Oh yes, I had just spent time in little Arrowtown.
After that, my parents flew into Queenstown! We hit the highlights – wandering around town, they went to a Kiwi bird park, Arrowtown and Ben Lomond (some of these photos will be theirs).
First, my parents got a scenic flight from Auckland to Queenstown thanks to the stellar weather. This was their view as they flew down the South Island.
One of the huge glacial lakes (Tekapo or Pukaki, I’m not sure) and the west coast laying beyond, quite a nice sight to see! Once they arrived in Queenstown, we toured the town and had a relaxing first day while they recouped from a long day of travel.
After back to back Great Walks, I had finished off all of my goals for the south end of the South Island – Great Walks, Paragliding, extra walks…all finished! So I pretty much had a week or so to relax, kick up my feet, and enjoy the surroundings. As luck would have it, the weather decided to do nothing but shine sun on me for most of those days. It was cold at night, but the days were glorious.
So rather than relax in Queenstown, a notably non-relaxing place for me (too many people/tourists), I traveled up the road a bit to quaint Arrowtown.
If there is one thing synonymous with food in Queenstown, it is Fergburger. And having been in Queenstown quite often, I’ve been presented with many opportunities to sample Fergburger’s diverse and delightful options. In the interests of science, I have tasked myself with cover Ferg’s menu as much as I could. While I haven’t tried EVERYTHING on the menu, I’ve had enough to at least quantify my experiences here.
First thing you need to know about Fergburger, is that these are BIG burgers.
Second, is that they use amazingly good, high quality ingredients.
Third, and most importantly, they use magic and possibly mystical beings to create the wonderfully diverse tastes.
Everyone has those kinds of days where everything just seems to go right. It usually isn’t planned to be a great day, but somehow, everything comes up roses and you are left with a feeling when the sun sets that you had an unexpectedly FANTASTIC time. This was one of those days for me.
It all began simply enough. I had met a fellow Canadian traveler named Becky the day prior and we had discussed hiking the Kepler Great Walk in a couple of weeks (as I had the Milford coming up first), and also checking out the Wanaka A&P (Agricultural and Pastoral) show the next day. The A&P show in Wanaka is a big deal, and even costs an entry fee of $10. Still, it’s like a big carnival. With absolutely ridiculously themed slides:
Probably the most popular walk in the Wanaka region is to see the Rob Roy Glacier. The track has got it all – Glaciers, Mountains, Waterfalls, Rivers, Trees and Kea (didn’t see them myself though). What’s not to like?
So I found myself on a sunny March day heading towards the Raspberry Flats car park. The hike for the Rob Roy Glacier is considered a fairly full day – partly because it takes a full hour just to get to the car park, a good part of which is spent on a rough dirt road. The hike itself takes about 3-4 hours return and isn’t too strenuous.
I lucked out with a near perfect hiking day when I started my hike, into the Mt. Aspiring National Park.
One of the great things with New Zealand is, you are never far from somewhere new and different. And just as importantly, if the weather isn’t pleasant where you are, drive for an hour and you might find something completely different in the skies above.
And that was exactly what I found in Wanaka. After staying in depressed little Cromwell for 2 nights, under continuously dark, drab and soggy clouds, I scrapped my plans for a bike ride (possibly to try again at the end of March) and made my way to Wanaka. Wanaka was a place I had heard lots about, but had yet to visit. Purportedly a wonderful little town with similar scenery and charms to Queenstown…but with a tiny fraction of the insane number of tourists. Sounded like my kind of place.
On your way into town you have the option of hiking a nearby hill, called Mt. Iron. Having sat around far too much in the past couple weeks, I opted for the stroll to the top. The weather had cleared on the drive, and I was keen to take advantage.
After 17 days of travel with Sabrina, Marc and Alexandra, we said our goodbyes at the Queenstown airport on March 3rd (yes, I know, quite a while ago!), and I went back to doing my own little thing. It was a fun, exhausting 17 days together. The weather didn’t help a lot, but it often was tolerable. The Routeburn was great, I was very happy to get out on the Tasman Glacier Lake and see some glacial icebergs, and climbing Fox Glacier is one of my highlights here in New Zealand. Marc and Alexandra got to experience skydiving in Kaikoura, Sabrina found some great wines in the Waipara and the 4 of us survived a stay in jail. I would have liked to go Paragliding in Queenstown with Alexandra (something she is still trying to get a refund for), and having better weather in a lot of places would have been enjoyable, but we made the most of it.
Originally, I had planned for March to kick off for me with a mountain bike ride across central Otago. The weather had other things in mind however, so after a few days of relaxing and listening to the rain pound down on my tent, I found myself wandering into a town called Wanaka.
I’m guessing that whoever gave Sandfly Bay it’s name didn’t plan it to be a tourist destination. I’ve come to fear and hate those little flying beasts, as their bites are horribly itchy, last for days, and they tend to attack in large packs. Still, Sandfly Bay is supposed to be beautiful, and a spot to find wildlife around Otago, so on a blustery and dreary day I made my way onto the windswept beach.
This was another place with huge sand dunes. I loved running down the hills. Going back up was quite a bit more difficult.