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Published: October 20th 2010
I am just starting to get used to my new wonderful alpine environment and it’s already time to leave. But with very tight schedule and pre-booked accommodation, it’s time to leave for Queenstown
. I'll surely miss everything about the village - the snowy mountains, forest, friendly people and general ambience in the alpine village.
Eventhough I’m not yet ready to leave Mt. Cook, there's something to be excited about going to Queenstown. I’ve heard a lot of nice things about Queenstown from friends and friend’s friends. A friend of mine calls it “A Slice of Heaven”
, the others "The most beautiful town"
they've been. Built on the shore of Wakatipu lake surrounded by the Southern alps, Queenstown is no doubt one of the most beautiful town on earth. It started out as a farming land and base camp for miners in the adjacent town of Arrowhead. Now, it evolved into a world class tourists resort where presidents, movie stars, adventure seekers and holiday-makers from all over the world frequently visit.
The drive to Queenstown starts with the Lindis Pass - a beautiful mountain pass covered in snow that seems to stretch forever. Dwarfed by the size of the majestic
mountains that engulfed us, the feeling of elation is overwhelming. The drive along Dunstan lake is also very scenic. We stopped by in the town of Cromwell and had our picnic lunch overlooking the lake with Southern alps in the backdrop. After 3 1/2 hours drive, we arrived in Queenstown and checked-in at the Novotel by the lake side. With no time to waste, we started exploring the town. Queenstown is small and compact, devoid of tall buildings (perhaps because of strict regulations and occurances of earthquakes in the area). It didn’t take long for me to find a favourite spot - that will be the really nice park by the lake overlooking the snowy peaks of the Remarkables mountains. I can just sit on the park bench all day and watch the day goes by. Though the best vantage point to soak in the panoramic view of Queenstown is at the summit of Bob’s peak. Skyline Gondola runs to the summit. From Bob’s peak, the amazing view is jaw-dropping. I can now understand why my friend Darryl calls it “A Slice of Heaven”.
Our gondola pass came with luge rides, a really fun activity for families. Ryan went
with me. We were having so much fun we went down really fast and almost tipped over at a sharp turn. I only had one go at the luge whilst the boys went twice.
Another fun activity we were looking forward to is skiing
and snow tubing
at the Remarkables. We tried to go on a skiing trip at Mt. Buller in Australia 4 years ago, but unfortunately it was closed when we got there due to poor snowfall. So technically, this is our very first skiing trip. By 9am, we were already at the Snow Centre ready to catch the bus to the ski field. But due to the blizzard that day, the buses are reluctant to take us to the Remarkables ski field. With -20*C , they convinced us to go to Coronet peak instead. We arrived in Coronet ski field only after 25 minutes drive up the mountain. We donned our ski gears/equipment, then off to the slopes (beginners slope that is). Ryan got really good at it considering he only learned to ski by watching beginners lesson on youtube. Liam pretty much learned by just getting into it and watching others. Jamie and I, however,
got really good at falling on our @sses. I had a couple of good runs without falling and the rest are just a big pain on the bum. So Jamie and I decided that we won't be doing this again ! Skiing is a sport for youngsters and not for us old geezers 😄. But at the end of the day, we all had fun that’s what really matters. It’s been a beautiful day with light snowfall and it wasn’t that cold with the sun partly shinning.
Feeling a bit sore, we caught the bus back to town by 4pm. The bus has musty smell and full of teenage snowboarders. My eyes feasted on the wonderful scenery on our way down the mountain. It makes me forget all the aches and pain.
Liam and Ryan went to bed early after a tiresome day. Jamie and I decided to chillax at the movies. We saw Angelina Jolie’s film “Salt”
. We found it quite strange how they show infomercial on Earthquake safety instead of the usual previews of the upcoming films before the movie starts. It doesn't really make you feel safe and easy, thinking an earthquake can strike any
minute. Like other countries in the Pacific (such as Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Hawaii and Chile to name a few), New Zealand sits on the Pacific ring of fire
which are prone to earthquakes, volcanic/geothermal activity and tsunami. They are beautiful but deadly. There has been over 2000 aftershocks in NZ since a 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit Christchurch on 4 Sept. 2010.
With our local money running low, I went to the BNZ bank to get some NZ currency as soon as they open in the morning. The lady at the counter was really friendly. I mentioned that we’re heading off to Milford Sound and advised me to bring insect repellant and check the weather forecast and road conditions first. Apparently, the road to Milford has been closed for days because of bad weather. I already booked our accommodation at Milford months ago and determined to get there no matter what (I think I'm really overly optimistic here). Hmmmm, we'll see ... Milford Sound ... here we come !
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