What an insane month!
I’m overseas traveling at the moment but before I left I managed to squeeze in an adventure or two right in my own backyard in New Zealand I have been DYING to tell you about!
Mostly because autumn has been in full swing in this part of the world, and it’s my absolute favoritest of seasons, as you can probably tell here. Will I ever get used to autumn in April? Not sure but I’ll take what I can get.
And the area where I live near Queenstown certainly doesn’t disappoint!
Just over the hill on the Crown Range road between Wanaka and Queenstown (which BTW is one of the most scenic roads ever and I still can’t believe I get to drive it all the time) is Arrowtown and Lake Hayes.
No matter how many times I commute back and forth to Queenstown to meet up with friends, catch a plane or have work stuff going on, I never, ever get tired of this drive because it’s spectacular.
As soon as you come down over the hill and see Arrowtown in front of you with Lake Wakatipu twinkling in the distance, it feels like you’ve stepped into another world that is so pretty it can’t possible be real.
Right before I left for 6 weeks of travel (if you subscribe to my newsletter or follow me on Instagram, you’d know all about this – more updates next week) I got an email from the Spire, a local hotel in Queenstown inviting me to check out their place. Wahoo girl’s weekend!
Since it looked fab and I was headed over that way anyways for the weekend to hike the Routeburn Track with my friend Bel which starts on the other side of Queenstown on the way to Milford, I decided to give it a go, shaving off an hour or two from a long 3-4 hour + drive to even start the hike. And why stay in a tent when you can stay in comfortable boutique hotel?
I love it when things like this fall into place, especially when it rained that night. Dodged a bullet!
We left earlier than usual to give us a few hours of playing around in Arrowtown on the way over to Queenstown. Did I mention that Arrowtown is world-famous in the fall for its leaves?
Most of New Zealand doesn’t really have a proper autumn apart from the Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago. Native New Zealand trees don’t change color with the seasons so you usually just find them around farms with poplar trees and the like that were introduced by white settlers.
As much as I am all for promoting New Zealand native plants, I am a sucker for autumn colors and that’s one of the reasons I love living down here! Don’t tell anyone!
Bel has been living in Wanaka for a lot longer than me and knows the best spots and secret places to visit. After having a quick frolic in the leaves down by the river, taking posing model shots and helping out some tourists get some snaps (it is always very touristy here BTW), we made our way to the cutest cafe in Arrowtown!
I don’t know how I went almost 2 years without visiting Provisions, but trust me, this is now going to be my new staple spot. Actually I think I could have easily missed it as it just looks like a house with an amazing garden, not a cafe. Disguise, I like it!
Normally I am more of a Chop Shop girl, my favorite local haunt, especially as it’s the first place I really visited in Arrowtown with my flatmate Vee last year when I first moved to Wanaka, I have such great memories visiting! But when I am looking for a more comfy, homey kind a spot versus hip and fun, I have a new place.
It’s hard for me to put a finger on why I love fall so much. I imagine that a lot of it has to do with growing up on the east coast in the US. I have such amazing memories from picking pumpkins around Halloween to family Thanksgiving dinners coming home from college, when Starbucks starts serving all things cinnamon and pumpkin spice lattes, school starting, a change of scenery, who knows.
If only New Zealand had a Halloween in April, I could die happy.
I suppose that autumn around the Queenstown Lakes District is the best of both worlds – it’s both something very familiar and also very different. Where at home we have big oak trees, thick forests and and dark lakes and rivers, New Zealand has bright blue waterways and mostly yellow trees that intersperse amongst the native greens.
I thought I would share some of my favorite snaps and images from my little local road trip with Bel, as I often neglect to share what can be found in my own backyard in New Zealand.
Don’t you just want to hang out at this cafe all day?
It was SO hard to drag myself away after sitting amongst the yellow leaves and pink roses. Can I live here? In this exact house?
But our beautiful room at the Spire beckoned and who can say no to a little bit of pampering before 2 days of hiking over 3 kilometers and sleeping in huts?
Not this girl, that’s for damn sure.
Since April – June is a bit of an off season (don’t ask me why, I love it then, no crowds, cheaper prices, colorful landscapes and the snow is just starting on the mountains, seriously, I can go on and on…) The Spire is offering a special deal I figured I share with you guys if you are about in Queenstown and looking for a treat; 3 nights for the price of 2 for 2 people, and it includes Land Rover transfers, a trust the chef dinner (OMG just wait for it), a bottle of tasty local Pinot Noir and a hot restaurant menu breakfasts (no ugly buffet phew).
Heads up this runs til late June!
I don’t often write about accommodation in New Zealand on the blog here, mostly because I find it overpriced and frankly not that special or interesting. But enough of you guys ask me recommendations so I figured I’d share.
Queenstown is a special occasion place and we all deserve a treat now and then.
One of my favorite parts of being a blogger is that I often get to share my incredible experiences around the world with my good friends, and getting to bring Bel here to share it with me was really amazing. As much as I love solo travel (and I know that will never change) sometimes I do get a bit lonely or sad that I don’t have someone to share an incredible experience with, so getting to have a good friend with me this time in Queenstown and then hiking the Routeburn definitely was an amazing bonus!
Know what I mean?
After relaxing about the room leaving no pillow untouched or snack uneaten, we dolled up a bit and headed down to the No. 5 restaurant and bar downstairs for little drink or three before our chef dinner!
For us living in Wanaka, Queenstown is the big city and a real chance to put on a whole lot of make-up and even heels. Oh New Zealand, what are you doing to me?
After warming up over a few mugs of mulled wine (I love fall and winter!) the plates started piling up and we started to dig in! Using all locally sourced ingredients and local wines, the food was phenomenal and we basically stuffed ourselves silly. As you do.
All in all it was a fabulous girls night out and such a good way to say goodbye to New Zealand for a month or so of travel. I am just sad that autumn will be over by the time I’m back!
Are you an autumn lover too? Are you a fan of a nice staycation or local getaway? Is Queenstown on your bucketlist? Would you travel to New Zealand in the fall? Share!