Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Queenstown, Milford Sound & the Southern Alps: Day 3 & 4

After a few early mornings and a busy 48 hours in Queenstown, the last part of the trip was all about R & R. We lounged in our condo for most of the morning before heading out to Starbucks for our caffeine fix.

Beautiful afternoon over Lake Wakatipu
The girls were convinced that the shops had still more hidden treasures, so we agreed to part ways for the afternoon. Harrison and I rented a Segway for a few hours. This included a short lesson (it's so easy to learn), a guided tour around Queenstown and then a few hours on our own.

Although pretty high on the geek-o-meter, these things were so much fun to drive around. No one has quite figured out if these things should be characterized as a motorized vehicle (and hence requiring a license, etc) or not. For the most part, we cruised around biking and pedestrian trails. Pedestrians would greet us either with a smile and an uttered "Cooooool" or a silent look of scorn at disturbing their walk/pedal through the park with a stand-up motorcycle.

At the end of the tour, we were turned loose in the Queenstown Gardens. We zipped around the lakefront and took in an authentic disc golf course.

The 9th hole
I had no idea this was a legitimate sport with it's own professional association (the PDGA). Anyways, if you had your own disc, it was free to play, but we were too busy on our Segways.

Crystal-clear water in Lake Wakatipu
Reunited with the girls, we returned to our condo for wine and downtime. The inertia factor was running very high, but I managed to rally the troops for an outing to pick up some world famous Ferg Burgers.

Ready to go drinking!
On the way, we grabbed a drink in Minus 5, a gimmicky bar in a massive freezer. The free drink was pretty lousy but it was cool to drink out of glasses made of ice, sit on animal skins on ice couches and rest your drinks on ice lounge tables. I could probably make a "40 Below" bar on my own deck next winter. You're all invited for free slushies! We had a few laughs getting all dressed up in the winter gear (including Ugg-style sheepskin boots) before heading into the bar.

Finally, the family could be denied no further and once out of our winter attire, we made a beeline for ...

This hamburger joint, nay institution, on Shotover St. is open 20 hours a day and can seat a maximum of 25 people (my estimate), but must serve several hundred huge burgers per hour. In our 5 days in Queenstown, there was always a line out the door.

The Hungry Hoard is distracted by 80s music videos.
Despite the enormous demand, our 5 individually crafted burgers were ready in about 10 minutes. We hoofed it back up the hill one last time to enjoy our Fergburgers in the comfort of our condo. What a treat!

Mackenzie says don't miss Fergburger when you're in Queenstown!
On our last morning in Queenstown, we stopped 'doing' and simply sat by the lake in the sunshine for a few hours. The kids found a nearby playground and Trish and I found a small cafe by the beach. It was an appropriate finale to an amazing trip.

The kind of view that inspires poets & painters
As I've said before, Queenstown has earned it's reputation as the tourist capital of New Zealand. Now 5 weeks later, this is still a favorite for all of us. Many tourists visit only the South Island and I will concede that although 80% of New Zealand's population lives on the North Island, the South Island, particularly the Queenstown and Fiordland (Southern Alps) areas, offers the most concentrated and spectacular New Zealand experience. We can't wait to go back!

Goodbye to Queenstown

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