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U.S.FTC GUIDELINES PLEASE NOTE: we act as an affiliate for several companies that feature on our website. In some cases we may earn a commission from referrals to those companies. For further information please refer to our Privacy and Disclaimer policies which can be found in the "US" tab.

 10 Days in the South Island Day 7

Looking over Lake Wanaka from The Moorings

10 Days in the South Island Day 7 -  Wanaka to Queenstown

Our adventure continues today as we head to New Zealand's "adventure capital", Queenstown.

Historic Cardrona Hotel
Handy Tips

1) You can view our route map at the bottom of the page. You can zoom in and out for more detail.

2) Want to take the same route as us? Feel free to hire a car and use this itinerary as a guide, or fill out the form at the bottom of the page to talk to one of our local experts. We can put together a fully packaged self drive tour for you.

3) Place your cursor on a picture for a description of the picture.

4) There is much less traffic in New Zealand than in many other countries, and the roads are well sealed, so driving is easy, as long as you drive to the conditions. In winter, "grit trucks" patrol the highways and when there is snow or ice about, they drop fine grit onto the roads to improve grip.

We rise around 7 am at our motel, The Moorings.

The Moorings at Wanaka

We pull back the curtains and take in the amazing view over the lake, looking towards the mountains.

If you come to Wanaka, please, make sure that you stay somewhere overlooking the lake!

After a quick shower we head to Dave & Paula's room for breakfast.

Around 9am we pack the car, say goodbye to our host at The Moorings, Peter, and head off for the hour or so trip to Queenstown.

It's a shame that we have to leave Wanaka. It's just a beautiful place, and we could have easily stayed a week had time allowed. Maybe next time.

And we would happily stay at The Moorings again.

You can read more about what to see and do in Wanaka by clicking here.

Our route today takes us from Wanaka to the small village of Cardrona (access point to the Cardrona ski fields), before heading over the Crown Range to Queenstown. All up, the drive will take us around one hour.

Crown Range car park covered in snow

It's a little cloudy today and the drive to Cardrona takes around 15-20 minutes. We stop briefly for a picture of the historic Cardrona Hotel. From the outside it looks ready to fall down, but this fully functional icon is a great place to stop for a meal if you are heading this way. In the cooler months a roaring fire welcomes you inside, whilst in the warmer months, the large grassed outdoor area is the perfect spot to sit for lunch.

Not long after leaving Cardrona we start our climb up the Crown Range. With an altitude of over 1100 meters at it's peak, this is the highest main road in New Zealand, and is a much more scenic drive than the alternative route through Cromwell.

During the winter months the road is subject to ice and snow, and can close at times, so it's a good idea to check conditions before traveling. At times, snow chains may be needed.

To check road conditions, visit the New Zealand Transport Agency website.

Snow on the Crown Range between Wanaka and Queenstown

Fortunately for us, the road is open today and although the roadside and hills are covered in heavy snow, the grit trucks have been through and the road surface is in good condition.

This is beautiful country and the snow covered slopes, dotted with alpine tussock grass, rise steeply around us as we make our ascent. Part way up my ears "pop".

As we reach the summit we pull in to the roadside viewing area which looks down the valley towards Queenstown. We take care as we step out of the car as the ground is frozen and we are standing on sheets of ice!

After a few pictures we continue our drive and after around 10 minutes we arrive at the bottom of the Crown Range and join the main road into Queenstown.

Arrowtown Lakes District Museum

From here it's around 20 minutes to town and the road takes us past numerous wineries and the turn off to  historic Arrowtown, built around the gold mining boom in the 1800's.

As we near Queenstown, we come to Frankton village. Frankton is home to the Queenstown airport, and as Queenstown has grown, has become a retail and commercial hub. Remarkables Park and Five Mile are the two main shopping precincts at Frankton and have large supermarkets and dozens of shops.From Frankton to central Queenstown takes around 10-15 minutes to drive.

Frankton also marks the start of Lake Wakatipu which comes into view on our left hand side.  At this time of year the views are breath taking.

Queenstown golf club

We follow the road (Frankton Road) into Queenstown, passing the ever increasing range of holiday apartments that now compete for business here.

We have stayed at a few of these over the years, and whilst they all offered excellent accommodation, the 30 minute plus walk to Queenstown is not for us these days. With parking in central Queenstown at a premium, and mostly pay as you use, we prefer to stay close to the central business area so that we don't need to get the car out of the garage.

By now it's around 10.30 am and too early to check into our accommodation at Pepper's Beacon, but we call them and are told that our room will be ready around mid-day. That works perfectly for us and gives us time to head to the supermarket and stock up on supplies for the next few days.

Pepper's Beacon Queenstown

So we drive back to the Remarkables Park and the New World supermarket and gather what we need. While we are out this way we drive around the lake to Kelvin Heights so that we can show Dave & Paula the Queenstown Golf Club. Sitting proudly above Lake Wakatipu on a peninsula, it has been rated as the most picturesque course in New Zealand. We notice that the cafe is open and as we enter, the smell of freshly baked blueberry muffins fills our nostrils. We each have a hot muffin and coffee and gaze out over the course and lake. Wow! Before we head back to town, Dave and I arrange to play in tomorrow's Saturday competition. The local golf professional is a nice young bloke and books us in.

We make our way back into town and to our home for the next three nights, Pepper's Beacon.

Queenstown view from Pepper's Beacon

Pepper's Beacon is a favorite of ours. This is our fourth or fifth stay and we love its lakefront location, 3 minute level walk to town, and large rooms with stunning views.

We check in and make our way up to our room on level 8. It took a bit of negotiation, but we were able to pre-book the apartment that we wanted. The higher levels at the rear of the property offer great views, away from the noise of the street at the front. Our two bedroom apartment is fully self contained with two bathrooms, a full kitchen and a laundry.

As we open the front door and walk down the hallway to the living area, our eyes are drawn to the view. We had boasted to Dave and Paula about this place and they are not disappointed. We drop our bags, open the large stacker doors that lead to the huge deck and make our way outside. I'll let the pictures tell the story!

Looking over Queenstown from Pepper's Beacon

We unpack our bags and our groceries, then sit back and relax for a few hours.


We eat in tonight, and recharge our batteries, ready for a big day tomorrow.

Go to Day 8

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