After the most refreshing night’s sleep we slowly got moving this morning with a breakfast of yogurt and fruit and headed out for the day’s exploration of the area. We thought we’d begin by going up on the gondola for an overview of the city. So much for that plan! While I successfully if not artfully managed to drive through city traffic and not hit any of the wandering tourists going every which way finding a parking space anywhere in the vicinity of the gondola was not to be. So, on to Plan B. We decided we’d instead head over to the Botanic Garden and wander around. Parking was obtained and off we strode. A lovely garden walk along a stream and a lagoon of the lake gave us a beautiful vista. We were amazed at the sequoia trees we came across as well as the many other lovely flowers in bloom. What a change from a garden still asleep under snow at home. Wandering back to the car we met a charming young woman pushing her daughter along in her stroller. She introduced herself as Jodie and her daughter was Sequoia. Now, there are tourists everywhere here so we generally ask where they are from if we join in conversation. Turns out she was Welsh and came here to hike, randomly stopped to ask a guy if it was ok to park her van along the way and when he came knocking on the van the next morning with breakfast in hand she was smitten! He’s from Brazil and they’ve now been married for 8 years and have two children and are permanent NZ residents.
After that delightful conversation we jumped into our little car and drove along Lake Wakatipu on which Queenstown resides. It’s the third largest lake on the country with the most amazing blue water with striking views all along the drive. Luckily I was feeling more confident driving on the left even with the narrow, winding road. Along the drive we got our best laugh of the day when we came upon a rental van painted like an old hippie van and across the back end it stated “Horn broken – Watch for finger”!! Ha! We must have laughed for ten minutes over that. We continued on clear up to Glenorchy at the far end of the lake, but by then were hungry. We meandered into the Glenorchy Cafe and had the most delicious veg sandwich imaginable. After that, a walk along the lake was in order. We didn’t ramble long as the wind had really picked up and blew the heck out of us.
So, back to the car to drive back to the city to try once again for the gondola. And this time luck was on our side! We found parking literally steps from the entrance. Up we went to the top where the views were stupendous! As we sat on a bench gazing out two beautiful sisters from Israel came by and as we offered to take their picture we began to chat. One of the sisters had recently moved to Sydney, so they decided to travel here together.
Eventually we determined we ought to begin moseying back down but got totally distracted when we met a woman named Bliss from Atlanta. Well, many folks think I’m a talker and never met a stranger, but so is Dian and so was this woman. She was standing along this walkway that was over the “luge” course. Ok….I have to digress here a bit… Some of you know I enjoy doing some risky things but after breaking my shoulder while rafting the Zambezi River a year or so ago I decided I would forgo such things while here, even in the home of many extreme sports. After all, this is where bungee jumping began. So, no, none of that for me! But on this mountain one could bungee jump, parasail, mountain bike down, or ride down these crazy paved paths on sled like things. But back to Bliss… She was standing there to take a video of her husband and daughter as they zoomed past. Well, we hit it off and just gabbed so long that her husband and daughter finally met us after they had gone down and back up three times! Turns out her husband was Martin Savage from CNN. Their daughter has moved to NZ to work for a year. Eventually we said or good byes and road the gondola back down, still awed by the view.
Next was a stop at the supermarket for food for supper, but this time including some delicious NZ wine.