Monday, January 4, 2010

Exploring Queenstown and Surrounds

Left the Novotel early this morning (and let Matthew have a sleep in!) to explore the foreshore and Queenstown Gardens which are just a little bit along from Marine Parade. It was a brisk morning was hardly a tourist to be seen. So different to yesterday afternoon when Marine Parade was "wall to wall" tourists. Queenstown is set in a stunningly beautiful part of New Zealand however it is very commercialised. Perhaps this is what tourists are looking for however for me it has certainly detracted from the natural beauty of the city. The plants and trees in the gardens are just beautiful. Huge Himalayan oaks and row upon row of rose bushes. I feel embarrassed to even admit that I tried to grow roses in the tropics after seeing the proliferation of roses in New Zealand. Within the gardens there are a number of huge boulders with the names of mountain climbers (obviously from the area) who have lost their lives on Mount Everest. There are also memorials to Antarctica explorers. By the time I walked through the gardens and down to the foreshore there were a number of early morning joggers and walkers making their way around the various tracks around the lake.
Checked out an old boathouse on the edge of the lake which had been converted into a restaurant and this is where Matthew and I had breakfast. Matthew decided on the eggs Benedict and salmon and I had the best omelet I think I have ever tasted.
After breakfast I decided to take a wander up through the Queenstown shops before embarking on a 12 noon cruise on the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak High Country Farm.
Fabulous trip on this lovely old steamship although it was very rough. Lucky I remembered to pack the ginger tablets! It was about an 2 hour round trip and on the way back there was a lady playing piano in the main saloon area on the upper deck. There were printed song sheets available however there were only a couple of people game enough to sing along. We definitely needed Matthew there - particularly when she started playing Loch Lomond. Arrived back in Queenstown about 2p.m. Matthew met the boat and we then went uptown for some lunch. Everything is extremely expensive and very much geared to the tourist market.
Decided to take a drive to have a look at the Queenstown Cricket Grounds - again, don't know how we would have been able to find it without Sat Nav. From there, we continued onto to Arrowtown which is a quaint little township just north of Queenstown. Arrowtown was a former gold mining town and the streetscape has retained the look of the 1880's. Very pretty place although, again very touristy! Dragged ourselves away from the Remarkable Sweet Shop and then headed back to the Novotel.
Early night tonight as we are being collected at 7.15 a.m. tomorrow for our trip to Milford Sound.

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