Day 5 – Free Camping At The Prettiest Spot In NZ and A Morning In Arrowtown

I don’t think I went into enough detail about our night at Lake Hayes. It was so much lovelier than the small paragraph I gave it in the previous post so I’ll try again – lets just rewind back to where we pulled up at Lake Hayes.

First of all you should know we came across this little camping spot on the Jucy app, which K downloaded before we left. This nifty app is perfect for campers around NZ, it shows you all the free and paid camping around New Zealand, where various dump and water stations are and has heaps of cool little tips and tricks – definitely recommend downloading this baby before setting off on a road trip!

So after we parked up and did our usual leap out of the van and admire the scenery for 10 minutes or so before we set up for drinks and nibbles by the lake where a mob of very friendly ducks and geese wanted to join us. Us four growing up on a farm, let them join us in our wine and cheese time. A chook catcher from way back, K lured the big goose into a false sense of security by feeding it some biscuits before swooping in and picking the startled goose up! After a bit of a cuddle, she let him go and he stormed off back into the water, the rest of the flock following him. Best way to get rid of some pesky birdlife!

It was such a magical way to end our fabulous day. The snow mountains shimmered in the lakes reflection and the scarcely dressed trees swayed in the slight breeze, the last of the yellow and orange leaves threatening to fall. The silence and serenity of this camp spot was incredible, it was like our own little slice of campers heaven.

Our backyard for the night. Can't complain!
Our backyard for the night. Can’t complain!
The friendly geese at Lake Hayes - weren't so eager to hang around once they realised what K was capable of!
The friendly geese at Lake Hayes – they weren’t so eager to hang around once they realised what K was capable of!

We had a quiet night in, knackered from our big day of fun. After a failed attempt at a game of cards and a really good saucepan of noodles, we slept soundly until the sun started to peek through the mountains the next morning.  Wiping the condensation from Mimi’s windows, I could see the sky painted a golden colour which made the ripples in the water sparkle in the morning sun. It was going to be another glorious day.

Mimi and our campsite at Lake Hayes - utter serenity!
Mimi and our campsite at Lake Hayes – utter serenity!

We went on a quick hike around the lake and found some old kayaks and a swing hanging off a large, gnarled tree. The beauty of Lake Hayes was still hard to believe, how could a place be so lovely? As per usual, our growling stomachs got the best of us and we made a quick brekkie before packing up and heading into Arrowtown – a short 20 minute drive away.

K enjoying the serene atmosphere at Lake Hayes
K enjoying the serene atmosphere at Lake Hayes

We’d all been told to go to Arrowtown by our various friends who’d already been to New Zealand and driving into the charming little town it was easy to understand why. Popular for its historic charm and boutique shops, Arrowtown is like stepping back into the times of the gold rush. We parked up and wandered through the old western style streets in search of a coffee. Autumn is definitely a brilliant time to visit NZ, the sunny days are complimented by snowy mountains and the yellow leafy trees just make for a beautiful view, all day, every day.

The western style streets take you back to times of the gold mining days
The western style streets take you back to times of the gold mining days
The stream running parallel to Arrowtown
The stream running parallel to Arrowtown

We found coffee at a small little cafe hidden away called Espresso Love and plugged in all our technology which had been drained from our copious photo taking and music playing. Giving into self restraint, we shared a chocolate caramel slice which was probably the yummiest I’ve tasted. Way better than any slice I’ve tried to make!

We caffeinated up and took turns having a looksie through the shops while someone stayed and manned the technology – ah the first world problems we suffer today! The shops were full of beautiful and unique homewares – definitely a place to remember when I finally settle down and have my own house!

Having a final browse through the streets, we got back in Mimi and headed north-ish to Wanaka – which was about an hour away. A great way to start the morning, I’m definitely am on the Arrowtown bandwagon. It has lovely shops, great coffee and a history lesson all in one – perfect for a day trip from Queenstown!

A plethora of colour, Arrowtown was just delightful.
A plethora of colour, Arrowtown was just delightful.

Continuing our journey, we took the scenic route from Arrowtown to Wanka going via the Cardrona ski fields. Hoping for snow similar to what we saw down near Milford Sound, we were left disappointed as the chill had only set in enough to leave a harsh landscape and a bitter wind. It was still a gorgeous drive – albeit windy, with the mountains uprising around us the stark landscape a huge contrast to the greenery we saw down south.

Driving out of Arrowtown towards Cadrona and Wanaka
Driving out of Arrowtown towards Cardrona and Wanaka

Using the trusty old road map we navigated our way to Wanaka in good time. The glorious Lake Wanaka sat before us, living up to all the photos I had been seeing on Instagram. Hunger was getting the best of us so we parked in a public car park and went for a search for lunch.

But I’ll save that for the next post…

J. x

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