Queenstown - Cromwell - Lindis Pass - Pukaki Drive Photo Gallery
With the $125 refund from the previous day's unexpected disaster in Milford Sound, I rented a car for the day for a drive through Lindis Pass and hopefully spot Mount Cook from the other side (I previously did a helicopter tour out of Fox). The weather was once again picture-perfect today. The storms from a few days ago were long gone although the snow was still very visible down the mountains.
After my mini-detour, I headed back down and continued along the highway to Cromwell, winding through the Kawarau Gorge. Seems the water was more turquoise than Hokitika Gorge.
There were many campgrounds and parks along the way with safe places to stop as I headed north. Most were utterly empty except a few campers every now and then. There is plenty of real estate for everyone.
A million photos later, the lake faded away and the surroundings became more arid. I had read the rain shadow effect is quite prominent on the other side of the coastal mountains. But snow soon came on the horizon after I passed Tarras, and the gentle climb through the Lindis Pass began.
The mountains here were not as tall, but with snow reaching the road level, the white wonderland was far more pronounced here than in Queenstown. There was no ice or snow on the highway itself - the sun had melted it away as expected. There wasn't much traffic today, so I made my way slowly to the observation point. I felt a bit glad that the Milford Sound tour didn't materialize the day before. I no longer felt bad about it or struggled to think whether I should attempt it again today. Now with the same amount of money, I could enjoy both the Milford Highway and the Lindis Pass.
Yikes! It took me 3 hours to get through the Lindis Pass from Queenstown thanks to my photography bonanza!
By now it was well past lunch time, which I decided to sacrifice to enjoy the scenery. I also came up close to a sheep farm (finally)!
I pressed on, and soon arrived at Pukaki. The water was just as radioactive-looking and this was the busiest place all along the highway with bus-loads of tourists clammering and making their way down to the rocks to the lake's edge. The lake was a very interesting shade of light blue. There were lots of mountains in the distance, and a seemingly taller one far on the other side of the lake looks like Mount Cook. Mission accomplished!
It was now 3pm, so time was a bit tight to get back to Queenstown by sunset (6:30pm). The bulk of my photo-taking was done, so heading back along the same way should be a bit faster. Can't believe I made it so far (>500 km roundtrip) and didn't drop dead from exhaustion. I got back to Queenstown just past 6pm and before sunset.