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Backpacking for the Over 60's

Friday 6th November 2015

semi-overcast 16 °C

We had such a great day yesterday that there was no way that we could really live up to that today. Our hosts in Wanaka has been incredibly helpful and hospitable, but as our room was needed by other guests we really needed to be out by 10am. Fortunately they were happy to store our bags and so we decided to have breakfast in town (we felt we could justify this as we hadn't had a meal yesterday evening). So once we had packed up we got our bags stashed away and once we had paid our bill we were on our way. Once we had finished eating we went for a walk round part of the lake. It only took a few minutes to get out of the town and then we were walking on the path just above the beach and the scenery was made all the more pretty for the trees, mainly willows interspersed with clumps of lupins.

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There was one small stream flowing into the lake with a narrow bridge across it. A little further round there was a really diminutive willow tree growing in the shallow waters of the lake. We had been told by Mark that is known as the Wanaka tree and that it is the second most photographed tree in New Zealand (with the Kauri tree we saw in the north coming in at number one). Although we understood it was at its best at sunrise or sunset it was still very photogenic.

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We carried on a little further making the most of the time we had available before turning round and making our way back to the apartments to get our bags. We then made the short walk back to the bus stop and found a convenient picnic table to sit at while we waited.

It was going to be quite a short bus ride as it is only just over 100 kilometres between Wanaka and Queenstown. The bus was pretty crowded when we got on as it had come from Franz Josef taking the same route we had travelled a few days before. Fortunately we managed to find two seats together and once everyone's bags were onboard we got underway. Initially we travelled through farmland; pasture, vineyards then giving way to orchards.

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Although it was a short journey we still had a scheduled stop at a fruit farm which had one of the best selection of both fresh and dried fruit I have ever seen. We bought some apples, oranges and dried mangos for our stay in Queenstown before getting back on the coach for the final leg of our journey. We then travelled through the Clutha Gorge. The river was the most amazing turquoise blue and the gorge very dramatic with steep rocky sides.

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Just a few miles out of Queenstown we reached the Kawarau Gorge which we crossed using a fairly new bridge. The old one has been put to new use as the birthplace of A J Hacketts original bungy jump. There was no stopping however and we were soon pulling into the outskirts of Queenstown. There was a drop off for those in the upper part of the town and then the bus pulled into the town centre just a short distance from where we were staying. We quickly checked in and were shown to our room, small but absolutely fine for a few days. We spent a while settling in before going out to have a look at the town. We went up to the Skyline gondola to book tickets for a ride, meal and stargazing experience for tomorrow. We then went for a drink followed by an over large but rather disappointing meal. Queenstown is a complete contrast to Wanaka. Both are on a lake and are surrounded by mountains but there the similarities end. Wanaka is quiet, perhaps even sleepy whereas Queenstown is noisy and a bit brash. Both are certainly worth visiting and both certainly have their charm.

Posted by Gill's Travels 20:56 Archived in New Zealand

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