New Zealand - Road trips & good good times,
Our third trip to NZ, and so many of you asking for must-do recommendations, so we thought we’d compile a list of our favourite things that kept us busy over these last two weeks,
Accomodation / Transport:
We based ourselves in Queenstown for one week, and Wanaka the second week and arranged a hire car for daily road trip adventures,
We’ve previously also travelled the entire time in a campervan, and think that both have their pro’s and cons so it really just depends on what will suit your situation better,
We loved having a home base for cooking normal food, comfy bed & shower, and always being able to charge our camera gear,
But campervan travel around NZ means less driving as you’re literally driving to each spot, and then moving along to the next (where as we drove up to 3 x hours up and back the same way for example due to having a base elsewhere)
If you’re not travelling via campervan, then in our personal opinion, car-hire is a MUST
We love airbnb for finding stays in the area - if you want the link for the spots we stayed at, just send us a DM as we would highly recommend them both :)
Week 1 in Queenstown:
Sunsets at Skippers Canyon Road at Coronet Peak, so many spots to explore around here at golden hour, we came back up Coronet Peak three times, and each time experienced a different sunset perspective,
Our favourite area that we accessed was about half way up coronet peak road, and on your left there’s a road that says “Skippers Canyon Road”, continue to drive up this until you reach a cattle grate and a fence.
Spot 1 - continue to drive down skippers canyon road for approx 400 metres down the canyon, and you will reach a small Ridgeline / rock formations, be super careful, but we loved shooting here at sunrise and sunset and it was really easy to access
Spot 2 - just after the cattle grate, this is where you can leave your car and the start of the hike begins from this point. Make a sharp left hand turn by foot after the fence line / cattle grate, and follow this dirt road up and around, walk over three small wooden steps that will take you over a small fence, continue to follow the dirt road all the way to the top (you will pass around 3 x small lakes too). You will know once you’ve reached the top of the lookout because there will be telecommunication towers here, this is where we took some photo’s. This hike actually can continue much longer if you wish, but we headed back down the way we came before it got too dark,
Bobs Cove, about 15 x minutes out of Queenstown, a short walk along the bright blue lake until you reach a little jetty, we spent a couple of hours here eating lunch, and swimming in the fresh lake. We recommend continuing the hike past this point up to Picnic Rock Point - the views were epic
Onsen Hot Pools - we went first thing in the morning while the sun lit up the valley and shotover river, snacks and drinks included, a must do less than ten minutes out of Queenstown!
Chard Farm - a little cellar door / winery approx 45 x minutes out of Queenstown, tastings are free if you purchase a bottle, otherwise a small donation is appreciated, picturesque drive up, we felt like we were in Spain!
Moke Lake - about a 20 x minute drive out of Queenstown, we love packing a picnic and bringing it to this spot for sunset. There’s a little trail you can do here, or you can just sit and enjoy the serenity,
The Remarkables - similar to Coronet Peak, whether you are snowboarding etc, or not, the roads are open to the public (weather permitting), we always find the best best views from up here, so we always recommend driving up to the top of the ski fields at sunrise or sunset for golden light heaven and views like no other!
Cardona Hotel - on the way to Wanaka from Queenstown, Cardrona is approx half way and the pub here is always a must-stop-in, really good beers, wine, and large servings of hot chips, there’s also a huge beer garden outside which is perfect for a sunny day, otherwise a raging fireplace inside for the winter
Week 2 in Wanaka:
My Secret Picnic Wanaka - whether you’re travelling with a partner, best friend, your mum, or even on your own, Chantelle from My Secret Sunset will set up the BEST BOHO SUNSET PICNIC you’ve ever had. Think Persian pouf pillows, wild rugs, fresh flowers, candles, picnic baskets, pallets tables, crystal wine glasses, and fairy lights. Also the food Chantelle put together was divine, all sourced locally and made with love, this was literally our favourite night of our NZ trip enjoying good food, delicious wine, in the dreamiest of settings, check them out at @mysecretpicnicwanaka and book this in one night, a must do we promise!
Roys Peak hike, we didn’t do this hike this time around due to timing, everyone will tell you to go in the morning for sunrise, but we drove past the carpark at 6am and there was literally 80 x cars there, then we drove past again at sunset and there was a dozen max, in our opinion, sunset is the way to go if you want to avoid the crowds. Kirk has done this hike on a previous trip and he 100% recommends it
Lake Pukaki & Lake Tekapo, you can do this on the way to Mount Cook if you like, but we made an additional trip because we wanted to dedicate a full morning / night to spending in Mt Cook. Lake Tekapo is meant to be incredible during lupin season, but unfortunately we missed this by a month or so (best blooming in Nov - late Jan)
Lake Pukaki is where we shot with our zoom lens incredible views of Mount Cook in the backdrop
Blue Pools, about an hour or so out of Wanaka, the trail takes about 30 x minutes to walk from the carpark and it’s all very flat, you can go swimming here but beware of the sandflies, they ate us silly! Two swing bridges and you’ll reach the pools, you can also continue on the trail for a little while longer if you have the time,
Rippon Winery, quite literally the best views we’ve ever seen from a winery! Tastings are complimentary but you have to book in advance online, which we highly recommend doing because they were fully booked on the day that we wanted to visit, so we ended up doing the tasting and visit the following day (no biggie)
Ruby Island Road - drive right to the end and you’ll find yourself right on the lake, super nice views and alot quieter than the main part of the lake in town, pack a picnic or a book to read, it’s really nice and peaceful here,
Mount Iron - a 1.5 hour round trip hike, not too hard and beautiful 360 views of Wanaka town, the lake, and the mountain surrounds
Mount Cook Day Trip - YOU HAVE TO GO TO MOUNT COOK! But time your day trip here with the weather, because it can get pretty wild! We saved our Mt Cook day for the warmest day, and had nothing but blue skies once the cloud cleared after the morning (which is pretty common). We’ve been to Mount Cook a few times now, but if you’re just heading there for a day trip, our favourite two hikes are,
1. Sealy Tarns Lookout - there are 2200 steps all the way up, it took us about an hour to get from the bottom to the top, and the views of Mount Cook and the glacier are insane from up here. Some people choose to continue all the way up to Mueller Hutt, but the hike gets a little more technical from Sealy Tarns - Mueller Hutt
2. Hooker Valley Track - this trail will take you about 3 x hours return if you do it at a leisurely pace, it’s very flat and easy, there are 3 x swing bridges and at the end you reach a lake and close up views of the glacier & Mount Cook backdrop
Rob Roy Glacier & Drive - we’ve done this on a previous trip but it was closed this time, so instead we just drove up the road towards the Rob Roy Glacier where you’ll see lots of deer, cows, and sheep farming, the roads and mountains area really beautiful and moody in this area, so we loved doing photography here.
These are just a handful of our recommendations guys, some of them involve dangerous walks and narrow roads, so always be super careful, don’t do anything you aren’t comfortable with, wear safe footwear, and as difficult as it can be with such stunning views, don’t let yourself become too distracted when driving & make sure that if you have traffic behind you, pull over to let them pass / overtake you
If you’re in any of the national parks or intend on doing any day hikes / overnight hikes, always check in with the information DOC centres first if you’re unsure of the track, or future weather conditions, the weather can change really quickly especially when in the mountains.
We would recommend at least 10 days minimum in NZ, and we honestly could spend years exploring, adventuring, hiking, and taking photographs here, it’s quite potentially our favourite country in the world!
Also if you’re flying into Queenstown, pay the extra $10 to seat select and get yourself a window view, coming in over the mountains for the last 15 x minutes of your flight is INSANE, have your camera ready.
As vegetarians, we were also SUPER IMPRESSED with the amount of vegan friendly cafe’s / restaurants, and the supermarkets had alot of fresh produce and choices too with lots of organic NZ brands that we loved trying out.
Enjoy, and email / DM us if you have any other questions!
Peace and love,
Mish & Kirk