NEW ZEALAND – Travel Photography New Zealand – SOLD OUT

DATES: 11/13/2024 - 11/22/2024
LOCATION: New Zealand
PRICE: $3,895.00

Lester Lefkowitz is a New York-based professional photographer who has photographed in all fifty states, twenty countries, Antarctica and Puerto Rico. He has provided images to many Fortune-500 companies and most major publications, from National Geographic to Time Magazine to The New York Times.

Lester is the author of numerous books and articles on photography, and has been a consultant to both Kodak and Polaroid. He has taught workshops and lectured at many arts, educational and professional institutions, and is a very popular teacher at The International Center of Photography (ICP). From introductory classes to advanced lighting, from basic Photoshop to close-up photography, Lester has been an enthusiastic instructor to hundreds of students.

Read More

Lester was an early adopter of digital photography, but is still pleased to assist film photographers based on his years of experience with that lovely (old) medium. His knowledge of state-of-the-art digital imaging is extensive, working with both Macs and PCs, numerous digital cameras, and with a long list of software, including Photoshop, Lightroom, and Mac Photo.

Lester is a major producer of stock photography; creating images for the largest stock photo agencies in the world. His subject matter ranges from landscapes to cityscapes, flowers to lasers, architecture to surgery.

Photograph your impressions of the uniqueness of New Zealand – vistas, seascapes, flora, fauna, vibrant towns

This is part of the Il Chiostro – Upside Down! series which mirrors our popular Autumn Arts Festival in Tuscany. This series is held in the southern hemisphere.  In 2017 we kicked the program off to great success in South Africa. In 2018 we tangoed in sensual Argentina.  Our 3rd Upside Down program was in New Zealand, which was so popular that we decided to repeat it in 2024.  It will be our post-pandemic – and post-cyclone – celebration! We’ll spend 10 days in the city of Napier in the Hawke’s Bay area of the North Island. Non-photographers are welcome to tag along, but we also offer a Creative Sketching and Watercolor workshop with Marni Maree.

Enjoy 10 days photographing the most exotic country in the world – New Zealand! 

Landscape of Hawkes Bay overlooking the sea

This program will immerse you in the natural beauty of the Hawke’s Bay on the eastern shore of the North Island, NZ – rivers, waterfalls, dramatic mountains, the sea and gardens.

We will have continuous opportunities to photograph each day – people, landscapes, seascapes, lush flora, indigenous fauna, cultural Maori sites, etc.  We’ll start off in and around the Art Deco town of Napier, which sits right on the bay. From there we will embark on field trips to nearby towns, beaches, street life, visit the spectacular Cape Kidnappers point, see the gannet birds roost and photograph the bay from the heights of the Te Mata Peak.  We’ll have plenty of time for critiques as we progress together in this intensive experience.

Photo by Chris Corradino

November is spring in the southern hemisphere, an ideal time to visit New Zealand: the weather is mild, spring flowers paint the landscape, and the grapes are in development at the world-class wineries.

The Secrets of Great Travel Photography


Whether you are a true beginner with a phone camera or a seasoned photographer with a DSLR and years of experience, The Secrets of Great Travel Photography are guaranteed to power you to the next level.

Transform your photography with inspiring lectures and field instruction by Lester in one of the most exotic lands in the world – New Zealand. From the art-deco town of Napier to the unspoiled beauty of sprawling vineyards and the sea scales of Hawke’s Bay, this region is a photographer’s paradise. In this personalized workshop, you will learn how to master your camera and develop your own creative vision. Capture the magic light of New Zealand with individualized and group instruction from a professional photographer.

Photo by Chris Corradino

Recommended Gear:  Any camera of your choice (including iPhone or iPad), your favorite lenses, memory cards, batteries  and a laptop (so that we can review, critique and tweak your photos).

Optional Gear: Tripod

Lester recommends using Lightroom to view and edit your photos (if you’re rusty with Lightroom, Lester can swiftly help you along).  If you prefer to use a different program, that’s fine.

Photo by Chris Corradino

Waterfall, photo by Chris Corradino

Additional Activities:

During the program we will have daily photographic opportunities as well as excursions selected from:

  • botanical garden visit
  • short hike to natural waterfalls
  • sunset shoot at the Perfume Point lighthouse
  • optional sunrise shoot with Lester
  • wine tour and tasting at the surrounding vineyards and cellars such as Black Barn and Craggy Range
  • walking historical tour of our art-deco town of Napier
  • Maori cultural presentation and visit to authentic meeting house
  • visits to village of Havelock North, Te Mata Peak and Ocean Beach
  • local farmers market
  • pre-dinner cultural discussions on topics such as the government of New Zealand, the indigenous population, local arts and crafts, etc.
  • special dinner at a winery bistro
  • Cape Kidnappers Gannet bird colony tour

Maori Carving, photo by Chris Corradino


At Il Chiostro, we believe that the food of any area tells a lot about the culture hosting us.  Hawke’s Bay is considered the fruit bowl of New Zealand.  It’s also wine country with all of the cuisine and fine dining associated with that.

A casual breakfast will be served each morning at the hotel.

7 dinners with the group are included.  They will be a mixture of meals at local establishments in town, at the hotel as well as in the countryside.  Since we are staying in Napier, we have left 2 dinners free for participants to explore other venues on their own.

Lunch is independent, although we will always suggest options, especially when we are on excursions.

Coffee and wine will be available for purchase throughout the day at the many cafés and bars around the hotel.  New Zealand is a big coffee place with their flat whites and skinny cappuccinos.  This is your opportunity to meet and interact with the locals on their own turf, “No worries!”

Your Guides:

Linda and Michael of Il Chiostro will be with the groups every step.  This is our second year offering programs in New Zealand, so you will reap the benefit of what we discovered last time.

In addition, we will also have our local drivers to take us on all local excursions.

Price: $3,895 p/p ($3,500 for non-participants)

  • single supplement $600 (limited number available)

Local gannets, photo by Chris Corradino


  • 9 nights – double or single room with private bathroom in the Masonic Art Deco Hotel of Napier
  • breakfast each day
  • 7 dinners with the group, including wine
  • Workshop tuition – daily photography classes with Lester
  • All general activities and excursions (as noted above)
  • Transportation for all excursions

Departure is on Friday morning November 22nd.  Napier has an airport, or you can continue your travels to other points in New Zealand or Australia (hey, you’re there…)

Sunset at Perfume Point, by Chris Corradino

Price does not include:

  • Airfare*
  • Museum admissions
  • Photography software and supplies
  • Travel insurance (highly recommended)
  • Gratuities

*We will meet the group at the hotel in Napier.  You can fly into their airport and take a taxi.  Or you may choose to arrive in Wellington or Auckland and travel around prior to the program.

To Register:  just click on the Sign Up Now button.  A non-refundable* deposit of $500 is required to secure your spot in the workshop.  Payment can be made on line with a credit card, or you can follow the instructions to send in your registration and payment by mail.  Once we receive your deposit we will send you a formal Registration Confirmation with further information about the program.  You will receive 2-3 other correspondences by email prior to the workshop with information about New Zealand, a supplies list and an electronic invoice for the balance.  Final Balance is due by September 1.  Any time prior to your arrival, if you have questions about anything regarding the trip or the program, you can contact us by email or phone and we’ll be happy to assist you.

Contact us for more information: or speak to us live at 800-990-3506.

Photo by Chris Corradino

For this program, we will be staying right in the center of the town of Napier at the boutique Art Deco Masonic Hotel.

Napier is a wonderfully art deco town 0n the eastern coast of Hawkes Bay, right on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.  What makes Napier special is its unique concentration of art deco buildings constructed around the same time after the old town was mostly destroyed in the Hawkes Bay Earthquake of 1931.

That national disaster resulted in Napier becoming one of the purest Art Deco cities in the world! In 1931, after the massive earthquake that rocked Hawke’s Bay, rebuilding the town began almost immediately.  The new buildings all reflected the architectural styles of the times – Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission and in particular, Art Deco.

Local architect Louis Hay, an admirer of the great Frank Lloyd Wright, had his chance to shine. Maori motifs were employed to give the city a unique New Zealand character – for example, the ASB bank on the corner of Hastings  and Emerson Streets features Maori koru and zigzags.  The town today has a well-documented Maori heritage that is celebrated in museums, galleries and in daily life.  A walking tour of Napier will be part of our itinerary.

Our hotel is located just across the road from the Marina Promenade along the bay.  It is also near the main art museum and the pedestrian streets and alleys chock full of shops, restaurants and cafes.

Art Deco Napier, photo by Andy Holtzman


This Il Chiostro-Upside Down program will take place on the North island of New Zealand. Specifically we will be in the Hawke’s Bay area on the mid-eastern shore of the island. Auckland is the largest city to the north and Wellington is on the southern end of the North island.

Where in the World Are We?

On the first day of the program, we will meet at our hotel in Napier (about 3 hours north of Wellington, 5 hours south of Auckland) which will be the starting point for all of our excursion and adventures.

Where Do I Fly Into?

Depending on your travel plans, we recommend either flying directly into Napier or into Wellington and then making your way up to Napier for our first meeting. Wellington is a larger city, so if you plan to arrive a couple of days early, there would be more to do and see there. You can catch an intercity bus from Wellington to Napier.

Remember when arranging your travel, it is not necessary (or even cheaper) to arrive and depart from the same airport.  For instance, you could fly into Napier and out of Auckland.

What About Exploring the Rest of the Country or Even Australia?

Since New Zealand is quite far away for most participants, we expect that many of you will want to extend your stay either before or after the program. We’ll have many excursions during our workshops, but they will be confined to the North island. So plan to explore the South island* – and beyond – on your own.
* this is where most of theLord of the Rings trilogy was filmed.

To help you with your flights and any travel around New Zealand, Australia, Bali, Hawaii or even Bali Ha’i(!) …  before or after the program, we can recommend our travel agent Nancy Schaffer of Travel Solutions. She is familiar with our trip and has helped many Il Chiostro participants in the past. Contact her directly at:

(508)-836-0143 or


Art Deco facade n Napier, photo by Andy Holtzman

Napier in the Hawkes Bay area of the North island, will be our home base.  All around it is the prime wine producing area of New Zealand and is teeming with vineyards and wineries.  Among those are towns, beaches, cities and many cultural sites.  Here is a partial list of what is nearby:

Havelock North– Quite close to Black Barn, Havelock North has a natural, tree-lined charm — a pretty country town known for a thriving arts community, honey and friendly country style restaurants. Nearby Te Mata Peak delivers panoramic views of the region.

Martinborough– Martinborough is famous for its 20-odd vineyards (Pinot Noir is the specialty grape), most within walking or cycling distance of the wine village square. A bit closer to Wellington to the south, it’s packed with colonial charm, and criss-crossed with walking and cycle tracks. Check out some other things to do and fantastic places to eat.

Wellington– Wellington is the very cool capital of New Zealand, famous for its vibrant creative culture fueled by greatfood, wine, craft beers, coffee bars galore and ongoing special events.

Te Mata Peak – One of the most loved and visited places in Hawke’s Bay — a historical and cultural treasure. Standing almost 1500 feet above the Heretaunga Plains, Te Mata Peak offers visitors stunning and varied scenery, unique topography, geology, flora and fauna and a wide range of recreational activities.

Cape Kidnappers – An extraordinary sandstone headway in Hawke’s Bay that projects out from the stunning North Island coastline into the sea. It was named by Captain Cook after an attempt by local Mäori to abduct one of his crew. The Cape Kidnappers is home to the largest and most accessible gannet seabird colonies in the world.