New Zealand, with a dash of Melbourne

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Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Otago » Queenstown
December 23rd 2010
Published: August 9th 2017
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Geo: -45.0311, 168.663

New Zealand for Christmas, not a bad place to be at this time of the year, although in saying that after one day at the parent's place in Christchurh we wanted to get out and about. Naturally Queenstown was the first option.
We all flew in to Christchurch at different flights but on the same day, the prevoius week had been spent in Melbourne, catching up with some friends and attending my brothers graduation.
It seems to be the way now where I visit Melbourne for 4 or 5 days and then I'm off again, off on another adventure, not to return for another 4 months, then the whole cycle repeats itself.
It was the first time we got to see the new house in Christchurch, perched on the hills behind the city, beautufl views to the North and West at both day and night.
So after a day of realitive boredom Richard and I decided to hire a car and travel around, we were already going to do so, but we decided the earlier the better.
We picked the car up in the morning and headed south west to the most popular town in the South Island, Queenstown. It took us around 6 hours from Christchurch with a small stop off on the way. The scenary is beautiful, starting from rolling green hills to more taller and bigger mountains. You drive past lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki which extends to the foothills of Mount Cook and some of the most aqua looking water I have ever seen.
We arrived in Queenstown around 2:30 and checked in to Nomads Hostel. A big hostel like the ones in Sydney, lots of rooms to cater for the large influx of seasonal tourists. Its does provide for some fun events most nights including a free feed but at a limited portion.
We set off for Queenstown Hill, a steep climb where some nice views are portrayed, although the lookout at the top of the gondola skyline is definitely more impressive.
We caught up with an old friend from Melbourne for some dinner and drinks and then settled in for an earlish night. The weather had been mixed, but there wasn't much rain about, for the most part.
The nexy day was limited, we took the car a bit north to Arrowtown. It's fairly small, as are most NZ towns, but we were told the bakery had the best pies around, but when we got there they didn't have any pies, bummer. A little bit of Christmas shopping followed in Queenstown later and a nap at around 4. It's a tough life sometimes.
Nomads is affiliated with World bar, so they give free drink cards out every evening, this evening involved a free BBQ and trivia, and of course how I can I resist the trivia call.
We met a younger Australian couple where we played a few games of pool with and joined forces in trivia with. And of course we won the trivia!! $100 bar tab, between the four of us can sometimes go a long way. We didn't get too greedy though, joined by the second place winners who's prize was a pizza about the size of a helicopter pad.
We pressed on later to a Western themed pub which is behind the Nomads hostel. They definitely went all out, taxidermy everywhere, Saddle chairs, western games and A Mechanical Bull for those keen for a rodeo. Even the urinals in the mens toilet had some figures to show your disgust at. It was a fun night in which we decided to stay another night.
Originally we only planned for two nights and move on, but plannings for suckers, we ended up staying for another 2 nights.
Both of us were a little worse for wear the following morning, but we did manage to hire bikes and take a ride along the lake to Frankton for a couple of hours. We met a new guy in our dorm, Jay, from Malaysia and the three of us signed up for the Blind Folded Pub Crawl.
65 people also signed up and donned the masks to form one loooooooong single line and march through the streets of Queenstown skipping through 5 bars. One of the bars even had a mini ramp attached, naturally I had to have a go, but at a tipsy state I wasn't in for a stellar session.
Again it was another fun night, meeting more people and enjoying the town.
Another late night and another extension to our time in Queenstown. Richard was in no position to take advantage of the day, but I was feeling Ok.
The weather had been miserable, heavy rain, it looked like a day in, but It cleared pretty quick to marginal blue sky and I saw the opportunity to do the Ben Lomond track on the towering range behind Queenstown. It's about a 5-6hr trek from Queenstown, to limit the time you can just catch the gondola to the lookout but at a rather steep cost.
The walk was nice at the start, I reached the gondola lookout with stunning views. I continued up and up, but the weather turned, looking back I could see the large amount of rain making its way to Queenstown, but I pushed on to the cradle which had amazing views over the other side of the mountain. I could see the rain heading straight towards me so I decided not to push for the sumit which would have been an extra hour and a half, so I headed back down.
After 4-5 hours I made it back to the hostel for a much needed shower. That night we took it easy, just playing some pool and a few drinks on our balcony. This time we did decide to leave the following morning to Fox and Franz Josef.
The weather was damn right miserable, it rained all day and got worse as we got closer to the Glaciers. You head through the amazing Haast past and up the rain drenched west coast. When we got to the Franz Josef township both Glaciers had no access and were not even visible from the large amount of low cloud. We checked into a hostel but the whole township had no power till 8pm so we cancelled the booking and decided to push through back to Christchurch, another 5 hr drive on top of the already 5 hr trip.
But still it continued to rain until we cleared the Southern Alps along Arthurs pass where there was endless clear blue sky.

Not much happened over the next few days, besides Christmas and Boxing day, but most of that was spent in the house catching up with the extended family, having lots to eat, you know, the usual. On the 27th we had a family golf day at the clearwater resort, mostly the males besides one aunty partook, two groups of four hit up the course on buggys and endured a windy day on course, I decline to admit my embarrasing score, but my excuses were it was windy and I haven't played in about a year and a half.
So as I watch the day come to an end I can't help but be overwhelmed about the excitement of New York, all though I have to get there first as it is in a middle of a snow storm, fingers crossed.

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