Thursday 28th Feb, 2018
Queenstown presents us with another fine and sunny day. We were warned by other travellers that “it always rains in NZ”, but so far we have been blessed with early autumn sunshine and warm and pleasant air. We have one more night to spend in Queenstown so we award ourselves a day of light duties. We arise late, throw open the doors to our balcony and breakfast to the sound of NZ Magpies. Unlike their English cousins these birds have a mellifluous call that resembles the whistling of the baker’s boy. Two black swans, which species is unique to the Antipodes, and their five cygnets paddle serenely around on Lake Wakatipu just in front of us.
We shall drive to Arrowtown today which is 20km north of Queenstown (which we have not really visited yet as our apartment is on the outskirts of it) and loop round to approach QT from its other end. Not a challenging day at all. As chance would have it we pass, on our way out, another local winery, Amisfield, advertising “Cellar Door Tasting”. They all do. We stroll in and taste 5 wines for $10 (£1/glass). The SBs and the PNs were pleasant, the off-dry Riesling fine but all were a bit on the pricey side. They will ship to the UK, but we don’t bite.
A gentle drive to Arrowtown, past another delicious glacial lake, Lake Hayes. They are breath-taking and it is difficult to capture their awe on camera.
Arrowtown is NZ’s best example of an early Chinese Settlement. A rather nicely curated open air museum illustrates the lives of these largely ostracised immigrant workers who came here from Australia to dig and pan for gold. The ore is now worked out and the last China man died in 1932.
More than sixty of the original gold-rush buildings still exist and Arrowtown’s high street resembles the set of a wild-west movie – all single storey buildings with verandas. No horse hitching rails though, just short-stay car-parking bays.
We trickle into QT and park (on a meter! the first I have encountered). This town is dedicated to providing adrenaline rushes for the young and foolish. Shops and booking offices advertise: bungee-jumping; para-ascending; zip-line rides; ferata (that’s climbing up fixed metal rungs, commonly up the side of waterfalls); canyon swinging; jet-boats; kayaking; white-water rafting; black-water rafting (the same thing in a dark cave); water-skiing – as well as the “normal” outdoor stuff – trekking; mountain-biking; bivouacking and so on. In the winter months there are numerous “snow fields” (that’s down-hill skiing) open within a short distance. The youngsters we see all look lean, tanned and fit but if they do all this you’d wonder if they will see thirty. Not surprisingly there is an enormous apparel and equipment industry here to support all this activity. You could spend a mint on kit. We are happy to watch in awe and cheer.
We broach a couple of bottles of fine NZ wines and dine de-luxe in our apartment.