The Cardrona Road south from Wanaka was a great place to pan for golden vistas. We did not always reproduce these panoramas as digital images of golden quality as we were usually at the mercy of chauffeur Brian who was paying to driving and not finding many pull-off opportunities. So trust me when I say it was an amazing drive, more beautiful by far than Haast Pass. We also have a very slow internet connection and I may not be able to post any photos.
The highest point that we reached was 1076 metres, the Crown Range Summit, the point of the highest sealed road in New Zealand. In February 1860 the first two Europeans, Rees and Tunzelman, crossed the pass in search of sheep pasture. In 1863 hundreds of gold seekers used this route to the Arrow and Skippers diggings. In 1877 the first tourist trips using horse drawn coaches drove over the pass. What a trip that must have been! In the distance we could just make out Queenstown. Airplanes flew beside us to land in the valley below. We must have curved through ten long switchbacks as we descended to The valley where we turned off to visit Arrowtown.
It was not until 2003 that the New Zealand government apologized to the Chinese New Zealanders and officially recognized the contribution their ancestors made to New Zealand. Arrowtown is where Chinese gold seekers built sod huts and panned for gold more successfully than their European counterparts. They were discriminated against and poorly treated. A walking trail through what was the Chinese village has many historical plaques outlining the tough life they lead. Only one stone building. The store run by Mr. Lum still stands much unchanged from its original state.
The rest of Arrowtown has several “old west” style facades and is bustling with tourists browsing through shops, much like Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Our apartment at Lakeview Holiday Homes has a big window view across the street from Lake Te Anau. Now if only those clouds could lift off the mountain.