Over the Hills, Through the mountains, To Queenstown we go!

Our mission for the day began early this morning in a race against the rising sun.



We had read about a lake called Lake Mathieson (a.ka. Mirror Lake) where you can see a beautiful reflection of Mt. Cook and Mt. Tasman in the lake. This spot is definitely well known and coveted amongst photographers, as the potential for stunning, one-of-a-kind photos is high, pending weather conditions, of course. Looking forward to capturing a perfect picture, we set out early, albeit not quite early enough. Really, the magical time is before sunrise, but we didn’t wake up in time to make that. We hit the photograph areas just as the sun was coming over the mountain.


Although not the perfect time, it was an incredibly gorgeous and peaceful place. It’s about a 5.5 kilometer walk around the lake, so it was a very serene walk in the morning as well as beautiful.


The views of Mt. Cook, Mt. Tasman and the lake are gorgeous. I still got a few great pictures before the clouds started to roll in and the wind picked up too much to muddle the reflection!




After our early morning journey, we sat for coffee outside overlooking the grassland and staring up at the magnificence of Mt. Cook and Mt. Tasman.



This is definitely worth the trip…it’s quite a spectacular spot whether you are into photography or not.

After our cappuccino fix for the day, we drove to a lookout of Fox Glacier, rather than opting to take the time to drive up to it or to take a helicopter or other tour as we did not have this budgeted into this part of the trip. We have gotten pretty close to a few glaciers in Alaska, so we opted to take our time to enjoy the drive over the stunning Haast Pass instead.


One tip I have is to either eat a substantial meal to sustain you through most of this drive to Queenstown or the small towns just outside of Queenstown or pack food for the journey, as there are few to non-existent quality options available and it’s a pretty long drive, especially with stops.




Although the food options are nothing to write home about, the views are. This drive was one of the most beautiful drives I have ever done. I couldn’t stop pulling over and taking pictures. I just wanted to remember every single part of the stunning mountains, forests, waterfalls, and glacially blue lakes and rivers. I wish we had padded a bit more time to spend more time hiking and exploring the area, because it is quite amazing. It might be worth an overnight camp in Mt. Aspiring National Park to spend more time in this area.








We did make a few stops long the ways at a few waterfalls.



This is what I imagine T to look/act like as a 4 year old, just with shorter legs & less facial hair (sitting by the river throwing rocks into it):


Then we stopped at the Blue Pools, which were stunning. It’s definitely worth it to make the stops and take at least a few short hikes!



Looks perfect to swim in…but it was extremely cold!








After our short hikes and lots of driving, T decided he had watched me take enough pictures and would like to do what he does best instead…sleep!


After we came through the pass, we took the Crown Ridge Road into Queenstown, which was a fortunate choice, as I didn’t know at the time of choosing this route how beautiful it would be. It had stunning views of the Queenstown valley below. Although it was crazy windy and steep, it was entertaining and pretty nonetheless!




Upon arriving in Queenstown, we parked the car and walked over to the hostel to check in.




We stayed at the Absoloot Queenstown Backpackers, which is more geared toward the younger crowd, but we had THE best room in the house. Top floor, corner room, with wall to wall window views of the town, lake and mountains. The staff was actually very friendly and helpful, and we had no issues with noise. For $80 we had our own room and stunning views, totally worth it and cost effective.



That afternoon and evening we explored Queenstown, stopped into MacPac to buy T a sweet jacket for our Routeburn Trek, and another mom and pop run backpacking store to buy meals because we finally found our Wayfayrer meals again!! I redeemed myself from not being able to find them in Nelson, and was happy to have some delicious food for our trek the next day.


Just below our hostel was this cafe with gelato, dessert, and LOTS of chocolate, called Patagonia. Seriously amazing. One of the best dark chocolate ice creams I have ever tasted…and I have tasted A LOT of chocolate ice creams because that is pretty much the only flavor I ever order (or is one of a multiple flavored consumption 🙂 ).


Yes, we had dessert before dinner, and it was a great decision…I must say. For dinner, we had to try Ferburger to see what all the fuss was about. It also seemed like a cost effective option for dinner as well. I do have to say, it was pretty tasty. I, of course, went for the lamb, because you have to while in New Zealand! #notpaleo #ohwell


We actually lucked out and got a nice little table outside! Come prepared to wait (and possibly not get a seat) if you are going in the mainstream meal hours. It might be best to get it to go, walk down to the beach or lake and enjoy the incredible beauty of the area while eating a tasty meal.


After dinner, we walked to the grocery store for a few additional backpacking supplies for our trek in the morning, and settled in early to pack and get ready for an early start in the morning.



(sunset around 10 PM)


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  4. CandieTravels says:

    Just came across your blog while preparing a post for my own blog and doing some research. My husband and I got back from New Zealand 3 weeks ago and did a similar itinerary to you. We were blown away by the beauty of the country and definitely want to return. Love your photos!

    Liked by 1 person

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