And the Finalists Are....



From jellyfish the size of dinner plates to muddy kids being hosed down after a fun run, the New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year 2015 offers a fresh vision of our country’s environment and culture. The best images of the past year have been revealed in a free outdoor touring exhibition which opens in central Christchurch today 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.

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. They wanted to see representations of our environment and society that they hadn’t seen before,” says Frankham. “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. 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. I encourage you to come along to view this exhibition and vote for your favourite image.”

“The public voting aspect of this competition is one of the things that makes it unique,” says Frankham. “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 at 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 from October 3– November 1.

To see all the finalist images and vote on your favourite, go to

Visit the Photographer of the Year exhibition at 122 Manchester Street (cnr Manchester & Lichfield Streets), Christchurch, from August 15–September 6 (10am–5pm daily). The Auckland exhibition will take place in Karanga Plaza, adjacent to the Viaduct Events Centre, from October 3–November 1. New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year 2015 is proudly supported by the Christchurch City Council through the Transitional City Projects Fund. 


New Zealand Geographic magazine is the journal of record for New Zealand, celebrating its people, places and wildlife. The magazine has built a strong reputation for lavish photography, showcasing the natural and cultural riches that make New Zealand unique. The New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year competition launched in 2009 and has become New Zealand’s most popular photographic competition. In 2014, a free public exhibition of finalist images and best work from previous years, toured Auckland and Christchurch, attended by some 33,000 visitors.

Category: General News
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