Queenstown, New Zealand

Friday, April 20, 2018

After a nice morning in Te Anau, we arrived at our final stop in New Zealand, Queenstown.  The town is on a beautiful lake and is quite nice to wander around.  We didn’t arrive until after 1:00, so our first order of business was to find food.  We decided to stop at a food court, which made everyone happy.  James and I got some delicious Thai food and Jeremy and John got their favorite hamburgers.


After lunch, James admired some of the kiwi bird statues, then we went into a few gift shops.  I try to collect cookbooks from each country we visit, but so far, I have had only two main choices, both of which are huge and would weigh down the bags.  There were some really nice alpaca rug style blanket, other nice alpaca things, and tons of kiwi trinkets and shirts, but no cookbooks.  We did find a book store, but is was the same two books, plus a book on how to use native New Zealand plants.  The third choice looks really interesting to read, but is unlikely to be very useful outside of New Zealand.  Only one more day to decide!


The town is overrun with tourist adventure activity companies.  There is even a college dedicated to “Tourism and Hospitality Management.”  It almost feels like every other shop has an ad to sell one excursion or another, so probably an excellent location for this college.


At this point, we decided to check into Queenstown Holiday Park.  After our cabin in Twizel, we weren’t expecting a lot, but the room is fine and has an amazing view.  The kids are very happy with their bunkbeds.  I was very tired, so we rested a bit.

We wandered back towards the lake and decided to visit the Queenstown Gardens, which is shaped a bit like a peninsula.  We walked the perimeter and enjoyed the beautiful views of the city and mountains.  Once we completed most of the perimeter, we headed up towards the Rose Garden and the pond.  The boys found some giant pine cones and had fun playing with them.


Once we were back in town, the sun was starting to set and the lake and mountains looked even more beautiful.  We stopped by a nice pie shop, picked up a few and headed back to the motel to finish watching the sun set and eat our food.


Saturday, April 21, 2018

We started our morning by trying to figure out why there were plaster chunks on the floor.  When we looked up, we saw a light hanging by the electrical wires, and the glass cover lying at the foot of the top bunk.  Luckily no one was hurt and the motel was very quick at sending someone up to fix it.  The Holiday Park accommodations have been fine, but they definitely are nowhere close to luxury accommodations.

Next, we wandered down to the lake and Jeremy found a rope whose purpose appeared to be transportation over a stream.  He was thinking about trying it, when John asked if he could go first.  Of course, John landed squarely in the middle of the stream.  We went back to the motel to get new pants and socks, and we tried to dry out his shoes as much as possible.

At this point, the Luge was open, so Jeremy and John decided to head towards the gondola.  James and I thought we would have more fun in town, so we went our separate ways.  First, James took me down to the water and then up to the duck pond in the middle of the Queenstown Gardens.  We admired the ducks and lily pads, then went and looked at some of the boats anchored off the shore of the lake.

James decided it was time for “me” to find a coffee shop.  We wandered around and James eyes lit up when he saw a doughnut shop, Balls and Bangles.  I pointed at the sign in the window that said bagels, but he insisted that they were doughnuts.  We went in, and sure enough there were doughnuts that were stuffed with various fillings, topped with amazing candies, and completed with a syringe filled with more goodness.  Luckily, he decided on a slightly more sensible doughnut, but between his doughnut and my mocha, we thoroughly enjoyed the stop.

We continued on and decided to stop by the book store again to see if I missed anything.  I had success finding my cookbook!  It was a more colorful and recipe oriented book on foraging for food in New Zealand, Find It, Eat It, by Michael Daly.  I am really excited to read it and learn about New Zealand plants.  A lot of the recipes look like they could be easily adapted to use American ingredients.  For example, New Zealand wild fennel could probably be easily substituted with store bought American fennel.

Next, we wandered the gift shops, admiring all of the alpaca gifts, scratching our heads and the super nice looking items made with merino wool mixed with possum fur (possum?!?), and looking for a shirt for James.  Unfortunately, he is at that awkward age where the kids shirts are too babyish and the adult shirts are too tent-like.

Jeremy texted us to let us know they were ready to meet up again.  John was limping when I first saw him.  “Mom!  My car went over the track!”  Luckily, April Fool’s Day is his favorite holiday and he was just playing a trick on me.  All month he has been lamenting that it is only a single day that he can play tricks on people, and not the whole month.  He said that he had an awesome time!


We then wandered a bit, decided to go to the food court again for lunch.  After the mocha, I wasn’t particularly hungry, but picked up a really delicious samosa at the Indian stand.  We headed back to the motel to rest and get a little more schoolwork done.


We headed out again, and decided to explore the lake in the opposite direction.  The kids found a nice beach to throw some rocks while Jeremy and I enjoyed a nice bench.  There were lots of airplanes flying overhead for James to admire.  John enjoyed a tire swing that we found.  Eventually we made it to some trail head.  James noted that the airport was only a 4km walk away and was all set to continue.  Fortunately, we decided to head back.


On Friday, we bought some meat pies at FergBaker, however, we noted that the line out of FergBurger went halfway down the block.  We decided to find out what the fuss was about and I found this article on CNN.  Apparently some people think that it is the best burger place in the world and that it deserves at least two Michelin stars.  Of course, we had to try it out.  I got the “Sweet Bambi,” a deer burger with brie and a boysenberry and onion chutney.  The burgers were very good, but I’m not sure they were what I would think of when I think of “best burgers in the world.”


We wandered around a bit more, then went back to the motel to relax before our flight to Australia tomorrow.  Queenstown has been fun.  Our two weeks in New Zealand has been awesome!  This is definitely a country to which I want to return.  Two weeks barely scratches the surface.  Even a month would be hard to cram in all the things I still want to see.


On to Sydney, Australia!

Keep reading our travel blog for more posts from our Gap Year!

Here are some more posts from this trip to New Zealand:

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