For a long time, big cities were no longer my favorite since they were always the same, crowded and stuffy. However, Queenstown gave me a peaceful sensation of the countryside, not of one of the most developed cities in New Zealand.
Perhaps the quaint natural scenery with immense Wakatipu Lake, not too busy undulating streets, lovely restaurants, together with lush green wineries and pretty neighborhood towns have made Queenstown a unique charm. It was a endless peaceful feeling when jogging around the shore of Wakatipu Lake in the early mist, watching the first ray of sunlight hit the water, glittering and magical.
- Day 1 & 2: Christchurch city
- Day 3: Castle Hill, Arthur’s Pass (149km)
- Day 4: Greymouth and Punakaiki (140km)
- Day 5: Franz Josef glacier (217km)
- Day 6: Wanaka (286km)
- Day 7: Te Anau (240km)
- Day 8: Milford Sound (118km)
Day 9: Queentowns (288km)
Day 10: Arrowtown (20km) and neighborhood wineries
- Day 11: Glenorchy (46km)
- Day 12-13: Mount Cook (287km) and Tasman Glacier
- Day 14: Christchurch (307 km)
(* Distance is measured by google map)
Day 9: Queenstown
After days of immersing in the calm, peaceful, but somewhat gloomy setting of Mildford Sound, we continued our 14-day road trip to Queenstown city. Going back to the same road to Te Anau, we once again admired the world of waterfalls and flocks of sheep grazing leisurely on the pastures. This time, we stopped the car and observed them.
Stout sheep were stolidly gnawing beside the highway. After a while, they were moved to the barn. Looking at a big herd of fat sheep running up the slope was so funny.
The route from Te Anau to Queenstown, through Kingston, called “Devils staircase” is the most beautiful road of our 14-day road trip in South island of New Zealand. As its name, the zigzag road is continuously winding with spectacular scenery of the contrast between the jagged Remarkable Mountains and the calm blue water of Lake Wakatipu.
It is also a dangerous road as it has a few bends with obscure visibility. Fortunately, on a distance of less than 30km long, there are several view points. Otherwise, many drivers including myself will not be able to concentrate on driving since we are distracted by picturesque natural landscapes.
The first impression when our car approached Queenstown city was the busier traffic, while we seemed to own the empty road all the long drive before. We drove straight up a hill in the center for a panoramic view of the city.
The scenery of Queenstown from the top of the hill was really impressive with a valley full of houses, surrounded by rivers, lakes and mountains. The mighty Remarkable Mountain Range located opposite the city looked like a defensive wall. Golden sunshine of the afternoon illuminated a row of luxurious houses on the hilltop.
Strolling the center of Queenstown, we really felt the dynamism of a city where restaurants had long queue and the shore of Lake Wakatipu was full of youth. Lake Wakatipu is one of New Zealand’s largest freshwater lakes, with dark blue and clear water. The lake is immense with big waves like the sea. Although it was summer, the lake water was still cold so most people just sit on the sand, sunbathing or admiring the scenery.
Walking along the shore of Lake Wakatipu seemed to dissolve all my fatigue after a long drive. I truly appreciated the unique characteristics of New Zealand cities and towns because they always have a lake as a focal highlight. Looking from the other side of the lake Wakatipu, Queenstown appeared harmoniously with the majestic natural landscape. Along the passage, I saw many young cones on the big green pine trees.
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Day 10: Arrowtown và neighborhood lush wineries
Falling in love with the peacefulness of Lake Wakatipu, I asked one of my friends to get up early for a run around the lake. It was actually a nice idea, thanks to which we had more unforgettable moments in Queenstown.
Queenstown city center was quiet in the early morning. We ran along the shores of Lake Wakatipu, under the pine trees, breathed in the fresh air and watched the spectacular scenery of Remarkable Mountain hidden behind the white mist. It was such a serene feeling when sitting quietly in front of that scene. When the first rays of sunlight hit the surface of the water, everything was brighten up gloriously. It was an unforgettable memory.
Our destination for that day was the lush neighborhood wineries, not too far from Queenstown. Not at harvest time, the grapes were still young on the rows of vineyards.
All the wineries were not too large and they didn’t have as many wines as other places where we had been like South Africa or Europe. We visited three of them and tasted several kind of wines, but the impression left in me was not the taste of the wines, but the poetic landscape of the vineyards.
We accidentally discovered a jade-colored river hidden behind a vineyard. The lush green trees on the mountainside highlighted the unique turquoise color of the river.
On our way back to Queenstown, we stopped by Arrowtown, a small town just 20 km from Queenstown. Nestled below the mountain peaks and on the gentle Arrow River, Arrowtown was once a bustling gold-mining village in the 19th century. The ancient wooden cottages which have been well preserved, pretty shops and famous restaurant has brought the delightful charm to Arrowtown today.
We really enchanted the rusticity of this town with picturesque flower-covered wooden cottage, narrow streets, lovely shops and cozy cafes. Wandering around town in a rainy day, running in and out of the cafes to avoid the rain was a memorable experience.
Check out the video clip below to learn more about our journey and you will like Queenstown as much as we do.
Traveled in Feb, 2016