Queenstown

Milford Sound

One of the must do trips on the South Island is Milford Sound.  It is only 46 miles west of Queenstown but the road does not go in that direction.  The route is 178 miles and takes 3 h and 50 min.  Obviously not a direct route.

The boat ride on the Sound is about 2 hours and takes you through the Sound to the Tasman Sea where they turn around and come back.  A number of companies offer what seems to be exactly the same excursion  The scenery is stunning and if you like waterfalls you will be in heaven.  Because of the distance from Queenstown you do not arrive all that early and you cannot leave that late or you will be driving in the dark.  If you have a full tank of gas you do not have to fill up until Te Anau on the way back but this is one of the routs where you are going a long time without seeing a gas station so plan ahead.

Queenstown

The drive to Queenstown from Christchurch is long but does pass through beautiful scenery.

The town of Queenstown in in a beautiful setting on Lake Wakatipu.  Queenstown does have a reputation as an adventure city and one can find plenty of offers for various excursions.  As one might expect this also draws many backpackers and the downtown area has hostels and places to eat one would expect.

One beautiful drive from Queenstown is to Glenorchy.  The road hugs the mountain which goes right into Lake Wakatipu.  Unfortunately the weather was not super cooperative as we had rain for much of the day but really enjoyed what we were able to see. 

Another beautiful drive we took is to Wanaka via Cardrona.  We continued on 6 up past Lake Hawea to the Blue Pool trail.  There we found a nice hiking trail up to what were supposed to be blue pools.  We were told the recent rains had spoiled the effect.

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We also ventured to Arrowtown which is quite close.  It has an area devoted to the Chinese who came for the gold rush.