Kiwimoon: Exploring Queenstown (Day 1-2)

25th February 2014, Tuesday

After an overnight flight from Singapore Changi Airport, we arrived at Queenstown International Airport at 3.55 pm.

Outside Queenstown International Airport.
Amazing view greeted us outside Queenstown International Airport.

We flew from Singapore straight to Queenstown via Qantas Airlines, transiting in Melbourne Airport for 3 hours. The flight from Singapore to Melbourne took 7 hours while from Melbourne to Queenstown was about 3 hours. Initially we thought of flying to Christchurch as most flights offer this, but when we discovered that we could fly straight to Queenstown, we immediately took it as it meant we didn’t have to drive 6-7 hours from Christchurch. As this was our first time traveling together, we wanted to minimize long drives and make this trip more relaxed and leisurely.

Inside the airport, where you can pick up pamphlets and brochures on the many things to do in Queenstown.

Then we proceeded to pick-up our rental car at Ace Rentals, which was just opposite from the airport.

We still needed a car to get around and for our drive to the surrounding towns.

First stop was the electronic shop to get our mobile prepaid cards (with 4G!) and then to the supermarket along the way (Fresh Choice) to get our food and other supplies before checking into our accomodation, the Shotover Lodge. This would be our shelter for the first 3 days of our trip.

Our lodge with a spectacular mountain view.

As it was nearing dusk by the time we arrived, we took the time to settle in and have a good rest. The next day, we would be off to explore central Queenstown!

Imagine waking up to this every morning… The pine trees remind me of Frodo running in LOTR!

* * *

26th February 2014, Wednesday

We started our day by having a home-made breakfast by the balcony of our lodge.

A simple breakfast of egg mayo sandwich whipped up by the husband, half-boiled eggs and lemon ginger tea.

Drove to Queenstown central in search of something to do…

Hotels and apartments all around the centre of Queenstown.

And decided to go up the Skyline Gondola!

We only rode the gondola and didn’t take the luge. Maybe next time.

This is a must-do if it’s your first time visiting Queenstown. Up on the gondola you get to see the whole of Queenstown central from a bird’s eye view.

The gondola can fit a maximum of 4 people, but you’re allowed to have your own space if you’re traveling solo or as a couple (instead of sharing with other travelers) which is a good thing because you can have your own privacy.

The gondola will stop at the top where you get off and proceed to the Skyline Gondola Viewing Tower. Breathtaking view from at the top!

An obligatory couple shot is a must… Hehe. A fellow tourist was nice enough to take this photo for us.

There’s a viewing deck, cafe, restaurant, souvenir shop, plenty of things to do here. We bought a few things at the souvenir shop, and were glad to discover that we were entitled to a discount off the official photos of us in the gondola. But actually, if you want to get souvenirs, go to the souvenir shops along Queenstown Mall as they are much, much cheaper.

Now this is what I call a restaurant with a view!

Take your time and roam around, take photos while enjoying the spectacular scenery. Another piece of God’s magnificent art, SubhanAllah…

The gorgeous Lake Wakatipu. #nofilter

We also had a chance to see people enjoying their luge ride down below.

Would love to ride the luge next time (chey next time seh). It looked so much fun!

We were fortunate to see some paragliding action going on!

Imagine paragliding overlooking the lake and mountains…

And if you dare, do some bungee…

Bungee if you dare…

Headed back down after an hour plus and had our lunch at Turkish Kebabs, which is the only halal restaurant in Queenstown central. The mixed beef and lamb kebabs that we ordered were delicious… and HUGE! Even the rice set that my husband bought was generously filled. Worth the price, and needless to say we were extremely full Alhamdulillah after we were done with our meals.

Nom nom nom. Alhamdulillah for Halal restaurants like these. May God bless the owner’s efforts, InsyaAllah.

After lunch, we took a stroll along the town…

[For the Singaporeans – Spot something familiar?]
Leaves turning red for the upcoming Autumn season… So beautiful!

…before deciding to go up hiking Queenstown Hill. (What a way to burn those lunch calories huh? Haha). We drove to the start of the track at Belfast Street, and from there began our climb.

According to the map, the climb up and down takes about 1.5 – 2.5 hours. We aimed to hike up till the mid-point, which would bring us to an artist’s sculpture called the “Basket of Dreams”.

We passed by different kinds of terrains during the climb…

The starting trail of our hike up; slightly open, bright and airy.
As we hike deeper, the scene changes; enclosed, dark and moody.

Some steep slopes as well…

Here the trails start to be very open and you start to see the surroundings again.

And finally reached the mid-point!

Tired but satisfied smiles of victory.
The husband striking a pose on the Basket of Dreams.

We were greeted by breathtaking views of the lake and its’ surroundings… which made it worth the climb up!

Pine trees galore…
And the mountains of Lake Wakatipu in all its glory.
The differing view at the other side: Mountainous and grassy.

And guess what, we actually met some fellow Singaporeans during our hike! This sporting couple has been married for 30 years and we first saw them on our way up (they actually overtook us while we were resting, haha). They told us that we were the second fellow Singaporean honeymoon couple they met during the climb. It’s always nice to meet people from home when you’re overseas.

I hope that hubs and me can be as sporting and as adventurous as them when we reach our golden years, InsyaAllah…

We didn’t continue to the summit but if you would like to, this is the pathway you’d have to follow.

See that peak point ahead there? That’s the summit, which is about another 500m away.

The terrain was fun as it was made up of a variety of different trails, which were well-maintained. There are illustration boards which act as route markers hence making it easy to navigate. Do drink lots of water, hydrate yourself as you go up. If you have never hiked in a colder country before, do be prepared for your body to get acclimatized to the cold.

Finally back at the start point, where we parked our car.

As it was nearing dusk when we ended, we decided to call it a day. The next day, we would be headed to Milford Sound, which is said to be one of the world’s greatest natural wonders.

Next on Kiwimoon: Mesmerizing Milford Sound (Day 3)

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