Queenstown and Te Anau – Land of the Lakes

4 Dec

Thursday

It’s a whirlwind of travel… at some point I will add up how many kilometres I have travelled.  Back on the bus (this time, I caught the bus into town… I may be stupid, but repeating the error of walking between town and the JailHouse with a pack would be criminal.  And there’s some gorgeous scenery going around again… past huge banks of lupins on the road ranging in colour from deep purple to coral and pink… past the occasional speed camera in a camper van (none of this ‘it’s obviously a speed van’ – these get disguised as innocuous camper vans.. And there are a LOT of those in New Zealand). There are unmarked police cars too – one with surfboards on the roof, apparently.

We stop at Lake Topeka… the rock from the glacier has been ground so finely that it turns the water milky – which then reflects the sky causing the brilliant blue.  We catch site of Mt Cook in the distance, the other side of Lake Pukaki, another brilliant blue lake.

Down the Shotover river, past the original bungy jump site and into Queenstown – a lively town around the river & lake and chocka with youngsters intent on throwing themselves off things, into things, over things, out of things and optionally getting wet in the process.  A lovely little hostel on the shores of the lake – possibly the best views of the trip so far. Time for some nice walks up to the hill above the town, and along the banks of the lake.. And some thoughts on the book too, even if it is actually proving quite tricky finding time to write.

 

Friday

 

So, Queenstown.  It’s full of young people, but I manage some nice walks by the lake and a visit to the fabled Fergburger (possibly the best burgers in the world).  It’s definitely getting to the point where the incredible beauty of the country becomes normal.  It’s another incredibly beautiful lake surrounded by incredibly beautiful mountains where the sun sets incredibly beautifully.  I spend my time wandering round shaking my head in amazement.


Saturday

 

A short hop trip to Te Anau.. I’m there by 9:30 am and again it’s another beautiful lake – the second biggest in New Zealand, but in fact has the largest amount of water in Australasia.  As the boat captain is fond of pointing out, it’s incredibly clear and clean and renders the purchasing of bottled water in the town positively criminal.

 

And there’s another jetty to sit and muse on, and watch the lake go by…

 

Time for some walks by the lake again – watching two families of ducks set off across the lake.  The conversation seems to go like this…

Mr Duck – OK everyone, off we go, straight across the lake to the other side

Mrs Duck – well dear, it’s looking a bit choppy out there

Mr Duck – nonsense, it’ll be good for the kids to get a bit of exercise

Mrs Duck – well don’t say I didn’t warn you

Mr Duck – and look, here come Ron and Ethel and their family – I told you it would be OK

Ron Duck – see, I told you we wouldn’t be the only ones trying to cross the lake

Ethel Duck – well dear, it’s looking a bit choppy out there

Ethel Duck – blow this for a game of soldiers dear, I’m off back to shore (followed, eventually, by Ron)

Mrs Duck – see, Nigel – Ron and Ethel are off back to shore… I told you it wasn’t safe. Come along children…

(sheepish return to shore for the entire Duck family including a rather crestfallen Mr Duck (OK, I have no idea what a crestfallen duck looks like, but it wouldn’t surprise me..)

 

and then off across the lake to visit the glow worm caves.  The boat trip is pretty cool, ducking around some of the islands and back into the full force of the wind.  I’m the only one on deck, doing a ‘Titanic’ impression.  The caves are a newish system (only around 12,000 years old) and are still quite tiny and narrow.  They stretch for several km but it needs scuba gear to get there.. So we won’t be doing that.  Through the caves, crouching down to get through, past magical waterfalls and rushing streams… and into a little boat.  Our guide signals us for quiet (the glow worms don’t like noise, and they don’t like light) and pulls the boat along on a rope, in total darkness.  Above our heads, little pinpricks of green light shine out – a lot of the larva were washed away in the recent flood, but it’s still  beautiful display of hundreds of lights, like some cosmic control panel, or a galaxy of little green stars.  It’s surreal, and ethereal, and magical… just being there in the dark, and in the silence, looking at a truly gorgeous natural light show.  As we move round the cave, it almost seems like the introduction to some rock concert – I almost expect the music to start up.

 

 

 

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One Response to “Queenstown and Te Anau – Land of the Lakes”

  1. Nikki Rose December 4, 2010 at 10:05 pm #

    Hi Tim,

    How incredibly, achingly beautiful these scenes are that you depict, and with such gorgeous photos.

    You’re going to want to stay out there, for sure! :o) I know I would…

    Love Nikki xx

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