Shumpty on tour: the trip review

Today dawns as the final day of my 12 day trip to the South Island of New Zealand which leaves me to reflect on this trip and to consider the good, the bad and the ugly from being on tour:

The Good

New Zealand in general

I just love this place so it is easy for me to say that as a travel experience New Zealand ticks all of the right boxes. Specifics to follow.

The food

As establish in earlier blogs, I love food but am no gourmet. That said the food I have experienced on this trip has been nothing short of excellent. From “the best meal of my life” at Saffron through to the simplest cheese toastie at the cafes of small towns like Milton and Roxborough, everything put in front of me on plate has been eaten with relish and joy.

The drives

I had never really considered New Zealand as a place to come for a driving holiday but two particular drives left me breathless and my palms more than a bit sweaty: Invercargill to Queenstown by the Southern Scenic Route and Queenstown to Wanaka over the Crown Range. The former gets the nod because of the sheer beauty of the scenery that invades your senses as you drive first through lush farming country and then along side Lake Wakapitu. The later is a windy, curving drive over the range which had me holding my breath in the mighty Yaris on more than one occasion.

The people

Aussies and Kiwis have had and will always have a love hate relationship. That point acknowledged, and this is something that also came through on my last trip to these shores, every person I met on the trip was always keen for chat, willing to help and always had a smile on their face. It is the people of New Zealand that will get me coming back again.

The bad

Camper van drivers

As regular readers will be aware a lot of time on this trip has been spent on the road. Which has meant a large amount of time has been spent behind Camper vans. Now I appreciate that the roads are narrow in points and a camper van is a heavy piece of machinery to drive but it must be said that the most worrisome moments I had whilst running the Yaris around NZ were when I encountered camper vans. Education program’s for their drivers are a must me thinks.

The ugly


The only really negative of my whole experience in New Zealand was seeing the plethora of hitchhikers waiting desperately for lifts on the side of the road. No doubt a large part of tourism in NZ is back packer based however it struck me that such a large number of young people begging for rides, particularly young ladies, is just a recipe for danger. Forgive me for getting on the pulpit on this it it was just something that bothered me every time I saw it and I was seeing it every day.

All in all though I have had one of the best holidays I have had on this trip. A measure of how good any holiday one has, I think, is how you feel on your last day of said holiday. I feel refreshed, relaxed and ready for home: which indicates for me that this has been a pretty good trip.

Thank you all for reading. I hope you have enjoyed this blog as much as I have enjoyed writing it.


Shumpty on tour: the best meal of my life and Stephen Fry

Today was my last full day in Queenstown and was another lazy one with the only items on the agenda eating more good food, watching the cricket from the Basin Reserve and trying to keep warm. Lunch again was at Eichardts: I have already waxed lyrical about the food and the service and again they did not let me down. Top notch again! Travellers to Queenstown would be well advised to check this little dining room out: try the Chicken Risotto.

Followers of my twitter feed (@shumpty77) will already attest to my excitement at seeing some snow on the peaks around Queenstown and that snow was only added to throughout the day as the mercury dropped (according to my iPhone) to a maximum of 8 degrees during the day. I love this weather and found myself often gazing out to the peaks from the apartment window.

Earlier in this part of the trip I spent the day in Arrowtown and tested out the well regarded Saffron Restaurant. At that time I rebooked for 7pm tonight. What followed was the best meal of my life. Some context on that statement first: I am not a gourmet, I have a very limited palate and I hate seafood. That said I like what I like so I regularly order similar dishes because I know what will be served up will satisfy my limited palate. I should also declare now that I do not drink wine (anymore) so I have no interest at all in the wine list at restaurants in which I eat.

So the scene set I repeat the statement in the title: tonight I had the best meal of my life. So what did I have? At this point you should all add to your favourites the site for the restaurant My menu for tonight was as follows:

Entree: Spicy Lentil, Tomato and Coconut Soup
Main: Chargilled Hereford fillet of Beef
Desert: Deep fried Ginger Bread icecream

The soup, as described to me by my waiter (“you are going to love this mate”) I simply loved. I normally would need a gun pointed to my head to even try lentils but I am now a convert. The soup was smooth, the coconut clearly evident in the mix and the raita accompaniment just spot on.

I had the beef medium rare and it came out perfectly medium rare. The rib, smoked with Oak leaves, was like nothing I have ever tasted before and the Pumpkin and Whisky Pie was again spot on as an accompaniment.

Readers who know me will tell you I abhor deserts normally but to tonight the urge took me and I was not disappointed. The overwhelming taste of ginger was the mainstay of the desert which was just what I needed to top off the meal.

Let me declare now that with the first bite of my desert I was ready to declare this the best meal I had ever had. Then, 3 bites later, Stephen Fry walks in the front door with Sam Neill following shortly after.

I have read all of Mr Fry’s books and watched nearly all of his tv shows and movies (pivotal role in A Civil Action among my favourites) save for his role in Bones because I dislike the show. He would be one of the six people I would invite to my ideal dinner party (the others: my dad, my mum, Bradman, Lloyd George and an English archer at the battle of Agincourt). 20 metres away from one of my idols and what did I do: nothing. I repeat: nothing! Let me explain … On this occasion I followed my head and respected that he was just another guy out having a meal with his friends and did not wish to be disturbed rather than my heart which screamed: get over there! I immediately regretted the decision.

That said: what a bottler of a last night in Queenstown: the best meal I have ever had and I was within 20 metres of an idol. Will remember this night for a long time!

Till tomorrow.

Shumpty on tour: the road to Wanaka!

Yesterday dawned as an overcast and dreary day … A perfect day for another road trip. After breakfasting again at Eichardts Private Hotel (I have a gift voucher that still keeps on giving) and a brief pit stop to checkout the sale at Macpac (I love their gear … Would buy the store if I could), it was time for the Yaris to again do the work and get over the Crown Range to Wanaka.

Some background: the drive to Wanaka if you don’t go via the Crown Range from Queenstown is 117kms. When you go over the Range it is 59kms. So it is a hilly, curvy drive over the range and then through the valley between two of the mountains that form the range. Why Wanaka you ask? Well I retort with why not AND I wanted to see the National Transport and Toy Museum. More on that later.

The drive was an edge of your seat and sweaty palm experience! It would be in the dry but was more even more so in the wet. Forget the scenery, the glimpses of which I saw was brilliant, the actually driving experience was brilliant. The Yaris again served me well but I have to say I will be coming back here and hiring a higher powered car to do that drive again!

Wanaka is another one of these hidden gems in the Southland / Otago region that I keep finding. Set on Lake Wanaka it has some good cafes, the usual souvenir shops selling NZ paraphernalia and art and photo galleries. As I have found everywhere the people were friendly and keen for a chat.

A beef burger and a coke at the Kai Whaka Pai Cafe settled my nerves after the battling the Crown Range and after a quick walk around I headed to the Transport and Toy Museum. For the first time this tour I have to confess that this was a disappointment. So much so I declined the $12 entry fee after perusing the “free section” of the museum and return to the Yaris for the drive home.

The Queensland election and the rugby dominated the rest of my day … Both are subjects that I will canvass in blogs later today!

Today, after more of Eichardts fine food, will be a lazy day walking around town me thinks.

Till tomorrow.


Shumpty on tour: Skyline Gondola, Coronet Peak and Rugby

Apologies for the late blog, was caught up watching the first games of the Super 15 last night (those of you who missed my preview should should check out Two very close games that both went down to the last minute of the game with the Highlanders and the Rebels securing wins.

Yesterday on your saw your correspondent face a fear of heights in going up the Skyline Gondola and really test out the Yaris going up Coronet Peak. They say a picture tells a thousand words and so for today’s blog I thought I would share my favourite pictures from both places as nothing I can say could do either place justice.


This is the view from the Gondola looking towards the magnificent Lakes that surround Queenstown.


And that was the view from Coronet Peak.

Am sure you will agree that nothing I can say can improve or describe the photos which really just speak for themselves!

Today am heading to Wanaku to check out the National Transport and Toy Museum and to have a general snoop around. Will post some photos from today and more commentary tonight.

Till then.


Shumpty on tour: a slow day in Qtown

A very quiet day on tour today. Part of the idea behind this holiday was to not have too much planned and if the day dawned and I did not want to do much I simply would not. Today was an overcast and drizzly day for most of it and to be frank I did next to nothing but eat, write my preview for this weeks round of Super Rugby (viewable at and do some shopping for gifts for family and friends.

This blog is fast becoming all about food and that is fine with me: I love good food. This morning I headed into the city centre and visited Eichardts Private Hotel right on the front. I confess, as I noted on twitter, that Eichardts is not the usual place I would breakfast but the again the food was grand and the service was good. As I was dining on account of a voucher kindly given to me by a friend, it made the nosh all the more sweet. I will be back there for lunch tomorrow to check out the main menu (there are still funds left on said voucher).

A tapas lunch in the dining room at the hotel (my usual objections to tapas and other forms of shared food dissipate on holiday) was followed by a curry takeaway. No complaints about either.

As I said today was an extremely lazy day! Tomorrow will be much more interesting as I brave the Gondola. For the uninitiated I am a little bit bothered by heights, so tomorrow mornings events could be amusing for all sharing the Gondola with me!

Sorry to all for the abridged post but I really have little to say today. Bring on tomorrow!