If you haven’t already, make sure you read the first part of this road trip right here!!! And/or continue to read! 😉 I think the best part of the trip is definitely here! 😁 with hikes around Mount Cook and discovery of Queenstown area. I hope you’ll enjoy this road trip in South Island of New Zealand!! 🚙💨
Day 5 From Wanaka to Mount Cook
I leave Wanaka before 9am because driving up to Mount Cook takes around 2h30 and since I will spending only one night there, I need to make the most of it!! Why am I only staying one night I hear you say? 🤔 Well, staying at Aoraki/Mount Cook Village (at the heart of this beautiful region) is quite expensive but also booked out well in advance! I had some luck in booking a single room only 15 minutes away Mount Cook Village at a place called Glentanner Park Centre – I paid NZD125 for a basic unit (€73/£64/$89), very quiet at night but remember to get food before! Their restaurant closes at 4pm (YES! 4pm!! lucky me, I had some cup noodles left 😂😂).
The drive towards Mount Cook is amazing, especially approaching it! I had my lunch right next to Lake Ohau which has a dreamy blue colour that you’ll be pinching yourself every 5 minutes to make sure you’re not dreaming!
After this long stop, I drove to Mount Cook Village and headed to the Hooker Valley Track which is a 10Km hike of around 3hours. You’ll be walking through different types of vegetation and you’ll see this clearly. Walk over swing bridges and over alpine river streams. The best obviously is the view over glaciers, Aoraki/Mount Cook and the Southern Alps! AM-A-ZING!!! 😍😍😍
Good to know: Aoraki is a Maori term that can be translated to ‘cloud piercer’
If you have no budget limit, I can’t imagine how incredible those views must be from above. There is a few companies offering helicopter rides (if weather allows). This should be pretty epic!! 😍
End of Day 5 and check out this vlog right here!!
Day 6 From Mount Cook to Queenstown
I wake up super hungry on this foggy day (so glad I did the Hooker Valley hike the day before!) and had a substantial breakfast at the Glentanner restaurant (that opens at 8am). Once done, I head to Mount Cook National Park once again to do my last walk in this part of the island: Blue lakes and Tasman glaciers. This is a 2.6km but don’t assume by the distance that this will be easy. It has a gradual incline with loads of steps!
Once at the top, you’ll have a great view on Tasman glacier and realise how it shrunk along the years! but also on the Blue lakes who are green but that’s totally normal 🤯! The water used to come from the glacier and was blue (hence the name) but it eventually stopped being supplied by the glacier and only raining water supplies it, hence the green colour! 🤓
Now it is time to leave Mount Cook and make my way down to Queenstown (265km south)! But I have a few stops scheduled along the way!
My first stop is Lake Tekapo. Situated 100km away from Mount Cook, it took me around 1 hour to reach this place. By the way, it is actually very common to stay in Tekapo if you are visiting Mount Cook (a bit cheaper and not over booked vs. Mount Cook). This lake is 83km2 in total, not a big lake like Taupo in North Island or Te Anau but it is a beautiful one. Most common visit here, and what I did 😉, walking around the lake, seeing the small little church and take a picture of the giant merino statue. 😉
I had lunch in Tekapo, there is quite a few options and loads of shops if you are looking for not ‘so much’ overpriced souvenirs! 😁
Omarama Clay Cliffs
I leave Tekapo and drive for an hour south to check out the Clay Cliffs in Omarama. I am a bit surprise to end up on a gravel road for so long but even more surprised when I see a gate, a honesty box and the gravel road continuing far more ahead. You’ll pay NZD5 (€2.9/£2.5/$3.5) per car to enter this private land (hence the honesty box!), arrive at the parking area and continue walking for 5 minutes. This is where you’ll the clay cliffs and enter this most surprising place! 😲😲
Stopping at Lindis Pass
Leaving the Clay Cliffs, I drive for 45 minutes to reach the Lindis Pass. This part of the road amazed me so much! The change of nature and landscape is so drastic and beautiful! I had to stick around to admire the view. I did a small walk up to the view point but there is a longer (and steeper) way to get to one of the mountains! 😊
End of Day 6 and check out this vlog right here!!
Day 7 Around and about Queenstown
Such a beautiful place!! 😍 It all starts when leaving Queenstown (don’t worry, I will be visiting it at some point! 😂😂). The scenic drive will take you ages to reach Glenorchy. Why? Simply because you will be stopping so many times to admire the views! It will take anyway 45 minutes drive to get to Glenorchy along the lake Wakatipu. If you are a Lord of the Rings fan, you will probably recognise the area and its famous scenery from the movies.
There are a few walks to be done around Glenorchy, from challenging ones like Routeburn or easy ones like the Glenorchy walkway which departs from town.
Arrowtown is such a charming little town just 20 minutes away from Queenstown. Don’t expect it to be big! It only has a few streets but a decent amount of cafés, shops and restaurants. I did some research and what is advised to visit are the heritage town centre, Arrowtown museum, to go for the Arrow River Walk (don’t search for gold, there isn’t any!) and check out the Chinese village!!
From all the places I have been to in New Zealand 🇳🇿, I was disappointed by Queenstown city centre. It is just loaded with shops, travel companies and is lacking from authenticity. Maybe that’s what happens when tourism is so important to a place or region. I am glad that I left a very limit amount of time to visit Queenstown. It seems that this place is dedicated to people seeking adrenaline too. I therefore searched on the website Bookme.com in order to find cheaper activities (they are always overpriced anyway) and booked a speed boat activity with KJET. I am glad that I did not pay full price (NZD129 … €75/£65/$91 vs. NZD89… €52/£45/$63), adrenaline remained at its same point and even though it was nice to go on the lake, I did not find this amazing. discount website, saved me some money.
I also booked a discounted cruise via the same website. I paid NZD29 (€17/£15/$20) for a scenic cruise on the Spirit of Queenstown (normal price NZD39… €23/£20/$27) in the afternoon. This was much better value and it was a very relaxing time on this boat. The captain was sharing some great information and stories about the lake Wakatipu and its surroundings. There was also a free drink on board! 😉
There was also Skyline Queenstown (15min from Airport) which could have been an option but 2 attractions a day is enough I think! 😂😂