We started off at our normal time in Te Anau, and headed off towards Queenstown. It’s only about 190km away, but it’s still a long drive because of the winding roads (and photo-stops).
We stopped a few times once we reached Lake Wakapitu. Not all of the stops were actual lookouts, but there were quite a few along the road.
We drove into Jacks Point, thinking it was a little town, but it was actually a housing estate. Really nice little chalets etc, with a clubhouse at the other end of the estate. Looks very nice. But not really a cafe for us to caffeinate, though there were sheep, so we continued on towards Queenstown.
Next stop was actually in Queenstown already. We were in town too early to check in at our accommodation at Shotover Lodge, so we went to the Gardens. They’re very nice, especially if you walk around the edge of the lake. The garden is mostly covered in pine and fir trees for a European air. The views are pretty great, too.
We had lunch at the gardens, in the gazebo, while watching the duckies etc. The rose gardens smelled really nice, too, but I didn’t bother to photograph them.
I’d forgotten my phone in the car and when we got back there, it had switched itself off. When I turned it on, it promptly shut down again. I figured out it was because it was overheating sitting in the hot sun on the dashboard. So we sat a little while with the phone in the shade until it recovered, so we could ring the accommodation and find out when we can check in and to book us in the for the Stargazing, Dinner, Skyline Gondola combo. The Stargazing and dinner wasn’t running tonight because of a private function. Very sad.
It was still a bit early for check-in, so we stopped at the wetlands on the way out of Queenstown and before the Shotover river. There was an eagle of some sort sitting on the boardwalk and it let us get quite close before taking off. My shots were not good…only one of the bird in the distance, in flight. I got some nice flower and berry shots though – a pink lupin which I thought was very pretty and some red poppies.
There were rock climbers on a cliff face at the edge of the park, too. We stood and observed for a little while. Not for us!
We continued on past a swamp and more berries and trees before getting back to our car. The walk was supposed to take 30 minutes return, but it took us closer to an hour!
By now it was time we could check in, so we continued on. As we crossed Shotover river, and drove into the car park there, I remembered this from my trip in 1985. We didn’t go on the Shotover Jet, but I got a couple of photos of it speeding along under the bridge and up the river and back. Gorgeous views from the bridge.
We drove on to our accommodations, checked in and had coffee and then drove up to Coronet Peak for some spectacular views. A paraglider was launching just as we arrived, and another shortly after.
From the Lookout here, you can see for miles, just not much of Queenstown itself. Really worth the drive up.
Once we got back to town, we proceeded to the jetty, looking for a cruise on the lake before going up to the gondola, so I could take some night shots. It was not to be! We’d missed the last cruises for the day, and the one that would have gone at 6 forced you to have dinner with it today (not normally) for a cost of $115. This didn’t bring you back to town til 10pm. Too late for the Skyline Gondola and too expensive anyway. So I took the time to photograph the area – people sitting in the sun and reading, sunbaking, lying on the wall and reading on their tablets etc. It was quite the hopping place. Live music was playing too, in a couple of the pubs and on the street.
We had dinner at the Pub @ the Wharf, for $20 a meal. It was fantastic! The meal was very good – I had a whole flounder with nice vegies and my sister had pork belly with vegies. She really enjoyed it too. We shared a beer, since I still had to drive.
After dinner we headed off to the Skyline Gondola. It was a bit early for sunset, but ah well. We paid our $27 each and got the gondola to the top. The private function that was on up there stopped us from moving around freely for photos, but I still managed to get a few. There were some Keas fighting over a plastic bag. They seem to love them for some reason.
I took photos of the chair lifts, which were no longer running, since the luge was closed for the day, and of Lake Wakapitu and Queenstown, as well as the gondolas.
We stopped in at the little souvenir shop and bought some t-shirts and then headed back down the mountain before driving back to our accommodation after stopping for some groceries for our lunches for the next few days.
Unfortunately, wifi is not included here, so no updating my blog til tomorrow (hopefully).
Reworked and larger sized pictures from this day are here. Click on the first picture and then move through them at full screen size.