Driving Wanaka to Queenstown
Driving Wanaka to Queenstown: 80 – 120km depending on route
The alpine high road or the vineyards? Either way, you’ll have great scenery and options for refreshments, points of interest and walks.
Driving from Wanaka to Queenstown over the Crown Range is a technical alpine road but is about 30 minutes shorter than the route via Cromwell. However, that doesn’t take into account any stops on the way, with both paths offering plenty of distractions.
Driving from Wanaka to Queenstown via the Crown Range and Cardrona
- Cardrona township and its namesake hotel and garden area is a great option for a hearty lunch.
- Cardrona distillery is on the way so choosing who is driving could possibly become a priority.
- The Cardrona Alpine resort now also runs a rapidly growing summer operation with downhill mountainbiking, tubing, guided walks, night sky tours and good coffee to enjoy the mountain views at the top of its access road.
- Once past Cardrona township the road climbs up to the summit at 1076 metres above sea level which has a parking area and expansive views of the Queenstown basin and Lake Wakatipu. A short walk from the carpark is well worth it with extensive alpine vistas as well as overlooking the Gibbston Valley and its vineyards.
Driving Wanaka to Queenstown via Cromwell
- Less technical driving allows you to take in the views from Wanaka to Queenstown. Stunning colours in autumn.
- Did someone say vineyards? Take the alternative route through Cromwell and a ten-minute detour to Bannockburn’s prime vintner’s microclimate and soils could take a couple of days.
- The new Cromwell town itself lacks a bit of character but the old town precinct by the water has some interesting galleries and a deli. Nearby are some very highly regarded wineries for tasting incongruously sited in the town’s industrial area.
- Highlands Motorsport Park and museum. Any motoring enthusiasts in the party? Go for a spin in a Porsche GT3 or race each other on the go-kart track.
- Kawerau Gorge and Gibbston Valley have goldmining sites, the Bungy Bridge and more wineries to investigate.