As stated previously, Queenstown is a nice town with a large lake, ringed by mountains with trails, parks and gardens aplenty. We spent some time wandering around just admiring the scenery: even if we weren’t taking part in all the exciting activities doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to watch others! (After all, half the fun of bungy jumping is watching others launch themselves off before you. Or so people tell me anyway.)
As a side note we were ridiculously lucky with weather for pretty much our entire time in New Zealand. Talking with other backpackers that we ran into in later towns, we learned just how fortuitous our travel schedule turned out to be! Basically our only two rainy days were while hiking Franz Josef glacier (brr!) and the day we arrived in Dunedin. We had cloudy days sometimes, but for the most part, we had brilliant sunshine. Hurray for my travel weather karma holding true!
Anyway, so we took a walk around a sort of peninsula in the lake, in a garden. I love the way that parks like those have such well-maintained non-asphalt paths, usually crushed gravel. It probably makes things horrible for cyclists, but as a pedestrian, it’s nice to feel like you’re walking through the wooded areas without intruding so much. Better still, tonnes of residents use those paths — especially the ones down by the lake — to walk their dogs! We saw many a happy smelly chasing sticks thrown into the lake by owners, or just running joyously alongside their humans. I think that, more that anything else, gave The Boy pangs of homesickness. (After all, there were slutty kitties pretty much everywhere available for us to cuddle.)
We found a monument in the park devoted to a 1912 mission to the Antarctic, where the crew, under Captain Scott, never made it back. The monument included the last messages (I think from diaries?) and it seems so strange that such a brave expedition be commemorated in such a tucked away sort of corner. We were glad we found it anyway.
Back in town, there were lots of green spaces and fun, narrow streets to wander as well. Saturday morning, there was a crafty market along the wharf which was wonderful. I got to speak with two ladies who were spinning art yarns (although sadly I only bought yarn from one; but oh, it is luscious yarn!) and there were even dueling buskers!
We actually felt bad about that because there was a girl who had been singing while her bandmate played guitar at one end of the stalls, and then a man accompanying himself on guitar at the other end of the quay. The girl quit, which we were grateful for because she wasn’t very good, but another girl replaced her, and brought a mic, so the poor guy at the other side had to give up because he was being drowned out.
By that point, we had finished our shopping and were sitting on the patio of a chocolaterie-gelateria-cafe that had the most reliable (and fast! fast enough for pictures!) wireless we found in Queenstown. Of course the hand made chocolates didn’t hurt either…
In general, I have to say that the food in New Zealand, while expensive, was generally very good. For one thing every salad we were served was fresh and contained more than just lettuce — not once while we were there did someone serve me iceberg lettuce. It drives me crazy that for all North America’s talk about eating more veggies, side salads are inevitably horrible, lifeless things; just a shredded nest of iceberg, with maybe some carrot grated in. Worse still are those little plastic tubs of mayo-drenched coleslaw. That is not a vegetable! How hard is it to offer customers some fresh greens with actual cut up veggies in them (roast beetroot! avocado, for those who like it!) and a dressing? Argh.
We even found two places (two! although we only tried one) that sold poutine. Technically, I suppose it wasn’t, since they didn’t use cheese curds, but it was delicious, especially with their addition of garlic.
On our last day in town, we even found a pub that was doing trivia in the afternoon (hurray!) and excitedly headed out (we were Team Spudnik! because The Boy vetoed the name Team Discovery Channel) but… our performance was so shameful we left early to head over to Fergburger (review to be posted soon).