A journey through limestone caves bringing "light to dark and remote places"; a spider in microscopic detail, and the aerial view of Franz Josef Glacier's fractured ice, are the images taking out top prizes at this year's prestigious New Zealand Geographic Photography awards.

The overall winner of the 65 finalists, announced this evening, was adventure photographer Neil Silverwood and his portfolio of images that portrayed the nation's Ironstone cave system.

His portfolio shows the journey into New Zealand's Ironstone cave system.

Judge convenor James Frankton said Silverwood had survived tough conditions to capture the images which he portrayed in an artful way.

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"He brings light to dark and remote places - sometimes dozens of lights - and allows us to visit those places and understand more of what makes this country remarkable."

Ben Sanford is an Australian alpine photographer. Photo / New Zealand Geographic
Ben Sanford is an Australian alpine photographer. Photo / New Zealand Geographic

Meanwhile a New Zealand Herald image that captured the power of the haka performed by Kiwi kids fighting back at the margins of society been given credit for how it has celebrated the tradition and relationships of all Kiwis.

The photograph which took out the culture category in this year's awards showed students from Papakura High School en route to a kapa haka performance seemingly preoccupied - barring one who challenged the camera full on.

Behind the lens was New Zealand Herald photojournalist Mike Scott who has been awarded the Epson Society and Culture category award as part of this year's awards.

His image of kapa haka performers on a bus was part of the NZ Herald documentary feature 'Under the Bridge'.

Mike Scott's photo shows a kapa haka group prepare for an event. Photo / New Zealand Geographic
Mike Scott's photo shows a kapa haka group prepare for an event. Photo / New Zealand Geographic

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Other winners included Australian alpine photographer Ben Sanford who took the title of Tamron Young Photographer of the Year, for his image showing a man scaling a snowy mountain against the backdrop of the sun and Joanne

And Joanne Ottey's ability to capture light and drama in her macro photograph of a spider won her the title of the Resene Colour award.

Joanne Ottey's photograph of a spider which took out the Resene Colour Award. Photo / New Zealand Geographic
Joanne Ottey's photograph of a spider which took out the Resene Colour Award. Photo / New Zealand Geographic

All 65 finalists photographs will be on display between December 15 and February 25 at Auckland Museum.

Auckland Museum director Doctor David Gaimster said it was a must-see summer holiday activity.

"The museum will display these unique snapshots of New Zealand life on backlit panels for the first time, allowing every detail to really shine."