One of the most scenic places I have ever been in the world just so happens to be in my back garden of the South Island in New Zealand. Having never been to the South Island until 2012 (I know I’m a bad kiwi) I was totally blown away by the scenery, I always expected it to be good but after leaving Christchurch and driving south to Lake Tekapo and then on to Queenstown I managed to see some of the most rugged but beautiful landscape in the world.
After leaving rainy Christchurch we headed south towards Lake Tekapo. On the way to Tekapo there were mountains, rolling hills, trickles of snow and literally no cars in sight. With a quick pit stop in Ashburton on the way it was an easy three and a half hour journey to Lake Tekapo.
Approaching Lake Tekapo was one of my favourite parts of the journey as it had just started to snow and it was all foggy, not great driving conditions but knowing that a beautiful lake and snow capped mountains awaiting me I couldn’t wait to get there.
After spending the night in Lake Tekapo we got back on the road and headed south for our final destination of Queenstown. With the Southern Alps close by it was always going to be a stunning journey, after meeting a girl in Fiji a couple of weeks before she told us we had to go to the clay cliffs somewhere in the south island. We didn’t think anything of it until we saw a tiny sign post for the clay cliffs, we did some off road driving for about 30 minutes to finally find them (we think). It was such an eerie location and again with no cars in sight we quickly got back on the road before we got stuck in the mud. These strange structures are like nothing I had seen before but it is well worth the pit stop on the way but maybe research it better than I did!
There were crystal clear water in the lakes and snow capped mountains as far as the eye could see. To be honest there were just too many spots to stop and take pictures we had to stop as we were spending so much time stopping to get those iconic images of New Zealand’s rugged landscape.
The landscape became more rugged as we hit the area leading up to Cadrona, Wanaka and finally Queenstown. The fog was overwhelming and the rolling hills were never ending, the cars were becoming more frequent which meant we were definitely on the right track to Queenstown (phew).
Before we knew it we were in the picturesque town of Wanaka where in the winter months ski and snowboarders flock to and in the summer months water sports are the main attraction. Along with brilliant walks and incredible views Wanaka is a great little spot if Queenstown gets too much.
The final stop before Queenstown was the iconic Cardrona Hotel, it is iconic for us kiwis but probably unrecognisable for anyone else. The Cadrona Hotel was used for advertising purposes for the kiwi beer Speights and there are also replicas of the building in Auckland that are now pubs. Cardrona was a gold rush town back in the 1860’s but is now more of a stop off point as it is just 40 minutes from Queenstown.
The final descend to Queenstown is nothing short of magnificent as you can see in the pictures below. The snowy mountains, the rolling hills mean that Lord of the Rings scenes coming flashing into your brain and you soon realise why New Zealand was the only place to truly bring the masterpiece to life.
They say it’s about the journey not the destination but in this instance I was pretty happy with both!
Have you done the scenic drive from Christchurch to Queenstown?
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