Soaking Up NZ's Dramatic North Island With Photographer Matt Glastonbury

10 November 2015
Read Time: 2.8 mins

If you can name it, Matt Glastonbury has probably been there and photographed that in a way only he knows how.

The adventure-travel photographer who hails from Hobart delights his enormous community of Instagram followers with dramatic nature shots around the world.

Matt's photography skills were on full display during a recent trip with Flight Centre to New Zealand's North Island. He came back with plenty of breathtaking snaps, and a few more memories to rave about.

 Hammock on the edge of the world (Image: Matt Glastonbury)

You've hit 184,000 followers on your Instagram page. What do you think makes your travel photography so appealing?

I think it's the interesting locations and sometimes unique perspectives. I really love making my photos "hangable".

I mean, for me, each one needs to be something you'd hang on your wall, a piece of art. Some like that and some don't, but to me the pieces that look like a mixture of painting and photography are most appealing.

What parts of New Zealand were you most excited about experiencing? Did they surprise you in any way?

Definitely North Island had that combination of surprise and intriguing travel possibilities. I had no idea what the area was like and how incredible it was, with all the little towns, the rich heritage and the unusual coastlines and islands. Rugged, but also beautiful.

You've clearly got a passion for scenic photography. What was your scenic highlight in New Zealand?

The epic cruise through the Hole in the Rock. It's got that North Island ruggedness and cuteness, but the panoramic experience of floating through a mountain, which is actually a very tall, pointy, island.

There aren't many places in the world you can do that, apart from driving through a man-made tunnel.

 New Zealand's Hole in the Rock (Image: Matt Glastonbury)

More North Island stories:

Taming The North Island With Li-Chi Pan

Through The Lens: NZ's North Island With Photographer William Patino

You got to stay in a few different hotels during your jaunt across the North Island. Did you have a favourite hotel?

Absolutely. The Duke of Marlborough Hotel in Russel. Such old homestead heritage and charm infused with island life.

After spending almost a week exploring New Zealand, what's your North Island must-do for first timers?

A road trip from Auckland to the very top of the island is an absolute must. There are so many places you can visit and discover between those two points.

You can literally spend a couple weeks doing just that. My advice would be to check out other people's trips and the Flight Centre itineraries for ideas, then make a check-list map.

Did you have any unexpected moments in New Zealand, times when you stood back and thought, "wow, this really exists"?

Definitely. That was when we visited the Muriwai Gannet Colony. The Gannets were flying right in front of us at Muriwai Beach lookout.

Hundreds of them were nesting directly below the lookout and were just riding the wind only a few metres away.

That coastline was really something too, with huge towers of eroded rock surrounded by water. A very cool experience!

 The rugged coastline is the perfect setting for adventure (Image: Matt Glastonbury)

I'd love to hear more about your Hole in the Rock Dolphin Cruise. What did you get to see while you were out on the water?

I must say, I'd never seen dolphins scratching their own backs in the shallows before! We floated around a huge pod for quite some time and experienced them swimming around the boat, rolling in the shallows, jumping out of the water and even caught a glimpse of a little calf.

If you go back to New Zealand, what three places would you make sure to visit?

Discovering more of the North Island is on the list for me, plus Lake Taupo. I'm itching to get back and shoot a Milky Way time-lapse over Hobbiton – that place just gets my creative juices flowing!

There's an occasional camping theme in your Instagram photos. What first inspired you to start using this creative technique?

It's not a new idea; people have been taking photos out of their tents for decades, but I had seen one with an amazing view once and I'd always loved to dream about all the wonderful places I could either camp out, or just set up, to take photos like that.

So I went and bought one to do just that. I don't always camp in those locations – some you actually can't camp in – but it's always a lot fun and with asking the right people for permission. Plus, you can get some great unique shots.

 Camping in Hobbiton (Image: Matt Glastonbury)

Where in the world would you like to set up your tent next?

In the mountains behind Lake Taupo. I'd absolutely love to be up in those mountains. I can't imagine how excited I'd be to open my tent door and look out at a volcano!

Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to New Zealand.

Ben Stower

I love the kind of travelling that is one part strategic planning and two parts spontaneous adventure. Whether I'm exploring my local city or a small town in the middle of nowhere, I'm always hoping to find something no one else has discovered.