WANAKA – QUEENSTOWN (Via Cardrona & Arrowtown)
Allow at least 70 minutes drive time (not including stops).
The ‘safest’ route between Wanaka and Queenstown is normally via State Highway 6, however the short 50 minute drive between Wanaka and Arrowtown via the Crown Range Road offers some incredible views and the chance to encounter friendly Keas (Mountain Parrots). This is one driving route that you can’t rush and to be honest, you will find yourself wanting to stop and check out the scenery at every stop you can on route to Arrowtown. From Arrowtown travel past Lake Hayes and join back onto State Highway 6 for the easy driving journey into Queenstown.
Some notable stops along the route to Queenstown include:
Located on the Crown Range route in the Cardrona Valley, the Cardrona Hotel was established in 1863 and is one of New Zealand’s oldest hotels. Only 20 minutes from Wanaka, this picturesque hotel boasts a renowned bar and restaurant with a unique ambience.
THE CROWN RANGE
The Crown Range Road is the highest main road in New Zealand and at the summit you will be a dizzying 1119.7 metres above sea level! From here you can enjoy stunning views down into Frankton, part of Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown. There is an area designated for drivers to pull over and take photos.
Prepare to spend at least a couple of hours in this fabulous tourist village, perhaps enjoy lunch at one of the cafes on the Main Street? Arrowtown is a historic former gold mining town and is also famous for its tree-lined avenue that in Autumn attracts photographers galore to capture the leaves of gold and red on the trees.
LAKES DISTRICT MUSEUM
Located in the heart of Arrowtown, the museum offers a variety of exhibits portraying early Maori in the district as well as the harsh pioneering days of the European settlers and the exciting gold rush era.
Just out of Arrowtown is the world-renowned Millbrook Resort and golf course. Enjoy brunch, lunch, dinner or just a coffee in one of the restaurants and bars, or enjoy a truly scenic game of golf on the Sir Bob Charles designed course. Hire golf clubs, golf carts and even a golf coach!
Once you arrive in Queenstown you might decide that 1 night is just not enough! Combine crystal clear mountain air, stunning lakes and majestic mountains with a plethora of visitor activities and you will see why Queenstown is considered New Zealand’s premier tourist destination.
The main centre of Queenstown offers a friendly ambience with plenty of cafes, restaurants, bars and shops to satisfy any cravings you may have for city action! There is a multitude of adventure and sports activities on offer, including summer lake activities and top class winter skiing or snowboarding at Treble Cone, Cardrona, Snow Farm, Snow Park and Harris Mountains – all within easy driving distance from Queenstown.
Highly recommended Queenstown tourist attractions include…
Ledge Bungy – Take a ride on the Gondola up to the Skyline complex and enjoy impressive views back down into Queenstown. The Ledge Bungy is in a truly spectacular location – 400m’s above Queenstown and is New Zealand’s only night operating Bungy (just in case you felt like plummeting into complete darkness). With over 10 ways to bungy jump off the ledge you’ll have a grand time!
Skyline Gondola & Luge – When you first arrive in Queenstown you will notice the distinctive outline of the Skyline complex high above town. Only a 5 minute walk from the CBD, the Gondola is a ‘must do’ on the Queenstown visitor list. At the top enjoy spectacular 220 degree panorama views before taking the fast way downhill in a luge.
TSS Earnslaw Vintage Steamship – Cruise across scenic Lake Wakatipu and relive the elegance of a bygone era on board this beautifully restored vintage steamship before enjoying a farmyard tour at Walter Peak High Country Farm.
Wine Tour – Discover the premium vineyards of Central Otago on a wine tour with an experienced guide, including lunch at one of the award winning wineries.
Kawarau Jet – Departing hourly from the pier in the heart of Queenstown, get ready for an unforgettable jetboat experience along two of New Zealand’s most scenic rivers.
Gibbston Valley Wines – This award-winning wine producer boasts an exceptional winery restaurant, wine tours and tasting events for visitors to the Central Otago region. Dine al fresco in the sun-drenched courtyard over summer, or enjoy the warm ambiance inside during winter.
High Country Horse Trekking – Enjoy horse trekking in the splendour of a privately owned high country sheep station just a short distance from Queenstown. Variety of trekking options to suit all levels.
Kiwi Birdlife Park – Located within a sanctuary of trees, bush and native trails in the heart of Queenstown, the park guarantees that all visitors will view a Kiwi! Enjoy the Live Conservation Show, Kiwi feedings, the Early Maori Hunting Village, Native Garden Trail and much more.
New Zealand Itineraries: South Island Suggested Itineraries
Our modern self-drive travel Itineraries have routes specifically for the North Island as well as the South Island, ranging from 5 to 11 days, plus there are some travel routes that take in both the North and South Island’s. Our range of travel itineraries include information regarding travel distances and time to ensure that you can make the best of your time in New Zealand, no longer how short your visit!
- 5 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Greymouth, Greymouth – Fox Glacier, Franz Josef – Wanaka, Wanaka – Mt Cook and Mt Cook – Christchurch
- 5 Day Itinerary (route 2): Christchurch – Hanmer Springs, Hanmer Springs – St Arnuad, St Arnuad – Blenheim, Blenheim – Kaikoura and Kaikoura – Christchurch
- 5 Day Itinerary (route 3): Christchurch – Mt Cook, Mt Cook – Queenstown, Queenstown – Dunedin, Dunedin – Oamaru and Oamaru – Christchurch
- 7 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Dunedin, Dunedin – Invercargill, Invercargill – Stewart Island, Stewart Island – Te-anau, Te Anau – Milford Sound, Te Anau – Queenstown and Queenstown – Christchurch
- 8 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Greymouth, Greymouth – Fox Glacier, Fox Glacier – Wanaka, Wanaka – Queenstown, Queenstown – Te Anau, Te Anau – Dunedin and Dunedin – Christchurch
- 9 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Dunedin, Dunedin, Dunedin – Invercragill, Invercargill – Te Anau, Te Anau Milford Sound, Te Anau – Queenstown, Queenstown – Mt Cook, Mt Cook – Lake Tekapo and Lake Tekapo – Christchurch
- 9 Day Itinerary (route 2): Christchurch – Omarama, Omarama – Dunedin, Dunedin, Dunedin – Te Anau, Te Anau – Milford Sound, Te Anau – Queenstown, Queenstown – Haast, Haast – Greymouth and Greymouth – Christchurch
- 9 Day Itinerary (route 3): Christchurch – Hanmer Springs, Hanmer Springs – Greymouth, Greymouth – Nelson, Nelson – Takaka, Takaka – Motueka, Motueka – Nelson, Nelson – Blenheim, Blenheim – Kaikoura and Kaikoura – Christchurch
- 11 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Dunedin, Dunedin – Te Anau, Te Anau – Milford Sound, Milford Sound – Queenstown, Queenstown – Wanaka, Wanaka – Franz Josef, Franz Josef – Greymouth, Greymouth – Nelson, Nelson – Blenheim, Blenheim – Kaikoura and Kaikoura – Christchurch