One of my favourite parts of the world, been there four times in the past six months alone. Internationals tend to prefer Queenstown, Kiwis Wanaka. Possibly a sign of how long I’ve been here than I’m leaning toward the later. Both are beautiful and spectacular places, as is Arrowtown which lies between them, and all are home to some great day walks.
Roy’s Peak, Wanaka
Hard to beat the views from the 1,578m summit, just 6km drive or $20 taxi from Wanaka lake front, plus a bit of walking! It’s directly uphill to the summit, relentlessly so, with no shelter or shade so come prepared. When I did it in late May there appeared to be some snow at the summit, but wasn’t expecting thigh deep snow. Layers, a hat and gloves came in handy, while the guy in running gear behind me turned back before making it to the top. I did think about going further on to Mt Alpha but decided the risk of falling off a mountain wasn’t really worth it for a few photos.
Sawpit Gully, Arrowtown
A two hour loop track from Arrowtown, heading along the Arrow River and up through forest to above the tree line. I’ve done it both ways round, think clockwise is better to get the steepest section out the way at the start, soon after this make sure you continue up the hill to the right from the sign post to savor the views back toward Arrowtown. Particularly in autumn (Anzac weekend is a good time to be there) the colours are sensational.
Big Hill Track, Arrowtown
Branches off from the Sawpit Gully track to gradually wind its way along the side of tussock hills, through some unexpected bush, and up to Big Hill Saddle at 1,060m. From there I headed further up the hillside to get a quite spectacular 360 degree view of the mountains, helped by the unseasonal (late May) snowfall before heading back the way I came.
Mt. Iron, Wanaka
Only 2km from Wanaka lakefront is the 240m high Mt. Iron, a popular spot for runners, dog walkers and those looking for easier but still pretty impressive views out across Lake Wanaka to the mountains behind.
Queenstown Hill, Queenstown
Directly behind Queenstown, the entrance to the track is off Belfast Terrace, is a steep ascent to the 907m summit of Queenstown Hill (Te Tapu-nui) for some great views across Lake Wakatipu and back toward the airport.
The Ben Lomond track (Queenstown) and Rob Roy Glacier (an hour from Wanaka), among others, are next on my to do list. I did start the Ben Lomond track on my first trip to Queenstown but wasn’t really prepared. Still got some pretty nice views though just walking an hour or so further up the hill behind the Gondola. I shall return.