A Photo Drive Around Wanaka, New Zealand

The air is still like winter. Alpine blues soften ice-bitten brown and gravel-grey mountains. Long lakes like mirrors line the valleys. Woodfire smoke rises to meet low cloud.

Sitting in the passenger seat, I’m in awe of the natural scenery and glad of hiring a car. I’m an adventurer on wheels; an intrepid spirit in air-conditioned warmth.

We stop to photograph reflections and stay ‘til our fingers are numb. The map covers knees and dashboard, showing the way to all the majestic sights that we don’t have enough daylight to see.Lake Dunstan  New Zealand South IslandLake Wanaka New Zealand South Island_1380299_1380300_1380307_1380336_1380549_1380562_1380436_1380507_1380478The view from Crown Range over Queenstown  New Zealand South Island

Tips for driving around Wanaka:

There are two ways to reach Wanaka from Queenstown. The Crown Range road, past Cardrona, is a winding road with incredible summit views and a higher chance of ice. It is a shorter, slightly more challenging drive but worth it for the photo ops. The other road is longer, and loops around the edge of the mountain range, alongside Lake Dunstan. Both routes take you through Arrowtown, the quaint, historic and tourist-filled township of Marino wool boutiques and cafes. Both routes will also take you a little way through the vineyards of this world-recognised wine region, and past some chances to taste a bit of cheese.

Stay up to date on road conditions by checking online daily. The New Zealand government site is pretty good for road condition and closure updates. Also stay tuned to Facebook and Twitter for talk of needing chains on the higher passes and unsealed roads. As you drive, also keep an eye out for signs stating the road warnings. There will be signs telling you if you need to put chains on your tyres, and there are stopping bays to do just that in the winding mountain roads.

There are a couple of great lookouts between Arrow Junction and the Crown Range summit. Be ready to pull over to get those spectacular shots across Queenstown and The Remarkables.


17 thoughts on “A Photo Drive Around Wanaka, New Zealand

      1. Still trying to work that out. My boyfriend is an electrical engineer, so we’re trying to go where the work is which looks like either Christchurch, Wellington or Auckland… haha possibilities are exciting!

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