We left Ashburton after winning the Cup on Sunday. The logistics of getting 4 people and luggage into a Nissan Sunny (essentially a compact car) was challenging, even though friends took 3 big bags earlier in the day with them! Initially Kathy Vick was in the back but her long legs just wouldn’t fit…she looked like a pretzel. So Susan tucked into the back, Kathy was in the front passenger seat with Susan’s Mary Kay bag on her lap; and Sherri somehow settled in behind me. On to Timaru, where we crashed with some of the 35s and 40s team members.
Monday morning we set off for Queenstown. After consulting with someone at our first stop, McDonald’s (for coffee and for Kathy, breakfast), we decided to take the inland route, by the lakes. Keep in mind, that without stops this is about a 4-5 hour journey. We left our hotel at 8am….and arrived about 6pm.We stopped at Lake Tekapou and walked along it for a while to see the old stone church. Then we visited the vistior’s bureau and headed off south. We saw an incredibly large number of sheep, also a deer farm, and lots of cattle. We stopped at the bottom of a lake to see Mt Cook, and then went on to Lake Wapatu. Then we headed to Arrowtown, a gold mining village turned tourist attraction, with old fashioned storefronts. We all had our USA jackets on, so got plenty of questions about what sport we played at every stop. We took photos, stopping whenever there was a photo op and a place to pull over.
We reached Queenstown, found our hotel, Oak Creek Resorts and checked in. Mariana and Carolina Blouin were there already. Queenstown is on lake Waikapute with the Remarkables mtn range surrounding it. Our hotel was facing the lake. We found our ro om (a 3 bedroom apt is what I’d found for the 6 of us) and walked in and started laughing…in delight. It turns out I had scored when I rented the place, it is huge with a gorgeous view, a kitchen, washer/dryer, grill outside and tables, 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms…all new, modern. We are extremely happy, feels like a movie set.
Today, Tuesday here, weplayed tennis on some asphalt courts by the airport…helicopters and jets were taking off just behind the courts, then lunched. Sherri and Kathy headed off for a jet boat experience and Susan and I took the gondola up the mountain followed by a leisurely boat tour of the lake, which was excellent, great narration and views. We passed right by our hotel room on the way back.
It feels here like a million miles from Christchurch. It is very relaxing here. There are 14000 residents and over 4 million tourists a year…and the only business here is tourism. It’s drop dead gorgeous here. There’s a great path along the lake and we can walk into town, about 20-30 minutes.
We are planning on hiking, going to Milford Sound, playing some tennis and doing some shopping the rest of this week.