Photoshop workshops and a dedicated print preparation workshop where Lesley will demystifying the print preparation and printing workflow process – showing you how easy it is to prepare and print your images.

A selection of your images will be printed on professional, quality Canson photographic paper using an Epson P706 A3+ photographic printer.



Arrive at Christchurch Airport and contact Commodore Hotel to arrange your airport transfer.  If you live in Christchurch or driving, check in late anytime before dinner and we can arrange for you to park your vehicle here with prior arrangement.

Dinner included (wine own cost)

Friday: Meet Lesley at 6.45am and pack the mini-bus before breakfast.  After breakfast you depart no later than 7.45am for your drive to our beautiful Lake Ohau Quarters, of course, toilet & coffee stops along the way. We’ll stop for lunch along the way (own cost) – we also stop along the way to capture some inspiring imagery across Lake Tekapo up to Mt Cook.

Lake Ohau Quarters will host you for the next three nights on this beautifully rugged Mackenzie Basin high country station.

Once you’ve settled into your accomodation,   Lesley will then run a workshop on the exposure triangle and how to frame your images in camera – then it’s off we go out on our first photography walk exploring the surrounding area; capturing views through the boughs of the whomping willows (as they are affectionately called), and the historic building ruins, the merino rams make for beautiful subjects to photograph.  We also look at capturing the sun setting over the Ben Ohau mountains at the Twizel end of Lake Ohau.

If you are new to long exposure photography, tonight after dinner you will head out for a wire wool photography workshop – this is a fun way to learn how to operate your camera to capture long exposure images.  These images which when processed in black & white, make for spectacular photos.

Breakfast & dinner with wines included

Saturday & Sunday:

Over these three days, you’ll capture from sun rise which quite often has moody mist over the surrounding ranges, through to evening sunsets.  You’ll head to some of New Zealand’s most inspirational and wild landscapes at Lake Ohau Station including Temple Valley, Temple Bridge, and the beautiful Temple Stream – Lesley has the required Department of Conservations permits to take you to these locations.

You will also be capturing images of the tail end of the Autumn leaf fall around the Iron Bridge and Lake Ruataniwha area – just imaging that beautiful burnt orange foliage on display waiting to be photographed!

Weather permitting, we will take a helicopter flight, landing on the surrounding mountains to capture some stunning mountain images – this is a location which we have direct access to and is not frequented by many photographers due to its location.  If weather doesn’t allow the helicopter to fly, you’ll be driven to the top of Lake Ohau ski fields to capture panoramic images and we hope for some low level cloud below us!

In the afternoon, Lesley will continue working with you on understanding the print preparation process so you can print some of your favourite images – imaging your watching your prints coming off the printer!!  We love this part, watching your images coming off the printer, it’s one of our favourite times from this photography retreat.

Breakfast, lunch plus dinner with wines included

Monday: After breakfast it’s free time to walk around the surrounding foothills of Lake Ohau Quarters to capture those images you’ve been planning.  You will depart for Christchurch on your 5 hour journey just after lunch, stopping along the way at Lake Tekapo where you have time to capture a couple of quick, iconic images plus grab a cup of coffee.

If you’re flying home tonight, we arrive at Christchurch Airport late afternoon (6.00pm) so plan for flights after 7.00pm.   If you’re staying over, we’ll stop here for you – post tour accommodation with free airport transfers can be arranged directly with Commodore Hotel.  

Breakfast and lunch included.


Check out what is included on this all-inclusive, four day weekend photography retreat which departs from Christchurch:

  • Sharing in a twin room at Commodore Hotel, own room available at additional cost
  • Quality, shared twin room accommodation with linen staying at Lake Ohau Quarters (3 single occupancy rooms available at additional cost) – simply pack your hairdryer, clothes, toiletries & soap 
  • Free WIFI is available at Lake Ohau Quarters
  • Cooked breakfast, lunch and two course dinner with wines as outlined above
  • Tea, coffee, available during the day
  • Return coach transport Christchurch to Lake Ohau Quarters and throughout the photography retreat
  • Mentoring from a multi-award winning photographer
  • Take home a selection of your images printed in A3+ & A4, ready for framing – value $300+
  • Learning how to create high resolution multi-image panoramas using Lightroom Classic for processing
  • Learn simple process workflow techniques for both Lightroom Mobile & Lightroom Classic
  • Learn the art of long exposure photography in a fun way with a wire wool workshop
  • Hands on coaching on composition to enable you to create inspiring images
  • Mentoring to enable you to become comfortable at working in manual; mastering the exposure triangle
  • Expert advice on how to create stunning images in Lightroom and Photoshop (laptop & tablet) and demystify the print preparation process
  • Daily photography and processing review sessions
  • NOTE: Activity is weather dependant and sequence of photographic opportunity may vary.


A general level of fitness is required to carry your camera backpack up small, steep and narrow paths and walking on unstable farmland – most walks are less than 5 minutes in duration.  Walking on slipery wet rocks is also likely plus walking at night in unlight areas.


  • Flights to Christchurch to join this retreat
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Items not mentioned above
  • Morning, afternoon tea snacks
  • Coffee or tea when not at Lake Ohau Station
  • Lunch on Friday.


  • This is a mixed gender photography retreat – if sharing a room, you will be sharing with your own gender


  • $3,800 per person – sharing a room
  • $4,400 per person – room on your own
  • If you live in Christchurch, and want to join us on Friday morning, enquire about this rate.


  • If you choose to cancel your booking, your deposit is non-refundable unless we fill your place
  • If we have to cancel we will give you a full refund or you can have your deposit transferred to any of our other events
  • Full payment is due 45 days before the commencement date and is thereafter non-refundable in the event of your choosing to cancel, unless we are able to re-fill your place.

Want to know more about this retreat – contact lesley@lesleywhytephotography.co.nz

Clothing & equipment list available here

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Book Event

Deposit $500 - I’d like to share a room at & Commodore Hotel & Lake Ohau Quarters
Available Tickets: 6
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Deposit $500 - I’d like a room on my own at Lake Ohau Quarters
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Available Tickets: 6
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26 - 30 Oct 2023