Oceania Travel

Christchurch to Queenstown

26 December 2011

We went to bed at 11 last night, but being 9pm in Australia, we had some trouble. This was no good as we had a big day ahead of us.

We woke up this morning at 8.30am, aka 6.30am, ugh. We got ready quickly and by 9am we were ready to go, waiting out the front for our rental car shuttle to take us to our car. The lady arrived 40 minutes later than anticipated and so began our totally off-schedule day. Thanks ma’am.

Our car is a sweet little Hyundai Getz in periwinkle blue. Alex looks very masculine in my passenger seat. Our car has its faults though — a broken fuel gauge. Luckily we know how it works.

Our first stop before our 6 hour and 20 minute drive to Queenstown — Countdown! We had a delicious in-car meal and were on our way.

Before we knew it, we were in the countryside. And boy, was it starting to get warm. Cardigan off.

On our drive we saw so much roadkill. Mostly we had no idea what animal we’d just seen. It became somewhat of a guessing game. Mostly rabbits, but also a lot of ‘echidnas’ which we hoped were actually kiwis! Trivia question: Name the two most roadkilled creatures in New Zealand.

So with that excitement out of the way, we made our first stop near Lake Tekapo. The countryside and farmlands had taken a turn for the better. We could not believe the change in the scenery. Firstly, everything so flat. Then, ahead of us were alpine mountains covered in snow, and allied huge grassy mountains. Pretty amazing actually, and I noted to Alex just how much what we were seeing reminded me of childhood drawings of a long winding road with a focal point and mountains surrounding it. No wonder Lord of the Rings was filmed in New Zealand — its nature is timeless and untouched.

Getting hotter now. Driving along, a gorgeous smell wafted through our open windows. What looked like different shades of lavender from afar turned out to be lupins and these delicious flowers were sending us their gorgeous fragrance. Want.

Our first touristy stop was the Church of the Good Shepherd, a tiny little church overlooking the beautiful Lake Tekapo. The church is still in immaculate condition. Inside it, behind the altar, is a little window with a magnificent view of the lake. I was unable to find information stating what year it was made, but I did find an enchanting photo of the church in winter, surrounded with snow. Just beautiful.

And then, Lake Tekapo itself. Such magnificence. We put our feet into the cool water and bathed in its tranquility. An alpine lake, we assumed. Never had we seen a lake so turquoise.

Until we stopped at Lake Pukaki, a sister lake of Tekapo. So, so pretty. This lake was surrounded by tall Cypress trees.

We were halfway to Queenstown and no more stops were planned. I decided that 20 degrees in New Zealand is much, much hotter than 20 degrees in Melbourne, especially when you’re on a road trip. Silly me thought New Zealand would be cold so I barely packed any summer clothes. My nose was also becoming sunburnt.

We ended up making one more stop, on a mountain path, at a gorge. More turquoise water to be seen. Unbelievable.

After 8 hours on the road, we had entered Frankton, the town next door to Queenstown. The whole town is built on a massive lake and Alex and I decided this would be a good place for a holiday house. Cheaper houses than Frankston.

And finally, we had arrived in Queenstown! What an incredible city. It’s a resort town, also built around the lake. We checked into our hostel and took a walk around the city, comparing it to Monteverde in Costa Rica and Aguascalientes in Peru. A total resort town; a total party town. You can just tell.

We walked around for quite some time, trying to work out what was for dinner. Much to our excitement, our hostel is totally awesome and we have a balcony in our room. We bought some drinks, and in the process we discovered that alcohol here is so much cheaper than in Australia. Exhibit A: Victoria Bitter, a drink produced in Australia, is sold for about $7 less in New Zealand (based on the currency). Can not compute.

Decided we’d buy dinner at the supermarket. Supermarket closed early on Boxing Day. Proceeded to sigh. Headed to balcony to consume two-minute noodles purchased earlier at Countdown. Quite sufficient.

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