Another day of my New Zealand adventure beckoned when the alarm went off early this morning to reveal a clear but cold day. 2 degrees when I awoke and 4 degrees when the mighty Yaris cranked up to head to Queenstown turned into a day much like a Brisbane winter day: warm in the sun, bright blue sky and cold in the shade.
After bidding my excellent hosts at Beersheba farewell, an executive decision was made to go off the main highway and follow the Southern Scenic Route to Queenstown. Those who know me well will readily acknowledge that a risk taker I am not and I never take the road less travelled when an easier route presents. This time I am glad I went against my usual instinct because the drive to Queenstown today is the new highlight of the trip so far by panels.
The first hour and half was filled with breath taking mountains on either side, small creeks to cross and the obligatory camper vans to pass. Lumsden was my pit stop spot and I enjoyed the fare at the local cafe immensely: equally the cafe was freezing inside and I was happy to get back in the Yaris and push on.
The last 45 minutes of the drive presented easily the most breathtaking scenery I have ever seen in a drive. Lake Wakatipu and the drive around it was just amazing. There are no other words. Whilst I had to concentrate on the road as it is windy and, due respect presumed, the camper van drivers were on struggle street at every turn in the road a new improved view presented itself. Nonetheless after a while I found it necessary to stop at one of the lookouts and spent some time taking all of the scenery in. Of course I took a heap of photos which I will publish soon (need to work out how to get pictures from memory card to iPad).
I have committed myself to going back along the road whilst I am here (Queenstown is my base of operations for the next six days) to spend some time taking it all in and to take some more pictures.
I am staying in this part of the trip at the Rees Hotel which is a very new hotel about 5 mins from the city centre of Queenstown. To say I am chuffed with my digs would be an understatement. I reckon there are about 10 people in the hotel, everything is new and the view is immense (twitter followers can check out the photo @shumpty77). Also, because the place is new, the staff are bending over backwards to be helpful which is good now but may become grating by the end of the week!
All in all I think the next six days are going to be wonderful and to say I like Queenstown would be an understatement. I have no set plans for each day yet but know I am heading to Arrowtown tomorrow to test out the renowned Saffron restaurant and have a bit of a look around.
Also today I was sad to learn of the passing of Jim Stynes. He was a great AFL player and his efforts after his retirement should be a road map for all retired sportsmen. He will be sorely missed by not only the AFL community but the broader community at large. RIP Jim.