Two weeks ago we went to New Zealand to enjoy some snow time with the kiddos who were on school holiday. We chose the south island this time as we never explored this part of NZ, we’ve been to the north island many moons ago. As much as I love the north island, south island is a league of its own. Nestled in the Southern Alps, it has stunning scenery and magnificent landscapes that will give you a natural high especially when you’re driving along its winding and thrilling roads. I break my recent NZ adventure into 2 parts to manage the massive amount of pictures we took. So what to do when in the south of NZ, read on.
1. Stop over at Arrowtown
We flew down via Air New Zealand from Sydney to Queenstown airport. While our main destination was Wanaka which is the ski capital of NZ we found Arrowtown a resting place to unwind and grab a bite. It’s a quaint little town bursting with cafes and restaurants which mainly located in a main street called Buckingham. Arrowtown is a historic gold mining town in the Otago region and if you find yourself here you feel you’ve been transported to a different era but still enjoying the modern conveniences in life. We had our first dinner where we had the thinnest and yummiest pizza ever.
2. Visit Wanaka Lake and look for that Wanaka Tree
After breakfast on our first full day at Wanaka, we went to see the lake and find that Wanaka tree (see my attached video how we found it). Even if it’s only 10 minutes drive from our hotel we got to the lake at high noon, we overslept trying to recover from our long drive on the previous day and the 2 hours local time ahead of Sydney didn’t help either.
The lake was mesmerising with snow capped mountains in the distance and the pristine and calm water was soothing to look at. It was high tide so the tree was surrounded by water. It’s a lone tree in the lake obviously and now I see why it’s said to be one of the most photographed trees in all New Zealand. We had fun in the lake watching the ducks and trying to take some really cool photos with the whole family when suddenly 3 kayaks appeared, I tell you it’s the cutest unexpected thing I’ve seen.
3. Explore Wanaka town, the markets and the food.
Wanaka is the gateway to the Southern Alps’ Mount Aspiring National Park, it’s a resort town buzzing with lively and carefree spirit. The food choices were endless and we had no trouble finding different cuisines for lunch and dinner. I tasted the best clam chowder at Alchemy and had so much fun making the hot pot at China Grill. Every Thursday the Artisan Market is on which is a local weekly market with the freshest and best seasonal produce. I was so happy I got my 77% dark hot chocolate drink (I have this every morning at work in Sydney) and I got 5 of these bare naked soap (charcoal soap mostly).
My tip on what to wear in New Zealand on winter will be completely different from Australia. Here the winter is deeper, Wanaka reached 2 °C at most nights and although it doesn’t snow in the town but the mountains do definitely. I wore 3 layers in the bottom with tights, thermal and jeans. For the top, I had 4 layers on with singlet, thermal, knitwear and jacket. It’s 1 layer more than what I wear in Sydney and it’s comfortable and warm already. On our last day, we went back to Wanaka Lake where we shot these photos below. We found this old tyre used as a swing attached in a big tree, isn’t it so cool?
Hope you come back for the 2nd part of my NZ south island adventure.
Please watch my video that I also posted in my You Tube channel, it shows the 1st part of what to do in New Zealand.