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Te Anau -> Arrowtown -> Wanaka
Not as early riser as the day before, getting up at 7 a.m. felt almost like sleeping in the morning. After a long day yesterday, we all slept very soundly last night. Headed towards the center of Te Anau, where we had found a breakfast place that was well rated by many guests. Wasn't exactly easy to find, but after three laps around the minimal center of the village, we finally saw the sign - Sandfly Cafe.
Here we had found a real little gem, with a fully stocked counter with goodies and a committed barista who made perfect flat whites. The daughter ate two sandwiches with fried egg, I moved on to the vegetable frittata with salad and Anders managed to order a tower of potato cakes, bacon and poached eggs with a thick layer of hollandaise sauce. Had time to read today's local newspaper, which also talked about this year's bad summer. El Niño is really hitting New Zealand hard this year.
Today's drive took us to Wanaka via Arrowtown. We had nothing planned in advance except the accommodation, so today we could stay freely along the way. Parts of the road, basically up to Queenstown, was the same road we drove on the way to Milford Sound, but this time it wasn't 7am and we had a time to fit. So we took it easy in the curves.
As it is basically car-free along the roads, it is easy to stop everywhere and take photographs. Several stops to admire the turquoise waters of Lake Wakatipu before we suddenly saw a sign about a historic bridge. Not knowing what we would find, we drove off and parked. An old bridge, it must be good, right? It turned out that we stopped at the Shotover River and one of the "old" bridges from 1915. The bridge itself was not much to cheer about, but the view of the white sandbanks of the Shotover River was worth the stop.
We looked a bit for the Shotover Jets, but they probably run their crazy tours closer to Queenstown. Nearby is the Shotover River Arrowtown, an incredibly charming little town that was built with the gold rush that started in the Arrow River around 1862. In fact, there were so many gold deposits in the Shotover River area that to this day it is the richest gold river in the world. To a large extent, it was immigrant Chinese who had to toil in the river for the Western gold prospectors, and today the village still has a well-preserved Chinese heritage center.
We had lunch on the outdoor terrace in the sun The New Orleans hotel, which has been serving here for the past 100 years. Eva took fried green beans with garlic and rice, the little one ate a hamburger and Anders took a Dunshagger Sandwich, which is two toasted garlic breads with plenty of sliced pork loin and gravy.
After lunch we took a walk through the village, Eva bought a mug with a kiwi for the collection and we ate ice cream. Also bought a large pack of dark red local cherries with us before we continued to Wanaka. The houses here are very well preserved and it feels a bit like a living Skansen.
There are several routes to travel between Arrowtown and Wanaka, with the most scenic route being via Cardrona. In this case, prettiest means steepest, but since it's summer and hot, we don't have to worry about the road being closed and impassable. The road rose steeply from Arrowtown in a zigzag up the mountain and up towards the Crown Range.
The view of the green valley below was vast, it felt like we could see all the way to Queenstown.
Once up on the plateau we were greeted by lupine fields and small rivers, golden meadows and lots of sheep. In the middle of the idyll, among ranches and wasteland, we suddenly saw something that made us make a U-turn and turn back. On one of the cattle fences, hung hundreds of bras in all the colors of the rainbow. DD cups and A cups swayed in the wind. It turned out to be an installation for the fight against breast cancer, an initiative that is really worth highlighting.
In Wanaka, we checked in at Hotel Wanaka, which is very centrally located in town. The hotel turned out to be an old motel that kept basically all the decor from the 60s. However, it was clean and fresh and there was wifi and a patio, so everyone was happy. We walked across the backyard down to the beautiful boardwalk and checked out the area.
The beach was full of bathers and sunbathers enjoying the warm and pleasant weather on the rocky beach and the road was lined with restaurants and bars. We settled down at Alchemy and sampled the local beer from Wanaka Beerworks in the sun before dining at an Asian Fusion place called Alivate. We got a seat on the outdoor terrace with a view of the lake and the sunset, it was perfectly fine to sit outside with an extra sweater. Eva ate a really fresh teriyaki salmon, Anders had a monkfish/prawn Thai curry and the young lady ate fish'n'chips.
Ended the evening on the balcony in the sun with a glass of wine overlooking the village's large Christmas tree. Now it is Christmas again…
Have you been here? What did you think of the destination?
Travel blogger, gastronaut, photographer and family adventurer with over 55 countries in his luggage. Eva loves trips that include beautiful nature, hiking boots and well-cooked food. On the travel blog Rucksack she takes you to all corners of the world with the help of her inspiring pictures and texts.