I'm a wedding and portrait photographer living in Vancouver, BC with my husband Randy.  I photographed my first wedding when I was only 17 years old - and I've photographed over 200 weddings since! I am an avid bookworm, lover of green tea, pretty nail polish & my Labradoodle Harley. Thanks for visiting!

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Wanaka, Mount Cook & Lake Pukaki

March 16, 2015


For three weeks, we traveled the country of New Zealand (#WatsonsdriveNZ) and blogged our way through it. Follow along + catch up by reading Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart FivePart SixPart SevenPart EightPart NinePart TenPart ElevenPart TwelvePart ThirteenPart FourteenPart Fifteen and Part Sixteen.

After our day adventure to Milford Sound, we were ready to get out of Te Anau (not much to do there…) and get back to one of our favourite areas so far on the trip, Lake Wanaka! It was the only place we were returning to on our route and we loved it so much the first time. We stayed in a new hotel, the Te Wanaka Bed and Breakfast and it was LOVELY. Would for sure recommend it. Our day was quite uneventful, just how we wanted it – so I have nothing but iPhone photos to show for it.

Lunch was at Urban Grind (loved it!) before we hiked uh, a quarter of the Roys Peak Track. Somebody told us it was an easy three hour walk… err, easy my foot!! It was pretty much straight-up hill and I wasn’t feeling super healthy that week. We walked 40 minutes up and then turned around. (Just being honest.) BUT we did get a beautiful view out of it!

We had to buy another ice cream and chocolate from Patagonia Chocolates and play cards down by the lake.

For dinner, Alivate Restaurant overlooking the water – one of my favourite memories of our whole trip. Maybe it was the way I felt, no makeup, hair done, loose black maxi-dress on, a gorgeous sunset to the left of the lake, sailboats spread across the horizon, the good conversation we shared, the amazing food, my red wine, his beer… I loved it. Two thumbs up, Lake Wanaka. We loved you more than Queenstown. Way to be.

The next day of our adventure was much more exciting, visually! We were on our way to a suburb of Christchurch (Methvan) but first, Mount Cook National Park! It was a half hour detour off of our main highway route but worth every minute of it. As we drove into the National Park, clouds were half covering the snow-capped mountains, but by the time we decided what area to explore the clouds left and it was clear sky and bright sun! We chose to walk to Kea Point – 1.5 hours round trip from the parking lot near the hotel in the park.

Kea are parrots native to mountainous areas of New Zealand. On our way to Milford Sound, we saw one in the parking lot near a bunch of tourists (apparently he’s a regular there – although you’re instructed not to feed them – of course some people do) but we really wanted to see one up close. Then on our way out of Milford Sound, we saw one FLY by our car. Our hope was Kea Point would give us a great view of the glacier and some Kea!

We didn’t have any luck with the Kea but we did see some amazing sights. So cool to be so close to the mountain! While we were at the end of the lookout, we heard something loud and sure enough, on the mountain in front of us, we could see snow falling down. If you travel to Mount Cook, definitely spend some time walking these trails but don’t spend a stupid amount of money on the lunch buffet at the hotel. (Food, in general, is really expensive in New Zealand and when you’re in the middle of nowhere you think “Well, how bad can it be? Let’s eat it and go.” It was bad. Expensive and bad. Lesson learned.)

The road out of Mount Cook held more beauty for us. The highway drove alongside Lake Pukaki. It’s so amazing how many lakes and beautiful areas there are in NZ with NO PEOPLE. In B.C., there would be homes all the way along, for sure. We pulled off the road in a spot Randy thought we could reach the water and climbed our way down the rocks. The water was cold but refreshing! (I went up to my calves… that’s how I feel about cold.)

You hear a lot about Lake Tekapu as a “place to go.” (Not pictured! We didn’t take any photos.) We stopped for snacks and a bathroom break and it was pretty but nothing like the awesome Lake Wanaka or Lake Pukaki we had just driven by! On the road again we went. We checked into Skitime Lodge in Methvan, a town about an hour away from Christchurch, where we would finish our trip. For dinner, we sat outside at Blue Pub which literally seemed to be the ONLY restaurant in town with customers. Haha! The next day – onto Christchurch!


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  1. shotbymel

    March 16th, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    One of the best drives of my life!

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