From Franz Josef, we continued down the west coast of the South Island to Haast. After an early lunch we headed up into the mountains and over the pass towards Wanaka and Queenstown. That factual description of the trip doesn’t really begin to capture the beauty of the coast road, my regular desire to stop and take photos, nor Amy’s occasional informative comments that the pass closes at 6pm and perhaps that was enough photo stops.
We paused for coffee just outside Wanaka and went into The Puzzling World, a curiosity of an attraction featuring a maze and a series of rooms with sloped walls, holograms and other optical illusions. The slightly queasy nature of the exhibit wasn’t massively helpful for our trip up and down to Queenstown, but after we settled our stomachs it was time to finish the drive.
Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand, but having sky-dived in Cairns, kayaked in Abel Tasman, and helicoptered onto a glacier in Franz Josef, we were reasonably well adventured. That just left a jeep excursion to Lord of the Rings film sights (including dressing up in elf cloaks and fighting with swords), a coach and boat trip out to the Doubtful Sound in Fiordland and a hike and cycle around Lake Wakatipu. Phew. It’s tough to undersell Queenstown. Every guide we’ve read or person we’ve spoken to about it has raved about it. They’re all right. It’s an incredible place, like the most beautiful parts of Scotland, Ireland and the Alps rolled up with better weather and bluer water. Even as we were cycling around the lake I was trying to work out how I could get here every year or two for holidays. I’ll let you know if I work anything out.
After four nights though, it was time to move on.