Our trip to New Zealand got off to a slow start. Our Jetstar flight was delayed two hours, one of which we spent sat on the plane. The only thing worse than flying with an infant is delayed flights with an infant. Luckily, Ella was her usual brilliant self on the plane, the 13th flight of her young life. I think Andy and I have got plane travel with an infant down to a fine science, which will no doubt be the subject of a future post!
We finally arrived at the very beautiful and new Queenstown airport around 5pm, and then went through the usual palaver of getting our rental car. Why does it always take so long to get a rental car?! It's even worse now that we need a car seat for Ella, which we usually have to install ourselves. After what seemed like an eternity (although was probably more like half an hour), we made our way to our accommodation at Pinewood Lodge, just outside of the centre of Queenstown and about a 15 minutes drive from the airport. We rented a two bedroom apartment at Pinewood, which is a mixture of dorm style accommodation and apartments. The apartment was set in a beautiful location, overlooking woodland and the town, and despite being within some backpacker dorms it was really quiet.
Queenstown is home to pretty much every adrenaline activity you can think of: bungee jumping, paragliding, jet boating, etc. Unfortunately there are only a few things that are appropriate for when you are travelling with an infant! On our first day we took the TSS Earnslaw Steamboat cruise across Lake Wakatipu to the Walter Peak High Country Farm. Lake Wakatipu is a glacial lake and is pretty cold, on average only 9-11 degrees year round. It is also one of the purist lakes in the world, I read somewhere that you'd be better off drinking water straight from that lake than drinking bottled water. The scenery while on the steamboat is very dramatic, as the lake is a beautiful deep blue colour and surrounded by mountains on all sides. Once at the farm we got to feed some animals, watch some sheep-herding and sheering, and had a high tea. A very family friendly activity! We tried to show Ella the animals but I'm not sure she is really interested in all that yet.
|TSS Earnslaw on Lake Wakatipu, docked in Queenstown|
|Feeding a sheep|
|Ella check out the animals!|
Our second full day in Queenstown we decided to do something a little more adventurous, and in the morning went on a tour of Skippers Canyon followed by Jet Boating on the Shotover River. The drive through Skippers Canyon is on a narrow road carved out of the vertical wall of the mountains that was built by miners over 120 years ago. This drive is not for those who are afraid of heights, as there are plenty of spots where you look out the window and can't see the road beside you, just a sharp drop into the canyon! The jet boating was a pretty awesome experience, zooming across the turquoise water at 80km/h, the drivers coming ridiculously close to the canyon walls. Needless to say, this is NOT a good activity to do with an infant, and luckily Bunny stayed home with Ella while Andy, Dave and I enjoyed this.
|The Remarkables mountain range in the background|
|Jet boat time!|
|An old bungee platform over Shotover River|
When we got back we all went for lunch to the famous Fergburger, serving "gourmet", humongous burgers. There is usually a massive queue at this place, but luckily when we went it seemed shorter than usual and we only had to wait maybe 20 minutes for our lunch. My burger was good, but to be honest I'm not sure what the fuss is about... I mean, really, who wants to wait ages for a BURGER? Not my thing I guess!
|Queue outside Fergburger|
After lunch we took the Skyline gondola to the top of Bob's Hill, taking in spectacular views of the town and Lake Wakapitu. While up there Andy and I did a few runs on the luge which was pretty fun. Andy wanted to race me but I'm VERY slow so there was no competition, which was probably pretty boring for him! Ella came up the gondola with us but obviously couldn't come on the luge, so spent some more quality time with her grandparents. We did see a few young kids around 2 years old going on with their parents, and they looked like they were having an awesome time, which made me look forward to when Ella is a bit older and we can do things like this with her.
|View of Lake Wakatipu from the top of Bob's Hill|
So that was basically our time in Queenstown. It's a great town in a beautiful location with a lot of activities to do (although you need a fair bit of money to do them). We definitely could have stayed longer and found a lot to do, but we had decided to split our time between Queenstown and Tekapo, about a 3 hour drive north. In the next post I'll talk about what we did while in Tekapo.