Australasia / New Zealand

Adventures in New Zealand: Wonderful Wanaka – Arrowtown

The Aged P was flying in to join us for our New Zealand trip, so we decided to take a drive towards the airport via the scenic Crown Range Road, which offers fabulous views over the valley, all the way to the snow tipped mountains.

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On top of Crown Range Road, all covered in fog

Crown Range Road is the highest main road in New Zealand, reaching an altitude of 1121m and is pretty steep with lots of zigzag turns. It also boasts plenty of well kept lookouts where you can enjoy the breathtaking scenery.

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The long and winding (Crown Range) road

We went on a dry but cloudy day, so there was a bit of fog rolling across the road at times which made some of our passengers a little nervous. The road was so steep in places that the car’s fuel gauge stopped being able to detect the tank level so it looked like we were driving on empty! That scared us a little bit too.

Travel Planner Tip: Crown Range Road can be pretty steep and narrow in places, so pick a clear, dry day to drive it so that you can enjoy the views without worrying about road conditions!

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The views are worth it, though!

We got to know Crown Range Road pretty well, because the battery of the El Cheapo rental car that we hired died on one of the stops so we spent a much longer time enjoying the view than we planned. Fortunately, it wasn’t too long before another car came round the bend and gave us a jumpstart!

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The Barn Owl and Little E as we wait to be rescued

After picking up the Aged P from the airport and changing our rental vehicle for one with a more reliable battery, we headed over to Arrowtown.

The Aged Ps wanted to settle their nerves (getting trapped on a mountain top/waiting indefinitely at an airport with no mobile phone signal wreaks havoc on one’s psyche) and do a little bit of shopping in the Arrowtown village centre with all it’s quaint little shops and buildings.

Whilst the Aged P pottered around the village centre, The Barn Owl and I decided to take J and Little E for a walk down by the Arrow River. There are a few very easy walks along the banks of the Arrow River, but we decided to take the Arrowtown Millennium Walk which is easily accessible from the village centre.

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We passed by a group of school kids panning for gold under the watchful eye of their teachers (who were surreptitiously sipping from hip flasks).

The Arrow River passes downstream from a mining company which extracts gold from it, but a large section of the river has been set aside for recreational gold fossicking without a permit – so you can hire a gold pan from the town and try your luck! From what we saw, the school kids were pretty successful and had collected enough flecks of gold for each of them to bring some home suspended in a small vial of oil. Pretty cool souvenir, huh?

If J had been a little bit older, we might have tried this out for kicks, but he just watched the kids with interest for a while, then wandered off to find sticks to throw in the river.

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Looking for wizard staffs amongst the lupins

The walk along the river bank is pretty easy and beautifully green, with well kept gravel paths bordered with willow, sycamore and larch trees. It’s no wonder that this trail was one of the locations for “The Gladden Fields” portion of the movie, Lord of The Rings!

By far the most spectacular part of this walk for us were the lupins blooming everywhere along the riverside.

These flowers are often found in late spring in New Zealand, and we were fortunate enough to catch them! We could hardly tear ourselves away from the sight of these dreamy wildflowers growing in purple, pink and white spikes with their soft silvery green leaves shimmering in the light.

Mummy Warning: The wild lupin beans and pods may be toxic or cause severe allergic reactions when ingested so don’t let your kids chew on the plants!

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For more information on the Crown Range Road drive click here

For more information on Arrowtown click here

For more information on gold fossicking in Arrowtown click here

For more information on the Arrow River Millennium Walk click here

For advice on Wild Lupin flower season in New Zealand click here

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3 thoughts on “Adventures in New Zealand: Wonderful Wanaka – Arrowtown

    • You are going to loooooove it. I put the whole itinerary for Wanaka in the margin on the right. We also spent a week in Queentown which was equally amazing.

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