Nature Boy: The Photography of Olaf Petersen

About the exhibition

About the exhibition

Olaf Petersen is one of New Zealand’s finest nature photographers, documenting our country’s landscape and its people. Nature Boy features 60 extraordinary images; from the birds, sea, trees and wind-rippled sand on Auckland’s west coast beaches, to the flora and fauna from the far north to Stewart Island. 

You’ll see Tāmaki Makaurau and Aotearoa New Zealand as Olaf saw it and get a glimpse of his fascinating life, his ‘mid-century modern’ photographic practice, and the natural world he documented.

Olaf shows the beauty that is all around you. This exhibition will invite you to stop and recognise it.

Nature Boy is available for tour from April 2023 and features 64 framed works.

Olaf Petersen. 1952. I'm Late. Auckland Museum. © Olaf Petersen Estate.

Exhibition catalogue

In this book, essays by Shaun Higgins, Andrew Clifford and Kirstie Ross chronicle Petersen’s methods and techniques, his relationship to the ‘camera club’ photographers and the emerging photographic avant-garde, and his links to the trampers and scientists who engaged with the natural world of the Waitākere coast. Throughout, almost a hundred of Petersen’s evocative photographs provide a compelling visual narrative.

Find out more about the catalogue here.

Olaf Petersen. ca. 1970. Hold It. Auckland Museum. © Olaf Petersen Estate.

Exhibition enhancements

Additional elements have been developed for the exhibition and can be added into the touring package. 

Camera Interactive 

This interactive invites visitor to position themselves behind the camera, looking through the lens of a Rolleiflex camera to recreate the photographer’s-eye view just as Petersen would have seen it. 


Olaf’s Coast, archival 10-minute short film (licensing required from from Ngā Taonga) 


Four listening posts that provide first-person narratives into Olaf Petersen’s character and what he was like as a photographer. There is also a soundscape, which features sounds of the sea, sand and bush will underscore the exhibition themes and transport visitors to the landscapes that are the subject of the photographs 

Field Club Album Digital Interactive 

Olaf Petersen’s carefully compiled Field Club albums have been digitised to allow visitors to flick through the pages that document his passion for and involvement in outdoor culture. While the objects selected for the exhibition are largely limited to his competition prints, this interactive gives greater insight into the nature and breadth of this aspect of Petersen’s practice. 


Contact Amber Lamana, Touring Exhibition Manager at [email protected] for more detail.