Queenstown and Wanaka are two towns located in the centre of South Island, by two beautiful lakes. Queenstown is known as the capital of adventure sports, the capital of adrenaline, while Wanaka is more relaxing. Both towns are an excellent base for hiking as well.
We set the base camp in Queenstown for two days. On the first day we did a day hike on the Routeburn Track. On the second day, I wanted to do something more adventurous and amongst all the options in the town, I chose the Shotover Jet. Shotover Jet is the one company operating through dramatic and narrow Shotover canyons. This company commenced operations in upper Shotover River in 1965 and was one of Queenstown’s first adventure activities, being today one of New Zealand’s most iconic ‘must do’ visitor activities.
Shotover Jet’s fleet of twin engine jet boats travel at speeds of up to 85kmh in as little as 10cm of water. Each jet unit expels 350 litres of water per second to power the boats. But the best is their exhilarating 360° spins, it was a great fun! At the end of the ride, our driver came very close to the rocks, creating a big wave which (of course) broke completely . . . on me, ahahah! It was a great ride.
At noon I met Mladen, who preferred the Sky Gondola, to leave Queenstown. On the way to Wanaka we stopped at Arrowtown, a cute town developed in the 1860s, following the discovery of gold in the Arrow River. Today the main road still has a beautiful architecture from that gold-era with interesting shops 😀
This town has also kept intact the Chinese settlement, where visitors can see how Chinese diggers lived during and after the gold rush.
Wanaka is the kind of place where I could spend days and days doing nothing: it has a beautiful lake, interesting pubs, coffee shops and bakeries . . . the perfect place to rest for a while, especially because the weather was supposed to be rainy. It’s in Wanaka where I went to watch the third part of the Hobbit, at Cinema Paradiso. This cute cinema is a kind of institution in the town, with couches, plane seats or the Cinema Paradiso car. At intermission there is a nice choice of homemade ice cream, more popcorn or hot baked cookies. I couldn’t find a better place for watching the end of the Hobbit’s trilogy!
Our stay in Wanaka ended with a short hike with nice views over the lake. This picture is taken from the Lake Diamond hike.