Alas and a lack of mileage ahead, Roadchip has come to an end. The holiday hasn’t, but we’ve reached Queenstown, our final destination. We waved goodbye to Fox Glacier, with its frozen cove, fitnessy Eurobros and confused aspiring cyclists. We also drove past Mt Aspiring, as well as a multitude of majestic waterfalls, inlets, rocky shores, west coast surf and verdant mountains. We’ve escaped the clutches of price gouging food deserts to arrive in the bounteous lands of a price gouging tourist trap. All the love for our slightly more benevolent dictatorship. I also understand the irony in mocking tourists when that’s exactly what we’re doing. Self-awareness doesn’t afford us a different level of status.
Queenstown, pricey as it is, remains precisely as stunning as I remember. I’ve told people for years “panoramas as far as the eye can see.” Or “everywhere is a postcard.” I’m glad time didn’t make a liar out of me. We came in via Wanaka, which is one rolling hill after another. After taking a hot tip to stop off at the historic Cadrona Hotel, we found ourselves at a rustic old tavern, lovingly preserved. It was a novel pleasure to sit on my first wooden toilet seat in what felt like ten+ years. Grabbed a great pint of saison and ordered a chunky sounding bacon and venison burger. Big as my eyes and stomach were, I didn’t expect what seemed like a tourist trap to deliver a legitimately fantastic burger. A sumptuous, dense patty with crispy bacon, beetroot relish and assorted veges. So gamey, on a bet of crinkle fries. A truly excellent meal.
Bellies fit to burst, we transformed and rolled out of there. Onwards to Queenstown! Through Arrowtown! Incredible vistas over every rise we passed. Pastoral farmland gave way to further mountains and an expansive, azure lake. We arrived at our Air BnB, a pretty, modern looking home. A cheerful face opened the door and showed us around. It may have been a holdover from our primitive accommodations thus far, but once we arrived inside the place was gorgeous. All the comforts of home and then some. A separate floor all to ourselves, shut away from the family who lives there. A comfortable lounge with a television, Sky TV, a cd and book collection and a big cozy couch. A massive bed covered in cushions. A bathroom with washer, dryer and a heated floor. Our hosts left us muesli and milk for breakfast, plus chocolate cookies, small Whittakers chocolates and a selection of teas. Such an amazing place to spend some quiet time together (a rarity on this trip).
My girlfriend went to explore town as I went on a hike with friends (who’ve been here for a few days). Steep, but with a couple of plateaus to rest/stretch. Tiny cairns littering the sides of the walking path gave a real Blair Witch feel. If the hike hadn’t been respiratorially punishing enough, I’d say that the views were breathtaking. It was bloody choice to get out and do a decent walk after so many days spent sitting passively in a car. Every time we thought we’d hit the peak, there was another peak to go. When we finally hit the top, our reward was a 360 degree view instead of a mere 270 degrees or so. Awesome in every sense of the word.
Tonight’s an early rest before spending my 30th birthday on an all-day trip out to Milford Sound. If all I wanted for my birthday was a six hour bus, two hour boat tour and four hour return bus, I couldn’t have asked for a better option (I sort of agreed to the trip expecting around four hours total). Who knows? It’s pretty popular, quite possibly for a reason.
So tonight, much like Roadchip, has come to an end. Goodnight Kiwis.