Once you’ve explored the lakefront village and walked the streets checking out the shops, it’s time to take to the sky to see more of this charming town. Today we headed out to the Skyline Gondola to gives a bird’s eye view of Queenstown from the top of Bob’s Peak. It’s a gorgeous, sunny day and it’s even a bit warm outside. Now THIS is an awesome day!
Queenstown is very busy right now. It’s summertime here and the tourists are everywhere. We have a hard time even finding a parking spot at the gondola so the guys drop Mary and I off and they keep searching. There’s an old cemetery right near the entrance to the ride. Both of us love old cemeteries so we decide to take a walk through it while we waited. There are really, really old graves here. Some go back to the 1600s and reading thee tombstones will give you a glimpse into the history of Queenstown.
The guys finally arrived and we went inside to purchase our gondola tickets. The tickets cost $59 NZD per person just to ride up and down on the gondola but we’re only going to be here once and it’s a perfect day to view the city from the top so we pay up and get in line. Before we know it we are quietly ascending the mountain in the gently swinging car.
The ride is just about five minutes long and when we arrive at the top we head into the large building that houses two restaurants, shops, a movie theater and some interesting artwork. There’s even a Jelly Belly store where we just had to stop and pick up some tasty treats and, of course, get our photos taken. Yes, we really are just four big kids out here.
Our first plan of action is to head out to the balcony to get a look at Queenstown from this beautiful spot. We make our way outside and WOW! Just WOW! Boy is this ever a spectacular view! It is well worth the price of admission to be sure. And even though it’s pretty crowded here, everyone seems to be pretty respectful of each other. Well, not exactly everyone but for the most part the people take in the view for a moment, snap a few pics and move on to make way for the next person.
Here at the top of Bob’s Peak they have lots of activities where they will be happy to take your money to allow you to participate. The two biggies are bungy jumping and the luge. They also rent mountain bikes where you don’t have to worry about going up the mountain, you just get to ride down it. That’s my kind of mountain riding there. And, there’s plenty of interesting hikes and places to explore as well. We, however, chose to leave the dangerous sports to others and we explored the Stratosfare Bar where we enjoyed the view with a couple of ice cold beers.
After a couple of hours on the mountain we took the gondola down and decided it was time to head back into town to see what’s happening. It is super crowded with people everywhere! I guess everyone wants to enjoy the beautiful day here and you can’t really blame them.
Mary wanted to do a bit of shopping so we roamed the streets and moseyed in and out of the little stores as she sought the perfect gifts for family and friends back home.
And, of course, all that shopping made us a bit on the thirsty side so we decided to stop back at Póg Mahone’s Irish Pub to wet our whistles with a few pints.
Uncle Jack has been eyeing this large steamship that comes in and out of the dock here. He seems rather fascinated by it so he and Dan take off to see what it’s all about. They come back and tada! We have tickets to take a ride on the TSS Earnslaw. Ticket price: $70 NZD per person for a 1½ hour cruise around Lake Wakatipu.
Her maiden voyage took place in October of 1912 and due to a painstaking restoration process she looks exactly as she did over 100 years ago. The Earnslaw is the only hand fired steamship in operation in the southern hemisphere. And she’s beautiful! There are observation areas over the engine where you can watch the hands below deck shoveling coal into the massive furnaces. It was pretty awesome to see even if it was a bit hot! There are other observation areas where you can watch the men working on other parts of the ship as well as a museum of sorts that has lots of photos and interesting artifacts. The Earnslaw has even been in several movies, including a cameo appearance in Indiana Jones. I thought she looked familiar!
There’s a cafe on board where you can pick up light sandwiches, tasty sweets, sodas, wine and beer. And if you’re up for the full monty you can purchase a ticket that allows you to get off at the Walter Peak Farm, take a farm tour and enjoy a meal there as well. We chose to just do the cruise but if we went back this is something we’d definitely consider. It’s quite lovely there.
The cruise on the Earnslaw was truly wonderful. We got a chance to see Lake Wakatipu from a whole different side and we learned a lot about the history of this amazing steamship. As we departed Dan and I couldn’t help but stop to have a quick chat with Captain Laurie. He’s been operating her for quite sometime. He was even kind enough to stop for a photo with us.
From here it was on to find food. Seems we’re always looking for beer and food on this trip. We found a cute little Mexican joint called the Coyote Grill and stopped in for some very tasty dinners. It was the first Mexican food we’ve had in this country that actually tastes like real Mexican food. Most of it here is not even the slightest bit spicy and they use coriander instead of cilantro which gives everything a much sweeter taste. This place, however, was wonderful and pretty authentic and very yummy!
With our bellies full we went back to the house to pack and prepare for the next leg of our journey. Tomorrow it’s off to Christchurch!
Captain Dan & Jilly