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Entries about lakes

Planning Your Trip Around Your Stomach

Sunday 8th November 2015

semi-overcast 17 °C

We had more or less geared today around the fact that the hostel was serving a roast dinner this evening "better than your mother can cook". So before we went out we booked ourselves in with the expectation of great roast beef and Yorkshire pudding later in the day. Yesterday evening we had booked to go out on the one hundred year old steam ship, the TSS Earnslaw.


It is beautiful boat and watching the furnaces being stoked, and the pistons turning was fascinating made more so by the fact that passengers could go into the engine room and look down on the 'workings' below. We travelled up Lake Wakatipu and stopped at Walter Peak Station which is a working sheep farm.


This is where a large number of the passengers got off as they had clearly booked a farm tour as well. We and the remainder of the passengers stayed on the boat and carried on enjoying the scenery as we travelled back to Queenstown. It was quite funny watching seagulls hitching a ride on the boat, the lifeboats seeming to be their favoured place to sit.


The weather had unfortunately deteriorated and it rained quite a bit although it had cleared up quite a bit by the time we disembarked. We spent a bit of time watching them loading the ship up with another supply of coal and there was the opportunity for a bit of people watching. I was particularly amused by a woman I saw who was dressed from head to toe in the same shade of deep orange, and as if to emphasise the point she spent ages posing while her friend to her photograph.


Once passengers started to embark for the next cruise we went off and wandered round the town. We found a really nice cafe for lunch and then did a bit of shopping before going back to the hostel. We then just chilled out for a few hours before assembling in the hostel kitchen/ dining room with a large number of other residents. The food was really nice (although the roast potatoes weren't as good as our home cooked ones) and we really enjoyed the meal. We chatted to a few of the others but almost all of them were young enough to be my children so it did make me feel a bit old. Once we had all finished eating we had to muck in and help with the washing up, which considering the meal only cost about £3.50 a head seemed fair. We then did a few bits before going to bed quite early, aware that we were going to have an early start in the morning.

Posted by Gill's Travels 23:23 Archived in New Zealand Tagged lakes queenstown new_zealand Comments (0)

The Best of Queenstown Without the Adrenalin Rush

Saturday 7th of November

semi-overcast 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.

Posted by Gill's Travels 23:13 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes lakes queenstown new_zealand Comments (0)

Ebb and Flow

Wednesday 14th October 2015

sunny 18 °C

The weather this morning was still cloudy and a little overcast but thankfully better than it had been for the previous couple of days and we could see a little more of the Tongariro peaks on the far side of the lake. We prepared breakfast in our well kitted out kitchenette and then set off towards the Huka Falls for the boat trip that we had booked a couple of days earlier. Although the booking arrangements seemed quite vague at the time, our guide David was expecting us and as there was one other couple on the boat we were going to have lots of room to move around. David introduced himself and explained a bit about the dam which was just beyond our departure point and the river system below that. We then set off up stream and were told a lot about the flora and fauna of the river. We also went past a geothermal power station. The journey up to the falls probably took us about 45 minutes and I found myself full of anticipation each time we rounded a bend.


There was a hint when we were getting near as the water became a little more turbulent and David had to make use of both the engines on the boat in order to push against the current. Once around the final corner the waterfall was clearly visible in front of us. David expertly manoeuvred the boat much closer to the waterfall than I was expecting, giving us a great view.


It was quite an assault on the senses; the colour of the river was a bright turquoise blue covered in a bubbling white foam from the sheer force of the water. The nearer we got the louder the noise became until it was almost thunderous.


The boat was easily pushed back by the power of the water, but two or three times David steered it back in the direction of the falls. We were given plenty of opportunity to take as many photographs as we wanted before the boat was turned around for the last time and we made our way back up the river. At the start of the trip we had been told how the spill gates to the dam were opened regularly throughout the day in order that the cascades on the far side would, albeit temporarily, flow freely.


We moored up just in time to go and watch the water as it started to flow out from the dam and David had given us quite precise timings in order to maximise our chance of seeing the falls in full flow. Once there, we watched the pool's fill and the water flow at full capacity, and then after about fifteen minutes or so when the gates were closed the water reduced to its former level.


We had been keeping an eye on our watches and we made sure that we made our way up to the official lookout several miles upstream in order to watch David take his next group of tourists to view the Huka Falls. Not only was it interesting seeing the boat being manoeuvred from a different perspective, but it also gave us the opportunity to see the river above and beyond the base of the falls.


By the time we left the river it was approaching lunch and so we made our way to a nearby glassblowing workshop that both David and Peter back at our accommodation had recommended. Once there, we watched one of the glassblowers finish off a small vase and then we went into the cafeteria and had a delicious lunch. We then watched some more glass blowing after which we went into the sculpture garden to look at some of the larger objects that have been made by Lynden Over, the owner of the workshop.


By this time I had already decided that I would like to buy a small piece and have it sent home to England. After a lot of deliberation I settled on a pretty red scent bottle and once chosen all I needed to do was to pay and complete the shipping paperwork. Once we had finished at the glassblowing workshop we made our way back into Taupo and returned to our accommodation. Once there we had time to relax for a while and drink a cup of tea before going out again to walk by the lake. There were several places where small streams of steaming water flowed into the lake and also several places where the fringes of the lake had steam coming off.


All of this was a salutary reminder of the fact that Taupo Lake is situated in the crater of a dormant volcano. That evening there was a beautiful sunset over the lake and so we looked at this for a while before pouring ourselves a G&T which we drank whilst sitting in the hot tub. It was Nigel's turn to cook dinner, so he did this whilst I spent some time updating the blog. Once we finished eating we both settled down to watch a film.


Posted by Gill's Travels 01:00 Archived in New Zealand Tagged waterfalls lakes rivers new_zealand geothermal Comments (0)

Come Rain, Come Shine

Tuesday 13th October 2015

rain 18 °C

It was sadly time for us to leave the Tongariro area and drive to Lake Taupo. At 66 miles this was one of our shorter journeys and would only take us about an hour and a half. On the basis that we only had a short journey and couldn't check into our Taupo motel until 2pm, we decided to go back to the Tongariro National Park and have breakfast at a cafe near the visitor centre and the Chateau. Unfortunately when we arrived it was closed 'due to technical problems'. As we were getting hungry by this point we went back to the lounge bar at the Chateau in the hope of some food there.


They didn't have any brunch specifically but nevertheless we both found something to choose off the menu (I had a BLT and fries, not very healthy but filling). We sat there for quite a while making use of their wifi. They were very hospitable and didn't seem to mind us lingering. We got chatting to a some of the other people in the lounge. One group was an elderly couple originally from Scotland but had been living in New Zealand for about 50 years. They were there with their daughter who had been born in New Zealand. The other couple who were much younger than us, coincidentally were from Ipswich but travelling round the world for 6 months. I had heard the older couple's daughter trying to explain what the view out of the lounge bar window was like and so I went and showed them the photograph I had taken yesterday (which although not very clear was much better than today). The other couple then asked to see and soon we were all chatting.

Eventually we all needed to go our separate ways, including us who by now really needed to start the journey to Taupo. We said our goodbyes and got on our way. By this time the weather was getting worse with the visibility reduced still further, and then rain come in.


It was like this until we got over the range of hills separating Tongariro from Taupo. Once we got the other side of the ridge there was a viewpoint with great views of some of the lower peaks and those beyond the lake itself.


After taking some photographs we got on our way and very shortly were driving along the shores of Lake Taupo. The lake is very big, measuring some 21 by 29 miles with a perimeter of 120 miles.


We followed this shoreline round for about 25 miles before reaching our accommodation. We checked in and relaxed for a while, and then did some washing. We ended the day by having a gin and tonic in our semi-external hot tub and then we had supper and watched a movie. We really liked our home for the next couple of days, it was well fitted out and the owners Pete and Penny had given a lot of attention to detail. The location right opposite the lake was also a real bonus.


Posted by Gill's Travels 23:54 Archived in New Zealand Tagged mountains lakes new_zealand taupo Comments (0)

How the World Began (part 1)

Friday 9th October 2015

sunny 16 °C

We had booked a trip to one of the geo-thermal areas today but as we didn't need to be there until about 1pm we were able to have another slow start and relax in our apartment for most of the morning. We then left to make the 30 minute journey to Waimangu Volcanic Valley at about midday. As we left the highway to drive the last few kilometres, the countryside was heavily wooded and gave no indication of the geothermal activity that was present nearby. We arrived at the visitor centre and explained that we wanted to do the full walk down to the lake which is about a two and a half mile walk.


The footpath initially went past the southern crater, which was a deep emerald green in colour and from there we walked along the edge of the Echo Crater and watched the steam rising from Frying Pan Lake. There was an atmospheric rock formation called Cathedral Rocks which had steam rising up from the lake as well as fumaroles releasing steam into the atmosphere.


As we walked past these formations, every now and again we would get whiffs of sulphur. From the overflow stream from Frying Pan Lake we took a short diversion to the incredibly bright blue Inferno Crater lake which has a 38 day cycle during which time the water level rises by 12 meters before discharging into the streams that eventually flow into Lake Rotomahania.


It was fascinating looking at the steaming streams and waterfalls that are a feature of the valley.


As we continued on our walk we went past the bright ochre coloured Marble and Warbrick Terraces, spluttering out steaming water and mineral deposits shaping and reshaping the landscape as they do so.


The further we got on the walk and the more bus stops we passed (there are three on the way to the lake) we saw less and less people. We had about two hours to make the walk down to alongside the stream to Lake Rotomahania from where we had arranged to go on a 45 minute boat trip to see more geothermal features, many of which were linked to the the eruption of Mount Tarawara 131 years ago.


This joined two small lakes and increased the overall size of the flooded area many times over. There was only Nigel and I on the cruise and it was surprising that they still went out with so few people, but as we had walked two hours to get there we were pretty glad they honoured the booking. We were taken across the centre of the lake from where we could see the main crater of the volcano and then continued along the shoreline seeing more fumaroles and mini geysers as we went.


The strap line for the park, which is How the World Began, really seemed to fit the area. When we got back to the mooring we were able to catch the bus back to the visitor centre from where we drove back to Rotorua stopping at a supermarket en-route to get provisions in order to cook a risotto for dinner. Before I started cooking we took a hour out for a gin and tonic and some relaxing time in the hot tub.

Posted by Gill's Travels 19:07 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes lakes rivers rotorua new_zealand geothermal Comments (0)

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