We report on the wet-chemical synthesis of ZnO nanoparticles and their functionalization with metal colloids by photocatalytic reduction of metal ions. Different morphologies of ZnO nanoparticles were prepared by using different precursor concentrations and zinc sources such as zinc acetate, zinc propanoate and zinc decanoate. Spherical ZnO nanoparticles were produced at low concentrations and with zinc precursors having long alkylchains. The formation of elongated particles was achieved by using zinc acetate and high precursor concentrations. We found that ZnO nanorods were grown via oriented attachment of pre-formed quasi-spherical particles. This growth mechanism occurs at almost ambient temperature and in the first step, pearl chain like structures of 5 nm particles are formed, which coarse by condensation and finally grow - assisted by Ostwald ripening - to almost perfect single crystalline rods with length up to 300 nm. These nanorods were metallizied with silver and platinum by photocatalytic reduction of the appropriate metal ions on pre-formed ZnO nanorods. The deposition of metal took place at different locations of the ZnO nanorods and depended on the metal source. Positively charged silver ions were preferentially reduced to silver colloids at one end of the ZnO nanorods and led to anisotropic functionalized nanoparticles. Using a negatively charged platinum complex instead of silver ions generated a statistical coverage of the ZnO nanorods.