Across the settler colonies of the late nineteenth century the placemaking projects of newcomers were imbricated with Indigenous dispossession. Settler colonialism was, above all, a spatial project, and while the social and legal innovations of settler invasion have attracted substantial scholarly attention over the past two decades, its environmental dimensions remain insufficiently explored. Settler colonial studies might make more of its spatial turn. Through a close reading of the work of the Dunedin photographer Alfred Burton this article shows that visions of nature were the product of a system that managed continuing Indigenous presence by developing new conventions of representation. These practices divided Indigenous people from the landscapes that they inhabited, embellished settler environmental transformations, and contrived new natures. This article draws environmental history and settler colonial studies together to better understand the shared spatial foundations of Indigenous dispossession and settler placemaking.