Oct 11th- 16th
We took the winding roads with stunning scenery from Wanaka to Queenstown taking just over an hour.
Queenstown is now firmly one of our favourite places, we enjoyed meals out, including at the famous 'Ferg Burger' and equally the great but not as infamous 'Devil Burger'. We watched mesmerising sunsets and enjoyed walks around the Queenstown Gardens.
Somehow Shannon convinced me to scale Ben Lomond, an attractive mountain reaching 1,748 metres (5,735 ft), which stands proudly over Queenstown. We skipped the skyline gondola which would have taken us the first 450 metres (1,476 ft) and decided to hike up the forest of pine trees, this would be one of the most challenging parts of the whole climb. Out of the trees you get your first glimpse of how far you've come, then it's a gentle climb to the saddle at 1,300 metres (4,265 ft). After the saddle the ground got rocky and the wind picked up, we kept our heads down and took on the steep part of the climb, at times I was on all fours just to get up that damn mountain. And then somehow around 4 hours after we started, we were at the top, and wowee the views were just remarkable... well indeed as we were now facing the stunning Remarkables mountain range as well as views down below to Queenstown and across Lake Wakatipu. The wind was still whipping around us but we stopped for a while to admire the landscape, a few guys turned up too and offered us some cans of beer which they'd packed, that was really rather kind of them.
We then began our descent and as we reached the saddle again the wind had died down and we took a more leisurely walk back down, once again chasing not to pay for the gondola, and it wasn't anywhere near as bad going down.
The whole hike (me, hike?! wow!) took around 8 hours and it is feels such an accomplishment to have climbed a mountain! We didn't even really ache too much afterwards which is a bonus, it's not an easy trek but it is a must!
We went on Jucy to find more great deals and came across a buffet lunch at Skyline’s Stratosfare Restaurant and Bar, also included was a return trip in the Gondola. Normal price is $65 pp and we got it half price, either way you must book in advance. The restaurant is built into the side of the mountain with a glass front and spectacular views, like what we had seen from the top of the mountain. After lunch we stepped outside to admire more of the views and seen the Ledge Bungy jump in action, Shannon is in two minds of doing the Nevis Bungy... The food was good and the views made it all. Also at the Skyline you can Luge, like we did at Rotorua's Skyline.
Queenstown is such a stunning place and like Wellington, we started thinking maybe we shouldn't have stayed in Auckland for so long and could have tried our luck here instead.
The next town along is Arrowtown, described as one of the most picturesque settlements in New Zealand this living historic town has many stories to tell... in New Zealand's terms it is historic, being founded as a mining town in 1868, in UK terms the streets were as old as the houses we live in. It certainly was a pretty little place, but it's best to visit in April/ May time as the trees turn golden for the autumn fall.
And then it was time to leave Queenstown and head back across land to Milford Sound...