Sunday, 27 November 2011

NZ travelogue: Cardrona in the middle of nowhere

Anyone making a hurried trip along the Crown Range Road that connects Wanaka and Queenstown in New Zealand's South Island will very likely not miss seeing the front of the iconic Cardrona Hotel which is located about a 40-minute drive from Wanaka.

In the 1860s, the whole of the region was in the midst of a gold rush and Cardrona as much as Arrowtown saw an influx of Chinese workers and gold prospectors. There aren't any gold prospecting here nowadays - perhaps all the nuggets have been dug up and the original prospectors had left for greener pastures elsewhere - and Cardrona is left as a sleepy little township.

I suppose there is more to Cardrona today than just the front of the hotel. Maybe further down this Crown Range Road if we had bothered to investigate, we could have found some sort of daily activity in the small township. But we did not.

All we did was to stop the car for about 15 to 20 minutes - remember, we were rushing to Queenstown - and walk around the Cardrona Hotel compound. This much we had to do because I had been intrigued by some of the images I had seen on the Internet.

So this is it from afar, from the car park on the other side of the road: the front of the hotel (actually it's a pub or restaurant because the reception area turned out to be located behind this building), the vintage car that's parked permanently outside, the general merchant store that doubles up today as a post office, the old telephone booth that's more of a curiosity and the quaint disused Caltex petrol pump that's more suited for a museum. But then, the whole of this place is a living museum. And just next to the telephone booth is a gift shop.

It did not surprise us that the whole place seemed pretty well deserted. We expected it this way as Cardrona was actually in the midst of nowhere if not for the main road. We didn't bump into anyone. Even when we wandered round to the back of the general merchant store and we saw this signpost pointing out to various places near the hotel, we didn't see a soul. We caught glimpses of a double-storey building in the background - possibly the guest house itself - but we didn't detect activity of any sort.

As I said, we spent about 15 or 20 minutes here before going off on our way, but not before we decided to have this obligatory picture taken to show our kids that we were here, not as olden-day gold prospectors but just ... modern-day tourists.

No comments: