Nic Freeman

Sharing the wonders of travel & everyday adventures

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 comments on “A Photo Drive Around Wanaka, New Zealand

  1. treesshrubs
    August 28, 2013

    Great photos….and yes how could they not be, the south island is magic. I love it even when it’s cold!

  2. amberray84
    August 28, 2013

    I’m moving to NZ early next year so I’m reading your posts religiously!! Getting more excited with each of those gorgeous photos!

    • Nic Freeman
      August 29, 2013

      That’s exciting! Where are you planning to move?

      Stay tuned – more NZ stories to come.


      • amberray84
        August 29, 2013

        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!

  3. rhymeswithpapaya
    August 29, 2013

    Stunning photos of the area. Looks a little chilly but gorgeous. Those sheep are adorable too. Nice Post 🙂

    • Nic Freeman
      September 1, 2013

      Thanks! It was certainly chilly, but worth it for the scenery.

  4. Patti
    August 30, 2013

    Ah Nic, I do love it when you go on holiday 🙂 xo

  5. The Perpetual Vagabond
    September 4, 2013

    Stunning photos! I went there years ago and loved it, thanks for sharing!

  6. everthewanderer
    September 6, 2013

    I recently spent two years living in Auckland in New Zealand and was very lucky enough to visit Wanaka several times, your photos really do it justice, such a majestic place.

    • Nic Freeman
      September 6, 2013

      Thank you. I agree – majesty is a good word to describe Wanaka. I hope to visit the north island in the not-so-distant future too.

  7. Lela Bonchjela
    September 30, 2013


  8. Thomas Cochran
    October 26, 2013

    Might be the prettiest country in the world.

    • Nic Freeman
      November 10, 2013

      Oh, that’s a tough call Thomas, (thinking Norway, Slovenia, Australia) but it’s definitely up there!

  9. catsymonds
    December 4, 2013

    Fantastic photo’s, really inspiring. Perhaps you wouldn’t mind having a read of our new blog too, a spot for top travel secrets and inspriation with Booking Request:

    Thanks again for the great post!

  10. Travelling Mole
    January 12, 2014

    Reblogged this on Woman on the run.

  11. orarose
    March 3, 2014

    Oh my goodness! I spend 3 months of the year in Wanaka. Stoked that you managed to capture it’s beauty.

  12. margot2you
    April 24, 2014

    Reblogged this on Mistrz i Małgorzata and commented:

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This entry was posted on August 28, 2013 by in Photography, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , .

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