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Published: October 18th 2008
A vintage steam train operating near Queenstown.
Saturday 4th October
It was still raining when we awoke so we set off headed for Queenstown about 150kms away. As the rain didn't abate we didn't stop at Lumsden where we were going to do some shopping and refuel. Instead we continued on and until 10kms before Kingston we saw the Kingston Flyer, a vintage steam train, just about to leave on its journey back. This gave us enough time to take a few photos of this fine old machine.
Queenstown, set on Lake Wakatipu, is what you would expect for a tourist town on the snowfields and in the mountains. This is called the 'action' town in that it has all the thrill type activities such as bungy jumping, a luge track, a gondola to get to these, jet boating, parasailing you name it. Nothing was operating due to the rain. As we wandered through town, looking at the many clothing and souvenir shops the weather began to improve. Off to the caravan park where we were told the fee for the night to park was $45! Not impressed so we drove 10kms out of town to a DOC site by the side of Moke Lake. What
What a gorgeous place to camp!
Moke Lake - our camp near Queenstown
a magnificent spot (have used that description a few times) set beside the water with snow-capped mountains around us and only 2 other campers anywhere in sight.
Sunday 5th October
We awoke to blue skies and no wind with the sun just about peeping over the top of the mountains and the sound of many birds twittering all around. Not a bad way to greet the day!
A walk alongside the lake before breakfast was our first activity, a nice trout in the shallows being spotted, it returning to the same spot and sighted on our return. Why does this always happen when you have no fishing gear with you?
Off to town and the a ride on the gondola up the mountain was first, followed by a bit of excitement driving the trolley down the luge. Rags thought this was great fun and would like to have done the advanced run but Judy was more tentative, declaring once was enough. We were both enthralled by the paragliders sailing around the peak and without too much hesitation booked a flight.
Up we went with our assigned Paraglider partners, Doug and Tim, by ski lift to
What a beautiful sight to wake up to!
the luge take-off, then another long walk up steep tracks to the summit. Here we were fitted with a harness and crash helmet (for what good that would do) Take-off was simple, you just had the canopy open up above you, took a step or so forward, a couple back and the next thing you were airborne. It was all very smooth, Judy left the ground first and after catching a thermal was well above Rags when he lifted off. We must add that this was a tandem flight and we both had skilled instructors attached to us! We zoomed around the mountain and over the town for about 15 mins, enjoying the magnificent view, a bit of aerial gymnastics at the end making it a little more exciting. What a pity the photos (taken by our instructors) don't seem to do the views justice - to know what it's like you'll just have to do it yourself! Landing was in the grounds of the local primary school, they being given a substantial payment, in the opinion of the instructor, for this privilege. Great fundraiser for them though.
We ran into Sam, one of the teachers Rags has worked
This vintage steamship, believed to be the oldest working coal-fired steamship in the southern hemisphere crosses Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown daily.
with at Kensington, with her husband Scott and daughter Ranee. Small world. Even smaller world, it was their travel companion who we tried to help get the van out of the bog yesterday, Sam being in the other vehicle going for help. Cost them $250 for the tow out of the bog!
After another walk around town, sitting in the sun drinking our complimentary beer from the paragliding, and enjoying a Thai lunch, we continued on our way north stopping for the night in a campsite on the shores of Lake Wanaka. Lovely spot where we had power to recharge the van battery, and be able to empty or fill the respective tanks tomorrow before we leave.
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