Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand. Its where people go to sky-dive and bungey-jump. Luckily, for those of us scared of heights, it has many other attractions.
Before jumping ahead, en route to Queenstown we stopped off at Arrowtown. This is a quaint little town (in the Disney sense of the word) where the whole town is made of historic buildings (the old police station, the old post office etc.) I didn’t expect to like the “living museum” concept but it really worked. With very “English” parks and a little bubbling stream it was a surprisingly nice place.
There was some more serious history associated with the town, as there was an encampment of Chinese gold workers on the edge of town. Their old huts, that served as their houses, still stand on the edge of town and you can go inside, if you can fit in the tiny doorways.
On to Queenstown…. The town has a very young and energetic feel to it. Walking the streets you see dozens of estate cars and old SUVs with mattresses and clothes stuffed in the back – accomodation for the hundreds of bar workers and waitresses earning minimum wage while having a good time in this expensive town.
The town is situated on a kink half-way down a huge lake. The lake is notable because it is so deep (over 300 metres) and so cold….not a place to swim!
We had a trip to the north of the lake where we had a nature tour and a jet boat ride on the Dart River. Many of the rivers in this part of the world are called braided rivers…they have a really wide stoney river bed but the river has multiple strands that interlink and weave across it. For jet boat drivers this means that the course of the river, and its depth can change on a daily basis. Luckily the boats can skim over the bed in only 4 inches of water and are reinforced to scrape over stones at high speed.
Our Airbnb hosts were a couple who owned an Italian Restaurant called Farelli’s in the centre of town. Obviously we had to try out their restaurant. Excellent food and Chris, the owner, took all drinks off the bill!! Result!!
We took a ride on a cable car up to the top of a mountain overlooking the town. Great views and the chance to ride the luge; go-carts that shoot down banked concrete pathways.
A friend of a friend is the captain of a boat that cruises up and down the lake. Another freebie, we got a free cruise and I got to steer the boat!!
In the evenings we pretended to be 20 years younger than we are and joined the 20-somethings listening to live music in bars and eating fish and chips.
The town has a certain something about it, a bit like Brighton in the UK, but without the weirdos!!