The Thomases’ Grand Antipodean Adventure (8) – Queenstown day one

A relaxing day in Queenstown

Mercure Queenstown

Mercure Queenstown

After such busy days and new places everyday, we had organised three whole nights in Queenstown, at the Mercure Queenstown Resort hotel. This hotel had excellent lake views, and a pretty decent restaurant and bar. However the rooms were a little shabby and worn (they looked as though they hadn’t been refurbished in quite some time), and we decided against using the outdoor pool since it didn’t look very clean. However, it was a good value stay, and the lake views were well worth it. We definitely needed a restful day (we had mild travellers’ colds, possibly caught during the cold day in Sydney), so we decided it was not a day for the car. Queenstown has a lot of things to do, although rather fewer for those looking for relaxation as opposed to jet boat rides and bungee jumping.

Birds and Gondola

New Zealand has a lot of unusual wildlife. and Queenstown has the excellent Kiwi Birdlife Park, where one can see it without having to spend nights camped in the bush.

NZ Pigeon

NZ Pigeon

One is not allowed to take photos of the kiwi themselves (they are in a special nocturnal enclosure), but it was interesting to see them, and hear about their weirdness (the egg is about 1/2 the size of the female), and the fact that they seem more like hedgehogs than birds. Other highlights were seeing the rare lizard the tuatara, lots of ducks, and the yellow-headed kakariki (photo here).

Then it was time for a trip up the Queenstown gondola (the mountain cable-car type, not the Venetian type). For anyone who has been up similar affairs in Switzerland or elsewhere in the Alps, this is not a particularly dramatic ascent, although there are decent views at the top. Like everything in Queenstown, there are things for the thrill-seekers, in this case a bob-sled run.

Waterfront dinner

Waterfront dinner

Evening took us gently back into town and dinner on the lakeside (the Waterfront Bar and Bistro), and some time to relax over a nice glass of local Sauv Blanc! Views were excellent, the service great, and the food truly superb. Well worth visiting if you’re passing through.

Morning light

Morning light

That night, for some reason I woke up early in the morning, and instead of just rolling over as is normal, I got up for a look out of the window, and was rewarded with a fantastic light show over Lake Wakatipu. The next instalment – day 2 in Queenstown, and a trip out into the surrounding mountains for a short walk.


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