On the fifth day of our trip to Queenstown, we embarked on a day trip to Wanaka, including the Crown Range Summit and the Cardrona Hotel, in the morning. After a delightful lunch, we continued our journey to Arrowtown. In this article, we will delve into the captivating experiences of our morning activities, with Arrowtown deserving its dedicated article.
1. Crown Range Road and summit
Our bus navigated a steep and winding road, leading us to the magnificent views of the Crown Range Summit. This vantage point sits at an impressive elevation of 1076 meters, offering breathtaking vistas. However, it’s worth noting that during winter, the Crown Range Road (the highest main road in New Zealand) can present challenges due to icy and snowy conditions.
Given the approaching winter season, it was crucial to be prepared for any road conditions, including the need for tire chains. Recognizing the importance of this, we decided to join a bus tour instead of opting for a self-drive option.
There are two routes when traveling from Queenstown to Wanaka, but the Crown Range Road is worth it for every visitor. This scenic road is renowned for its numerous hairpin turns and breathtaking 360-degree curves. The view is spectacular at designated viewpoints and throughout the journey along the steep and winding road, offering picturesque vistas at every turn.
Watch the video we shot at Wanaka. It is at the end of this article. 👇👇
2. Cardrona Hotel
After capturing some photos at the summit, our bus proceeded to the famous Cardrona Hotel, a mere fifteen-minute drive away. This scenic drive passes through the mountain range and Cardrona town.
Established in 1863, the Cardrona Hotel proudly stands as one of the oldest hotels in New Zealand. Excitement filled us as we explored the hotel during our tour, which entailed purchasing a drink for entry. Thankfully, our tour company had made arrangements, allowing us to savor a mocktail as we strolled the restaurant and admired the picturesque bear garden.
According to their website, the Cardrona Hotel is rumored to be the most photographed building in New Zealand. With its rustic charm, legendary beer garden, and award-winning restaurant, it is truly a one-of-a-kind establishment.
A brief history of Cardrona Hotel
The Cardrona Hotel, established in 1863, is one of New Zealand’s oldest hotels. It is one of the two remaining Cardrona Valley gold rush-era buildings. The hotel, one of four in the town, provided accommodation and services for travelers. The hotel’s historic facade symbolizes the vanished town and is significant in New Zealand history.
3. Cardrona Bra Fence
The Cardrona Bra Fence, affectionately known as Bradrona, is a distinctive attraction. It originated in late December 1998, when four bras were playfully attached to the fence along the main road. Over time, more bras were added, gradually increasing in number. By October 2000, the count had reached 2000. Since then, the bra fence has become a popular tourist spot, continually adding new bras.
Due to its immense popularity, the original fence had to be relocated from the main highway to the driveway entrance of The Cardrona, which Kelly Spaans and Sean Colbourne own. The Cardrona is a business that offers horse trekking and quad-bike tours.
In front of the fence is a pink donation box encouraging contributions to the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation.
4. The Wanaka Tree
The trip to Wanaka is not complete without visiting the famous #ThatWanakaTree. The Wanaka Tree, known as the “Lone Tree of Wanaka,” is the most photographed tree in New Zealand. This majestic tree stands gracefully in the crystal-clear waters of Lake Wanaka, drawing attention and admiration as the only tree emerging from the depths of the lake.
At first glance, the Wanaka Tree creates an enchanting illusion, appearing to float delicately on the surface of the lake. However, this ethereal quality is merely a captivating visual trick.
To uncover the story behind the Wanaka Tree, we must travel back eighty years when a fence was constructed along the shores of Lake Wanaka. A resilient branch sprouted from an old willow fence post, giving birth to the Wanaka Tree.
Initially, the locals paid little attention to the Wanaka Tree’s presence. However, with the rise of social media, the Wanaka Tree gained fame, propelling it onto the must-visit lists of tourists worldwide.
We captured some photographs of the Wanaka Tree and were fortunate to have someone rowing a boat nearby, adding a unique touch to our pictures.Booking.com
5. Hang Out by the Wanaka Lakefront
After we visited the solitary Wanaka tree, we arrived at the bustling town center of Wanaka for lunch. We followed our guide’s recommendation and decided on Big Fig Wanaka.
The price was reasonable, with a flexible menu where you could select either three or four items from the Bain-marie.
After lunch, we took some photos at the Hand that Nurtures statue. Created by Aspiring Arts and Culture Trust in 2005, this remarkable art piece encapsulates profound concepts of safety, protection, friendship, openness, and honesty.
We then strolled along the picturesque lakefront and Wanaka Wharf. There were numerous ducks gracefully swimming near the jetty.
To our delight, we had the rare opportunity to observe some huge black eels that boldly approached us during our visit.
Next on our itinerary is Arrowtown, a destination that deserves its dedicated article. The journey thus far has been challenging, given that it’s a full-day tour. However, we were thrilled with the breathtaking mountain vistas, fulfilling our desire to visit the iconic Wanaka Tree and explore the historic Cardrona Hotel.
Watch the video we shot during our trip to Wanaka👇👇
We also upload a video we shot during our trip to Wanaka. Please click the image below to bring you to our YouTube channel (shot in high definition!). You may also want to check out our visit to Queenstown Hill and Queenstown scenic helicopter flights.