After a too brief stay in Mt Cook it was time to move on. Next up we fancied somewhere a bit less rural and with a bit more going on. So we made for cool little Queenstown, which after all the hiking shenanigans felt like a breath of fresh air.
After spending a few hours chilling in our Mt Cook Hostel, we hopped on an afternoon bus to Queenstown. Our bus driver was oddly chatty this time, and for a few hours he gave a running commentary as we went along. To begin with it was quite fun, informative and entertaining. After awhile it got a bit tiresome, the man barely drew breath and he made it hard to switch off and just enjoy the journey.
At one point during the journey we had a brief pause along the beautiful Lindis Pass. The bus driver informed us that during the winter the pass in regularly closed for hours due to snowfall and snow blowing onto the roads. Luckily he informed us that as spring was well on the way we were likely to have missed it. (Obviously we had, we got through fine!) But we pulled over briefly to get a quick pic of the lovely views, still dusted with a little snow.
Sir Cedrics Laughter Backpackers
Eventually though, we arrived and headed to our hostel Sir Cedrics Laughter Backpackers. We picked this place for its reasonable price and it had a hot tub again, but largely because it had laundry facilities. Time to get some clean togs! Our room was a double, slightly separated from the dorms and shared rooms, and we had our own bathroom. And it came with a sign declaring it the The Love Shack. Indeed! 😉
There was also complimentary free soup in the evenings, so upon arrival we grabbed some free soup and then headed out to the famous Fergburger! The queue was huge, and our order got forgotten about so we had a bit of a wait on our hands. Eventually we did get our food though, and the chips were quite good. The burger itself was really big, and came with a LOT of filling (see picture!) but it was not as amazing as I had expected due to all the hype. Honestly, the stories I have heard about these burgers, I was expecting a near religious experience, but it just wasn’t quite as good as I imagined.
Day 1 – Relaxing/Doing Nothing!
Our first full day in Queenstown we were laaaazy.
At this point in our trip, we’d been on the go fro 10 day. It had been quite physical, carrying our bags, and lots of hiking and on limited calories, so by this point I for one was knackered. For the first time we spent a day relaxing rather than site seeing. We slept in, had a lovely late breakfast, and then popped across the road to Bespoke Kitchen for coffee and a sweet treat. I’d hugely recommend this cute little cafe for a chill out, and they were really accommodating with my nut allergy. We topped the day off with an afternoon literally just wandering around the town centre and down by the waterfront to get a feel for the place.
Strangely for us (that’s sarcasm there) we ended up in a bar, Atlas Beer Cafe, for a few well needed drinks! This cute little bar quickly became a firm favourite – we only had drinks this time but we were eyeing up the food for sure! Following our burger disappointment the day before we opted to try a different burger chain. So we tried Devil Burger instead and this time I was blown away. I had the Mary’s Little Lamb – a lamb patty with mint jelly and a rosemary hash brown. Whoever thought of putting mint jelly into a burger is a bloody genius. Dare I say it, I thought mine was better than Fergburger.
Still trying to keep fit, despite the laziness, on Day 3 I made the mistake of doing a leg workout back in our hostel. After discovering a knack for them in Lake Tekapo, I started testing out doing pistol squat progression on a step outside our hostel room and really pushed myself! Normally that would be fine, but I made the mistake of working out right before we headed out to do the Queenstown Hill walk – a wonderful but semi steep hill climb, with spectacular views from the top. The walk was described as ‘moderate.’ That’s debatable. My leg and glute muscles were on FIRE half way up. Thank goodness Ian has the patience of a saint, and puts up with my whining.
Part way up the man friend produced a secret stash of dark chocolate – which we eagerly (and on my part very gratefully) devoured as we sat in the basket overlooking the town, with the most lovely views of The Remarkables ahead of us. The basket is an art installation called The Basket of Dreams, made of steel. It was a lovely touch that blended in with the rural surroundings. I blinked in ALL the pictures I took of it, so apologies for that mess of a photo. But it does show the basket and views.
We then headed up the final bit of the hill, which took about another 10-15 minutes. The views from the top were so gorgeous, and you could see both sides of the hill, so away from Queenstown as well. The views really fuelled my enthusiasm for the next day – when we planned to head up the Queenstown Skyline Gondola!
We headed back down and back to the bar from the previous day. (We loved it that much!) I had an incredible steak dinner and delicious Apple Crumble Cider which blew my mind. It tasted so much like apple crumble, I would love to know how it was made. A wonderful bar though, I would highly recommend them. I don’t remember a huge amount from the rest of the evening… I wrote in my notes ‘Ian got smashed and then we went for food.’
On day 4 we actually made the effort to get up a decent hour as we’d planned things to do!
We made for Bespoke again for our morning coffee fix and then headed over to the Skyline. (I read to go early in the day to avoid the crowds, as it gets busier throughout the day.) So we took the gondola ride 450m up to the top of Bob’s Peak. Interestingly the gondola is the steepest cable car ride in the southern hemisphere. And then made straight for the Luge.
Luging is… well sort of go carting but there are no motors. Luges are powered simply by gravity, so can only go downhill. Its pretty simple, you push forward to go and pull back to brake, and then off you go. All you really do is steer and zooooom down the hill. And then when you get to the bottom, you hop on a chairlift, and GO AGAIN! I think we went around 4-5 times, grinning from ear to ear and with lots of giggling.
Its fast paced, invigorating and definitely brought out our childish competitive sides, racing down the hill (Ian won mostly.) I’m glad we went early as it wouldn’t have been as good with more people on the track. I didn’t get any pictures of us luging unfortunately, as my tech was stowed safely in a locker. But it meant I was able to really live in the moment and act like a kid.
Skyline Bar & Queenstown Gardens
After a morning of running up and down the hill like loons, we decided to act a bit more our age, and have a more sedate rest of the day. So we spent some time ambling around the top of the peak, and then had some drinks in the bar area of the restaurant. Where we drank with the most amazing views of The Remarkables (a wonderfully named mountain range, see photo above!)
That afternoon we indulged a wonderful hot tub session, and then a casual stroll around the Queenstown Gardens. We had a such a wonderful time just strolling and talking (it was a touch on the romantic side!) We actually went around it a few times. (Whilst dodging the crazy Disc Golf players – a weird mix of frisbee and golf?) And we watched the sun go down beautifully over the mountains.
Final Days – Relaxing and Recuperating
The next 2 days we took it very easy and quiet. The weather turned on us and became a bit wet and miserable, which was unusual. We had so far been very lucky with the weather. So we had a cinema day and watched a movie, which a guy we met in Canada had worked on. It was pretty cool seeing his name in the credits. We also utilized the facilities of our hostel (one of the reasons we picked it!) so we spent the day doing some laundry and the all important, booking of our travels ahead.
During our trip we tried to book up in blocks. 2-3 weeks in advance so we knew we wouldn’t get stuck anywhere. So we spent an afternoon interneting it up. We planned ahead for the rest of the south island, researching th things we wanted to see and do. Then booking our Intercity buses and hostels for the next few weeks – right up till returning to Wellington.
Next on our tour of New Zealand was the much anticipated stop at Te Anua and the Milford Sound!