The moment I stepped out of Queenstown airport the excitement started when I experienced the most fantastic hotel transfer by jet boat! A very unique and fun way to arrive at your accommodations which certainly cleared away the jet lag and offered a very memorable start to the trip!
That evening I was back on the water again when I set sail on the ‘Spirit of Queenstown’, a scenic cruise on Lake Wakatipu taking in the spectacular Remarkables mountain ranges which was the perfect introduction to Queenstown.
The following morning I drove an hour north to Wanaka, a smaller resort town known as the gateway to the Southern Alps' Mount Aspiring National Park. Wanaka has a less touristy feel in comparison to Queenstown and offers a lakefront pedestrian setting with plenty of upmarket boutique independent shops and cafes infused with small town charm. Many local Kiwis travel here for their own vacations and when you arrive you can see why!
I went on an authentic 4WD adventure into a high country working farm overlooking Lake Wanaka and learnt about New Zealand farming life both past and present while exploring the 30,000 acre land which is seldom seen by anyone.
My afternoon activity offered an alternative insight into beautiful Wanaka – a scenic jet boat adventure into Mount Aspiring National Park followed by a wilderness walk and helicopter flight with landing on a glacier overlooking Mount Aspiring. Unlike the rides Queenstown has to offer this is not an adrenaline jet boat jaunt but one for all ages offering a gentle ride which is all about taking in the breath taking scenery in which you are immersed in.
Both destinations are a must in any South Island itinerary. You can also use either as a base to do a Milford Sound day excursion and can cut down the driving by flying to and from the Fiordland’s to embark on the cruise.
I cannot wait for my next visit!
Gina Murray, New Zealand, June 2017