Much to our sadness, NZ draws to a close. But not before we enjoy Queenstown – absolute perfection for leaving on a high note.
A dawn departure with three zombies in the back from Fiordland got us into Queenstown by 8.30 am and rewarded us with surely some of the most spectacular views of the Lake possible, overlooking the Devils Staircase. Until, that is, we got onto the Glenorchy road, taken by the wonderfully knowledgable and amenable Charles from Private NZ tours. New Zealand is just like that: every new view is better than the last.
Reunited with our lovely Arbib’s, also on a grand Asia – Pacific tour, we were taken first stop to the lakeside beech forest at Bob’s cove. Crystalline water, incredible lance wood trees, that start life as mini dagger leaves, evolved to ward off preying Moa, and used by Maori for building, due to its incredible strength… then a winding drive down one of New Zealand’s best known views, often used for car adverts indeed, with the lake on our left and the river Dart on our right. We passed a number of places used on location in Lord of the Rings. Despite having the book to show us how it was done, it’s hard (impossible) to imagine. Quite frankly, the whole country is a Lord of the Rings set….
Lunch was yet another picture perfect picnic before a magical walk on the first part of the Routeburn track that carries on all the way towards Milford Sound, just inside Mount Aspiring national park.
Our home for these two nights (about 15 nights too few), was a brilliant Airbnb, overlooking the lake, just a five minute walk from the centre. Managed by Melissa, it’s a great house- unbelievably comfortable beds, perfect kitchen, easy parking, great walks and (impossible unless you are NZ hipster Thor type) vertical bike rides up the hill behind, and the view the view – definitely recommended for any of you going there soon.
After a late afternoon high level match of mini golf, we lay waste to the copious buffet at Bazaar, much to the children’s delight, and pretty much carried on eating until we left: Queenstown has such a fun vibe, young population, and choice of restaurants…. we LOVED it. Groups of hipster self conscious post-teenagers practising slack line and strumming guitars to their groups of adulates, joggers running, ‘extreme’ sports touted all over (something I do find slightly forced and annoying I must admit… why do you need to jetbike or powerboat when you can walk, swim or sail or just damn LOOK), slightly awkward European exchange students (probably) trying to strike up a conversations with local hipsters (everyone is a hipster), beers on the beach… you get the scene. Seems to me nothing has really changed since when we were the same age.
Our last supper was a brilliant place, recommended by my well travelled all knowing brother, The Bunker. Which has no windows, as the name might suggest. Very few tables, great food, best gin and tonic and amazing bar which the three girls rather boringly didn’t let us go to. Party poopers that they are.
And then it’s time for Oz! Best airport ever- no queues, no people, no buses. Heaven! But we can’t bear that time has flown by so fast….. Time for that Opera House!