Saturday, 7 March 2009

Rainy days in Queenstown

When we left Te Anau for Queenstown, the weather forecast was abysmal, predicting high winds and heavy rainfall. We decided to book into a camp site with full facilities so that we would have a cosy place in which to shelter from the weather. In the end, the gale force winds never materialised, but we still got lots of rain.

St John was keen to bag his first NZ hill - Ben Lomond (1,748m).  We took the Queenstown gondola up the first 400 metres and then walked the rest to the summit. The weather deteriorated as soon as we left the gondola station, so we got a good old soaking. We got no views from the top, which was a bit disappointing as they're  supposed to be fantastic. As you'll see from the photos, it really couldn't have been more like a Scottish hill day.

In the evening, we ate at Fergburger, a real Queenstown institution, known for its giant mouth-watering burgers. The Mr Big Stuff burger had come highly recommended by Toni from Finland, who said it was the best burger he'd ever eaten. So here's the photo for you Toni as a memento – complete with melted cheese and the smoky barbecue sauce!

The next day, a bit wiser after the first soaking, we drove to the car park for Double Cone (2,340m), the highest peak in the Remarkables range in the Southern Alps. This impressive range dominates the skyline in Queenstown, and we wanted to do a scramble up the eastern ridge of Double Cone. We only got up to Lake Alta at 1,800 metres (from the car park at 1,600 metres) when the rain started again, forcing us to abort. It was interesting seeing the lake, as this was yet another location for the Lord of the Rings film.

The weather was pretty dismal all day, so we decided to visit a couple of wineries and some more LOTR locations. First stop was the AJ Hackett bungy site, which is situated in the Kawarau River gorge. The gorge was used for River Anduin in LOTR – Argonath the Pillars of the Kings were added in with special effects. It was also a great opportunity to watch some poor souls hurtle themselves off the bridge on the Kawarau River bungy. A guy on his stag do jumped in lacy pink bra and hot pants. 

Next, we drove to the neighbouring Chard Farm Winery for a tasting of their wines. They range from the very drinkable Chardonnay and Pinor Gris to the more full bodied Pinot Noir. We also visited Amisfield Wine Company, but we didn't feel that their wines could quite compete with Chard Farm. The tasting was quite hurried too, and the clinical atmosphere of the tasting room didn't add to the experience.  We learnt that wines can be described as 'approachable' and mousy (a wine fault that leaves wines with a 'mousy' after-taste apparently).


Anonymous said...

You look very must be my teaching! Lovely to talk to you.

Love Dad & Mum

Anonymous said...

Hey guys
looks like you are having a ball. Wish I could be there too! Hope the rain stops. We've had snow - AGAIN. Not ideal for marathon training.
Take care

auntie Liz said...

Hi Andy and Jen

I was pleased to see that it wasn't either of you doing the bungy jump.

You may have it wet, but at the moment it's cold for us!

Love auntie Liz xx

Anonymous said...

Ou yeah, sweet burger! i wonder if fed ex will do some long distance home deliveries... Toni