Lake Hawea -> Wanaka -> Arrowtown
My wife and I woke up early to catch the sunrise and view the stunning lakefront with unequalled mountain views of Lake Hawea
from the holiday park that we just checked in yesterday night. It was really a sight to be behold as it was beautiful, serene, and peaceful.
The holiday park was a family friendly, traditional campground with well maintained facilities, the huge camping areas, campervan sites as well as selection of cabin and cottage accommodation. Lake Hawea is very suitable for out-of-towners (local Kiwis included) seeking a weekend away from the hustle bustle of a city to do camping, fishing, tramping, boating and swimming.
In fact, we met a Kiwi there as well, who was from Christchurch, spending time over the weekend with his girlfriend. After that, we did not visit the Hawea township, but rather we headed towards Wanaka town which was 15 minutes drive away.
The first thing we did when we reached Wanaka
town was to park our campervan right in front of the magnificient lake (lakefront) and went across the street to grabbed out breakfast at McGregor's.
We had cupcakes, pastries, muffins, and coffees. The shop even gave Jacinda a piece of gingerbread man for free.Wanaka was a resort town, where the economy is geared towards catering to tourists, with most residents of the area working at the town. Shops, luxury boutiques selling locally-themed souvenirs, motels, and unique restaurants were aplenty here. My wife bought a nice pair of locally made sheepskin boots but
our favorite experience at Wanaka was to be able to taste the ice-cream at Black Peak Gelato
. It is currently rated as no.1 in
TripAdvisor restaurant ranking! It was the best ice-cream I have ever tasted, highly recommended and is a must try when in Wanaka. We tried every single flavor that were available there and the best for me was Rum and Raisin. It was manned by a friendly chap whom told us that they made the ice-cream all by themselves!
Spending time eating the ice-cream at the lakefront was just perfect.
We also visited the small pier, saw plenty of ducks there, also the nearby park, and also the town landmark, an old cinema called Paradiso in the town centre after meeting a lady who worked there and drove an old classic car near the shops. After that, we went to Stuart Landsborough's Puzzling World
, a place for puzzles and optical illusions eccentricity! Due to time constraint, we did not spend much time there, as I really wanted to do the giant maze.
We spent about an hour there, before we proceeded on with our journey south-bound. As we drove along the highway, we saw lots of fruit orchards and decided to stop in one of them. Initial plan was to visit the famous Mrs Jones' Orchard at Cromwell
town, but since we were already here we discarded the plan and visited this orchard instead. Spoke to the owner, very nice lady (can't remember her name),
and she told us we came slightly late because they have just harvested all the apricots and apples. We asked for her permission to visit her orchard, and it was another amazing experience for us as we have never seen an apple tree before. There green and as well as red apples dangling from the tree. It was really beautiful scenery, with its leaves colors.
We snapped lots of photos, and we could just plucked some of the apples from the tree and just eat it there and then, of course with permission from the nice owner.
At the end we bought some red apples from there, and continued with our journey to Queenstown-bound. We just passed by Cromwell town, did not turn in,
just took a photo of the fruit landmark at the entrance, as we were rushing for the my bungy jump. As we were leaving the sun soaked vineyards of Cromwell and Otago wine country and heading west towards Queenstown using Highway 6 we passed through a variety of the stunning scenery that the South Island is so well known for.
Then, we passed through two attactions which were not in our original itinerary.
First, was this goldmine called Goldfields Mining Centre
. We just stopped by to take photos as the view at the bridge entrance was just panaromic! We did not enter the mine.
Second, was "Roaring Meg
". We stopped to admire the breathtaking landscape of the mountains and the mighty turquoise-color water flowing and gushing due to the hydro electricity power stations upstream fed by the Roaring Meg Dam at Kawarau Gorge. If I'm not mistaken, you can also do the
Shotover jet boat activity along this amazing gorge. Took some postcard photos, before going to the main event of the day - bungy jump! It was already late in the evening, around 4pm when we reached the world's first bungy jumping site AJ Hackett's Kawarau Bridge
. I quickly registered myself before they closed, and I luckily I was the last participant before they closed for the day. I had butterflies in my stomach, but I did not think much as I was already there and did not want to turn back. I walked to the bridge, the security guys setting up my harness, based on my weight, which was written on my hand, and I just anxious, can't wait to get it over and done with. They lined me up at the edge of the plank at the bridge, and asked me to jump when they counted to 3. It took me 10 secs, before I took the leap. Taking the first step was the hardest.
The feeling of free-falling, blood rushing to your head, is just plain priceless. It was real indescribable feeling! Bungy jumping has always been my world's to-do-list and having able to check it off my list, it was real satisfaction!
After the heart-pounding event,
we continued towards Queenstown but we planned to put up the night at Arrowtown
instead, the small historic mining town, just at the outskirt of Queenstown, because we planned to explore the town further as it was also famous for its scenery during autumn. Arrowtown is a living museum. There were many well preserved historic buildings used by European and Chinese immigrants dating from the gold mining days of the town. We were lucky because they held the annual Arrowtown Autumn Festival from 20-29 April.
However, we did not manage to catch any events like street parade, music concert, art exibition, vintage cars as we were there late in the evening but we still get to see the scarecrows which were all over the place, and the famous "Old Red Truck" when we walked along the streets of Arrowtown. Museum was already closed and we did not visit the Chinese miner's settlement on the banks of the river. Finally, we put up the night at Arrowtown Born of Gold Holiday Park. I
t had modern facilities but it was one of the most expsensive park stays maybe because of its location near Queenstown where it was a tourist hotspot. To top it all off for an awesome day, we managed to catch a rugby team doing their practise at the field in the park, could be local club, not sure if they were All Blacks though.