Over the holiday period my wife and I visited my family in Australia. Before heading back to the USA, we visited the South Island of New Zealand. This blog is a look back on some of the sights we saw in this beautiful island country. Hope you like the photos.
Jan 2 – Auckland to Queenstown
From Australia we arrived at Auckland International airport on the North Island, then took a flight to Queenstown in the South Island where we saw some beautiful mountain ranges in the afternoon sun.
Jan 3 – A cruise on Lake Wakatipu
Queenstown is located in Otago in the south-west of the South Island and the town center is situated next to Lake Wakatipu.
There are some striking mountain ranges near Queenstown, including The Remarkables.
Taking an afternoon cruise on the TSS Earnslaw is a great way to see Lake Wakatipu under the changing light conditions from cloud filtered light to rain showers under overcast skies.
Jan 4 – The Crown Range Pass
On our way to the Crown Range Pass we visited Lake Hayes which is a small lake located off highway 6 north east of Queenstown.
For a moment the surface of Lake Hayes was completely still, allowing for one to “reflect on what we see”.
We then continued north to Arrowtown which is an historic gold mining town and visited the Arrowtown Chinese Settlement.
After lunch we drove to Arrow Junction, then took the steep and winding Crown Range Pass road up the mountain range, where their were some stunning vista views.
The summit of the Crown Range Pass is about 3500 feet above sea level, where you can see Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, and Arrowtown. Its also surreal to see commercial planes, to the left of you, taking their approach to Queenstown airport in the valley below.
After reaching the summit, we drove down the winding road to Cardona, then decided to head back to Queenstown.
On our way to our hotel in Queenstown we saw some stunning views of The Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu.
Jan 5 – Zip lining down Bob’s Peak
After yesterday’s drive, we decided to stay around Queenstown and took the gondola to the top of Bob’s peak. At the top of the mountain you have views of Lake Wakapitu and the town below. Their are also many activities to do including hiking, bungy jumping, the luge, and zip lining.
We decided to try zip lining, which was a fun way to get back down the mountain. We even saw a giant “moa”.
Jan 6 – That Wanaka Tree and the Blue Pools
One of my friends reminded me about That Wanaka Tree, so we took another drive alone the Crown Range Pass to Lake Wanaka. Along the way we stopped by one of the many scenic views.
Lake Wanaka is north north-east of Queenstown and is New Zealand’s forth largest lake. If you look closely in the photo above, you will notice two yellow kayaks indicating the location of That Wanaka Tree.
That Wanaka Tree (aka. the lone tree of Lake Wanaka) is a crack willow tree and is about 70 to 80 years old. You can see why this is one of the most photographed trees in New Zealand.
After lunch, we continued on highway 6 past Lake Hawea and saw more stunning views of this region.
We continued north along the Haast Pass-Makarora Road part of highway 6 where we saw a great view of the Makarora River against an alpine background.
We reached the Blue Pools Track in Mount Aspiring National Park in the late afternoon and took the short walk to the Blue Pool that flows into the Makarora River. This is a popular place for people to relax and take a swim.
The late afternoon light really made the aqua blue color of the water stand out against the darkened cliffs.
We retuned home along highway 6 and stopped at The Neck for another beautiful vista view. This part of highway 6 is a small piece of land that separates Lakes Hawea and Wanaka.
Also couldn’t resist stopping at Wanaka for another look at That Wanaka Tree.
Jan 7 – Carrick, Lindis Pass and Lake Wakatipu
Today we drove east from Queenstown along highway 6 to Carrick Winery for lunch.
After lunch we drove north along highway 8 to Lindis Pass which connects the Mackenzie Basin and Central Otago. This is one of the most beautiful drives I’ve been on with the mountain ranges covered in sub-alpine snow tussock grasses. It looked like Middle Earth from Lord of the Rings.
On the way back to Queenstown we visited the Kawarau Gorge, the site of the world’s first commercial bungy jumping operation.
Once back at the hotel, I did my evening routine of walking across the road to watch the evening light and clouds over The Remarkables.
The light at dusk made the clouds fiery red and the mountains lining Lake Wakatipu looked like “volcano’s”.
Jan 8 and 9 – Milford Sound
For this part of the trip I’ll post a separate blog.
Jan 10 – Glenorchy
Today we visited Glenorchy, which is a small town at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu.
Here we did the short walk along the Glenorchy Lagoon Walkway which took us through some beautiful vista’s.
Jan 11 – Queenstown
We spent our penultimate day in Queenstown, where we walked around downtown, visited an art gallery, found a great place to have meat pies, visited the botanical gardens, and walked around part of Lake Wakatipu. Seeing “NZ 2018” made by someone else from pine cones, really capped off a fantastic vacation. Thanks New Zealand and everyone who helped us. We plan to return to this beautiful country.