Dad had been telling us all about this awesome hotel & pub he had seen on the Internet when he’d been researching somewhere to stay between Te Anau or Queenstown and the Glaciers. The problem was he couldn’t remember the name or the town. Let’s hope we find it somewhere on the West Coast!
On our drive from Te Anau we got to the sign directing us to Wanaka either via Cromwell or via the Crown Ranges and Cardrona. Dad braked and shouted “Cardrona Pub! That’s the place!”
The drive over the Crown Ranges is spectacular. Well, I thought it was. My brother thought they were just another set of mountains. Only thing worse than more mountains are more lakes in his opinion.
I can’t imagine what it must be like in Winter. There are about 6 chain bays, plenty of warning signs and a couple of sections where they can close the road. It is very steep and windy so don’t drive if you aren’t comfortable and I personally wouldn’t want to risk it in winter. But it’s definitely worth it for the views back into Queenstown.
Not long after you come down the mountain, you get to Cardrona. Cardrona was a gold rush town in 1860 but very little remains except this legendary pub and hotel.
Inside is very quaint. There’s a giant log fireplace and couches which would be so cosy in winter after a good ski. There’s a piano. There are shelves with custom made Cardrona ceramics. There are bras hung above the bar. Classy.
Outside is a large grassy area, plenty of tables and chairs, a little stage, a playground (with a tyre swing that looks like a horse – can you want anything more in life) and an open fire place. If I had a dollar for every time I said “I’d love to come back in winter, I would have enough to book a flight tonight!”
The food was even better. I stared for ages at the main menu. Then even longer on the snack menu. It was difficult. I eventually decided on my three options (if a menu doesn’t have a gluten free option, I choose three potentials and then cross my fingers). To my delight they could do the fush and chups gluten free! Everyone needs to have fish and chips at a pub.
The bar staff told us that the pub is quite famous across if not all of New Zealand, at least the South Island for quite a few reasons. Firstly it was involved in advertising for Speight’s beer. Secondly the old owner James Patterson had an unusual way of monitoring drink driving. If you were driving over those windy Crown Ranges, only one drink. If heading towards Wanaka on the easier road, you got two. Legendary! Thirdly, part of the pub got shipped to England and a competition was held for some people to go along with it and you guessed it drink in the pub the whole way.
Finally, it’s the most photographed pub in New Zealand. I can see why! It’s gorgeous, quaint, quirky and the food and drink adds the finishing touches. It was one of my highlights of New Zealand and that’s saying something!!!