Queenstown Part I and…Goodbye :/
12/16/10 – 12/17/10
We started the 16th with our last bus ride. It’s funny how quickly people fall into routines. I mean, there’s nothing particularly fun or exciting about riding on a bus. Through NZ the scenery is great, but even that is better absorbed on a trek or bike ride or just lying in the grass next to your tent. So what the bus really provides, other than transport, is comfort in sameness when so much else changes on a daily basis. We’d all gotten used to our seats and our seatmates (mine was a French guy for the first half and a Swiss girl for the second) as well as the sometimes grating music our driver was partial to. There was one song in particular, which I believe is by a Kiwi band called the Black Seeds, that we listened to *EVERY* day. If we hadn’t done so a few hours into the ride, someone would inevitably realize it and call out. In my opinion the song is ridiculous. Most of the words are “so cool me, cool me, cool me down, cooool me down, cooool me do-wn…” but it’s somehow so catchy and now (unfortunately?) familiar that it makes me smile just to think about. We started out the last bus drive with this.
Anyway, when we actually arrived in Queenstown, our final destination for the time being, there was cause for celebration. Not only did we reunite with the Routeburners, but some adrenaline-crazy folks were able to sign up for their activities for the next day (Queenstown is the adventure capitol…certainly of New Zealand, perhaps of the world?). The afternoon was spent exploring the town and its spectacular setting (on a lake overlooking the mountains). Our guide is just 20 but so fun and way cooler than I ever was at that age (or am now). We think she should be given a commemorative award by the NZ government. She joined me and 2 other girls for a super fun afternoon of ice cream eating (at an AMAZING chocolate shop right on the lakefront) and shopping (I am really excited about the top I got so hold on and I’ll tell you about it). After that our guide went back to her duties but the 3 of us left hopped through a few happy hours to continue sampling the NZ white wines we’ve really come to enjoy. And then it was time for our last dinner! We went out to a restaurant! And then watched one of the best sunsets I’d ever seen.
A few of us after dinner. It’s hard to say what the theme of the shot was:
The next morning was really easy-going, with some people doing activities and others, like myself, repacking their gear for the millionth time in order to bid farewell! Traveling is weird because I often meet people I really enjoy and then have to say goodbye without knowing when (if ever?) I’ll see them again. Oh, how could I forget that many of us celebrated a final lunch at Fergburger, touted as the best burger joint in NZ. The patty itself was rather dry and tasteless compared to the majesty that is Wisconsin beef (butter burgers, hello), but the rest of the package was incredible and I’ll definitely stop in when I’m back in Queenstown in a few days, perhaps for the Little Lamby (a lamb patty) or the Sweet Bambi (venison!).
Post lunch and goodbyes, I dropped my big bag off at my Sunday night hostel and headed to the bus stop to catch my ride to Wanaka, a town 1.5 hours away which is considered a smaller version of Queenstown. Same breathtaking setting on a lake with mountains in the distance, but generally less busy and less touristy! It sounded more like my cup of tea, so I decided to head over for 2 nights prior to returning to Queenstown Sunday for my pre-departure Milford Track meeting. I arrived around 5:30 and the views are breathtaking! And I do like it more than Queenstown because of it’s more laid back feel. I checked into my hostel, walked around a bit to get my bearings and went to the grocery store for a picnic dinner which I then ate on the lakefront. After dinner I stopped at a little winestore/winebar for a glass of NZ Riesling (delicious) and headed ‘home’ for an early tuck-in.
I must tell you about the apple I bought at the grocery store. It was called a LEMONADE apple and is a new NZ varietal. But…wait for it…it actually tastes kind of like lemonade!!! This is groundbreaking news and you heard it here first.
My picnic…what a backdrop!
PS, Keep reading if you want to hear about my new shirt! It’s bright purple, sleeveless and pictured in the photo above. But what’s more exciting is that it’s NZ-made merino wool, a product of the “Icebreaker” company which is essentially the local equivalent of Smartwool. It’s super thin and airy, dries almost instantly, is a very exciting color, and I like the neckline. If you didn’t care, you shouldn’t have kept reading. But I might get sucked into buying more of this brand before I leave the country. Oh, and apparently they just opened a big store in NYC (in addition to one in the Northwest?).