New Zealand Travelogue – Wednesday, 21st October 2015

Soundtrack: Screams of terror

Google Fit stats:

  • Activity: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Distance: 3.7 km
  • Calories: 802
  • Steps: 7,200

We’re leaving Lake Moeraki today. I don’t know when (or even if) we’ll get to visit a Wilderness Lodge again. While we were at dinner last night I set my phone to capture a time lapse from just outside our room.

I’m very impressed with the camera on the LG G4, even if it was rubbish when trying to capture the glow-worms in the trees. (I say it was rubbish in full knowledge that it was likely me cocking it up somehow.)

LeavingLakeMoeraki
Looks like yesterday was a good day to go penguin-spotting

Gerry asked for a couple of the photos we’d taken, so I set about taking them off SWMBO’s camera before we headed out. This took a little longer than it should have, but I was just grateful it was possible. Managing it required juggling my Android tablet, an on-the-go USB cable, a USB card reader, and the memory card from SWMBO’s camera. It’s a good thing I don’t travel tech-light!

Then it was time to set out on the drive to Queenstown.

We took it in turns driving. The weather wasn’t super.

Rain
Rain

AndMoreRain
And more rain

ButStillPretty
There were still some incredible views

Panorama
Another wee panorama of an incredible view

Selfie
Happy tourists!

The rain cleared up as the day went on, and the route from Lake Moeraki to Queenstown had some beautiful scenery.

And then some that wasn’t.

There are two routes from Lake Moeraki to Queenstown. You can take State Highway 6 the whole way, or you can follow State Highway 6 most of the way but take a shortcut at Wanaka. The shortcut would save us half an hour of driving, so we took it.

‘There are two ways to drive between Queenstown and Wanaka, and this one is the most memorable. It's the highest main road in New Zealand.’

Trip Advisor has reviews of the route with titles like:

  • Breathtaking Road
  • Stunning Scenery
  • A lovely mountain road

I feel like I should add a review of my own:

  • Fucking Terrifying

Seriously, the conditions were fine, I was driving, and I still found the road terrifying.

It’s listed – I kid you not – on dangerousroads.org (there really is such a web site):

‘The Crown Range Road is a memorable road located in the Otago region of the South Island of New Zealand, linking Queenstown and Wanaka. The road is the highest main road in New Zealand reaching an altitude of 1,121m above the sea level.

‘This drive is not for the faint hearted and several of the bends are actual hairpins bends many with 35km to 15km sharp bends, the drive on the descent drops away to a seeminly bottomless gorge. There are some switchbacks on the descent and the road is not advised for towing vehicles or vehicles longer than about 12 metres.’

The problem wasn’t the high mountains around the road. The problem was the sudden drop-off on one side of the road. Sometimes there’d just be nothing visible there, and as you’d get closer you’d see ground, very, very far down with still no visible cliff-face.

I was, and I’m not exaggerating here, terrified.

I have no photos to show you what it was like, what with my hands being busy sweating profusely on the steering wheel. So I drove. Slowly. Very, very, very slowly at times. And I kept thinking of the quote ‘If you’re going through hell, keep going.’, whether or not Winston Churchill said it.

Eventually we got to the end of that road, and ended up in traffic heading into Queenstown. This was a novelty for us, since we’d seen very little traffic the whole time we’d been in New Zealand – even in cities.

The phone’s GPS got us to The Whistler, where we checked in with Enthusiastic Wayne and went to our room. (Enthusiastic Wayne is one of the folks who runs The Whistler and he really does have an infectious enthusiasm. I don’t know how he keeps it up!)

ViewFromOurRoom
View of our room at The Whistler

We headed out to buy some groceries for breakfast tomorrow. SWMBO noticed… there were an awful lot of signs for physios around the place…

LotOfPhysios
Queenstown seems to have a disproportionate number of physios and other health professionals…

Queenstown bills itself as The Adventure Capital Of The Southern Hemisphere, with a lot of activities for active people not like us. We took it as a worrying sign for all these activities that there were so many health professionals around the place. Must be good money in it here…

We wouldn’t be doing any of that stuff.

GondolaPath
The path of the gondolas up the mountain

We headed out after that to see the centre of Queenstown and then get some dinner. SWMBO had investigated before coming here and had found out about Botswana Butchery. We went there and were lucky enough to get a table without needing a booking. It was a Wednesday evening but the place was quite busy. And the food was terrific. I had a delicious steak that was so big I couldn’t finish it. We chose a nice wine to go with the food but were careful not to accidentally order the £150-a-bottle wine that was one of their recommendations. (I’m sure it was very nice…)

Then another dander around Queenstown’s centre. We were looking for a nice pub that we hadn’t been in already, but could only find an Irish bar and we have a rule – never go in to an Irish bar on holiday. So we kept dandering and chanced upon The Winery.

RelaxingInTheWinery
Relaxing in The Winery

It’s a nice idea – no bar staff, automated serving mechanisms (robo-servers!) and a large selection of wines you can buy by the glass. They sold nibbles too, so we had some of them (it had been a while since The Steak by this stage). We finished off the evening with a New Zealand whiskey, which I didn’t even know existed!

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