Walking Queenstown and BBQ Bus

Oops! It looks like I forgot to write yesterday. Here’s what happened:

We woke up early and took the taxi to the airport. From Auckland, we flew to Christchurch and then on to Queenstown. Once in town, we hopped a shuttle to our hotel (Heritage Queenstown) and dropped off our luggage. Since it was too early to check-in, we walked back to town (the hotel us up a hill and a little ways down a road from town). We walked all over and bought lunch at the “super” market. We walked back to our hotel to get checked-in, then back to town for more walking. At some point in there (probably sitting in the park looking at the lake) we got a bit of a sunburn. Dinner was at Winnies for pizza and cider.

This morning we got up a little early to meet the BBQ Bus in front of our hotel at 7:05. The driver, Allen, was right on time and drove us around town to pick up the other passengers — a Brazilian woman, a Korean man, and an older couple from the U.K. (Manchester, I think). Once we were all loaded up, we began the drive to Milford Sound.

Allen gave us a great commentary on the Gold Rush history of Queenstown and the surrounding areas. Our first stop was in Te Anau, the Gateway to the Fiordland where we had morning tea. Once everyone was ready, we headed back out on the road. There were several stops along the way for photo ops and a couple hours later we stopped for a hike and lunch.

While we were out exploring the fern encrusted forests, our driver was BBQing beef kebabs and sausages. Lunch was simple (meat, bread, coleslaw, and macaroni salad) but it really hit the spot, especially in the rain.

The drive continued into forests and glacier-carved valleys. After passing through a long tunnle, we stopped for some more pictures. There, we met some Kea (mountain parrots). The birds were pretty big and very curious. They love to jump right up on cars and try to pull the window seals out. The drive from the tunnel down to Milford Sound wasn’t too much farther, but we did make a quick stop at the Chasm.

We arrived at the boat just in time to board and take a cruise around the fjord. Unfortunately, it was rainy and cloudy so we couldn’t see the tops of the mountains around us. The waterfalls were sure great however. The boat took us right to the edge of the Tasman Sea (between New Zealand and Australia) and back. We only saw fur seals, but penguins, dolphins, and whales also frequent the area.

The drive back was much faster with only one stop in Te Anau. I’m sure tired, but we really and a great day — one that will certainly be hard to beat on this trip, or any other.