On Our Way To Queenstown
This entry was posted on 12/21/2006 3:55 AM and is filed under New Zealand.
Well, our schedule was tight because of our reservations for the
Milford Trail, so we ended up only having an overnight in Wellington,
which was a pity because it looked like a really wonderful city to
explore in depth. It had a great art museum, always free and a
sophistication reminiscent of San Francisco. It is an active
harbor town, and we spent some time walking along the waterside and
having a great dinner at the wharf (pictures below, of course).
We were in a marvelous hotel there called the Bolton Hotel. We
had views of a green hillside right behind the hotel and could look
down to an old church and cemetery right next to the hotel.
Actually a lot of Wellington was that marvelous mix of old and new
buildings right next to each other.
The hotel itself had that clean ultra-modern European flavor we both
love so much. One thing we've noticed is that almost every hotel
or motel has a kitchen in it. Here is an example of the one in
the Bolton that even has a little half-dishwasher in it too. And
a full cooktop, fan over the range, microwave - you name it! You
could live here...
One thing I (M-pod) inherited from my brother Steve is a fascination
with how things work. Here is one of my favorite movies of the
The Magic Bolton Door
Dinner was at a great restaurant called Shed 5 on the wharf. M
having prosciutto wrapped rocket (aka arugula) with calamari...
and rack of lamb (yum, but not photo-worthy) - and E having a great
salad, followed by groper on polenta with fried capers. We got
this whole story about the groper being rare in restaurants because
they are very deep sea fish and hard to catch, and if they are caught,
they open up their mouths really wide to take in a lot more water and
give added resistance, so they are hard to bring in to a boat even if
they are caught. Anyway... it was delicious...
The next day we head to the airport, and spend our waiting time doing four-handed-blogging for you...
(pause on this next image for a moment)
and off we go...
Here's Wellington from the air...
Leaving Wellington, we saw this wonderful river snaking away - pure natural art...
and this as we fly near Mt. Cook (middle of south island)..
A large part of the electicity of NZ is hydroelectric from damns and
the water coming from Mt. Cook and the alps that run thru the middle of
the island. A dry winter often leads to a summer with frequent
black outs they say.
We landed in Queensland and went to our hotel (The Queensland Hotel)
and immediately got hit with a dual and severe case of
claustrophobia. Yikes! So we began our exploration of the
town, with the quest of an upgrade in mind. We viewed 5 other
hotels (the second best being the Aurum Studios, for future reference)
- but then took one look at the new Sofitel, and well... let's just say
it's our Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's present to ourselves.
Here for instance is the bathroom...
and please take careful note of the waterproof television above the jacuzzi bath tub for two...
The room is spacious and zen-elegant and we are in heaven.
They even have espresso machines in each room with your choice of 6
kinds of coffee (in pods ready to espress).
So - we have two nights here before the tramp (as they call hikes), and
they'll store our luggage, and we have that tub to look forward to when
we return - for four more nights.
Queenstown itself is very wonderful - though it is bloody cold! Feels like it could snow any minute now, even though it is the height of
their summer. Here's a sunset looking out over the lake from night two here...
The town and environs feel like a cross between Aspen and Switzerland.
We've got our packs all ready to go and our
beautiful one set of thermal clothes for the 5 days all ready to put on
tomorrow morning. We've got two walking poles each, a water
bottle (which they say you can fill right from the river, imagine
that!), and our gloves, hats and scarves. The weather outlook is
mixed, we'll probably experience the whole gamut of sun to rain, but
they say that the rain is really a beautiful thing while hiking because
the waterfalls are so magnificent. We're hoping to take a 35
minute helicopter ride back from the trek instead of a 5 hour "coach"
ride. But they will only fly if the conditions are permitting it.
Looks like an interesting group of people joining us
for the hike. The age group seems pretty mixed between young and
older and there were only about 16 here but we pick up another group at
Te Anau. It will be curious to see who we bond with. We're
staying in "deluxe ensuite" accommodations which mean that we have a
non-fancy room with private bath. It was that or bunk beds and
you know what we chose. Two princesses go trekking...
We get to come back to this gorgeous Sofitel Hotel
and stay for 4 more nights, so that will be a great treat. Did we
mention that each room also has a large possum comforter draped
on a comfy chair? Possum are
considered major pests here and there is a huge effort going on to
eradicate them. They use their fur in everything - comforters,
gloves, hats, scarves, slippers, jackets etc. and nobody seems to mind
buying it or wearing it. It's incredibly soft! Who would
have thought that??? They're anxious to rid their island of this
devastating animal that eats their precious trees, plants and kiwi
birds. And interestingly, in Australia, the possum is considered
endangered and can't be hunted at all. If only they could ship
their possums over there!
A sunset from night one...
Be back in a few days...