How To Spend 3 Days in the Photogenic Queenstown

Heads-up: you can witness very ethereal lighting in Milford Sound ūüėČ

I once read somewhere that your travels change when you find out specifically why, besides all the usual- and entirely legitimate- reasons of seeing new places and exploring the world, you want to travel. Some travel for the arts and history, some travel for the food, and some travel for the sceneries. For me personally, after a few years of being relatively “directionless”, I have fathomed out my Why. I travel to document the natural beauty of this world with my camera. I am wholly in my element when I am surrounded by nature. These days, when deciding where to go, I am more inclined towards countries that afford easy access to beautiful landscapes and plenty of opportunities to be in touch with nature.

New Zealand is one of those countries. And Queenstown in particular intoxicated me!

Queenstown was the final leg of my time in the country. By then, I had experienced an absurd amount of spectacular moments in Wanaka, Mt. Cook, Kaikoura, and¬†Marlborough Sounds. Which made me slightly skeptical whether Queenstown would be able to surpass them all, given that it is overrun with tourists. Now looking back, I can’t help but chuckle a little because that was such a silly, unwarranted concern. A place is touristy not for nothing. It would be unfair to say that Queenstown was the most magnificent part of New Zealand I saw, but from a photography perspective it was the peak. I am truly happy with what I was able to capture.

This was what I saw when I stepped off the bus and looked up. I silently told Queenstown, Hey you were made for me!

I should clarify, though, that I didn’t actually spend all my time inside Queenstown. It is a small, compact, pedestrian-friendly resort town that, in my personal experience, does not take a lot of time to hit all the main spots. However, it is the gateway to some of the most unreal parts of the South Island. And those places were where my eyes and camera got such fulfilling workouts.

So, if you are going to spend about 3 days in Queenstown like I did, below are my suggestions. Queenstown is the capital of¬†adventurous activities from¬†bungee jumping, skydiving, to¬†rafting and many others. They unfortunately¬†cost an arm and a leg, so¬†I steered clear of them. You don’t have to if you have the financial wherewithal ūüėČ

Day 1: Arrowtown and Queenstown

THIS MADE ME SCREAM!!!

Listen, if you are in New Zealand during autumn, you MUST visit Arrowtown. I am not being hyperbolic; I am saying it from the bottom of my heart.

I am an autumn person through and through, and ever since I left the States I have been completely deprived of real autumns. I am living in Hanoi, the only city in South East Asia with four distinct seasons. Yet autumns here pale in comparison. When I set my feet in Arrowtown, I felt like I was finally released from an autumn dry spell.

Arrowtown is small and quaint. The detailed history of the town can be read here, the town’s official website. But basically, it was established in 1862, during the height of the Otago gold rush. The settlement grew quickly as pioneers constructed cottages, shops, hotels and churches, more than 60 of which can still be seen today.

To get to Arrowntown from Queestown by public transportation, take this bus, NZD 30 round-trip. The most important tip I have is you should take the earliest bus at 7.35AM so you can get there at 8AM. As a reward, you will have the whole town to yourself, and the lighting will be excellent. I took all of these photos in the span of two hours, from 8 to around 10AM. It is not easy to take photos once throngs of tourists pour in. I left at noon, but you can spend more time there if you want to.

The postcard quality of Arrowntown is top-notch.

Sigh, I am running out of words already.

I already told you guys I rarely feel the urge to shove my face in photos of places that I visit. I’m not young anymore and have come to a point in my life where I don’t feel like I need to prove anything to anyone. (Kidding, I still have a ton of inner work to do.) BUT, I had to wake up at 6AM to catch the bus and wandered around in freezing temperatures. So, I was just kind of like, “Self-restraints, you can go fcuk yourself. I need a photo with this beautiful background, in an au naturel I Woke Up Like This state.” ūüėÄ

One of the cheapest yet most enjoyable experiences I had in Queenstown. 

Day 2: Milford Sound

This sight is just too heinous!!!

Even my friends who live in New Zealand commented on my photos that they hadn’t seen Milford Sound this copiously bathed in sunlight for a long time. Yes, I know I hit the jackpot with the weather!

Milford Sound needs no introduction. It is legendary; it is the quintessential New Zealand¬†experience. It was sad¬†that I had limited time and didn’t have a car; otherwise, I would have allotted more time for this place and the adjacent areas. There,¬†nature is in its unadulterated glory.

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