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

Hitchhikers

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

Shumpty on tour: Arrowtown

You are going to get sick of me saying this, but today was another perfect day on tour. The sky was again clear and the weather crisp. A short road trip today to Arrowtown was on the agenda. Arrowtown had been recommended to me by two different people for the food: one recommendation was for the local bakery and the other was for the restaurant Saffron. More about them later.

Arrowtown is about more than just the food. It was, in 1862, a settlement set up to take advantage of the burgeoning gold rush in the Arrow River which runs past the town. Much of the old town remains or has been restored with the main street still cobble stone in some parts and the trees which dominate the towns skyline, sycamore and oak trees, a legacy of the early settlers in the town.

One of the high lights for me was exploring the Chinese Settlement. This was a settlement just outside the town in which immigrant Chinese miners resided from 1869 to take advantage of the gold rush. The story of their segregation from the town and the fact that some original artefacts and buildings remain from the original settlement make visiting the settlement a must for anyone visiting Arrowtown and more than a bit moving to boot!

The shopping is said to be good in Arrowtown but it must be said that is true only if you are looking for Merino wool products, the art of locals or generic souvenirs of New Zealand. The wallet stayed firmly in the pocket of this traveller save for the purchase of food.

Now, back to food, first up in Arrowtown was a visit to the bakery. The pies on offer all looked good and I decided to try the mince bolognese pie which is billed as the “best hangover cure”. Whilst I was not hungover I definitely did enjoy it.

By the time lunch time rolled around I was really looking forward to sitting down at Saffron. The wraps on the place are huge and to be honest … Totally justified!!!! Service 10 out of 10, food 10 out of 10 and the price more than reasonable! I went for the green chicken curry and it was a delight. Not so overpowering as to render the eater a mute but hot enough to leave a sting in the mouth. I liked it so much I am going back on Sunday night for dinner on my last night in Queenstown.

The afternoon was again a lazy one: TV, a few work emails and more reading of Anthony Summers’ excellent book on J. Edgar Hoover. Is a brilliant read.

The weather looks like it is turning a bit nasty tomorrow which may mean another road trip is on the cards. No plans as yet but will ponder overnight.

Till tomorrow.

Shumpty