Today was planned to be more relaxing....
However we were out of our room at 9am making the short stroll to the Skyline Gondola (Cable car or Chairlift to you and me). Whilst buying our tickets in a rather isolated ticketing hall, my heart sunk when in came a large coach load of Indian tourists. They promptly filled the ticket hall. We managed to get into the queue for the cable car about half way amongst them. I have no problem with coach tours except when they get in my blooming way.
We boarded our cable car and were surprisingly joined by 2 Americans who had been told allowed to move up the queue to stop the Indian tourists being split up. The Americans from Michigan were very nice and were excited to learn that Michigan is on our list of places to visit. In fact we were chatting to them so much we forgot to take in the view in the way up.
The view from the top was magnificent. We wandered around and have coffee/tea admiring the scenery. We also watched a Ledge Swing (like a bungee jump, but you swing). I told Karen the boys had offered to pay for her to do one, taking the money from the fund they have marked inheritance. There was also 'Luging' at the top which people of all ages were doing. It looked safe and great fun. I would have liked to have done it but Karen wasn't keen and it didn't seem right doing it on my own.
We then came down the cable car, alone in our car this time. We wandered back to the Motel, got in the car and drove out along what is supposedly most scenic road in NZ from Queenstown to Glenorchy. It was certainly impressive. I think that we became a bit blasé about it to be honest. It was the same when we drove from San Fran to LA with Sharon & Iain.
By now the sun was breaking through making the water in the lake appear azure blue. When we arrived in Glenorchy we decided to carry on to Paradise. This is the place where a number of the Lord of the Rings scenes were filmed.
The sign post said 7km. The first 3km were fine, then suddenly and without warning we went onto what they call in NZ unsealed roads. We would call them gravel tracks. Suddenly hitting them came as a surprise and the car bounced everywhere. I brought the speed down to 20kph and the rattling and jolting was almost unbearable. We were not the only idiots doing the drive but they were all in 4WD whilst we bounced along in an Oldsmobile as I called it (a very old Toyota Corolla). The road got worse the further we went. I had signed the rental agreement saying I wouldn't take the car off road, but somehow this felt even worse than doing that. The higher the road went the lower the clouds seemed until it started to rain.
By now Karen was starting to really get the jitters. The car felt as though every screw and bolt was being jolted loose. Still I decided to carry on determined to take Karen to Paradise. After 15 long drawn out minutes we made it.
There was nothing there. Literally nothing. We drove on and still nothing. We turned round, and stopped back at the Paradise village sign. We ran out in the rain took a picture and began the arduous journey back to civilisation.
Karen's knuckles were white holding onto the seat until we finally reached made up roads again. By the time we got back to Glenorchy the weather was glorious again.
The Lake at Glenorchy was beautiful and a couple were having their wedding pictures taken with fantastic colours of the water behind them. We had a bit of a wander and ended up in one the Hotels having a traditional Kiwi pie for our lunch.
We then took the lovely drive back to Queenstown stopping a couple of times to admire the view.
A quick cup of tea back in our room later we decided to stroll into Queenstown a bit earlier in order to secure a table for dinner, We went to a bar called 1876 which was set back from the actual Lake. We ended up sharing a table with a young lad from the UK who was working here and a older couple who lived in Queenstown. They were all good company. I am glad to report we had a really good steak meal that was excellent value.
We then wandered the streets with Karen purchasing a T Shirt she had spied the day before. We walked to the end of the marina and then the Lakefront walk around the outside of the gardens. It was idyllic and for me, sitting with Karen in the setting sun looking over the beautiful sights laid out before us was all I wanted this trip to be about. We both miss our boys a lot when we don't see them and I know this is just starting to hit Karen at the moment, but for both of us just sitting on that bench I think is a moment we will both cherish for a long time. It made all the sacrifices we have had to make to be here worth it.
Queenstown has grown on me a lot. I really like place and would be very happy to return. It seems to have something for everyone. I especially like how everyone congregates around the beach and marina area around sunset. Nationalities/colour/race/religion doesn't seem to matter amongst anyone here. Everyone is friendly, everyone speaks to everyone else and everyone seems to get along. This especially seems to be true amongst the backpackers who you see just sit down with each other and then introduce themselves and within a few minutes are sharing a drink and a laugh. I like that, a lot.