Glenorchy with Lake Wakatipu, the Thomson Mountains and Tooth Peak, New Zealand
Glenorchy with Lake Wakatipu, the Thomson Mountains and Tooth Peak, New Zealand iStock

Add this to your great drives list

I'm lucky to have done some of the world's most scenic and popular drives: Big Sur in California, the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, the road to Hana on Hawaii's island of Maui.

A scenic drive will give the traveller more thrills and enjoyment than expected. And they make a pleasurable change from trawling museums, admiring cathedrals, shopping in markets - all good pursuits, but balance is what it is about.

My latest scenic drive is the 48km stretch from Queenstown in New Zealand's South Island to Glenorchy, a tiny and sleepy lakeside settlement with just a couple of cafes, a pub, a small general store, backpacker and camping accommodation - but with walking trails galore and all the invigorating boating activities of Lake Wakatipu.

Glenorchy has been a sought-after location for many an iconic movie including The Chronicles of Narnia, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Lord of the Rings.

We had been constantly encouraged to take this drive before we even arrived in Queenstown and now I encourage (urge) you to do the same.

It is spectacular from within minutes of leaving the clusters of housing in Queenstown and entering the forest where the views across Lake Wakatipu halt the breath. Then the Remarkables Mountains come at you, dominate with their grandeur and majesty, all the more dignified with their caps of pure white snow resplendent even in the summery month of November.

"This is going to be something special,” we whispered in the car as we began the drive. Whispering is all you must to do in the face of such natural beauty.

Slowing down and taking it all in is key, and it happens naturally with the good road following the edge of the lake and passing through small picturesque bays.

The road coils its leisurely way around easy bends with the quiet tranquillity of the lake and the silent splendour of the mountains always in the backdrop. It's a photographer's dream, even the amateur couldn't go wrong here. The reflective lake gives myriad opportunities.

As you approach Glenorchy, the mountains seem to close in on all sides and you feel as though you've experienced something extraordinary. The sense of wellbeing rises, you feel privileged.

But there is more. Lupins, those tall and lively coloured flowers, grow wild all through the drive.

In spring they present a sea of colour: deep purple, pale pink, bright lemon.

Lupins everywhere on the scenic drive between Queenstown and Glenorchy, New Zealand.
Lupins everywhere on the scenic drive between Queenstown and Glenorchy, New Zealand. Picasa

Then there are the sheep and cows resting or grazing in the lush green paddocks by the lake. They are a postcard picture, as though they are child's toys, planted in the foreground of the lake and mountains, just to add beauty on top of beauty.

The entire drive is sensory overload, easily one of the top 10 scenic drives in the world and close enough for us to experience it.

Little for Queensland wine to cheers about

Little for Queensland wine to cheers about

"I expected someone to get up there and get a gold.”

'New ground in lost production'

'New ground in lost production'

Stone fruit trees pulled out

Historic cars get into gear

Historic cars get into gear

Original old girls drive money into town