New Zealand has been a must do of mine for many years and what perfect timing than on my way back to the UK.
I am lucky enough to have friends who live in Queenstown so I decided to start my adventure there with a spot of skiing and over the course of several blogs posts will travel to Auckland, and bring you along with me.
Queenstown has seen a really slow start to the season this year and there wasn’t a huge amount of snow when I was there. Never-the-less there is heaps (my adopted Aussie slang there for you) to do and not much time so strap yourselves in. First on the list was the luge, this involves taking the trip up the gondola which travels past the smaller of Queenstown’s two Bungys (I did neither!) to the top revealing a breathtaking view of Lake Wakatipu which is unlike anything I have ever seen in my life.
The luge was hilarious, think of a tea tray on wheels being “driven” hair-raisingly fast down a mountain whilst the “driver” is being distracted by one of the world’s most beautiful backdrops. This, along with the gondola, is a Queenstown must do.
In the afternoon we took a trip to Arrowtown, a quaint old gold-mining town full of stores selling gifts, homewares and hot chocolate! You can literally walk around in 20 minutes so we headed back to Queenstown for a pizza at Fat Badgers. Seeing this along the way…
After dinner it was back up the gondola to don a Canada Goose jacket and stand on top of the mountain for stargazing. I am a bit of a star lover and am fascinated by greek mythology and how that ties with the constellations in the night sky, and I wasn’t disappointed. Our extremely knowledgable guides took us on a tour of the sky where we learnt how to find the Southern cross and with the help of a very expensive telescope got to see the storm on Jupiter, Saturn’s rings, Sagittarius and Scorpio and the Jewel Box constellation up close. The grande finale was the moon, coincidentally we had a full moon that night and through the telescope was amazed to see all its little nooks, crannies and craters. This was my favourite activity during my stay in Queenstown and I’d thoroughly recommend it. Phew, what a day!
Day two was a bit cloudy and wet so I decided to explore Queenstown’s excellent shopping, treating myself to a beautiful print from Nomer. I stopped off at the institution that is Fergburger, and then walked it off around the gardens by the lake taking it yet more stunning scenery.
Day three it was on, I was up at the crack of dawn with as much excitement as Christmas and on my way up the mountain to ‘The Remarks’; an awesome ski field, even with the limited snow. I managed to psych myself up for ‘Shady Lady’; the iciest black run you ever saw, swearing to myself profusely after realising it was a damn sight steeper at the top than it looked at the bottom. I managed to get down punching the air and wobbling at the knees, it was time for a fire and yet another hot chocolate (can you see a theme emerging) whilst enjoying the view of Coronet Peak.
My last day in Queenstown was a bit disappointing; as is the way with any mountain weather it can turn in no time. I woke up to torrential rain and a cancelled flight to Milford Sound. I was really upset as this was one of my main reasons for visiting NZ, however with so much else to see I pushed on. I grabbed my Juce Box and made my way along the Crown Range to Wanaka, where my disappointment soon dissipated along with the clouds.
Known as Queenstown’s sleepy cousin I found my bearings and went for an exploratory drive, taking in Lake Wanaka and it’s neighbouring Mt Aspiring – my favouring Mt to date!
Today was another rainy day, I hopped in the car and decided to go for a hike around Diamond Lake and up to rocky mountain peak – steep but definitely worth it.
I then travelled about an hour up to the blue pools just past Makarora. The drive was beautiful and rugged past Lake Hawea.
The Blue Pools were stunning and so clear you can see the trout as if suspended in mid-air. Due to the heavy rain the rivers were fast flowing and had a greenish tinge but apparently in summer they are calm and azure.
Time to make the long drive to Lake Tekapo, see you there.