Queenstown – party and adventure capital of New Zealand, or so they say. So why on earth did I want to stay here for 4 nights? Because a) I didn’t want to stay in a hostel and b) I wanted a break from the bus. So I had a look around AirBnb one night and found a very cosy looking place a little out of town with a very good price. And getting accepted within 3 minutes after requesting my dates, I thought that was a very good sign.
It was, my hostess Sarah was keeping in touch and even made sure that I got picked up by their housemate Charlie in the car when I stepped off the bus. Looking at the map, I thought, ah, it’s not far, I can walk that. What I hadn’t thought about was the fact that Queenstown is very much built on hills (and steep ones!) around the centre. So it was very good to be driven up there, as I noticed the next days – even walking up there with only my camera and some money was quite a challenge 😉
My room featured a big bed (with electric blankets! the joy after Gunns Camp!) and a built-in closet, meaning I could unpack my whole backpack for the first time in quite a while 🙂 I also had my own shower which I enjoyed immensely!
Talking to Charlie for a while in the living room, I was soon fixed for my 3 days of activities 🙂 Very good to have a local to talk to who knows what’s good and worth it and if he has a mate that does winery tours, even better 😉
So Sunday I went to the Gondola to get a view from the hill in glorious sunshine and some late breakfast/lunch. Then I went for a bit of a wander around the centre and discovered Chocolates Patagonia – the best ice cream I have had since Buenos Aires! (Now I found out that the owners are in fact from Argentina…) Dulce de Leche and Dark Chocolate Macadamia – a portion that was almost to big for me, and you know I love my ice cream!!! 🙂 Sitting on the grass, enjoying my treat, I got a text from Sarah inviting me to join them for a BBQ later. And that’s what I did, meeting some of their friends, having a good time 🙂
Monday was the day to call about the wine tour and I got a space! Before that, I wanted to get a good base and went for breakfast in one of the cafes. They had pancakes on the menu, but when I ordered them, she asked if I didn’t rather want the special – chocolate chip pancakes with fried banana. Of course I did and I couldn’t finish it 😉
Charlie’s mate Lance was driving us out to Gibbston Valley and we got to taste in 4 different wineries 🙂 Gibbston Valley was our starting point (and also the starting point of wines in this valley, thanks to a stubborn Irishman), then it was Mt Rosa (I loved that because it was a little different and rough), Kinross (where they sell the wine for smaller wineries who don’t have their own cellar door) and Amisfield (again one of the bigger ones) 🙂 . The specialty in Marlborough is Sauvignon Blanc, but the best wines down here are the Pinot Noirs! Unfortunately they are hard to find back home and sending some over was also a little bit too pricey…
There’s at least one more winemaking area on my schedule and then they have Yarra Valley outside of Melbourne… 😉 I actually met a couple from Melbourne on the tour and they gave me a lot of tips for what to do there and in Sydney!
After the wine I needed some food, so it was Devil Burger – see first Queenstown post for the review 😉 Unfortunately, it didn’t make the walk uphill easier to have a big burger just before 😛
Tuesday finally I started late and went for the empanadas I had seen before. It wasn’t the same thing as in Buenos Aires, but I had a very nice one with blue cheese and walnuts 🙂 It didn’t really suffice though, so it was a pie from the Fergbakery – which, in comparison to the burger, is a real food gem!
After all the food it was time to board the TSS Earnslaw, a steam ship operating on Lake Wakatipu, in former times bringing supplies and even sheep to remote stations – nowadays shepherding tourists to a station and bringing them back 😉 It was very interesting to look at the engine room and of course it also meant that it was nicely warm inside 😉 It had snowed on the mountains over night and there was a strong wind blowing outside.
After my boat, it was another ice cream at Patagonia and a coffee, very good choice. Thankfully, they are only around Queenstown and not all over the country – otherwise you’d have to roll me home I think 😉
Back at my room I finished up my pre-bookings for the rest of the trip, finding some quite nice-looking hostels and one which has you sleep in old train carriages 🙂 My hosts were watching tv next door and I decided to join them for a bit. I will never watch The Apprentice with the same eyes again 😉