Photographer of the Year finalists announced

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The finalists have been named for the New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year 2015. This coincides with a free outdoor touring exhibition which opens in central Christchurch today (Monday) before moving to Auckland in October.

A total of 29 finalists have been announced from more than 5800 entries received in the competition across five categories: Society & Culture, Wildlife, Landscape, Photo Story and – new to the competition in 2015 – the Timelapse category.

From jellyfish the size of dinner plates to muddy kids being hosed down after a fun run, the 2015 competition offers a fresh vision of our country’s environment and culture.

The thousands of entries were judged by internationally recognised professional photographers Andris Apse, Kim Westerskov, Brett Phibbs and New Zealand Geographic editor James Frankham.

“Like the viewers, the judges were wanting to be surprised and challenged by the images,” says Frankham. “They wanted to see representations of our environment and society that they hadn’t seen before.

“This was the largest field yet, with an outstanding diversity of subject matter. The new Timelapse category, in particular, had some eye-wateringly good entries. Photographers lay in sleeping bags beside their cameras, monitoring the output every few minutes throughout the night – one photographer spent 40 hours in a glow-worm cave for a single two-minute clip!”

The finalists depict subjects as diverse as the closed religious community of Gloriavale to young women vying for the title of Miss Universe. They span the entire realm of New Zealand, from deep underground caves on the mainland to albatrosses dwarfed by massive waves off the subantarctic Bounty Islands, some 700 kilometres to the east of the South Island.

The photographers are almost as diverse as the images they’ve made – a business student, a policeman and an engineer are just some of those vying to be named New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year 2015.

Councillor Paul Lonsdale from Christchurch City Council is pleased the national competition is being showcased in Christchurch for the third successive year. “The stunning imagery captured by these talented finalists highlights the beauty of our country,” he said. “Hosting this popular exhibition in the heart of Christchurch adds to our city’s growing artistic culture and attracts both residents and visitors into the central city.”

Frankham said  the public voting aspect of this competition is one of the things that makes it unique. “Every year New Zealanders get to have their say about the images that move them most using the electronic voting on-site and online. It sparks a lot of discussion and often just a small number of votes separate the top few choices, despite 36,000 being cast. This year there’s incredible depth across all categories, so it won’t be an easy decision.

“In its entirety, the exhibition is a celebration of our diversity as a country. How many people have hunted fish with bows and arrows? Who has camped in a cave in temperatures like a fridge for a week? These photographers have been to little-known and remarkable corners of our nation, and shared these original perspectives with us. They help us understand who we are as a people, and what makes our country unique.”

The public is invited to put themselves in the judging chair and vote for their favourite image (scroll down for details. The winner of the public vote will receive the People’s Choice Award when the category winners of the competition are announced in late October.

This is New Zealand’s most popular and richest photographic competition: Winners of each category receive $1000 cash, publication in New Zealand Geographic and other prizes. The overall New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year 2015 will receive a further $1000 cash and a berth on board a Heritage Expeditions voyage on assignment for New Zealand Geographic magazine.

The Young Photographer of the Year 2015 also receives $1000 cash as well as special mentoring and a workshop with wildlife photographer and judge Kim Westerskov.

The People’s Choice winner also takes home $1000 cash and other prizes.

Winners will be announced in late October when the free exhibition moves to Auckland’s Viaduct Basin for a month in October. (scroll down for details)

  • To see all the finalist images and vote on a favourite, go to
  • Visit the Photographer of the Year exhibition at 122 Manchester Street (cnr Manchester & Lichfield Streets), Christchurch, from Saturday 15 August to Sunday 6 September (10am–5pm daily).
  • The Auckland exhibition will take place in Karanga Plaza, adjacent to the Viaduct Events Centre, from Saturday 3 October to Sunday November 1.

NZ Geographic would like you to know that the Photographer of the Year 2015 is supported by the Christchurch City Council through the Transitional City Projects Fund.


Society & Culture

Alan Gibson: Sand artists near Mt Maunganui
David White: Girl performing a pukana on a horse
Ricky Wilson: Muddy boys being hosed down by firefighters
Richard Robinson: Cat rescuer surrounded by felines
Iain McGregor: ‘Colour Run’ afterparty in Christchurch
Iain McGregor: A home bordering Christchurch’s red zone
Arno Gasteiger: Man dragging a large broadbill onto his boat
Lawrence Smith: Police barricade at a budget protest


Jeff McEwan: Whanganui Coastline from the air
Jason Hosking: Giant waves at Palliser Beach
Michinori Kagawa: A frosty morning in Mt Cook National Park
Manabu Nitta: Sunrise in the midst of forest on the Routeburn Track
Susan Blick: Dawn looking over the Hauraki Gulf towards Rangitoto


Alex Stammers: A juvenile fish sheltering within a jellyfish
Spencer Clubb: Seals cavorting at Cape Palliser
Richard Sidey: Salvin’s albatrosses dwarfed by a large swell
Jeanette Nee: Monarch butterfly at Te Puna Quarry Park
Richard Robinson: Blue shark rearing out of the water
Kyle Taylor: Fur seal diving at Poor Knights Islands


Cam McLaren: Inside the religious community of Gloriavale
Richard Robinson: Bow-hunting carp fish in the Waikato River
Peter Meecham: The finals of Miss Universe New Zealand
Neil Silverwood: Exploring Bulmer Cavern, NZ’s largest cave system


Mark Gee: Moonrise over Mt Victoria
Mark Gee: Nightscapes around the Wellington region
Bevan Percival: Tongariro National Park
Bevan Percival: Star scenes around New Zealand
Jordan Poste: Glowworms in Waipu Cave, Northland
Steven Pearce: A giant rimu tree in Pureora Forest

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