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Entries about queenstown

Multiple Perspectives on Te Anau

Thursday 12th November 2015

sunny 16 °C

Sadly it was our last day in Fiordland today and with the help of our host we had already decided to make the most of it. She was very helpful when we went to check out and arranged to have our bags taken up the the Real Journeys office later in the afternoon while we were on another boat trip. Once this was all sorted we made our way to the offices of Takitimu Tiki Tours and met Heath our guide/ driver for the morning. He initially showed us round the town and the edge of the lake and explained a bit of the history. We then went to a lookout from where we could not only see the whole of the town, but also the lake and the mountains beyond.

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He is a really lovely friendly guy and as well as talking about the history and geology of the area he also spoke about his family, his children and his English wife. Once we had finished admiring the view at the lookout we went to the river, the same one we had got on the day before with Luxmore boats but much further up near the dam.

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The water was a real emerald green but very clear and because it was shallower at the waters edge than it had been further downstream you could really appreciate the colours. We looked for trout, but there didn't seem to be many in that spot this morning. We then walked for a fairly short distance through the beach forest, which was at the end of a very heavy flowering year and so there was lots of pollen about.

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Once we had finished, Heath very kindly walked back and got the van. Whilst we were waiting I was listening to the sound of some of the beach trees creaking in the wind. Nigel then saw some discarded fishing line and as we were concerned about this hurting the wild life we wound it all back up and gave it the Heath once he arrived. We then made the fairly short journey back to the town. One of the crew on the Doubtful Sound trip had told us about a film that had been shot from a helicopter over the Fiordland National Park and that this could be viewed in a cinema in Te Anau. It turned out that Heath's uncle was the primary pilot and the person whose idea the film was, and so Heath played a short trailer of the film in the van.

We had time to go and have some lunch at the delicious if not so deliciously named Sandfly Cafe. We then went to watch the film the cinema specially built by the guy that made the film. It made stunning viewing and really gave a sense that you were up in a helicopter. It was so impressive that we bought a copy so that we could watch it again once we were back at home. It was then only a short walk to the lake from where we were catching the boat that would take us to the glowworm caves. The journey across the lake gave us another perspective on Te Anau and also up one of the fiords that leads off the main lake.

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The boat was pretty full and so once we arrived at the caves we were split into four groups and while some went straight into the caves the rest of had to wait a short while. We were in the second group and as soon as we entered the caves we could hear the loud sound of rushing water. As we continued along the raised metal walkway we were along side a fast flowing underground stream and several quite spectacular underground waterfalls. We then reached the small landing stage were we got on board a small boat and continued a little further along the river. It was here that we saw most of the glowworms. There weren't as many as we had seen in Waitomo and the experience wasn't as special but the cave itself was probably one of the most dramatic I had ever been in. We then went back into the visitor centre where we were given a cup of tea and had a short presentation on glowworms by our guide.

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Before long we were back on the boat and making our way back to Te Anau. Much to my relief our bags were waiting for us and we had just enough time to go and have a coffee before we needed to catch our bus. It was very full and we were quite lucky to be able to get seats together. It was a couple of hours back to Queenstown, and although there was a film showing our seats were too far back to see it, so Nigel listened to his music while I read my book with one eye on the scenery beyond the coach.

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It was about 7:30pm by the time we got back to Queenstown so it was quite a relief that we knew where to go, and our way around the hostel. So we just got some food and then settled in to watch the film The Fastest Indian (about a New Zealand motorcycle fanatic and starring Anthony Hopkins) that we hadn't been able to see properly on the bus.

Posted by Gill's Travels 00:59 Archived in New Zealand Tagged mountains trees queenstown rivers new_zealand te_anau Comments (0)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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