Bare hills, definite snow lines, dramatic mountain peaks, blue lakes, winding dirt roads, fertile farming valleys and yellow tussock grass. The regions around Wanaka and Queenstown are both spectacularly beautiful and popular with tourists. Whilst the towns are buzzing (sometimes a little too buzzing), it isn’t hard to find a quiet place to enjoy the amazing landscapes and stunning views.
Moss grows on a bench seat in the damp rainforest of Mount Aspiring National Park in the mountain pass that brings you from the wet West Coast to the dry Otago region; Clouds hang low amongst forested mountains capped in snow in Mount Aspiring National Park.
A gravel walking path through the green mossy rainforest of Mount Aspiring National Park.
Forested hills and yellow grassy plains with low clouds, snow capped mountains and rainbows, travelling over Haast Pass where the wet West Coast meets the Otago drylands; Green moss on the base of a tree in the Mount Aspiring rainforest.
A gnarly tree on the rocky shore of Lake Wanaka up near Makarora where the lake is narrow, with a faint rainbow and snow on the hilltops.
A tree grows in front of an empty abandoned weatherboard farmhouse at Makarora, with snow on the dramatic mountains peaks towering out of the backyard and a grey stormy sky above; At the small farming community of Makarora hungry black and white cows congregate at the paddock fence hoping for food, with a rainbow and snowy mountains behind them.
A windswept dead tree on the rocky shore on Lake Wanaka near Makarora, with a faint rainbow and snow on the bare hilltops.
A pile of various sized driftwood on the shores of Lake Wanaka with the ever-present faint rainbow in the near distance; A winding road through green farmland, cows grazing on the edge of a very blue Lake Hawea with dramatic mountain peaks across the water.
The highway winds around the blue Lake Hawea at the base of rocky mountainsides with grey storm clouds in the sky above and the distant mountains looking dramatic and purple; The grassy farmland of Makarora with a rainbow and snowing mountaintops.
In the town of Wanaka, bright green new spring leaves on the trees at the edge of the lake, with a beautiful view of snow-capped mountains across the water.
Snowy mountains and the lake reflected in the big wooden doors of a bar in Wanaka on a sunny morning, with a yellow bike parked out the front; The bare hills with snowy caps characteristic of this region loom above the houses of Wanaka, nestled around the edge of the lake.
Spring blossom on the trees outside the historic timber and stone Cardrona Hotel, one of the few buildings in the Cardrona Valley; Looking across the Cardrona Valley to a road winding up the bare mountainside to the snowy peaks that house the Cardrona Alpine Resort.
One of the winding dirt roads on the side of a mountain that is your only approach to every ski resort in the area, with another such road leading from the bare hills to the snowy peaks on the other side of Cardrona Valley.
A cyclist rides down a dirt road which winds dramatically down the side of the dry and rocky mountainside above the Cardrona Valley; Cloud shadows on the golden yellow mountains of the Crown Range which form the pass between Wanaka and Queenstown, covered in tussock grass beneath a bright blue sky.
The Crown Range Road between Queenstown and Wanaka is the highest main road in New Zealand, winding amongst dry grassy hills with dramatic snow-capped mountains in the distance before descending into the green valley below; Puddle at a lookout on the Crown Range Road, with a view of bare mountains, the defined snow line and a steep drop over the edge.
The Crown Rage Road winding through the yellow tussock grass and taking drivers from the Cardrona Valley to Lake Wakaipu and Queenstown, with snowy mountain peaks and dramatic views along the way.
Looking through a fence to an empty grassy paddock with the blue water of Lake Wakatipu and the distinct snow line on the bare mountains in the quiet farmland outside Queenstown.
Kayaks lined up on the shore of Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu under a weeping tree with new bright green spring leaves; Empty tables outside a restaurant in Queenstown’s pedestrian-only mall in the late afternoon with the lake and mountains still catching the sun in the distance.
The bright blue water of Lake Wakatipu early in the morning at a quiet spot west of Queenstown, the sun just hitting the peaks above the snow line.
Hairpin after hairpin on the winding road down the mountainside and into Queenstown with snowy peaks high above; Tussock grass and rocks visible through the snow on a windswept mountaintop at The Remarkables.
A bus full of skiers on the winding dirt road up to The Remarkables Ski Area, the wind blowing the snow off the hillside and the green valley visible below.
Skiers on a chairlift at The Remarkables heading up a windswept mountainside with very minimal snow coverage; Cars made dirty from the drive up the mountain to The Remarkables, seemingly parked on the edge of the mountain overlooking endless snowy peaks on the other side of the valley.
A bus converted for camping at a quiet empty DOC camping ground outside Queenstown, parked in front of dramatic snow-capped mountains early in the morning with the camper in the front seat playing guitar.
A pink sunrise of Lake Wanaka, with rocky mountainsides and snow-covered peaks.