Leaving with memories of the toothy peaks and mirror-smooth waters of Milford Sounds, we headed inland on the Southern Scenic Route.
We bypassed the tourist hub of Queenstown, wanting to stay just outside in the serenity of Wanaka.
Driving in South Island is full of surprises. The roads have some magical quality, where they can zig zag through prehistoric forest, carve a steep and windy path through grassy-clad mountainous ranges, or furrow into seemingly undiscovered terrain. Whichever way you look, there’s something to uncover.
On the drive away from Queenstown, we spyed trees tumbling into Lake Hayes. On closer inspection, after crashing through a maze of silvery ferns, we realised that the incredible reflection was playing tricks on our eyes!
Upon arriving in the historic gold rush village of Arrowtown, one of the pockets of life in these endlessly beautiful drives where you see no one for miles, we were greeted by rows of heritage weatherboard buildings along tree-lined avenues.
The Europeans were Arrowtown’s early gold miners and when they felt there was no more gold to be mined, Chinese immigrants from China and South Australia were invited to try their luck. The remains of their very separate village lie by the Arrow River; it’s intriguing to learn how they lived, but also the way they were treated after the initial invitation.
From here, the road cleverly bends its way through rolling lush green hills whilst a tapestry of fields stretched as far as the next mountain range. Just a as you think the road is disappearing around a corner, it opens up to reveal a new vista.
After a three hour drive, we rolled into a peaceful yet bustling Wanaka. The lake welcomes all sorts of water sports on the water, and the surrounding tracks offer great cycling/running/walking opportunities. This was our first glimpse of warm sunshine in New Zealand so we revelled in the chance to chill in the outdoors!