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Day 12: Wanaka to Queenstown

Day 12 – Saturday 02 March – Queenstown beer with a view (I will never forget)…

Leaving Wanaka... Sad... Such a beautiful and happening place. You can swim here, run, cycle, paddle board, canoe, sail, jet-ski, and jet boat... It's a real young adventurers place and I count myself in that crowd even at 48! We drove back around to the famous little Wanaka tree on the lake. It is a small solitary tree just off-shore; like a little lost soul, striving and growing despite the rising and ebbing tide. People obviously sympathise with the tree and many tourists make it the subject of their memories. From Wanaka we drove onwards, stopping off to marvel at the 'Bra Fence' ('Bra-drona') in Cardrona, created in aid of breast-cancer awareness (and growing with every addition of different colour/size bras!). Then we stopped by the tiny old Cardrona Hotel on the main road complete with a retro Tesla recharging station...


We continued on to Queenstown (in the Otago region) via Arrowtown, to see a partially-restored historical Chinese gold-rush settlement. Part of the town is really quaint with little timber ‘frontier-style’ buildings along a high street; lots of shops, tea shops and an old sweet shop!! Gold was found in the Arrow River in 1862 and among other prospectors, Chinese gold-rush settlers came and built little tiny (and very dark) huts to live in while they sought their fortune in the yellow metal(!). Some of their huts had been restored. There was even a very ‘public’ toilet! The gardens were beautiful and there were lots of different non-native trees. The then Mayor of Arrowtown had introduced English trees in 1867 to form an avenue in ‘Buckingham Street’. These English varieties included Oaks, Sycamores, Cork, Elms and Ashes. Later on, flowering cherries and Rowans were planted. Other street names were ‘Bedford Street’ and ‘Berkshire Street’ – very English!


Further along the road to Queenstown, we stopped at an amazing view point to take photographs. Wow is all I could say... The lake views, the mountains, the scenery is just amazing. Once we arrived at Queenstown, however, we went straight up in the gondola to the very top of a huge mountain through pinewoods and very exposed sunny grasslands. Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand. It is built around an inlet called Queenstown Bay on Lake Wakatipu, a long thin ‘Z’-shaped glacial lake. There aren’t many adrenalin-inducing sports you can’t do there. You can skydive in a wind tunnel, paraglide, water-ski, sail, canoe, jet-ski, etc. etc.. The downside is that due to its popularity, Queenstown is constantly being developed and exploited by the very rich who tear down the old historic houses and buildings to build apartment blocks and hotels for tourists. A lot of the old spirit of Queenstown is being lost to tourism; and the locals have been priced out of their own town as the rich and famous build huge holiday homes and leave them vacant for most of the year. I think the New Zealand government should step in and stop outsiders from exploiting the communities in New Zealand. The same goes on in parts of the UK and I can't see the Tory government doing anything about it. They're probably just as guilty. In the UK you’re competing mostly with other UK residents to buy in sought-after locations. In New Zealand, you’re competing with all the rich and famous people in the world. The locals don’t stand a chance! It’s a disgrace…

Anyway after our walk Gabi drove us all up to our hotel on the hillside overlooking Queenstown; and we sat on the glass-sided balcony refreshing ourselves with beer and admired the breath-taking view over Lake Wakatipu. That night we had a lovely dinner which involved a lovely dessert. I like pudding. We also had a bottle of the best white wine I have ever tasted in my life... Our hotel room is lovely very posh. The hotel has recently come under new management apparently and they are doing their very best (successfully) to impress. I was impressed with Queenstown.


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