The Famous “Lone Tree”

Lake Wanaka famous “Lone Tree”

I was walking along the shores of Lake Wanaka as the last light of day kissed the rugged mountain peaks in the distance. Nearby, the famous “lone tree” stood resolute, its branches reaching skyward as if whispering secrets to the heavens. In the distance, silhouettes of the surrounding treelines and mountain peaks, framing in a natural embrace. The water, mirroring the sky’s palette, rippled gently around the tree’s roots, creating a sense of calm and timelessness. The whole scene was a testament to the breathtaking allure of New Zealand’s landscapes.

Love Is In The Air

Love is in the air.

If you go to Central Otago at the right time of year, one of the strange sights you’ll see are a numerous number of brides and grooms. Usually, they’re posing for photos in very public places with lots of people holding lighting gear and taking photos. However, I never know if they’re from an actual wedding party or if it’s a promotional shoot. This is a couple I found on the shores of Lake Wanaka.

Lake Wanaka

Lake Wanaka

This is the shores of Lake Wanaka on a stunning summer’s day. Doesn’t it look amazing? It’s not hard to tell why it’s one of the country’s top holiday spots in the summer months. In fact, each year between Christmas and New Years the town becomes so busy that the town’s infrastructure struggles to cope with the number of tourists and holidaymakers enjoying the sunshine and the lake. Maybe that’s why so many developments have started up in the area.

The Cardrona Hotel

The Cardrona Hotel – Buy 

Dating back to 1865, the Cardrona Hotel is an iconic pub/hotel situated in the Cardrona Valley, that dates back to the Otago gold rush days. It had numerous owners of the years, however none more famous than proprietor James “Jimmy’ Patterson. Having purchased the hotel in 1926, Jimmy Patterson owned the establishment for 35 years until his death at the age of 91 in 1961. His attitude towards serving alcohol to patrons was legendary in the area. He preferred not to sell alcohol to women, and the amount you could drink depended on the direction you were heading. For those heading into Wanaka, he would allow two drinks while those heading over the Crown Range were limited to a single glass.

The Dingle Burn

The Dingle Burn – Buy 

This isn’t quite the Dingle Burn, but it’s pretty close to it. Access to this whole area starts at the Dingle Burn Peninsula Track and leads to the Turihuka Conservation Area, the Hāwea Conservation Park and the Hunter River Tracks. The whole area is very magnificent and has tracks that can take anything from several hours to several days to walk and enjoy.

Lake Wanaka Evening

Lake Wanaka in the evening – Buy 

Last week I shared with you an image I took of the popular ‘That Wanaka Tree’ in Wanaka. This is a different view of it showing some of the crowd that gathers every night. On this occasion the crowd was fairly small with only around two dozen people gathering near it at dusk. That’s a fairly small crowd as the numbers some nights can get extremely large. 

Reflections Of Lake Wānaka

Lake Wānaka reflection – Buy 

The town of Makarora is situated on the Haast Pass Highway between Wānaka and the West Coast. I stayed in Makarora for three days, two nights, and on the last day it snowed heavily. This left all the surrounding mountains covered in thick snow. It also, meant that on the way home it created some stunning scenery along the shores of Lake Wānaka.

Lake Wanaka

Tree at sunset in Lake Wanaka – Buy 

As much as I grow tired of seeing images of ‘That Wanaka Tree’, I have to admit that it does create a great subject for a photo. With the surroundings of the lake, mountains and big clear skies, it makes a wonderful scene for an image. In fact, if you catch it on a still autumn morning with moody clouds in the sky and mist rising off the lake, or on a calm, summer evening after the sun has set as colours hang around in the sky,  it’s really rather magical. Therein lies the problem, it’s a vicious circle really.

Lake Hawea

Lake Hawea – Buy 

Just before the final drive into Wanaka you arrive at the State Highway 6 turnoff to Lake Hawea, and the Haast Pass which eventually takes you all the way to the West Coast of the South Island. Having left Alexandra earlier that day, and after passing through the towns of Clyde and Cromwell, I had found myself wanting to stretch my legs and had considered stopping off at the National Transport and Toy Museum which is just after the town of Luggate on the way to Wanaka. I was also tempted to call in to Puzzling World, another tourist attraction on the way to Wanaka that features an outdoor maze and multiple rooms filled with optical illusions. Puzzling world was started by Stuart and Jan Landsborough in 1973 when they sold their house and brought a barren piece of land on the outskirts of Wanaka (which had a population of just 800 people at the time) and told everyone they were going to build a lifesize maze made out of wooden planks. Everyone quite rightly thought they were crazy, however before Covid 19 hit in 2020, the maze was drawing 200,000 visitors a year. Which just goes to show that people will happily pay $27.50 to voluntarily get themselves confused and lost!

Resisting the temptation to stop at some of the local tourist attractions, I took the Haast Pass turn off and followed State Highway 6 towards Albert Town Lake Hawea and my final destination of Makarora. It only took a few moments to reach Albert Town. A place that isn’t really a town at all. To me, the name sounds like it should be an historic gold mining town or a settlement fashioned on the American West that is filled with saloon’s that have hitching posts out the front. In fact, it is little more than an oversized housing development that started in farmland to satisfy the need for more accomodation in the area. After Albert Town is Lake Hawea. With a town at the foot of the lake, Hawea is quickly becoming an alternative holiday destination to nearby Wanaka and Queenstown. An ominous sign to anyone who enjoys its tranquillity. The lake itself is fairly impressive as it’s the ninth largest in the country, it is 35 km in length, it covers 141 km²  and is 392 metres deep. Which makes it a pretty decent place to visit all things considered. I carried on State Highway 6 which followed the line of the lake, occasionally stopping at viewing points to take in the scenery, eventually reaching the head of the lake where the road passed between the mountains and for a brief time I travelled alongside the head of Lake Wanaka before leaving it behind heading into Makarora.

The Cardrona Hotel

The Cardrona Hotel – Buy 

Leaving Queenstown I headed up the Crown Range, intending to pass through the Cardrona Valley, eventually aiming to end up in Wanaka. Having passed over the Crown Range, I drove along the Cardrona Valley Road, following the river before coming to the iconic Cardrona Hotel. Not being able to resist photographing the legendary Inn, I pulled into the carpark opposite the hotel, only to discover that a large group of cyclists had gathered directly in front of the building. 

The average age of the group must have been in the mid 70’s, and clearly this outing was serious business. They were doing all manner of stretching exercises that were intermixed with lots of pointing and nodding of heads. At one point they all gathered around a bike and looked fascinatingly at the back wheel. Clearly they had just discovered it was round!

They were also heavily dressed in lycra, which was not something the rest of the world wanted to see.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to lycra, it’s just that it shouldn’t be worn in public by certain members of the human race, and this group were most definitely not the right type of people. 

All of this fussing over bikes and lycra went on for a good deal of time before the peloton eventually moved off in the direction of the Crown Range Summit and I was left to photograph the old hotel in peace and quiet.

That Wanaka Tree

That Wanaka Tree – Buy 

I had three days in Wanaka and on one particular evening I decided to join a very large group of people who, like myself, clearly had nothing better to do than to look at a tree growing in water! After getting a compulsory photo, I then decided it was more interesting to watch the people, watching the tree. Some of whom, were extremely excited and animated. By what? Well, I just can’t say!



It seems typically kiwi that a fence with bra’s on it can become iconic. This fence, which is found in Cardona near Wanaka was actually renamed ‘Bradrona’ some years ago and is now a spot where people can make donations towards the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation. The original story goes that It began around 1999, when four bras mysteriously appeared overnight on a fence along the Cardrona Valley Road.



Wanaka Colours & Silhouettes

Wanaka Colours & SilhouettesBuy

There are so many places, spots and locations to visit to enjoy the landscapes around Wanaka. Of course there are the usual spots of Roys Peak and ‘That Wanaka Tree’ however there are so many other spots and scenes around the area it’s sometimes hard to know where to start when choosing a location to shoot from. The thing I like about this photo is that there was a good twelve to fifteen people around me and every single person was focused on photographing ‘That Wanaka Tree’ while no-one noticed how wonderful the lake or the surrounding hills had been light in colours and silhouettes.



Wanaka Hues & That Tree

Wanaka Hues & That Tree, WanakaBuy

It seemed wrong to not have an image of ‘That Tree’ in Wanaka so when I was there for a few nights I joined the nightly gathering to capture it at dusk. While the tree is an interesting subject, I also wanted to highlight the wonderful colours that an evening in Wanaka can produce.

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Wanaka In Textures

Wānaka In Textures

When I came up with the idea of visiting Wānaka for a few days between Christmas and New Years, I prepared myself for many things. I was prepared for a lack of parking, a crowded lake front, youths gathering in public places with large amounts of alcohol, expensive jet skis populating the lake, crowded restaurants and take away outlets and loud base thumping music late into the night. In fact, I would have been a little disappointed if all these things weren’t present.

What I discovered was the best way to tackle Wānaka was to do any shopping that was required while the youth population were still in bed (pre midday), have a large lunch and then enjoy the afternoon and evening sunshine. This proved to be a successful tactic, until I decided to eat at Subway at 6:00pm!

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Print Price Guide 2021 – Download