Lake Wakatipu is home to some of the most breathtaking scenery I have ever seen in my life. The famous ski town of Queenstown in set on the banks of the lake, and no matter how much you read or look at pictures, nothing really prepares you for the stunning beauty of the region. The lake itself is in the perfect shape of a thunderbolt, and at 80 kilometers long, it is New Zealand’s longest lake. Interestingly the lake is very deep, at its deepest it is 380 meters, which is below sea level.
There is also so much to do around Lake Wakatipu. You can get active and hit the ski slopes, or get your pulse going with one of the many adventure sports on offer, trek all over the countryside, or simply slow it down with some great wine at an award winning vineyard, Lake Wakatipu has it all in abundance.
My partner and I visited during winter, for a long weekend, for a relaxing few days away from the rat race. I was not really prepared for the rat race to follow us to Queenstown, as most of New Zealand, and the world, also head to the area. But none of this matters because no matter how many people are there, the Remarkables mountain range puts everything in perspective. Lake Wakatipu is surrounded by mountain peaks that frame it perfectly, every corner you turn is literally a picture perfect view.
We started our trip with a visit to the historic gold mining town of Arrowtown, where we enjoyed a sensational breakfast at Chop Shop – an eccentric cafe that serves great coffee and food.
A must do while in Queenstown is to ride the gondola to the peak above the town where you can take in elevated views from the observation deck. There is also a luge which is great fun to ride back down the hill. But it really is all about the view.
Lake Wakatipu is part of the Otago region, and when you say Otago to anyone who knows anything about wine they get excited. So while you are not skiing or throwing yourself off a bridge, you can enjoy some amazing wines. We stopped in at the Mt Difficulty vineyard, as the wines are a personal favorite. Here we were treated to a tasting session of delicate whites and some amazing Pinot Noirs.
It is also very worth the 45 minute drive out from Queenstown to visit the quaint lakeside town of Glenorchy. Along the way you will be treated to some more amazing scenery and when you arrive you will be treated to a glimpse of what Queenstown was before the developers rolled into town. I would recommend lunch at the GYC (The Glenorchy Cafe) where you will find great home cooking on their changing menu. Glenorchy also boasts a quintessential lake jetty that is impossible to take a back picture of.
We really have only scratched the surface in the 3 days we had exploring Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu – I cannot wait to get back!!