Queenstown – a jewel in the crown.

“Whenever I get stressed I just want to hop on a plane to Queenstown.” – John Travolta

At Wanaka we had a good lunch but it was just a rest stop from Haast to Queenstown and we were glad to be on our way, away from the tourist trap. And what a way it is – the shortest route is the highest one , following the route of the Cardrona river. It needs good weather conditions to travel and this day it was mostly overcast but dry.

Leaving lake Wanaka behind and taking the high road along the gold mining trail towards Cardrona but before then the sight of miles of blue and pink Russell lupins meant stopping just to gaze in wonderment. Photographers love them as do farmers as they provide cheap food for sheep but of course these are technically invasives and environmentalists have called for them to be eradicated and the landscape restored. As compromise Otago Council plan sustained control programmes, rather than eradication.

Onward and upward as the saying goes and through Criffle and Crown Ranges with a summit altitude of 1076 metres – but what goes up must come down and several extreme hairpin bends slow the descent significantly enough to catch sight of Queenstown and lake Wakatipu – it’s not a moment for the camera though!

Queenstown sits on the shore of Lake Wakatipu among dramatic alpine ranges. It’s rumoured that gold prospectors – captivated by the majestic beauty of the surrounding mountains and rivers – gave this now cosmopolitan town its name.

The next couple of days gave us time to rest and enjoy not being on the road for awhile. We were tourists and so did touristy things from exploring the lakeside botanical gardens:

to taking a trip on the steamship T.S.S. Earnslaw. This ship used to take people, goods, and sheep to all the settlements along the length of the lake – a journey of several days but now it only calls in at Glenorchy.

TSS Earnslaw – a 1912 Edwardian vintage twin screw steamer plying the waters of Lake Wakatipu. The only remaining commercial passenger-carrying coal-fired steamship in the southern hemisphere.

The lake occupies a single, glacier-carved trench and is bordered on all sides by tall mountains, including the very rugged ‘Remarkables’ and the highest peak of Mount Earnslaw (2819 metres).

Having already taken so many photos, I gave the camera a rest for our visit to nearby Arrowtown -this wild West looking gold rush town has a museum that fills in all the details of what life for prospectors was like back in the mid to late 1800s

Fifteen hundred miners were camped noisily beside the Arrow River by the end of 1862. 12,000 ounces (340 kgs) of yellow treasure were lugged out by the first gold escort in January 1863. (This load alone was worth $18 million at today’s prices)

Arrowtown – then and now

Queenstown (Tahuna/shallowbay) is so inviting and perhaps inundated with too many tourists but despite that, we found space and hospitality enough to really enjoy these rest days before heading East.
(Postscript: With the isolation that Covid 19 brought to Queenstown there is now significant unemployment but a number of workers are seeking alternative employment de-pining the local environment – more of that in the following post)

Next Stop: Omarama and the kind of light photographers and artists dream of!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Diana Studer says:

    Good to hear about people finding new ways to earn a living.
    I was reading about Afghan women – having fought into a niche selling street food, they have changed to sanitising streets against COVID


    1. Needs must – sad to think that this lovely bustling town has an employment problem now
      from m 1.1% to 18% in a year


  2. So many things have changed due to Covid. These are really nice photos, what a beautiful area.


  3. thank you – so much beauty everywhere especially on the South Island (in my view)


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