Majestic Mountains, Crystal Clear Lakes and Fjords
Trip Start Jun 30, 2011
37Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Shotover Lodge Queenstown
Read my review - 4/5 stars
Read my review - 4/5 stars
Again, we had full access to a communal kitchen, which was huge.......a typical restaurant chef's kitchen. As you probably guessed, I (Parminder) undertook most of the cooking. We did go overboard with our food shopping, which resulted us leaving it in 'the food sharing' section of the kitchen at the end of our trip.
Although we had a week in Queenstown; two days were taken up by travelling to and from Christchurch plus another day for jet lag, so it didn't leave us as much time as we would have liked
First stop on bus journey was at Te Anau Downs, which was a very tranquil and serene place, providing spectacular views of the Lake Te Anau - Australiasia's largest lake. This was the last place with any shops/cafes, so provided one final opportunity to stock up for the journey. Next stop were the Mirror Lakes, named for the mountain reflections in calm weather. Unfortunately, we were not able to see them in their full glory, as weather was a bit unsettled. It was still a nice place to stop and break up the journey. There were numerous other stops along the route, but only other one of note was The Chasm
New Zealand does not have much in the way of wildlife but during the bus journey we were shown keas (a large spieces of parrot), and the boat ride allowed us to observe New Zealand fur seals, bottlenose dolphins and fiordland crested penguins (apparently one of the rarest penguins in the world), all in their natural habitat. Views were amazing on the boat ride, and yes it's cliche, and yes we've said it before, but video and photographs we took really did not do this place justice. Cascading waterfalls, towering cliffs, rugged peaks, verdant rainforest in addition to the wildlife made this one unforgettable experience.
It was a miserable day in terms of weather (they get about 7m of rain a year), but this did not manage to put a dampener on our day. In fact, the rains actually meant there were numerous temporary waterfalls in addition to the larger Stirling and Bowen Falls. The former of these was a 146 metre drop from a U shaped hanging valley between the huge Lion and Elephant Mountains (named for their likeness to the animals.) Our boat took us right up close to the waterfalls, but this wasn't exactly in the same league as the Maid of the Mist tour of the Niagara Falls
The boat came in and the bus journey back was uneventful. Only one stop, and a viewing of some New Zealand movie called "The Indian" The driver was keen to get us back, as it was the start of the Rugby World Cup. Now I'm [Sharndeep] not really a rugby fan, but thought would try to get into it, as they are fanatical about it here. Have to admit, it's a real man's game. They get battered, and it relies massively on teamwork. Also, no back chatting officials, irrelevant of how the players felt about the decisions. New Zealand seem to be the "Brazil" of rugby world, and virtually everyone here was talking about how they could rid themselves of their underachievers tag.
The following day we visited Arrowtown, a former gold mining town built on a rich history. Again, there were parts of the town that were used in the filming of Lord of The Rings. Arrowtown has spectacular scenery and has an idyllic appearance. I [Parminder] loved the old buildings that still exist, built from the days of gold mining. It's a very quaint town, and even all signage was made to look like 1950s style. We went on a historic walk called 'anniversary walk', which was a pleasant hour walk along the banks of the Arrow River. Willow trees and various other woodland shadowed the path. The gushing Arrow River and its bush-clad walkways are also commonly used as locations for movie scenes.
Our second wedding anniversary happened to fall in Queenstown. We spent the day in Queenstown gardens, where I [Parminder] was under the impression that we were going to take a stroll in the beautiful gardens. However, Sharndeep had something else in mind.........playing frisbee golf in the rain!!
In the evening, we had booked a slot in the renowned 'Onsen Hot Pool' - a perfect way to unwind!!! It's situated high on the cliffside near the base of Coronet Peak, overlooking the dramatic Shotover River which flows towards the Remarkables mountains. Basically, across the road from where we were staying. We went around sunset, and were blown away with spectacular views!! The retractable front and roof made it even more special, with the fresh cold air blowing through the mist of the steam from the hot pool. It also allowed us a view of the southern constellations overhead, and the mountains ahead.
A visit to Queenstown was not complete without the legendary Fergburger. We had heard so much about this burger from such a wide range of sources, it was difficult not to get excited about it. Even the rugby players were talking about it to the media. This place had never spent money advertising, but was so well known. Apparently there were queues going out of the shop at various times of the day, and it was open until very late, and reopened extra early. After the burger, we had had at The Moorings, our expectations were high
Organising everything in advance has it's good points and bad points. So far, we've been quite lucky with our accommodations as a result of prior research. However, slipped up a bit In New Zealand, as wanted to see either Fox Glacier or Mount Jozef, and had been told to allow a day for this. However, didn't realise that even though it only needed a day; there were in fact no actual day trips. We tried to explore other options such as renting a car; but minimum hire periods and financial constraints meant we had to take a rain check this time. Hopefully, will have another opportunity to do something similar in the future.
The time passed quickly in Queenstown, and we got ready to return to Christchurch for our onward flight to Sydney.