Saturday 7th of November
16.11.2015 16 °C
After a great deal of deliberation about what we were going to do in Queenstown, we eventually decided on a tour that seemed to suit. Part of the problem is that we really aren't adrenalin people. Some activities such as bungee jumping were dismissed without even so much as a thought, but others were more difficult. We really wanted to see some of the out of the way scenery but most of the guided trips went to places such as Skippers Canyon and Macetown, both of which involved being driven on high and very precarious tracks with very few passing places and lots of other tour and privately driven 4x4 vehicles. This isn't really our thing! Eventually we contacted a guy called Alan who runs a company called Glenorchy Journeys who seemed to fit the bill. We could go out and see the scenery at the northern end of the lake, with the emphasis on great views, we could also do this as a private tour so we knew the trip would be truly based on what we wanted to do.
After a light breakfast at the hostel we were ready for our 9am pick up. Alan was outside ready and waiting and introduced himself and we were soon on our way. The vehicle, a Toyota 4x4 was a little more comfortable and easier to get in and out of than Mark's Land Rover which was an added bonus. We made our way out of the town and up the north eastern shore of Lake Wakatipu, stopping off a couple of times so that we could see and take photographs of the stunning views.
We continued up to Glenorchy where Alan lives, which is about 30 miles from Queenstown at the northern end of the lake. He parked up and we went down to the jetty and took some photographs and had a look round.
From there we travelled up the appropriately named Glenorchy Paradise Road following the Dart river valley into the Mount Aspiring National Park. We continued to the Arcadia Homestead, a beautiful Edwardian house built in 1906 by Englishman Joseph Cyprian Fenn in the hope of attracting his fiancée out to New Zealand. Having built it he then sent for her only to find out that his father had married her in his absence (what a rat).
We continued a short distance so that Alan could show us the filming that is currently taking place in the area, reputed to be for a Nestle advert. This area has been used for a lot of major films including the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit and Narnia. The isolation and beautiful scenery make it ideal and it brings useful revenue into the area.
Once we had a good nose we turned around and went back through a lovely protected beech forest, past Diamond Lake and back across Earnslaw Burn. We then turned up onto one of the large sheep and cattle stations in the area. We parked up near one of the disused scheelite mines and stood out on one of the bluffs overlooking the valley.
The views were stunning and we could see the whole valley and many of the surrounding peaks. We returned to the car and Alan poured us a cup of coffee and handed round Anzac biscuits and we stood enjoying the fresh air and peace and quiet, disturbed only by the occasional noisy cow. Once we got back in the car we went back towards Queenstown although there was still plenty of time to chat about life, the younger generation and much more. Once we were dropped off we went to a local cafe and had a lovely lunch before returning to the hostel. We then had a few hours to relax and sort out some practical things before it was time to go out again. We had booked to go up on the Queenstown cable car, the Skyline. We had bought a package which included the gondola trip and a buffet meal followed by the opportunity to do some stargazing. The ride, although not far, was very steep. Once we got to the top we checked in at the restaurant before going to the observation deck to admire the view and take some photographs.
We then went back to the restaurant/ bar and ordered some drinks and almost as soon as these were served to us it was time to be shown to our table. The meal was a buffet affair and there was loads to choose from, and as much as one wanted. We both went for prawn cocktails, roast meat and veg and a dessert (despite the fact that we knew we would be having a Sunday roast tomorrow at the hostel). Once we had eaten all we could manage, washed down with a coffee it was just about time for our stargazing. We went to the assembly point but by this time there was quite a lot of cloud cover and so we were advised that it had been cancelled. This was quite disappointing but we always knew it was on the cards.
We took the opportunity to go back to the observation deck and see the Queenstown nights-cape before getting the gondola back down and making the short walk back to the hostel. Saturday night in Queenstown was at full volume, and what with the chatter, laughter and a bit of shouting, along with the remnants of some bonfire night fireworks it was a bit of time before we got to sleep.