June 17, 2024 10:00 am - June 21, 2024 12:00 pm Chatham Island

*** SOLO TRAVELLERS NO EXTRA FOR OWN ROOM *** Did you know that Chatham Islands is a drone and photographer’s bucket list destination?   This sounds like an incredible opportunity for drone enthusiasts and photographers alike!

Exploring the rugged beauty of Chatham Islands while honing drone photography skills and obtaining 101 certification is a fantastic blend of education and adventure. With a small group setting, participants can expect personalised attention and plenty of opportunities to capture stunning imagery under the guidance of experts. Combining the expertise of Ryan Groves from RPA Skills with the guidance and creativity of Lesley Whyte, participants are in for a truly enriching experience.  

The combination of practical training, exploration, and image processing assistance ensures that participants will not only leave with new skills but also with memorable photos to cherish. It’s an adventure that promises to inspire and ignite passion for both drone operation and photography.

This small group, maximum of 6 drone operators is suitable for beginner, hobbyists through to advanced drone operators.  Ryan will take you through the one-day 101 RPA Flight Management course: Part 1 Theory & Part 2 Practical Assessment, which, successfully completed, you will receive your certification.

Now it’s time to head out exploring the island with your drone, capturing images of New Zealand’s best kept secret location. Ryan will be with you providing guidance to enable you to capture the most amazing imagery while in the afternoon and evenings, Lesley will assist you with your individual image processing.

Beyond the incredible landscapes and skills gained, the Chatham Island Drone Photography Retreat offers a unique opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals who share a passion for drones and photography. Building friendships and camaraderie with fellow drone operators adds another layer of enjoyment to the experience, making it not just a learning opportunity but also a memorable social event.

Moreover, gaining confidence in both flying drones and editing photos and videos ensures that participants leave the retreat not only with new skills but also with a sense of empowerment and accomplishment. It’s a holistic experience that combines learning, adventure, and social connection, leaving participants inspired and ready to take their drone photography to new heights.

Click here to check out two of Air Chatham’s videos where you can see some drone footage.

PS … want to bring your partner/wife/husband – we have a special rate for them.

This drone retreat is a colloboration between Lesley Whyte, Photographer & Adventurer, RPA Skills and Drone Depot.


Monday 17th: 

You’ll be meeting Lesley & Ryan at Auckland Domestic Airport at 10.00am for pre-retreat  chat.  You’ll  departing on our Air Chathams’ flight at 1.30pm.  Once we land at the Chatham Islands around 5.00pm we will be meet you on arrival and be transferred to our accommodation at Hotel Chathams.  Once you’ve settled into your accomodation and after dinner Ryan and Lesley will commence their workshop.

Dinner included

Tuesday: One-day 101 RPA Flight Management course – Part 1 Theory & Part 2 Practical Assessment.

Wednesday & Thursday: The variety and beauty of the landscapes and seascapes are truly awe-inspiring! From capturing the tranquility of sunrise overlooking Waitangi Beach to the rugged majesty of Maunganui Bluff, participants are in for a treat with such diverse photography opportunities.

Exploring wild and windswept seascapes, including rarely accessible locations with Lesley’s guidance, adds an element of adventure and exclusivity to the retreat. Port Hutt sounds particularly intriguing with its shipwrecks and dramatic coastal vistas, making it a must-visit for any drone operator and photographer.

With Lesley’s expertise and early morning and late evening outings, participants will have the chance to capture the best lighting conditions and atmospheric moments. Packing appropriate gear, including good walking shoes, layers of clothing, and waterproof boots, ensures comfort and preparedness for all weather conditions, allowing everyone to fully immerse themselves in the photography experience.

It sounds like an unforgettable journey through some of New Zealand’s most breathtaking landscapes, promising a wealth of stunning imagery and memorable experiences for all involved.

The addition of Lightroom and Photoshop workshops, along with a dedicated print preparation workshop, elevates the Chatham Islands Drone Photography Retreat to a comprehensive learning experience. Participants not only have the opportunity to capture stunning images but also to enhance and prepare them for printing under the guidance of a seasoned professional like Lesley Whyte.

Demystifying the editing process in Lightroom and Photoshop allows participants to unlock the full potential of their captured images, ensuring they reach their fullest artistic expression. From basic edits to more advanced techniques, attendees will gain valuable skills to take their photography to the next level.

The dedicated print preparation workshop is a unique opportunity to learn about the intricacies of preparing images for printing and to experience the satisfaction of seeing one’s work come to life in print. With hands-on guidance from Lesley, participants will learn how to achieve optimal results and produce high-quality prints that showcase their creativity and skill.

The chance to have images printed on professional photographic paper using top-of-the-line equipment adds an extra layer of excitement and accomplishment to the retreat. Participants will leave with not only newfound knowledge and skills but also tangible mementos of their time on the Chatham Islands, ready to be proudly displayed or shared with others.

Overall, the combination of photography exploration, editing workshops, and print preparation sessions ensures that participants receive a well-rounded and enriching experience that will inspire and empower them in their photographic journey.

Breakfast & lunch plus dinner

Friday 21st: It’s gone far too fast, as today is your last morning and time to pack-up and head for an early breakfast before you are transferred to the Airport to board your flight to Auckland where you’ll be landing before lunch.   Plan for your onward flight home after 2.00pm.



  • One-day 101 RPA Flight Management course valued at $690
  • Breakfast, lunch and two course dinner as outlined above
  • Tea & coffee from the coffee station at the hotel (Barista or speciality coffees own cost)
  • Four nights accommodation at Hotel Chatham – own room with ensuite, so no sharing
  • Return flight to Chatham Island from Auckland valued at $1,256
  • Mentoring from Lesley – multi-award winning photographer
  • Tuition from Ryan – an inspirational professional drone operator
  • Take home a selection of your images printed in A3+ & A4, ready for framing – value $500+
  • Photo processing sessions
  • Daily video 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 backpack and drone on unstable farmland – some walks are 30 minutes, while others are only a few steps.


  • Flights to connect with your Air Chatham flights in Auckland
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Barista or speciality coffees
  • Alcohol with dinner
  • Items not mentioned above.

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


Air Chathams flight times are sometimes changed and weather can delay departure, therefore it is recommended that you book your connecting flights as “fully flexible” as we are not responsible for the cost to change your connecting flights.


You can secure your place with a $500 deposit, the balance payable 6 weeks prior to travel.


Drone Operators: $4,300 per person – own room. Ground floor Bayview room with ensuite, king or two single beds, Sky TV and tea making facility, door opening out to deck.  Non Drone Operators (partners/wife/husband) sharing your room $2,600 – includes return Air Chathams flights & meals.

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2024 Drone Photography Retreat – ground floor Bayview room with ensuite – deposit per person $500
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2024 Drone Photography Retreat (non drone operator) – ground floor Bayview room with ensuite, sharing with your partner – deposit per person $500
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