Lakeside and Loving It
The drive inland, once you get through the mountains, brings you right past Lake Wanaka, the fourth largest lake in New Zealand and likely one of the most famous. We stopped several times at overlooks to take photos of the shining blue waters as we drove towards the town of Wanaka at the bottom of the lake. It was a gorgeous lakeside town, with cute little boutiques, lively restaurants along the main road by the water, a beach where kids were swimming in the frigid lake water, and all sorts of charm. Wanaka was likely one of my favorite places, but unfortunately we only had enough time to see it that evening before it was time to head to our hotel for the night, the Millbrook Resort. On the drive across to the resort, in nearby Arrowtown, as I was navigating the route I decided to take what looked like the more scenic option. My mom and I have so many ridiculous travel stories from taking the "scenic route," this one just another to add to the list. The route I'd chosen, unbeknownst to us at the time, took us over the highest road in all of New Zealand -- essentially the steepest, too, I'd argue. It is called the Crown Range Road and it brings you in a steady switchback straight up a mountain and steeply back down the other side. It was so incredibly beautiful and definitely worth the switchbacks. Lined with tons of wild purple lupins (lupins become an obsession of mine while on the south island), we drove the road at sunset and came to the summit right at dusk as the whole valley below was glowing this beautiful pink, orange, and grey. It was truly breathtaking.
Arrowtown, where we were staying the next few nights at the lovely Millbrook Resort, was another adorably quaint town with one main road to speak of lined with great restaurants and cute little boutiques and galleries. We went to dinner the following night at this great spot called The Postmasters Residence Restaurant, where we dined al fresco and sipped the delicious Pinot Noir that the Otago region is so well known for.