Wednesday, January 18, 2006

New Zealand Scenic Drive 1 - Highway 6 from Makarora to Wanaka

Spectacular drives in New Zealand are in abundance. Three of my favourites on the South Island are:

1. Highway 6 – From Makarora to Wanaka
2. Highway 1 – From Blenheim to Kaikoura
3. Highway 94 – The Milford Sound Road

My family did a New Zealand self-drive holiday in December 2005. I will share my experience along these routes in the next three blogs.

Highway 6 – From Makarora to Wanaka

Departing the abundant rainforests of the West Coast, we passed Haast and Makarora along Highway 6. The loveliest stretch begins when Lake Wanaka comes into view. The road skirts the edge of the Lake. Because it was a sunny day, the stunningly beautiful turquoise glow of the lake became a great distraction. So if you are at the driver's wheel, keep your eyes on the road. There are numerous spots to pull over for photos, so don't worry.

The road then veers away from Lake Wanaka's edge and enters a pass (=a passage through a mountain). Once we got onto the other side, we were awe-struck by the deep blue glint of Lake Hawea, set against the sometimes rolling and sometimes craggy peaks of New Zealand's Lakes District.

Photo opportunity just after the Pass (Lake Hawea)

Traffic jam along a side-road to Lake Hawea

Again, the road skirts the edge of Lake Hawea. The panoramic views over Hawea are equally captivating - you see the dramatic blend of blue sky, turquoise water and rolling peaks even when you look into your side-mirrors!

Lake Hawea from the highway

The drive ends at Wanaka town, where we planned our walks and adventure trips to the surrounding areas.

Boats berthed at Lake Wanaka

Sail boats in action on Lake Wanaka

Side Bar
Lakes Wanaka and Hawea were formed by the movement of massive glaciers over 10 000 years ago. The two lakes are close to each other and are separated by a small segment of land. Each is encircled by a pebbled shoreline. Stand at their edge and enjoy the superb views to the surrounding peaks. The lakes and surrounding areas afford lovely walks in summer. In winter, many skiers make Wanaka their base for ski trips to the surrounding mountains. Sailing, swimming, windsurfing, jetboating, parasailing, and fishing are also popular during the summer.


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