25th February 2014, Tuesday
After an overnight flight from Singapore Changi Airport, we arrived at Queenstown International Airport at 3.55 pm.
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.
Then we proceeded to pick-up our rental car at Ace Rentals, which was just opposite from the airport.
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.
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!
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26th February 2014, Wednesday
We started our day by having a home-made breakfast by the balcony of our lodge.
Drove to Queenstown central in search of something to do…
And decided to go up the Skyline Gondola!
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 will stop at the top where you get off and proceed to the Skyline Gondola Viewing Tower. Breathtaking view from at the top!
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.
Take your time and roam around, take photos while enjoying the spectacular scenery. Another piece of God’s magnificent art, SubhanAllah…
We also had a chance to see people enjoying their luge ride down below.
We were fortunate to see some paragliding action going on!
And if you dare, do some bungee…
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.
After lunch, we took a stroll along the town…
…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.
We passed by different kinds of terrains during the climb…
Some steep slopes as well…
And finally reached the mid-point!
We were greeted by breathtaking views of the lake and its’ surroundings… which made it worth the climb up!
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.
We didn’t continue to the summit but if you would like to, this is the pathway you’d have to follow.
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.
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.