Our New Zealand Road Trip took us to the Cardrona Hotel on our way from Queenstown to Wanaka.
Many people take State Highway 6 from Queenstown to Wanaka. The highway takes you through Cromwell and the beautiful Kawarau Gorge.
If you have already driven through the Kawarau Gorge, then you may want to opt for the more direct route to Wanaka through the Crown Range taking you.
Crown Ridge Road
This scenic drive takes you through over the mountain range past the old mining town of Cadrona. While the Crown Ridge Road is shorter and more direct, it still takes about the same time. You may also want to add in some extra travel time for stopping to take photographs.
The Crown Ridge Road is both extremely scenic and beautiful, but it is full of switchbacks. The road has a few lookout points, where you can pull over to see the Arrowtown Valley and the zigzag of a road you just drove.
Here, we stop for the view again, reflecting on the drive we finished compared to the straight Highway 6. Quietly, I wondered if we made a huge little mistake by going this route. Of course not, road trips equal adventure.
We may have had some issues with the climb in the world’s worst rental car.
Mr. J’s driving advice: Keep it in second gear if you want to live. Or, at least if you don’t want to kill your engine ascending to the top of the mountain. This is Cardrona pass on the South Island of New Zealand. We took a stop to enjoy the views and give our white knuckles a chance to regain some color.
This view of the valley and the Remarkables made our drive worth it.
The road climbs steeply to the summit of 1120 meters. At the summit, the road runs along the tiny Cardrona River through farmland. Our flat drive ends as we begin our steady descent through the steep-sided Cardrona Valley. Crown Range to our left and the Criffle Range to our right, stuck in the middle with a moderately annoying rental car.
About 50 minutes into our drive, we arrived at the Cardrona Hotel.
The Cardrona Hotel is rumored to be the most photographed building in New Zealand.
It is one of the oldest hotels in New Zealand. Yes, you could also stay here for the night. Many people come to this area for skiing. Some prefer the snow and quantity beginner slopes in this area to that of the ski areas closer to Queenstown.
The Cardrona Hotel is one of two buildings that still remain from the gold rush during the late 1800s. You can read more about the hotel’s history on their website.
The Hotel restaurant is pub style. The crackling fire is great for apres ski.
I immediately saw what I wanted. Hint: The mulled wine, obviously.
It was a little cold outside for me in the hotel garden. So, we took some cozy seats. in the pub next to the fire. Not a great spot for eating a full meal, but perfect for snacks and some beverages. We enjoyed nachos and potato wedges with sweet chili sauce.
Our tummies satisfied, we continued our beautiful scenic drive to Wanaka.
This drive is another unique experience we were able to check-off for New Zealand on our Wanderlist.