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What to see and photograph in Wanaka & Cardrona


Wanaka is one of the most picturesque places in New Zealand. This makes it a rare photographer’s haven. Wanaka is 60 min drive from Queenstown taking the scenic route over the Crown Range Road. This is the highest main road in New Zealand, reaching an altitude of 1121 m, and the views from the top are absolutely breath-taking.

The Crown Range Road is one of two roads to Wanaka however makes the distance between Queenstown and Wanaka shorter. The journey is far more challenging as it takes you up a winding road climbing to the top, but the drive is definitely worth it since you will have numerous stops to admire spectacular views.

There are several points with impressive and photogenic views along the high road. The road snakes up to the Crown Terrace from where you can enjoy awe-inspiring views of Arrowtown, nestled in the Arrow valley, as well as just across from the picturesque Remarkable Ranges.

As the road takes us through a steep climb up the summit, you will be able to have a clear view of Frankton, Queenstown and part Lake Wakatipu and take great shots from up there. On the Wanaka end of the range, the Crown Range Road passes through a plateau of farmland and begins to descend gradually along the Cardrona Valley.

Cardrona is a little village, at the banks of the Cardrona River, which has a charm of its own which photographers take full advantage of. At the heart of the village lies the iconic and quaint Cardrona Hotel. This is definitely one of New Zealand’s most photographed buildings. Cardrona Valley also prides itself as home to two of Lake Wanaka’s world renowned ski fields.

There are many different walks in Wanaka, right from short, simple tracks to multi-day hiking excursions. Located just below the towering mountain peaks of Southern Alps, Wanaka is a beautiful region full of snow-capped peaks, long meandering river valleys as well as flourishing forests. I suggest the popular Mount Iron Track, located near the town centre, or the Rob Roy Glacier Track, which can take you through splendid scenery of glaciers, waterfalls and steep rock cliffs.