We flew down to Queenstown for a 5 day visit between March 17 and March 21 with an excursion over to Milford Sound. Triple bonus: the day we arrived was St. Patrick's Day, the day we left was a public holiday giving Otago (Queenstown's "province") a long weekend, and best of all, the weather was incredible all weekend. I shot over 1000 photos and 2 hours of video.
|View from our apartment's living room across Lake Wakatipu towards the Remarkables|
|Pog Mahones Irish Pub at 4:00pm on the nose|
We spent a few hours wandering around the boutiques on the Mall (a pedestrian street in the middle of town) and surrounding streets. The shopping was actually pretty decent.
Undoubtedly, there was a heavy presence of Asian-run Kiwi souvenir shops and hawkers of All Blacks and Super-14 rugby shirts, but there was also a good selection of merchants selling higher quality merino wool clothes and coolest of all, sports stores catering to the extreme sports enthusiast. Need a sleeping bag smaller than a bottle of beer and have $2000 to spare? What about a bungee jump head-cam or a frisbee-golf basket? The stores along Shotover Street seemed to stock all manner of accessory for the Queenstown thrill seeker.
We were up early on Friday morning as I had booked an excursion to Milford Sound for that day. I had decided to splurge on a flight over the Southern Alps to Milford Sound, as the alternative was a 4 hour bus trip there and back. Despite beautiful weather in Queentown, conditions at Milford Sound were awful and our trip was postponed until the next day.
|TSS Earnslaw Steamship built in 1912|
|Aboard the TSS Earnslaw|
|Walter Peak Station|
|Foreboding Sir Walter Peak|
|Cassandra feeding a stag|
|Mackenzie feeding a merino lamb|
Our next stop was a paddock with 9 or 10 different breeds of sheep. Our guide schooled us on the pros and cons of the different breeds - for instance, merino is prized for its fine wool but are disease-prone and don't produce nice meat. Romney accounts for around 60% of NZ varieties and is valued for its hardiness as well as its fast growing wool and excellent meat.
New Zealanders are serious about their sheep. After all, sheep in New Zealand outnumber humans by a ratio of 12:1. They contribute to both the meat and wool industries. For the last decade, meat was more profitable as the clothing industry used more and more synthetic fibers, but now wool seems to be becoming more important as people are using it for insulation in houses as well as in clothing.
|Harrison feeding some Suffolks|
|The Southern Alps|
|All dressed up for our jet boat ride|
|Our boat is actually skidding across the water towards the left|
After a very complete and fun day, we retired back to our condo for more wine and a snack, but didn't make the same mistake as the night before. We devoured a delicious Japanese meal at Kappa on The Mall and on the stroll home stumbled on Patagonia Chocolates. We didn't really want to wait in line for 15 minutes to buy something but ...
|Forgive me father for I have sinned ...|
This was only the first day of our trip. We still had an eye-popping flight over the Southern Alps and a cruise up and down the Milford Sound as well as other Queenstown adventures ahead of us.