New Zealand
Queenstown-Lakes District

Here you’ll find travel reports about Queenstown-Lakes District. Discover travel destinations in New Zealand of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

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  • Day60

    Day 60/72: Boxing Day Bungee

    December 26, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    We woke up early and drove back to Queenstown, and passed Queenstown heading out towards Kawarea Bridge: the home of bungee jumping. This is where the first ever bungee jump was created, off a bridge 43m above a stunning blue river. The wait for the bungee jump was good fun, chatting to people and watching Tom jump first (I've never seen him look that scared...). You are attached by a harness to a loop, and when it's your time next they strap your feet together with a towel, thick pieces of velcro, and attach you to a huge elastic cord hanging off the edge (by both your feet and the harness around your waist).

    I was slightly nervous but okay until stepping out on the platform, and that's when I completely freaked out. It looks insanely high from up there, so when the guy was getting me to look at cameras and wave at things, I was busy freaking out and backing out of the jump. He took me back inside to calm down, and I was absolutely certain that I was not going to bungee jump that day. Once I had calmed down, however, I had another go, this time forgetting the cameras and just falling straight off the edge. Much much better. The rush is great, and we both finished it wanting to have another go. Once you're done jumping they let you down into a raft a couple of guys are in down on the river and untie you there.

    We watched a few more people do it, and a few more people back out, and then headed back to Queenstown. We spent the afternoon playing frisbee golf (safe to say neither of us are getting any better), and watched a part of a film.
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  • Day58

    Day 58/72: A Glenorchy Christmas Eve

    December 24, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    We woke up to a beautiful view of the mountains, and decided to go for a walk in the morning. The sun was shining and birds were singing and the morning heated up incredibly quickly. We walked around the lakes, incredibly smooth with incredible reflections of the mountains, with plenty of stops to take thousands of photos. Both of us were wearing our Christmas eve socks, and humming Christmas songs along the way. We stopped for a paddle in the glacier river, which was unsurprisingly freezing cold, but ice blue and surrounded by fields of lupins. The walk finished by our campsite shop so we got pies for lunch and icecream sundaes (free thanks to our Christmas hamper!) and ate them in the sun.

    Izzi wrapped Christmas presents in the afternoon while Tom went for a hot run (he wasn't too happy afte starting out along a private road and having the turn around when reaching a sign). I then sunbathed while Tom wrapped my presents. Our Christmas afternoon passed in a blur of reading, eating and sunbathing.

    In the evening we were down to the lake, and took loads of photos jumping off the dock into the lake. Feeling very refreshed and cold, we had environmentally friendly showers at the campsite, and hung our stockings by the exhaust pipe with care.
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  • Day53

    Day 53/72: Wanaka

    December 19, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ 🌧 12 °C

    The lady in reception was wrong. There wasn't as much rain today as yesterday. It drizzled on and off in the morning though, so we spent the most part of it in the campervan sorting out the last stages of our trip. We booked accommodation for the rest of our days in New Zealand, and sorted out dates for activities and what we wanted to do. After many phone calls and writing lists we were sorted, had some lunch and headed out to Wanaka town.

    It was the second time we'd worn trousers in 2 months as we walked along the edge of Lake Wanaka. Wanaka is a rather sporty town on the end of a 45km lake, with lots of sports shops and activities going on. The surrounding hills and mountains are a brilliant backdrop and it's a very touristy place, but didn't have a bad vibe to it. It was fresh, pleasant and lively. We came to a tree on the edge of the lake. It's quite a famous tree called 'that wanaka tree' on social media/travel pages, as on clear still days, this tree that sits in the lake just off the shore, can be photographed to perfection. Today was not one of those days, and we carefully stepped amongst the few tourists with selfie sticks and cameras, took our own photo of it and then realised there was a much better shot in the other direction, so carried on with our walk. We wandered along the bank then felt hungry and thirsty so headed back towards the town. We had a look around the shops*, (they offer heli mountain biking here, how cool!) and then came to a cafe on the end of all the shops.

    Our actions that followed were completely justified and we shall not regret the next hour for the rest of our lives.

    We walked into the shop, thinking "I've heard they do good milkshakes, let's try one". However the smells and the menus and the cakes were just too much so we ordered a flat white, an Eton-mess-esque sundae, a cheesecake and a large milkshake. We sat down and the 4 journeys were made to bring all our things to the table ("anything else you've ordered?" "oh yes! Don't take the table number away yet!"). The coffee was fantastic, the cheesecake passion fruity, creamy and light, the sundae bursting with flavour and the milkshake made with fresh chocolate ice cream. After slowly savouring all of the above, we rolled out of the restaurant and down the path back to the van. We let our substantial coffee stop go down and then went for a run up and down the river bank. Feeling more proud than ever at our achievements of cafe and run, we headed back to warm showers and a night of Izzi teaching Tom how to play racing demons.

    *Just a note for us to remember really, but we came to a small shop called Thieving Kia which when we walked in had, in Tom's mind, the best smell that he had ever smelled in a shop and proceeded to find the source of it to much amusement of Izzi and the 2 ladies who ran the shop who led us to the scented candle section
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  • Day54

    Day 54/72: Kayaking and Queenstown

    December 20, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    Glorious morning! We got up and stood on the rocks looking out over the lake in the sun, eating breakfast and feeling very pleased with the view. We then had a quick stretching session before we left to spend the most part of the day in Wanaka.

    Went down to the lake and hired a double kayak for a couple of hours. We paddled out over the clear still water to an island in the middle of the lake. On the way we passed the Wanaka tree and took our own photos and smiled for all the photos that we got in the way of. We landed on the island just as a couple of people were leaving, and then we were the only ones there! It was a 20 minute wander around with some of the greatest views of the lake and surrounding mountains. It was lovely and we paddled steadily back, Izzi steering us all over the place ("it's much harder than it looks, why isn't it going that way!?"). We got back and parked the kayak superbly in reverse onto the bank.

    We then wandered into the town again to browse some shops and have lunch (cheese scone, lamb and mint pie and a steak and cheese pie) which was delicious. We then decided to head back to the van and go onwards with our journey to Glenorchy for the next days activities. On the way we stopped to have a very cold swim in the lake to wake ourselves up after feeling a bit hot and stuffy. On the way we drove past the most beautiful rivers of clear blue water and fields of flowers in a variety of pinks and purples (Lupins I've been told), with a backdrop of huge rocky mountains and deep green forests, it's incredible here.

    As we drove on we decided to stop in Queenstown for the night and head up to Glenorchy in the morning. This was a great shout as we scouted out the campsite we were going to be staying in after Christmas and it turns out it's very pleasant. Another lovely day in New Zealand well spent!
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  • Day62

    Day 62/72: Ben Lomond

    December 28, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

    We went into town and picked up some croissants and baguettes from a famous bakery. Actually the bakery itself isn't famous but its part of a chain with a very famous burger place. The food was good anyway.

    We walked straight to the start of a small cable car which takes you to the start of a walk up Ben Lomond, passing Noel Edmunds (which Tom was very excited about). Having never watched deal or no deal the excitement was slightly lost on me, and the following 45 minutes of googling his entire life story and whether we had really seen his wife and son or not was slightly tedious.

    We started our watches and began the long walk up. The first part was hard work, but lovely paths through forests. Then we got out into the side of the mountain, and there was no shelter from the burning hot sun. The walk got steeper, and soon we we scrambling on our feet and hands up the gravelly path, with steep drops to either side. The walk up took a long time, but the views from the top were incredible! Queenstown and lake Whakitipu was on one side, and on the other a huge mountain range with snow capped peaks as far as the eye could see.

    The scramble back down was less than fun, and took longer than the walk up. We were so hot, and had nearly finished all the water in our bags when the cable car came back into view, and we sat there with 2 random other people, who had probably had a nice coffee at the cafe and enjoyed the view, instead of climbing up a mountain, feeling very bad about how sweaty we must have smelt.

    When we got back to the car we drove to stock up on food, then out into the countryside to Te Anau Lake, our next campsite and the base of our trip to Milford Sound.
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  • Day61

    Day 61/72: Mountain Biking!

    December 27, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Today we wanted to hire mountain bikes and explore the surrounding area. Mountain biking is huge in Queenstown, they're everywhere, and we wanted to see what the fuss was about. Tom went for a run first thing and then we both did a circuit on a sports field near the campsite, watching paragliders soar overhead. It really is a very adventurous place to be.

    Feeling very refreshed, we went into town to the Fergbaker bakery, which is the best and only real bakery we've found in the whole of New Zealand so far. Bread seems to be really awful from most bakeries over here for some reason compared to the UK, but ah well this place was the best we've found. We got some supplies for the day and then headed to the mountain bike hire shop. We chatted to the guy and decided to hire them in the early afternoon, so spent the morning chilling in the town, searching for a top that Izzi wanted and drinking coffee next to the lake.

    We picked up the mountain bikes and headed off on our chosen route. It was great fun cycling again and for the first 8km or so it was either road, or what would be "steep cliff path only for walkers" in the UK, which made for tricky cycling! The next bit up to the top of a good downhill section was all switchback turns up a hill, and Izzi had a strop halfway up when she realised she'd bitten off more than she could chew, and vowed as she pushed her bike up the hill to do more cycling in Guernsey (this was in retrospect, at the time she vowed never to get on a bike again and was much more unreasonable).

    We then went down the track which popped us out just opposite a bike park. We spent the next few hours here, on the hills on the edge of the lake, riding the tracks through the forest and generally wearing ourselves out at the steepness of the tracks and how rutted they were. We rode back later that evening feeling exhausted but pleased with the days efforts, it was a great place to ride.

    That evening we got changed and headed out into town to go for our first evening meal out in quite a long time. We found a steak restaurant which had great reviews so decided to go there. We ordered 2 very reasonable steaks (some of them were veeeery pricey) but when the waitress arrived and gave us the food, something seemed wrong. She had said the correct meals as she put the plates down, but Izzi had received a HUGE fillet (like really huge) that somewhat differed to the rump that we thought she'd be getting, and that the waitress had said, and Tom received something that nether of us knew straight away but thought was a sirloin. Not wanting to question the waitresses judgement, we tucked in happily. It was a fantastic meal! We only realised at the end of the meal, that the table next to us seemed to have much smaller steaks, that looked suspiciously like what we should have had as they had ordered the same things as us. We were worried that the bill would be sky high but luckily it was just as we'd ordered and we left feeling pleased yet confused, wondering if someone had received our meal instead of their own...
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  • Day52

    Day 52/72: the wettest day ever

    December 18, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ 🌬 19 °C

    Today was so unbelievably rainy. We started the day at Fox Glacier, and drove through the rain until we got to the town on Haast. Haast is scarcely more than a small village but with a few cafés where we could get some lunch. We then decided to drive on through the torrential downpour. The sights along the way were absolutely beautiful, the water pouring off the edge of huge mountains looming ominously grey in the low cloud hanging over them. The rivers running under the bridges we were driving on were already pushing at their banks, and flowing down the roads.

    We stopped for a walk at a walk called Roaring Billy Falls. We walked through a thick green forest to reach a space of flat rocks before a river bed. It was a short wade across what seemed to be the overflowing puddle of the river to get to stand under a huge waterfall, which was indeed roaring. We skimmed stones for maybe 15 minutes in the pouring rain, then turned to wade back across the water only to find that it had risen somewhat, and the water was flowing past us quite quickly and already up to above our knees. This left us slightly worried about what would have happened if we'd been skimming rocks for any longer, and whether we would have had to swim back.

    Our next stop was 'Fantail Falls'; a normally very delicate waterfall, very famous and a only short walk from the road. Unfortunately, due to the sheer amount of water falling from the sky, the waterfall was just a solid waterfall, not much fantailing going on at all.

    We then stopped at the Blue Pools. The Blue Pools are a half an hour walk away through a forest to what are supposed to be crystal blue pools. Unfortunately again, due to the rain, the blue pools were actually just a muddy river. Feeling slightly put out, but laughing at quite how soaking we were from the rain, we headed on to find a campsite.

    We have stopped for the night at Lake Hawea, a beautiful lake with mountains all around. We are parked right on the side of the lake, and it finally stopped raining this evening long enough for us to cook dinner and go for a short swim. Apparently tomorrow is going to be even rainier than today, the lady at the campsite informed us, and wasn't terribly amused when we asked if that was even possible. It is in New Zealand apparently.
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  • Day55

    Day 55/72: horses and lotr

    December 21, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ 🌧 13 °C

    Today we woke up early and drove to Glenorchy to go horse trekking through the most beautiful valley filled with lupins and crystal clear rivers. The hack was awesome, the mountains were amazing and we did a few very deep river crossings.
    3 hours of riding later we were both feeling sore and/or out of practice. The area (and the horses we were riding) were used a lot for various films, including lots of Lord of the Rings scenes, Wolverine scenes, and Prince Caspian. And it's easy to see why! The scenery was breathtaking.

    The lupins absolutely fill the valleys here, they were brought over from England as a decorative garden plant but have become a weed, meaning that the valleys are super beautiful.

    We drove back to Queenstown (the drive along the lake is incredible) and had a good lunch before heading into town. We wondered around for a bit, exploring surf and skate (board not fish) shops, and finishing off some Christmas shopping.

    Queenstown is the adrenaline capital of the world, and it shows in all the signs for bungy jumping and Skydiving or another weird adrenaline fuelled activity every 2 meters you walk.
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  • Day56

    Day 56/72: Luge and Frisbee Golf!

    December 22, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 14 °C

    We woke up early and had breakfast in time for the 0800 Queenstown Parkrun (a free 5km run that happens on a Saturday morning in various parks around the world, very popular in the UK). It was attended by a respectable 100 or so people and we had a good race around the parks and along the lakefront. We both ran well and thoroughly enjoyed it considering it rained heavily half way through!

    After the run we cooled down and went to get a coffee (flat white, originated in New Zealand don't you know) and then went back to the campsite to have a shower and get changed. Queenstown was in a rut of low cloud so we decided not to do the very tall mountain hike, but luge from halfway down the hill instead. Luging is a bit like sledging on a road, you sit in a little cart with wheels, a steering column and a brake and you roll down the hill around corners and over humps etc. Great fun! We got tickets at the bottom of the cable car that took us up the mountain and got on, Izzi very nervous as she looked out the glass windows, jumping every time we went through the connecting pillar bits. We got to the top and donned our, very unflattering in Tom's case, helmets. The view was brilliant and we admired it, taking photos before the rain came, and then hopped on a ski lift that took us to the start of the luge. We got taught how to use it, and wondered incredulously at how some people failed to grasp the concept of braking. But after our brief we were on our way, zooming around the corners and weaving through the nervous nellies. It was great fun, sliding around some of the wetter corners and trying to brake as little as possible!

    We then went up the lift again for our second run, this time down the more advanced slope. Nothing too strenuous, just a bit steeper and more corners. Tom arrived at the bottom in front of Izzi and looked behind to see she'd stopped further up the track. What was all the fuss was about? Izzi had managed to lose control of her sled on a wet bit of ground and had collided with the entrance to a tunnel. A large graze on her forearm was the visible damage, and we went back up the hill to the office and first aid station. She got patched up and after joking about a free ride down, received one so we both made our way back down the first slope, Izzi more tenderly than before.

    After a great time luging we went to Fergburger, an apparently must eat takeaway burger place in Queenstown. The queues are normally mental but in the rain it was a little less, so we got 2 fantastic cheese burgers that lived up to the hype they have. We then went in search of frisbees for frisbee golf. This is a GREAT sport, played very similarly to classic golf, but with a frisbee instead of a ball. You play through woods, and there's a surprising amount of effort that goes into the sport, with a variety of plastics, weights and designs for various different shots. We spent a good 15 minutes chatting about the disks in the shop before purchasing one each for ourselves to use. Queenstown Park has the first official frisbee golf course and we had a great time lobbing our frisbees round in the intermittent rain, trying to get them into the chain frisbee catcher thing that varies from being 40-180m from the tee. Our first attempt was pretty poor but it was great fun, and we were glad we bought the frisbees instead of renting them, so we could play again in the coming days!
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  • Day108

    Wir haben es gewagt

    January 22 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Nachdem wir wir aus einer Höhe von 15.000ft aus dem Flugzeug gesprungen sind und gemerkt haben, was für ein unfassbares Gefühl das war, lag es ziemlich Nahe, dass wir so etwas bald wieder erleben wollen!
    Und wo geht das besser, als an dem Ort, an welchen der erste Bungeesprung gemacht wurde?!😍
    Am 22.01 war es dann soweit und Julia und ich sind zusammen aus 43m von der Kawarau Brücke gesprungen. Ihr könnt euch nicht vorstellen, was für ein Gefühl in einem steckt, sobald man an der Kante steht und springen soll...🙈
    Auf der Hinfahrt war ich so nervös und hatte irgendwie Angst. Doch als ich dann dort stand, kam in mir nur noch das Verlangen zu springen, ich hatte plötzlich so Lust dazu und es war keine Spur von Angst mehr in mir.😊
    Genau anders herum war es bei Julia, den gesamten Morgen war sie tiefenentspannt und dann kurz vor dem Absprung hat sie zu mir gesagt "Sari ich habe Todesangst!". Genau als sie das ausgesprochen hat, began der Mann hinter uns von 5 herunter zu zählen und dann habe ich sie einfach mit ins Glück gezogen. 😂🙈 Manchmal muss man einfach die Leute zu ihrem Glück zwingen.😂
    Und was soll ich sagen, es hat sich gelohnt. Während des Fluges haben wir zusammen geschrien, gelacht und gejubelt. In mir waren nur noch Glücksgefühle, es hat sich angefühlt, als würde alles schlechte von einem Abfallen.😍🌏
    Für mich war das definitiv einer der Tage, die ich in meinem Leben nie wieder vergessen werde! Und wieder einmal war Julia an meiner Seite.😍
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Queenstown-Lakes District

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