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Published: September 26th 2014
Having made well over 100 reservations for hotels through www.booking.com
over the past few years on the BBA V1 and V2 we can now get some really good deals with special discounts called ‘Genius Deals’(where available)and so we managed our room at Tanoa Aspen Hotel in Queenstown with its panoramic view of Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables mountain range.
Our fears last night that a noisy group of Contiki Tour people might have disturbed our sleep when they came home from the clubs and bars of Queenstown at some ungodly hour of the morning were unfounded and we had a perfect sleep.
We woke to the light coming up behind the mountains giving them a different perspective to how we viewed them yesterday afternoon when we arrived.
We should have splashed out on breakfast in the hotel dining room considering the great price we had on the room but in the true traditions of the BBA we fed ourselves making great use of the Kellogg’s mini cereal boxes that ‘zip ‘open and use them like a bowl into which you can pour the milk without is all falling out the bottom.
However spreading the margarine on the bread
(not toast this morning) was a challenge as we didn’t have a knife in the room but again with some ingenuity the back of the teaspoon came into its own and we achieved what we needed to.
It was a tadge cool to sit outside on the terrace and have breakfast so we had the best of both worlds, the view from behind the window glass and warmth as well as ‘Breakfast” on TV.
As we prepared to get on the road for the day we spotted a tiny dot against the mountains and realised it was an Air New Zealand flight on its way in to land at Queenstown Airport. Being as calm as it was this morning we didn’t get to view one of the dodgy landings that planes can experience as they thread their way amongst the mountains down to the runway.
We have been very fortunate with the weather as the forecast on Breakfast TV showed with heavy rain on the West Coast where we had travelled earlier in the week and now left behind.
This morning we met up with Chris and Marilyn (hereafter to be known as C&M, Chris being
Gretchen’s brother and Marilyn his wife) and two distant relatives at a cafe in nearby Frankton for some ‘family business ‘after the passing of another distant family relative.
An hour and a half passed quickly as everyone told stories of what they remembered as children when they visited the family connected property in Lawrence.
With the initial ‘family ‘business done we drove back the short distance to Queenstown to take a stroll around the town trying to remember it as it was 20 years ago when our last visit was.
However everything has changed so much except for the wharf where the Lady of the Lake the steamer “Earnslaw”ties up to take on tourists for regular daily cruises on the lake.From memory the wharf used to stand out on its own away from the shops that made up the town but now there is a Casino and lines of shops alongside which has taken away some of the charm that used to prevail. Still that is progress and what the overseas tourists want when they make their fleeting visits to Queenstown.
One of the other things we couldn’t get away from as we strolled around the
town was the various smells of food being cooked from the multitude of cafes and restaurants with their doors and windows open to the fresh air, although that may have been down to the time of day as midday had past.
With the street where there is a quaint stone church which used to have a view of the lake and mountains in the background full of parked cars it was difficult to get a clear view to take the photo and video we wanted to and so we headed back to the car a little disappointing that the growth of the town had taken away the charm that we remembered Queenstown for.
It doesn’t take long to reach the rugged Kawarau Gorge and a historic bridge that is no longer used for road traffic but for bungy jumping that adrenalin pumping activity that only a fool would try.
For the uninitiated you have an elastic rope tied to your ankles and then jump or fall off a platform attached to the side of the bridge to the cold Kawarau River over 40 metres below. You are then hauled in upside down and lowered to a boat
on the river, untied and probably like the one we saw take the jump, run excited back up the zigzag path from the river’s edge to do it all again....NOT!
The guy we saw yelled a well known 4 letter expletive several times as he was jerked half way back towards the platform on the bridge. It seemed to us that the first drop takes your breath away and then the reality clicks in as you suddenly realise there will be several jerks up and down before the elastic relaxes with the weight of your body.
Anyway it makes great fun watching it all and it’s free for the public to watch.A short video gives you the idea of the fun you can have if you pay to do the jump.Turn up the volume and hit the link.
As you drive through the dry river gorge you soon start to realise how man has made good use of what looks to be dry, rocky barren land as winery after winery come into view. The area has become world renowned for grape growing and wine and especially Pinot Noir and Reisling varieties.
at one of the larger wineries Gibbston Valley and purchased a bottle of Pinot Noir o take to our hosts, C&M, for the next 3 days.
The winery is set up well with a restaurant and a cheesery and of course they encourage visitors to taste their products in the hope that you will make their cash till ring even more.As you drive in an easterly direction with the flow of the water you get the feeling that you are dropping fairly quickly in elevation and then the gorge comes to an end and there is Cromwell, the town that grew up with the discovery of gold in 1862.
We had discovered a winery here with the rather romantic name of ‘The Wooing Tree’ many years ago on an earlier trip and sure enough it was still in business. Our memory of the wine produced at the winery was quite unique and we weren’t disappointed as we tasted a couple and then bought a bottle of each to take home for a special dinner sometime in the future.
After you leave Cromwell you enter another gorge that used to carry the Clutha River.
is still the Clutha River but because of a large hydro dam that was built at the other end of the gorge a lake formed behind the dam turning the river into a lake.
The dam was controversial at the time it was built in the 1990’s for several reasons not the least that the river as it was disappeared along with many orchards on the river banks as well as the historic town area of Cromwell resulting in many of the old buildings having to be moved from their original sites before the lake formed.
The dam sits on an earthquake fault which doesn’t seem like a good idea given the frequency of quakes in NZ,although thankfully not as often in Central Otago,and that the town of Clyde is just a short distance away from the high dam.
We had just a short further distance onto C&M’s home situated just off the main road south of Alexandra and our day of driving for today was done.
As you do when families come together we spent several hours of talking and catching up including time for a delicious fish pie dinner and a grandstand view of
the fireworks display to herald the Blossom Festival weekend before heading for bed with the prospect of a busy weekend ahead.