Monday, March 31, 2008
Today is my last day in Queenstown and, as far as scenery goes...this city has certainly been the most beautiful, so far. It was kind of an overcast day, so I went into town, ran some errands, got a Dulce de Leche frappacino from the internet-charging-Starbucks-bastards and then just wandered about town for a bit. I found the local Queenstown Gardens and took a little stroll around. It was more like a park with some flowers, but it looked out over the lake and made for a nice walk.
I enjoy a nice lobelia border...
It was one of those days for me too...
Every town seems to have a lovely little bridge over not-so-troubled water.
Just an interesting looking tree along the shore...
Then a nice trail down from the park/gardens to the lake and back around to the city
I found a bar that had free internet access, so went back to the hotel, got my laptop and headed back down into town to do some research on Rarotonga (I've decided to go there before heading back to LA). Then, back up here to the hotel to wrap some stuff up, repack (always "fun") and get ready to fly off to Wellington tomorrow morning.
I've told the front desk of this hotel, from the beginning (and several times this week), that they didn't need to clean my room (since I don't really need it and didn't want people going through my room) and that I'd ask for more towels/supplies if I needed them. So, I leave each day, with the "Do not disturb" sign on the door and, each day, without fail...there is a bag hanging on my door handle with towels/shampoo and such. So, I bring them in and set each one off to the side...and there they sit.
And, I find it interesting that, with a name like this...
And stores with names like these....
That there is not one gay bar or restaurant in this town. These people helped me look too...
But, they couldn't see one from where they were sitting either.
Oh well, the town has got to have at least one fault, for God sakes.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Of course, most of us weren't smiling when the tour bus arrived at 7:15 am this morning for our five hour drive to Milford Falls (not to be confused with Wilford Brimley). Any time I mentioned I was going to Queenstown during my trip, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE said "You have to go to Milford Falls!". Far be it from me to ignore everyone. So, I waited a few days before booking my trip here because there are several tour groups that do this (all at slightly different prices) and the weather has been kinda rainy and I was hoping that it would be clearer than when I went to Arthurs Pass (although I ended up enjoying the raining day anyway). The weather report stated it was supposed to rain all weekend, but that today there would be fewer showers...so, I booked the BBQ Bus tour...
Oh yes...a tour bus that also stops and makes you lunch along the way to the boat. Not only did it not rain today (which they said it does, on average, 200 days a year in Milford Sound), but it turned out to be a beautiful day, much to the surprise of everyone, including the driver. The first few hours were a bit of a struggle for the 12 of us to keep awake because it was dark and a bit chilly, but, after some tales of the area and a wee bit of heat, we were awake and made it to our first stop in a little town to gas up and have a snack before continuing on our journey.
It was a beautiful little town called Te Anau, which is a popular hiking and boating town and the last "town" of any size between us and the next 4 hours of driving to our destination. We all had some snacks, "Tamed the Trout", and got back on the bus, before hitting our first of many scenic stops along the way.
Yes, those pictures are right side up. That is how they were reflected in "Mirror Lake"....pretty cool. Something about the elements in the water that causes the reflection to be so clear. It actually looked even clearer in my photos than it did standing there. Then, we headed around the corner to a bigger part of the lake and the water was so calm that you could see the reflection of the larger mountains even better.
I'm so glad it didn't rain or we wouldn't have seen any of this. We seemed to stop every 20-30 minutes for different areas of interest, usually something visual.
Then we stopped in a little park and the BBQ Bus did what it does best...BBQ. Well, the driver cooked, not the bus...I couldn't afford THAT bus.
After lunch, we packed stuff up and headed to a few more scenic stops...
Then, we got to the boat dock in Milford Sound, which it turns it...is not a sound at all. It's actually a fiord, but the name had already been set for years, so they kept it. Who cares what it's called when it looks like that! So, we all boarded the boat and headed out into the FIORD for the next couple of hours. Lots of purty along the way....
We got VERY close to this waterfall....VERY...
We got out to the Tasman Sea (not to be confused with the Tasmanian Devil), turned around and headed back to the dock.
We all got back on the BBQ Bus and settled in for our four hour drive back (only one stop this time). The driver even slowed down a bit along the way so I could get a shot out my window of this one area that we couldn't stop for earlier (busses aren't allowed to pull over on this particular stretch of road)...so, that was nice of him. It was such a beautiful view above the green trees, it would have been a shame not to get a shot of it...
I can see why some people might want to live here....
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Who doesn’t enjoy a local arts and crafts fair?
While waiting to board the steamship TSS Coleslaw…I mean, EARNslaw, I browsed through a variety of booths filled with local people showing and selling their wares. Wares they made, not were born with. Artists, photographers, pottery makers and the like.
Then, with the blow of a horn, the 1912 “Lady of the Lake”, TSS Earnslaw docked and we all got on board.
It took us across Lake Wakatipu (which is 52 miles long) and dropped us off at the Walter Peak High Country Farm.
The resident guide herded us over to see and feed some of the animals.
There was Mr. and Mrs. Al Packa
Doe (a deer)…a female deer.
A few of the local sheeeeeeeepppppp.
We were also advised to leave the stag alone. Evidently, it's his “Roaring”/mating season and he is prone to making a lot of noise and is pretty aggressive if agitated. I know that feeling…
Liz told me about “The Roaring”. Her sister has a farm full of stags and Liz said that she stayed one weekend during the roaring season and that the noise throughout the night was so frequent and loud, that she wasn’t able to sleep. Thankfully, ours seemed to be saving up his energy for the locals planning to sleep tonight.
Then we were taken over to meet the Scottish Highland cattle or “Old English Sheepcows, as I like to call them. They were very hairy and a bit disinterested in anyone that didn’t have food for them. The wee one was very cute, though.
From there, we were taken into the Colonel’s Homestead for tea and scones (ie, snacks). Free snacks are always welcome, even if they were just mini-pancakes with butter, bread with butter (sensing a theme?). They were tasty and I ate many…cause I could.
Then, we were taken over to one of their many sheep fields and, again, allowed to walk amongst the sheep and feed them. Then there was a demo on how the dog herds the sheep around (which was actually pretty fun…that dog runs fast/far and stares the sheep down until they stop in their tracks, once herded). Then, the guide let the kids (and anyone else who wanted to join in) “herd” the sheep up a nearby hill. So, off the kids ran, chasing the sheep through the field and up the hill.
This girl also joined in. The thing with her is that, just a few minutes earlier, one of the sheep had pooped on her foot while she was feeding another one nearby. She screamed in surprise and, of course, everyone laughed, including her. Then, while she was helping the little kids herd the sheep, she slipped in more poo on a slope and fell a bit down the hill. But, she just got up, laughed and headed back with all the other kids. You have to admire her spunk and ability to just roll with the flow, so to speak.
After that, the group was taken into a barn for a sheep shearing demonstration. I’ve seen that before and don’t really find it all that enjoyable…so, I slipped away and just wandered around the farm and took some more pictures of the grounds.
And for all of you "Mommie Dearest" fans....
"Christopher! Get...me...the AX!"
After everyone was finished watching the sheep get a shave, they all gathered out by the lake to wait for the steamship to pull up and take us back to the city.
When I boarded the boat, I noticed this cute little kid peeking through one of the interior windows...
So I played “peek a boo” with him for a few minutes and, while his mother was watching us and distracted by our game...I crawled around, took her wallet and various baby snacks out of her purse, then headed back to my seat to enjoy the lovely scenery all around us.
I 'm kidding…I left most of the baby snacks.
I’m not an animal.