Renowned for being the adventure capital of NZ, Queenstown attracts cash-rich thrillseekers to its shores for skiing, jetboating, skydiving, bungy-jumping, etc. It's a costly town to be in and finding quality accommodation close to the town centre for a reasonable price proved to be a challenge. In the end, I narrowed down the activities we wanted to do in Queenstown to riding the Shotover Jet and Skyline Luge, and decided that one night in Queenstown would suffice.
Our accommodation on the night of 9 December 2019 was the Novotel Queenstown Lakeside. It would be our fourth and final Novotel for the trip. After a 520km road trip, we checked into the hotel past 2300 hrs, exhausted and longing for rest. We paid no attention to the dated state of the property nor its close proximity to Lake Wakatipu. The hotel provided us with a good night's rest and breakfast the next morning was almost as good as the other Novotel properties we'd stayed at. No eggs benedict, but they had a juicer for guests to make fresh juice from ready-cut fruits.
Owing to dangerous river conditions, the operator had rescheduled our pre-paid Shotover Jet ride from 9 to 10 December 2019. However, we learnt on the morning of 10 December 2019 that the rescheduled boat ride had to be cancelled as well because the river conditions had not improved. By then, we were quite used to weather conditions messing around with our plans, so we just took the cancellation in our stride and moved on to our next activity.
We piled into our vehicle and took a drive to Glenorchy. Touted as one of NZ's most scenic drives, we had high expectations and were not disappointed. There were various lookout points along the way and we stopped at several, namely, the Seven Mile Point Track, Wilson's Bay, Twelve Mile Delta, and Pig & Pigeon Islands Lookout Point.
We took our time on the road to enjoy the views, letting faster cars pass us. My favourite spot was the Pig & Pigeon Islands Lookout Point. No proper car park; just a place to pull over to snap some pictures. Wildflowers galore, snowcapped peaks, dreamy and idyllic lake.
When we arrived at Glenorchy, the effects of the flood were quite apparent. The car park for
Glenorchy Waterfront Reserve was waterlogged. The public toilets and park benches were partially submerged. We pulled over on a muddy, grassy area, saw what we could of the jetty, and dropped by Mrs Wooley's General Store before leaving town.
Some of the scenes in Lord of the Rings (LOTR) were filmed in Glenorchy, so there's a thriving market for LOTR tours there. Not my cup of tea, so I didn't find the town particularly interesting.
The scenic drive was rather sedate, and it was time to inject some thrill and excitement into our day. C'mon, we were in Queenstown after all! We headed straight to Queenstown Skyline Gondola & Luge for some fun. It was my younger daughter's birthday, and we had all agreed to ride with her on her special day. Our discount tickets were pre-booked through Klook, and it was a breeze getting our passes at the entrance. The passes allowed us a return gondola trip plus 5 luge rides. All of us enjoyed every minute of it, save for Grandpa Y who mounted a kerb and got stuck! As an added bonus, the view of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding area from up top were spectacular. Well worth every penny!
It was past 1600 hrs and we had a 173km journey to Te Anau ahead of us, but we couldn't leave Queenstown without trying the famous Fergburger first. The queue at Fergburger was long, but moved quickly. We ordered a pile of burgers and a mountain of fries to go. Bring your appetite if you're going to Ferg's. They are really generous with their portions. My god! Each burger was the size of a small person's head!
The receipt came with a 10% discount off Mrs Ferg Gelateria. We were blown away by the vast choice of flavours at the ice cream parlour, and couldn't resist double scoops each. The gelato was rich and creamy. Sinful treat!
We arrived in Te Anau at 2000 hrs, just in time to pick up a birthday cake and some groceries from the Freshchoice supermarket before they shut at 2100 hrs. That evening, we relaxed at our accommodation, having dinner with birthday cake, shooting darts and doing a much needed load of laundry!
Our accommodation at Te Anau was a 3-bedroom 2-bathroom house called Blue Mountain Getaway which I had found on Airbnb. I had made the booking before my in-laws decided to join us. As the house didn't have a fourth bedroom, my in-laws stayed in a separate place in town for those 2 nights. The Blue Mountain Getaway was a brand new property, purpose-built for guests to have wonderful memories in Te Anau. The house was modern, the kitchen was fully-equipped (yes, there was a rice cooker as well), and the laundry facilities were functional for a large family. It was my favourite accommodation for this trip.