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Hackett Travels Life's about the journey, not the destination

Queenstown

NEW ZEALAND | Tuesday, 16 July 2013 | Views [360]

Queenstown is a pretty cool place, sandwiched between lake and mountains with a relaxed vibe, we really enjoyed our few days there.  It helped that we were staying in a beautiful apartment with lake views, we actually ended up staying an extra night.

We arrived mid-afternoon on the 2nd July after driving across the Lewis Pass from Twizel.  As usual it was a bit drizzly but luckily the rain had melted most of the snow so at least the road was open and the drive wasn’t too bad.  We headed up to the Skyline gondola which is a cable car up the hill behind the town, there’s also a restaurant, luge track and a bungy platform at the top!  The views of the town, the lake and the mountains were amazing, it was a bit cloudy but they weren’t low enough to cover the mountains. 

While we were up there we went to a Maori show which included a haka and some other songs.  It was really good and interactive, though I’m not sure why the Chinese tourists in front of us bothered buying a ticket because they spent the whole show looking at their phones!  It was dark when we came out so we also got a view of the city lights before we headed back down.

The next day we woke up to torrential rain and low cloud so decided to chill out for a bit rather than get soaking wet walking into town.  All we’d planned for the day was exploring the town so we waited until late morning when it had cleared up a bit and walked down through the gardens to the edge of the lake and the town centre.  We had wanted to take a trip on the lake in the steamer but it was out of the water for its annual maintenance.  We also visited the famous Fergburger for a late lunch (it was too rammed earlier!) and had what Chris described as the best burger he’d ever had, definitely worth the half hour wait and no need for dinner that night!

The Thursday was the day we’d booked to go to Milford Sound – we went for the flight option (flying from Queenstown to Milford Sound, quicker and more spectacular than hours on a coach!) and the agent had suggested that day would be the best option weather-wise.  When we got up and got ready for our 11am pick up it was looking promising, a fairly clear day with no low cloud in Queenstown.  I tried to call up for our weather check but the lines were busy so in the end we just went out to wait for the bus.  By 11:15 with no bus in sight it wasn’t looking good so I headed down to reception, they called up for me and it turned out it had been cancelled! L  The bad news was that it also wasn’t looking good for the next few days and we only had one more day in Queenstown.  So the flight option had to be abandoned and the manager persuaded us that Doubtful Sound was a better trip – less tourists and a bigger Sound, just as spectacular and less time on a coach!  We booked on for the following day and instead transferred our afternoon jet boat trip to that day!

Our jet boat trip to Skippers Canyon started with about an hour in a four wheel drive bus up into the mountains on a dirt road carved into the side of the hills by Chinese workers in the gold rush days.  We got a great view over the mountains and valleys around Queenstown before we drove into the canyon.  The road was pretty precarious and prone to landslides!  After we finally got down into the canyon, we stopped by the river and they kitted us up with big waterproof coats, hats and gloves and we got onto the jet boat.  It was really awesome fun!  The river was fairly high thanks to all the rain so we did stop in a couple of places to look at some of the gold mining machinery and bungy bridges.  It was incredible shooting along in the canyon, only centimetres from the rocks, plus 360 spins!  It was very cold on the face and we did get a bit wet but it was really good.  After the boat trip they took us to a local house for hot drinks and to have a look at their collection of historical artefacts that the family had found in the canyon – a lot of gold mining and farming equipment.  Then it was another hair raising trip back to Queenstown, meeting a couple of cars and a digger on the one lane road high up on the hill!

Tags: gondola, jet boat, queenstown, rain

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