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Our top 12 places in the Otago Region – Backpacking Tips

Here you can find our personal highlights from the Otago region

As we will end our trip soon, here we come to our 10 highlights in the Otago region. The Otago Region covers a large part of the South Island and covers Dunedin, Wanaka and a large part of the lower South Island. Therefore, there are highlights here that require long distances in parts. Have fun discovering our personal highlights of the Otago Region.

 

Haast Blue Pools

Directly from a glacier flows the river that contains the Blue Pools – a section of the river that is so deep that one can safely jump from the 10m high bridge that spans the river. Glacier water is not only ice-cold but also has an intensive blue tone, hence the name Blue Pools. One walks for approximately 20 minutes through green forest, by crossing the first suspension bridge one sees underneath the many flat stones that frame the blue shimmering water. The view of the bridge from below is incredible, green forest, blue water, white stones that have been piled up by hikers to form towers. The 5 seconds we spent in the water were fantastic – this place really enchanted us!

 

Haast blue pools walk

The Haast Blue Pools are fed by ice-cold water from the mountains. Nevertheless, they are ideal for swimming in and enjoying the crystal clear blue water.

 

Glenorchy Lake Front

Near Queenstown – big city, many people, lots of traffic and always traffic jam. More by chance we drove up Lake Queenstown and discovered Glenorchy. A small, quiet village with a camping site, nice shops and a small red cottage right at the lake. In the evening we had a fabulous starry sky with a view to the Milky Way. With a good camera we could even catch southern lights. If you want to spend a few days in a quiet, idyllic village, you should definitely visit Glenorchy, and with a little luck you too can see the southern lights!

 

Southern lights in glenorchy

If you are lucky you can see southern lights in glenorchy

 

AJ Hackett Bungy

Pure adrenalin – bungee jump between high cliffs with “dip in”! At the oldest commercially used bridge in New Zealand you can test flying as well as bungee jumping. Fastened in a harness you can plunge into the depths with a Flying Fox – sitting, lying or in Superman pose. If you don't want to experience an adrenaline kick yourself, you can watch others do it. Each jump is broadcast live on 4 monitors. The history of the bridge is also interesting, it was only built because people were constantly dying in accidents while crossing the river, so that the government felt forced to do something about it.

 

AJ Hackett Bungy

Bungee Jumps are a very common attraction in New Zealand and definitely worth a visit.

 

Isthmus peak track

Located between Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea, Isthmus Peak offers a wonderful view over both lakes. But the ascent is steep, strenuous and worth every meter! Right at the beginning you climb up a steep piece of “rock face” to walk on a very narrow path over flat meadows. After a small forest you leave the meadows and the steep path begins, winding like serpentines, which takes 3 hours to climb up the mountain. But with each altitude meter the view gets better! The Isthmus Peak Track takes about 5 hours and ends in 1385m.

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Isthmus Peak hike

Isthmus Peak is one of the less known hikes, even though it is quite spectacular from it's views.

 

Nugget Point Lighthouse

The Nugget Point is a picturesquely situated lighthouse, with the nuggets in front of it in the sea. A side trip to the Nugget Point is in any case worth a visit. If the weather is good, it simply looks picturesque. If you are on your way to the Caitlin’s it is only a small side trip from the highway. With binoculars you can not only see the lighthouse, but also some seals and with luck even penguins at the bottom of the hill. If there is wind you have to take care of your things, because the lighthouse is really completely free on the top of the hill. The parking lot offers enough space for vans as well as bigger camper vans. Have fun watching the lighthouse.

 

Nugget Point Lighthouse

Nugget Point and it's Nuggets, definitely worth the little detour to us.

 

Albatross Colony Dunedin

At the tip of the small peninsula next to Dunedin nest New Zealand's largest birds, the albatrosses. A perfect day trip to escape the traffic of Dunedin. The road winds gently along the coast. The view is simply fantastic. At the end of this beautifully situated road the albatrosses await you. From a platform you can watch the animals flying over you. At the lower end of the cliffs you can watch seals, if no albatross shows his 2m wingspan.

 

Albatross Colony Dunedin

Enjoy the view on the giants of the air, the Albatross Colony near Dunedin

 

Roaring Meg

Two smaller waterworks, which together make up one large one. Fed by a dam called Roaring Meg. Under a loud roar, the eponymous, raging river flows through the gorge and casts a spell over you. The landscape is uniquely beautiful – wild water clapping against the rough rock face in contrast to the soft green of the trees above the cliffs. If you are on SH6 in Kawarau Gorge, you should definitely make a stop at Roaring Meg! Also, the drive through the mountains is worthwhile! (Tipp: enjoy the view from Wanaka via Cardrona, then follow SH6 to the left towards Cromwell and let Roaring Meg enchant you).

 

Roaring Meg

Roaring meg offers a nice stream and the sound of roaring waters.

 

Roy’s Peak track

Roy's Peak is probably the most famous hike in Wanaka. The peak is an impressive 1578 meters high and in good weather you have an impressive view. You can see over parts of Lake Wanaka, Wanaka, the Rob Roy Glacier and many mountain peaks.

The hike takes about 5 hours and is strenuous. Beside the famous photo spot (about one hour before the summit) you can have a good break in the sun on the summit.

If the weather is bad, I advise against the hike as it can get slippery and cold. The view in good weather compensates in any case for the effort.

 

Roys Peak Hike

Roys Peak hike is one of the most famous hikes around Wanaka

 

Bendigo Historic Gold Mine Reserve

From 1860 to 1940 Bendigo flourished as an up-and-coming gold-digger town, today only ruins remain in the ghost village. Bendigo can be explored both by car and on foot. Signs tell the history of the town and an app from the University of Canterbury (Goldfields Explorer – Bendigo) gives helpful insights into life in the past. The road that runs through Bendigo is a 2WD, but if you don't want the extra thrill of a ride, you should take a 4WD – it's always adventurous!

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Explore Bendigo Goldfields

The Bendigo Goldfield Area is perfect for a little view in the times of the goldrush

 

Otago Museum

You are interested in the history of the Pacific Ocean; which peoples then and now have lived and still live and how? You are fascinated by the diversity of the animals that share the earth with us and want to learn more about their past? You are interested in the history of seafaring, have always wanted to visit a planetarium or stand in a butterfly house? Then you should not miss the Otago Museum! Even after 5 hours of browsing and discovering, we didn't manage to see everything.

 

Visit the Otago Museum Dunedin

A good spot to explore, the Otago Museum in Dunedin. Especially good if the weather is wet outside.

 

Oamaru – City of the Steampunk

Once more important than Los Angeles, with the highest building (5 floors) in the world and a steadily and rapidly growing economy, Oamaru is now the 28th largest city in New Zealand. Due to a natural harbour basin, flourishing trade by ship was carried on in the 19th century. It was only when the railway was introduced that economic growth in Oamaru flattened until it came to a complete standstill. The harbour basin became too small for the ever larger ships of the newer generations. The majestic Victorian-style buildings fell into disrepair, the 5-storey building lost the top 2 floors in a fire. In exactly this building you can find today the Steampunk HQ. Curious, fascinating and definitely worth a visit! Also the harbour is worth a short visit, especially at night. Here the “little Penguins” nest, the smallest penguins in the world. Outside there is a viewpoint from where you can see the yellow-eyed penguins on the beach. Officially Oamaru is not part of the Canterbury but of the Otago region. However, Oamaru has somehow sneaked into this article, we will correct this at the next opportunity.

 

Steampunk in Oamaru

Steampunk in Oamaru

 

Puketeraki Lookout

The road winds slowly up the mountain, the forest on the left and the sea on the right. In the distance wide green meadows, then the blue bay appears. Just turned into the parking lot of the Lookout, and the full beauty of the surroundings lies at your feet. Endless meadows, the sea glistening blue in the midday sun. Directly in front of you are 2 bays with a white beach, through their curved shape together they remind you of a heart. The perfect spot to relax from the winding road and enjoy the landscape to the full.

 

Puketeraki Lookout

Puketeraki Lookout – Wonderful bays in New Zealand

 

(In memory of the) Cadbury World

Attention chocolate fans! Cadbury, the chocolate factory in New Zealand, is based in Dunedin and offers guided tours of the factory, an outlet store and a café. A visit is not only worthwhile if you want to buy cheap chocolate, but also if you want to enjoy a warm lunch snack or a piece of cake in the afternoon. Unfortunately, Cadbury World is now only history, so we leave it as a reminder in this article. At the time of the first version of this article, we had already been there several times in the café and enjoyed delicious cakes. So, it only remains for us to say thank you Cadbury. Here is a last photo from the glory days of the Cadbury World in Dunedin.

 

Cadbury World Dunedin

In remembrance of the Cadbury World Dunedin

 

More posts to the New Zealand Regions

We have made a map for your easy navigation, with which you can visit the respective contribution to the region directly. Have a look around what we like in the other regions!

 

 

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