Queenstown to the Blue Pools of Haast

Skippers Bridge in Skippers Canyon - Photo by YSander, Wikimedia Creative CommonsSkippers Bridge in Skippers Canyon - Photo by YSander, Wikimedia Creative Commons

Queenstown is one of those places which you will inevitably visit on a motorhome rental or campervan hire adventure on New Zealand’s South Island.  There endless opportunities for both relaxation and invigoration, so take your pick, but whatever you decided to here you’ll bound to have a great time.  When you’re ready, fill up with food and fuel, and head for Haast, only 219Km north but as with the rest of the country, lots of opportunities to stop and explore.

You’ve left Queenstown behind you and if you’re after scenic vistas take a detour up to Skippers Canyon.  If you want to go any further, arrange for a guide as the weather can change at a moments notice and you don’t want to go loosing your vehicle or your travelling companion/s in the fog.

Your first stop today will be the old gold mining town of Arrowtown which still has some original miner’s cottages and well-preserved churches, there’s some award winning restaurants too.  The town is tranquil and sleepy and full of old world charm so spend some time wandering the streets before you head off on another detour to Macetown, now a restored ghost town.  If you haven’t hired a 4x4 then its best to take a tour or rent a mountain bike, but only if you’re feeling ever so fit!  On the way there are monuments, abandoned buildings, and picturesque rock formations and the suspension bridge at Eight Mile Hut offers some great photo opportunities.  At Nine-Mile creek you catch you first sight of Macetown, once this place was home to over 200 people, now there are just three buildings in various stages of restoration.  

The next stage of your journey is along the Crown Range Road a challenging series of switchbacks and hills which lead you to the Cardona Valley, once the middle of nowhere, until the road to Wanaka was paved.  

Wanaka is one of those fun seekers paradises, so if that’s your scene you may want to stop over to make the best of it.  There’s everything here from canyoning to skydiving and during the winter the resort turns into a ski and snowboard centre.  As well as the extreme and active sports there are also the more sedate activities such as walking and fishing.  If you’re into wine then the Rippon Winery will be your first port of call, and if you’ve got your timing right, you may get a chance to see the vintage air show which is the largest in the southern hemisphere held every other year at Easter.  

The next part of this motorhome rental or campervan hire trip is probably going to be the highlight of this leg of the journey; it’s the road leading north along the Clutha River past the lakes of Hawea, Wanaka, and Haast.  The Haast River passes through the Mount Aspiring National Park a route used by the Maoris and passes wonders such as Thunder Creek Falls and Roaring Billy, but this is only the start.  The scenic route over the Haast Pass is one of the most stunning in the whole country, make sure you stop at Makarora and take one of the Blue Pools Walks, unforgettable!

Its just a short drive to your final destination, the township of Haast, and after crossing the longest one lane bridge in New Zealand take some time to explore.  Spend a night under the stars on the beachfront; if you’re lucky it will just be you and you motorhome rental or campervan hire and maybe another serving of fish and chips!

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