Our round the world trip (22): from Franz Josef to Queenstown

One morning we might have the chance to stay in bed awhile, but not this morning: Day 23 (Wednesday). We woke at 6 am, showered & dressed, packed again, and left at 7.45 am.

It was a day with a lot of travelling (almost nine hours on the road), but we stopped often, the weather was perfect, and we enjoyed stunning scenery all the time: a winding, twisting road with only one lane each way, dense bushes and trees lining the way, then tall mountains skirted by billows of mist or clouds, wide and fast-flowing rivers broken by rock formations, and frequently beautiful long lakes of dazzling blue water. It was like being in “The Lord Of The Rings”.

All day we were heading south for Queenstown on the only road there. First stop, after two hours, was at the World Heritage Area of Haast where eight of the group were dropped off for a jet boat ride up the Haast River and the rest of us went into town for some rest and refreshment. Typically Roger befriended a lovely four year old blonde girl called Lilly at the drop off point and Vee made friends with a miniature schnauzer dog called Archie at the “Fantail Cafe”.

Proceeding through the Haast Pass, we halted at the wonderfully-named Thunder Creek Falls to observe – and, of course, photograph – the magnificent waterfall which had been replenished by recent rain. Having snaked though the Pass, we left behind the wet forests and made our way over drier, more open terrain.

The lunch stop was at the town of Makarora which is billed as “the Gateway to Paradise”. We all ate at “The Country Cafe” where the toilets were labelled Rams, Ewes, and Mixed Flock and many of us finished our lunch with “Hokey Pokey” ice cream which led some of us to get back on the coach singing an amended version of the “Hokey Cokey”.

Immediately outside Makarora is Lake Wanaka with its glorious blue water. Across a small strip of separating land called The Neck is the parallel Lake Hawea. If the first lake was beautiful, the first view of the second from The Neck was jaw dropping. We stopped to photograph Lake Hawea which is 35 km long and 410 metres deep and the triple strip of green land, blue water, and grey rock was awesome.

Next stop was at the town of Cromwell to make a quick visit to “Jones’s Fruit Stall” which is misnamed because it is really an emporium. As we advanced through the Kawarau Gorge, we looked down on the aquamarine of the Kawarau River. Proceeding through the wine-growing “Valley of Vines at Gibbston, we arrived and stopped for a while at Arrowtown which was at the heart of the gold mining boom of the 1860s and today is a tourist attraction of cute shops and little museums.

Finally we reached our main destination of Queenstown. This town has a fabulous location on the coves of the extensive Lake Wakatipu overlooked by the indigo-coloured Remarkables Mountains. New Zealanders live in a relaxed and orderly country, but are famed for inventing adrenaline-inducing activities such as bungy jumping and river rafting and nowhere in the nation is there more opportunity to indulge in such fun as in Queenstown which is known as the “Global Adventure Capital”.

At 4.30 pm, we checked into the town’s Millennium Hotel. Since we had stayed in each of the last three hotels for one night only, this was actually our fifth hotel in five consecutive nights but, since we were staying here for three nights, we could unpack properly for once. It was a 5 minute stroll to the town centre and a 15 minute climb back (the hotel is at the top of a steep hill) and Roger & Vee teamed up with Anxrew for dinner in town. We chose a fish restaurant named “Fishbone” where Vee & Roger both had a fish called trumpeter and a dessert called the happy hen pavlova.


  • Spencer Routledge

    Hi Roger, Thank you for sharing your adventures. It makes me feel so happy to read them. Enjoy the rest of your holiday and I will look forward to seeing you soon.

    Love from Spence

  • Abby Chan

    Hi Roger,

    I’m planning a trip to NZ this coming Apr and came across your blog as I was looking for a one way tour between Franz Josef and Queenstown. Would you be able to share with me which tour you joined. It’s great you could make a few stops along the way, after all the scenery would be spectacular!

    Thanks and looking forward to hearing from you!

  • Roger Darlington

    Hi, Abby.

    Our New Zealand tour was organised through a company called Trafalgar:

    But NZ has lots of travel companies. Shop around for what you want. Enjoj!


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