Melissa and I made it to Wanaka just as night fell. We checked into our hostel and went into town for a delicious Italian meal and some live music. After some much needed rest, we got up the next morning ready to explore Wanaka’s beautiful waterfront.
The fall foliage was incredible. Wellington doesn’t change all that much with the seasons, so it was wonderful to see the South Island colors in all their glory.
The whole Wanaka waterfront was alight with yellows and oranges.
I specifically wanted to find the famous “Wanaka Tree,” which pops up in almost every photo from the area. I hadn’t seen it on my last visit, but this time I was able to get its exact location from good ol’ Google.
Melissa and I strolled along the waterfront, heading away from town.
I spotted the cluster of photographers before I sighted the tree itself. It stands alone in the shallow waters of Lake Wanaka. like a New Zealand incarnation of Yggdrasil, the Norse Tree of Life.
The autumn colors just served to amplify its ethereal beauty.
Naturally, we had to pose for some pictures with Wanaka’s celebrity tree.
Satisfied with my multitude of arboreal shots, I headed back to the car with Melissa.
We began the relatively short drive towards Queenstown with the intention of stopping off in the old mining settlement of Arrowtown on the way.
When we passed signs for AJ Hackett Bungy, we decided to make a pit stop. It’s a gorgeous location, the bungy bridge spanning the majestic Kawarau River. I’d been on my last trip to watch a couple friends jump, while I myself did the separate Canyon Swing jump further down the same river. AJ Hackett possesses the historic honor of being the world’s first ever commercial bungy site, opened in 1988.
The Kawarau River was also used as the Anduin in parts of Lord of the Rings.
We watched a few people jump and admired the vibrant foliage that contrasted perfectly with the deep blue water flowing through the gorge.
Next stop, Arrowtown. Wow, what a place!
We parked and strolled along the river that skirts the quaint town streets. The vibrant hillsides reminded me of New England in the fall.
We really hit the jackpot when it came to peak foliage.
Cue classic pose!
Arrowtown was like a postcard from the frontier, its main street dotted with saloons and shops.
We each bought cones of hokey pokey ice cream and wandered around, enjoying the gorgeous autumn day.
We then reluctantly said our goodbyes to lovely little Arrowtown and made for Queenstown.
More adventures await in my favorite spot in NZ. See you there.