Clouds over the mountains

Our final morning in NZ was wonderful as we got to see more of the beauty around Queenstown.

 As we were flying to Perth via Brisbane, Australia in the afternoon we decided to take the Skyline Gondola up to the top of one of the mountains of the Remarkables Range overlooking Queenstown. As I said previously, our first view of Queenstown was not impressive but once we had seen the beauty of the lake and gardens we had already changed our minds. When we went up the mountain all we could say is that we were ‘blown away’. We had a truly super morning.

Clouds over the mountainsA stunning view from the top station 

As we arrived fairly early we were able to get parking close to the lower gondola station and were so impressed with the friendly and professional service that we received. As Senior Citizens the gondola was stopped so that we could get on to it safely. The same thing was done for people who were infirm or had very little children with them. We have been on these in other countries but had never had this courteous service. The ride up to the top allowed us to admire the stunning views over Lake Wakatipu and to see the wind surfers flying on the thermals. It looked so relaxing.

Kite surfer over the lakeA wind surfer over the lake with The Remarkables in the background

On the way up we passed a small gondola station from where people could ride a zip line. At the top of the ride there was a large round building with a viewing 360deg viewing deck. There was also a large restaurant which seemed very popular and when we decided to have something to eat and drink later we discovered why. Their food was excellent with a large variety and we had a delicious lunch there. 

gondola stationApproaching the top station

We spent a while just taking in the magnificent views and watching people being taken for a wind surfing ride attached to a trained ‘pilot’. This would be something I would love to have done but we had a plane to catch. Soaring high above the lake and town must be so fabulous.

We left the building by a rear door to find so many more interesting things one can do on this mountain. There was a luge track which wound around from high up right down to the main building. To start a luge ride a ticket is purchased at a station beside the restaurant and then one is taken to the top on a ski lift. This was very popular with adults of all ages but it was really surprising when 2 luges stopped on the track to take selfies and of each other. The karts travel at high speed and were coming down every 30 seconds or so and how some of them got around these 2 selfish young men I don’t know. The luge riders held our attention for quite a long time as some would do everything to go as fast as possible while many were clearly not accustomed to speed and were driving so cautiously.

Ski lifts 2Restaurant on the left with the ticket station attached and ski lifts

In the Luge tunnelThrough the tunnel and down the hill

Riding the LugeWatchiing from above

Stargazing signAdvertising the Stargazing evenings

We followed the pedestrian path around the fun area and saw a sign which said that one could come up at night for star gazing. Another thing we were sorry to miss as it is something that we both enjoy. At the end of the paved path there was a forest with a footpath leading into it. We started to follow the signs which showed that it came out on the opposite side of the luge track so we began to walk into the forest. We were lucky to meet a young couple who had walked from the other end. They told us that the path was much longer than they had expected and was very steep and slippery in places. We walked just another 100m or so and returned making our way to the restaurant. At one point between the pedestrian path and the luge track was a set of metal carvings of a shepherd and his sheep.

Model of shepherd and sheep 2The shepherd and his sheep

After having some to have with a sandwich and delicious ice-cream we went back down to the lower station and were walking to our car when we saw the entrance to a small bird sanctuary and they had a sign to show that there were Kiwis there. We had been in NZ for 2 weeks but had not seen a Kiwi so we had to run into the sanctuary, see the Kiwis and left again.  As we got to the car we noted a small but attractive cemetery, right next to the most popular tourist attraction of the town.

KiwiA Kiwi

CemeteyPart of the cemetery

We drove as quickly as possible to the airport to have time to hand in the car keys annd GPS. Once we had done the handover we went to check-in and then found that we were in one of the smallest international airports we had ever seen. Passengers entered and left through the same door. There was just one runway and it was fascinating to watch a plane go one way to the end, turn around and then go past again as it took off. The airport was in the process of being extended outside, runways were being dug and there seemed to be some work on new buildings which we guessed was happening due to the speedy growth of the town as a major tourist attraction.

Snow patternsThe patterns of the snow on the mountains were beautiful. The restaurant is in the foreground

We left on time and arrived in Brisbane early evening. We were met at the airport by a cousin of mine with whom I had corresponded but not ever met. He drove to our overnight accommodation and then to an upgraded building on the river front where we had supper but, more importantly, got to know each other. He also showed me something very special, a very old family Bible with names and details of our ancestors going back over 140 years. I took photos of those pages for my own records.

The next morning we boarded our flight to Perth for the final week of our holiday.