A Journey from Franz Josef to Queenstown

Probably one of my favourite days on our 7 day Southern Voyager tour with Wild Kiwi – the Journey from Franz Josef to Queenstown is stunning!

The drive started at 7 am start and one of the bigger driving days, but luckily the changing landscape and places to stop at lakes, a beach and plenty of waterfalls, it certainly didn’t feel like a big drive.

Here is a map of the drive from Franz Josef to Queenstown, including our stops.

A Journey from Franz Josef to Queenstown (MAP)

And a highlights video from the day!

Lake Matheson

Our first stop was Lake Matheson. It is a 4.4km circuit walk and although it was an overcast day, the reflections in the lake were absolutely perfect!!! What a great way to start the day.

Lake Matheson is surrounded by New Zealand’s highest peaks, Aoraki (Mount Cook) and Mount Tasman.

The start of the walk is over the Clearwater River suspension bridge before continuing along the track through the native forest.

You are able to enjoy the snow-capped Mount Cook and capture the perfect photograph of the reflections in the dark water.

The walk is a 1.5-hour circuit. If you’re looking at heading to the pontoon, expect around a 30 – 40-minute walk.

Ship Creek

Our next leg stretch was at a beach! Our first and only beach stop for the trip and it was so lovely seeing the ocean. It was pretty windy, but with the right clothing, it wasn’t an issue (it’s very important you have the right jacket!). Click here for our NZ printable packing list.

Thunder Creek Falls

If you like waterfalls, you will love Thunder Creek Falls! The waterfall is located in Mt Aspiring National Park, located along the Haast Highway. It is an extremely popular waterfall for visitors in NZ and I can totally see why. The walk from the carpark is only around 10 minutes which makes it super easy to get to.

Fantail Falls

This 23m waterfall is located just down the road from Thunder Creek Falls. Again, only a short walk from the carpark, it makes for a quick pitstop. It was very beautiful and absolutely worth the photo stop!

The Blue Pools

Then, for one our highlights from the entire trip… the Blue Pools! Pack your swimmers for this one if you’re game! Fancy jumping off an 8m bridge into some pretty cold, gorgeous blue water?

Well, our guide, Mark, showed us how it was done and then Emily and I jumped in as well! It was such a fun experience. Never had we thought that it would be possible for the outside temps of 10 degrees would feel warm after being in the water!!!

Check out our short video of the jumps!


We then stopped for lunch in Makarora. Don’t get excited about this lunch stop (really, don’t) but it is a convenient stop along the way! Expect some pies, sandwiches and that sort of thing.

Lake Hawea Lookout

Back on the road to our next stop which was Lake Hawea lookout. Seriously, can this country get any more beautiful?? This lookout gives you 180-degree views across Lake Hawea with views over the Barrier, Young and Grandview Ranges.

Wanaka & That Wanaka Tree

Then, a highlight for Jenna – WANAKA!!! you guessed it… she finally got to see #thatwanakatree. And, if you don’t know what I’m talking about – google it!

There is a bit of time here in Wanaka to take a look around or grab a snack. I would highly recommend the bakery, especially if you love a good cream and jam doughnut!

Walking around the town is quite relaxing, there are a few things to see and do – it’s a good time filler!

Cardrona (Bradrona)

We then continued to Queenstown with our next stop down the road to Bradrona … not Cardrona but Bradrona! In support of breast cancer of course… I had to do the Bra Crawl 🙂


The final part of the journey was through the Crown Ranges. The drive itself is just picturesque and just breathtaking.

We arrived at our accommodation in Queenstown and then headed out for dinner.

Where to eat in Queenstown

Dinner at Flame – simply because as soon as we stepped out of our accommodation, we could smell the grill cooking… delicious! To read more about where to eat in Queenstown, click here.

And, if you’re in Queenstown, you definitely must stop in at The Remarkables Sweet Shop and get yourself some fudge samples!

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“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide


4 Comments on “A Journey from Franz Josef to Queenstown

  1. Hey There. Great Post! Just wondering how long that drive took you with all the stops? I’m doing that next month but from QT to Franz. Thanks!

    • Hi Emily – you will have a fantastic time! The drive is absolutely beautiful. The drive with no stops is around 5 hours. I would add an extra 2 – 3 hours for stops along the way, especially if you like to take photos!

  2. What month did you take your trip ?? We are thinking of going last week in April

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