After an exhausting day skiinig the Remarkables, rejuvenating our tired muscles with a bit of retail therapy was in order.
A day in Queenstown...
WHAT IS THERE TO DO?
Sip coffee, eat, browse sassy shops and classy fashion stores, at classy prices too.
We only succumbed to buying some souvenirs which were bound to be gifts, including one interesting rude finger toy and were not tempted by the over-inflated prices.
The shopping precinct at Queenstown is small enough to walk around in a few hours, and if you take it in in the afternoon you can then walk the short distance to the Gondola resturant complex located up on the very prominent hill
But we did take full advantage of the free attractions in the area, being the viewing of spectacular lake and enjoy its idyllic waterside location .... Why not?
Lake Wakatipu15,000 years ago during the last ice age, a huge glacier moving from the north west carved out what is now Lake Wakatipu. The lake is relatively thin, but the mountains run straight into the lake, forming a deep canyon, 399m at its deepest point.
Lake Wakatipu is the second largest lake in the Southern Lakes District, covering 290 square km. At its widest point Lake Wakatipu is five kilometers wide, and the total length is 84km.
You can even take various cruises including the "Lady of the Lake" which really gives you an idea of this wondrous piece of nature.
After one is sick of retail therapy, one can stroll a short kilometre up the hill, there is only one very prominent one, which you can't fail but see.
At the base of the Skyline Gondola which takes you to a mountian top resturant, is a Animal education centre where you can learn more about the elusive Kiwi.
|Surprisingly, sheep were grazing underfoot as we travelled up in the Gondola capsule.|
|Views were getting better all the time. One can see that Queenstown is a tourist town.|
|The Remarkables hiding under cloud...|
|Up we go... from inside the capsule...There has been a Gondola here for many years, in fact we met a couple who were revisting the Gondola ( their first visit was 40 years ago)|
Probably Queenstown's most famous thrill-seeking activity is bungy jumping (also known as bungee jumping), where a long elastic cord is attached to the ankles or harness, and the person jumps off a large height. New Zealand was brought to the forefront of adventure sport when AJ Hackett opened the first commercial bungy jump from the Kawarau Bridge, 43 metres (141 feet), over the Kawarau river.
The Queenstown area houses three bungy sites, apparently the jump off the top of the gondola was moved around the mountain due to the graveyard below, and the inappropriate screaming during burials... This particular jump starts 400m, that's 1300ft! over the city, and you can choose to jump normally, or swing over the township, night or day.
Bungy jumping was inspired by David Attenborough's 1950's footage of the land divers of Pentecost Island Vanuatu, who tied vines to their ankles and jumped off tall platforms as a religious ceremony to bring a good harvest.
Beware the Luge rides close at 5pm so if you plan to do the luge before dinner, arrive early.
Mercure Hotel Queenstown
This hotel is located out of the main shopping area, a long walk from the town centre, but wonderfully located on the lake and includes some really pretty views out from the Dining room window. The shame is that this dining room is only used at nighttime, when you won't see much ... except black water and a few nightlights!!
If you stay at the Mercure and want meals after hours, you can eat at the bar which really has just some light adult orientated snacks or order Room service. I chose the cheapest item on the Room Service menu which was Garlic bread and it came covered with a stainless steel warmer cover, with tomato sauce spill congealed on the inside as if it had not been washed.... Reported it to the Kitchen staff and on departure, was slapped with an additional charge, so mentioned the congealed Tomato sauce and the fee was waived. At least they did that right.
You will have to taxi to and from the main centre if you stay here, but the desk staff are helpful and the views are wonderful.They have a gym, with a view, a sauna and swimming pool which on account of the prevalence of rain in Queenstown, is not very often used, and is located in the inner grounds of the complex.
The last long look at the Remarkables finally peeping out from behind the cloud. Why could they not have shown their face when I was up at the veiwing platform at the Gondola.??
Maori LegendThe Maori legends state that the giant Matau was burnt to death in his sleep after he abducted a chief's daughter, burning a massive hole in the ground and melting the ice and snow of the surrounding mountains, forming the lake. The lake is a large "S" shape, like a giant, curled up and sleeping on its side. Matau's head rested at Glenorchy, at the north of the lake, and his feet south in Kingston. Queenstown sits on Matau's knee.
One of Wakatipu's mysteries is the rise and fall of the lake by about 12cm (5") every five minutes. Legend states that a Giant's heart is impossible to destroy, and causes this rise and fall, while science says it is due to fluctuating atmospheric pressures. But across the lake from the town below Cecil Peak is a little island visible only from up close, from above, or from a different angle. Some say Hidden Island is the still beating heart of the Giant Matua...
The Maori people first inhabited the area in a search for food, ponamu or greenstone, and the flightless Moa. The north of the Lake is one of six of the country's main sources of greenstone.
Something to ponder about....