“Queenstown, Otago”

Otago, New Zealand. April 2019. (11 photos)

This is Part 3 of my New Zealand 2019 photo series.

In 2017 I visited the Queenstown region of New Zealand.

In 2018 I visited the Auckland region of New Zealand.

In April this year I returned to the Queenstown region. This is the final post in a trilogy of posts about my most recent trip there. I didn’t have a car so my photos are limited to where I could catch a bus to or walk to.

Above is the view looking out over Lake Wakatipu from the beach at Queenstown, practically a 3 minute walk from where I was staying.

“Morning in Middle Earth”

This is a view looking across the Frankton Arm of Lake Wakatipu. The mountain range in the background is The Remarkables and the hilltop in front of it is Deer Park Heights which I visited and posted about before. Deer Park Heights was the site of filming for several scenes in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and is private property, now closed to the public.

“Arrow River”

Just outside of Arrowtown is the Arrow River, which was used as the location for the scene in the Fellowship of the Ring where Arwen challenged the Nazgûl while rushing the injured Frodo to Rivendell.

“Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads”

Further out from Arrowtown I was hiking along a mountain trail when I saw the Ute below. Living in the city, I find it inherently satisfying to see a 4WD being used for what it was designed for, not just for taking children to school.

“Two sticks”

Wanaka is a small town, known more as a ski and summer resort town in the Otago region of the South Island of New Zealand. It is situated at the southern end of Lake Wanaka, at the start of the Clutha River, about an hour’s drive from Queenstown. It is considered the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park, a World Heritage Site. In Wanaka I spent a few hours simply wandering around enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery. It was mid Autumn and there’d been a recent cold snap and heavy rains which meant there were snow-capped mountains and plenty of water in the lake.

“Otago and that Wanaka Tree”

Do you know about that Wanaka Tree?

Standing in Lake Wanaka is a lone willow tree, just off the shore at the south end of the lake, said to have been there since at least 1939.

Christchurch photographer Dennis Radermacher took a photo of this tree on a misty June day which won the 2014 New Zealand Geographic photograph of the year.

As a result, this tree suddenly became famous. The hashtag #thatwanakatree now has over 52000 posts on instagram.

“That Wanaka Tree, April 2017”

In my post from 2017, Dragon Tales of Middle Earth: Wanaka, the tree and lake looked like this.

“Just add water”

What a difference the significant rains before my arrival made.

“Cecil Peak”

One evening in Queenstown I just watched the sun set.

“Sunset over Queenstown”

That’s never a waste of time.

“Goodnight Queenstown”


This completes my trilogy of New Zealand 2019 photo series, from my visit in April.

Part 1 of this series was Above Queenstown: The flight of the dragon

Part 2 of this series was Milford Sound and Sights

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

Otago and That Wanaka Tree


56 thoughts on “Otago and That Wanaka Tree

  1. watching the sun set or rise is never a waste of time – whoever said that clearly never saw either. I had no idea Lord of the rings had some scenes filmed there. And oh, how i wish my books would go viral like that wanaka tree too.

  2. Familiar scenes to me. Love seeing your photos though, and the second one down is particularly lovely, from a different perspective than what I usually see. Great place to be in the autumn 🙂

    • You live in a very beautiful part of the world, it’s no wonder I’ve been twice now. I find it to be very calming along Lake Wakatipu at dawn and perfect for photography. You’re very right, Autumn is a beautiful time in Otago.

    • Thanks, Jude. There is a regular public/private bus system in the area which is easy to use, but not as a frequent a service as I would have expected. Buses will take you to most of the idyllic hubs, but many of the truly beautiful (aka remote) locations will need to be accessed by tour, private car or hiking.

  3. When I read your heading I was so hoping the tree was the lone tree I remembered but I couldn’t recall where I had seen it before – then you reminded me your previous post. Gorgeous photos.

  4. Beautiful photos (as always). Glad to see more of That Tree. The tree at the bend of the Arrow river also looks wonderful (I must shuffle through the LOTR scene to check whether it appears there; good excuse). Liked that late afternoon shot of Cecil Peak.

    • Thank you, the lonely tree makes for a beautiful subject backed up by an impressive backdrop.

      I doubt the tree at the bend of the Arrow River in my photo appears in the movie. As I recall the river crossing location is more barren in the movie, which makes the appearance of the water wave of horses more impressive. I think it was filmed further upstream, but watch the movie again anyway, just for the fun of it.

    • The power of a good photo – everyone wants to have a go (me included). Over the time I was there, probably about 30 people came and went. The huge benefit of having more water in the lake is that the selfie crowd weren’t that interested (compared to my first visit) and I had plenty of time to find good locations and get my photos.

  5. I have a few snaps of #ThatWanakaTree but none as magnificent as yours. And speaking of magnificent, the light on Cecil Peak is perfection. The Queenstown area is definitely one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen on earth. I long to visit here again and am happy to have done so virtually here on your pages.

  6. That tree may be the most famous in the world – among photographers anyway. Someday I must make my pilgrimage. I’d take the scenic route, of course. 😉 Beautiful pictures.

    • I definitely encourage you to take the scenic route – you’ll love it. And you’d have a great time putting your personal touch to photography of that tree. Next time, I’d want to stay in Wanaka overnight, for the dawn and sunset light.

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