Sunday, August 14, 2016


Our flight from Auckland was to land at Queenstown airport around 1.30 pm. We had been informed to be vigilant to get the first mind-blowing glimpse of the place. So we were ready armed with our cameras to shoot the exotic scenes as our plane prepared to land. 

And we were richly rewarded for our efforts - serene, soft-snow-covered mountains beckoned us to the picturesque place. In a moment we were convinced about the much-touted natural beauty of New Zealand. We were eagerly looking forward to four more days of bliss in the lap of nature.

The airport welcomed us with posters of fun-filled winter activities.

We drove down for lunch first. The scenes in the short drive bowled us over totally. 

After lunch at Bombay Palace, we drove to Wanaka to enjoy Puzzling World - a unique experience. (Please click on 'Wanaka' above for the exclusive post on that experience.)

After a fabulous evening there, we returned to Queenstown and had dinner at The Spice Room.

Next we checked into our rooms at the quiet Copthorne Resort.

Next morning there was no wake-up call as the morning was free for us to explore the quaint town and enjoy shopping at our leisure. 

But both of us as usual explored the surrounding areas before going for breakfast. It was such a picturesque place, with a lake glistening in the rays of the rising sun, even as the white snow-capped mountains in the background glittered like silver. We couldn't get enough of the beauty of the place. But we had to get back to our hotel as it was really cold and also time for breakfast. 

We walked to the nearby market place at 9.30 am and loitered around the little shops hunting for souvenirs. 

My younger son, a crazy Martin Crowe fan had asked for New Zealand cricket jacket / shirt. When I inquired at the sports shops, they said they didn't have them. In fact I was surprised to find they had nothing connected with cricket in the shops; they too were surprised at themselves when I pointed the fact to them. They had moved on to rugby and rugby souvenirs were aplenty.

There was a curio shop which had captivating collections from all over the world. I was particularly impressed at the Indian pieces available there!

Some of us ladies had been been looking for New Zealand jade. We admired the vast variety in the size and shapes of jade varieties. I managed to find jade pendants and studs within my budget and it made my day. Another interesting item there was the comparatively cheaper Paula stone curios and jewelry. Many bought soft toy Kiwi bird and Merino sheep to give company to their counterparts from Australia - Kangaroo and Koala bear. Some got leather jackets / sweaters for good deals. The men folk laid their hands on wine bottles to take back home. Cheese was going to be the last item to be bought just before flying out of New Zealand.

Our hotel was in the market area and all of us assembled at Tandoori Palace and ....
had a hearty lunch.

We then undertook another fun-filled Queenstown Activity! 

The Skyline Queenstown Gondola ride - the steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere unfolding stunning views of the city!

The Gondola carried us 450 metres above Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu to the top of Bob's Peak. The view from there was simply divine! We could also spot some para gliders.
Shaped like a lightning bolt, Lake Wakatipu is the third largest lake in New Zealand. The lake, 48 miles long and up to 3 miles wide, and covering an area of 113 sq. miles, occupies a single, glacier-carved trench and is bordered on all sides by tall mountains. Settlements around the lake shore include Queenstown and the neighboring villages. Because of its unusual shape, Lake Wakatipu has a 'tide' which causes the water to rise and fall about 10 centimeters every 25 minutes or so. Maori legend links this phenomenon to the heartbeat of a huge monster named Matau, who is said to be slumbering at the bottom of the lake.

It was interesting to see that Coach Captain Nigel had put up the day's agenda on a small board near the steering wheel. 
He was a jolly good fellow and kept us entertained. 

The drive to Arrowtown itself was scenic - vast green grasslands, huge cylindrical packages of grass wrapped in polythene and stored for the winter, snow-capped mountains .....

Historic Arrowtown, a New Zealand jewel - where history meets nature - is charming and quirky – a delightful gold rush village nestled below the beautiful peaks that surround the sparkling Arrow River. 

We walked around the quaint place - it seemed to be a museum village! It has an interesting history too. Before Europeans settlers came to New Zealand, Maoris made seasonal trips to hunt native birds, and find the prized pounamu (greenstone). Then came William Rees and Nicholas von Tunzelmann, the first Europeans to establish farms in the area. Suddenly, there was dramatic change. Jack Tewa, a Maori shearer for Rees, found gold around May 1861, followed in 1862 by either William (Bill) Fox or perhaps the team of Thomas Low and John MacGregor. But the forceful Fox took credit for the discovery and the ragged new “town” was first called Fox’s. Fifteen hundred miners were camped noisily beside the Arrow River by the end of 1862. 340 kgs of yellow gold were lugged out by the first gold escort in January 1863. 

As much of the easy gold in Otago had gone, the Otago Provincial Government, to re-stimulate a flagging economy, invited Chinese miners to come and work. The small Chinese village they created in Arrowtown stayed settled until 1928, and its remains are part of the country's history. As a more permanent town emerged, the avenues of trees were planted in 1867, making Arrowtown look more like the European towns the settlers missed.

Next we drove to Kawarau river to view Bungee Jumping. First a young man thrilled us with his feat and landed in the cold river and then climbed on to the boat. 

Next it was a young lady who did bungee jumping and 
chose to land in the boat. Then it was time to return to Queenstown. On reaching our hotel we bid goodbye to our amiable Coach Captain Nigel. 

We still had the energy to take a stroll around the Gardens which were specially lit as part of a festival. Then we had dinner again at The Spice Room - once again we were treated to yummy 'chocolate poli' for dessert.

Next day after breakfast at 7, we started on our long drive to Christchurch with stops in between at scenic spots all along the route.

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