After a wonderful dinner and a few too many glasses of Otago Pinot Noir, we were all a bit slow getting the morning started, which was ok because it was raining really hard. It looked like it was going to be our first true rain day of the trip. The view from the house was still spectacular even with the blustery weather.
We had our coffee and just chilled and chatted. Nobody was super motivated to lay out the activities for the day. Finally, we settled on planning dinner and heading to the store to get supplies. The weather was starting to let up and the forecast said it would quit raining around 2 pm.
Eventually, we packed ourselves up and were going to drive out toward Glenorchy and possibly do a hike along the way. The road out to Glenorchy is a very typical New Zealand highway — 100 kph limit, super windy, narrow, and with gorgeous views. It cruises along Lake Wakatipu which is a massive lake. Well, almost all of the lakes in the lake district are massive. Wakatipu is 80 km long and 291 sq km in size with a maximum depth of 1250 feet. Giant.
As we drove, the weather continued to improve, so we went past one of the potential hikes that we were going to do as I thought there was a chance we could hike part of the Routeburn track. (In NZ, trails are called tracks, and hiking is called tramping.)
We pulled over at a view spot in which Susanne and I had stopped at in 2013 and which we had taken a picture of that hangs on our wall. I forgot to turn on my blinker in exiting the road and got beeped at by the car behind me. Doh! Hate being that stupid tourist, but the beauty is pretty distracting.
The lighting was fantastic with the green color of the lake and the richness of the storm clouds overhead. We stood there in awe….until of course the dreaded sand flies made their presence known. Ugh! And we forgot to pack the bug juice.
With a series of shrieks and four-letter expletives, we all dashed back into the car. Now we would have to stop in Glenorchy and get some bug repellent.
As we drove toward the spine of the Southern Alps, the clouds continued to clear and we could see the massive, towering and super steep mountains around us. Lots of “oooooohh” and “aaaahhh” sounds from the crowd in the car.
We got to Glenorchy and stopped at the general store to get our sand fly savior juice. Jason picked out a tube and went to pay. $45. Yikes! That better be some good bug juice for dog’s sake. I asked the clerk if the Routeburn track was open and he said yes. Yeah!
We drove the 25km up to the trailhead and the weather was really starting to look glorious. Perfect for a hike. We lathered up with our very expensive repellent and headed out on the trail.
This is the trail that Susanne and I were supposed to do before it got washed out and we were now hiking from where we would have ended up. At least we get to see some of it!
We hiked for a couple of hours enjoying the beautiful beech tree forest, ferns, moss, and hobbits. It really feels like a jungle when you are walking through this area. Very mystical. No wonder they shot the Lord of the Rings here.
The waterfalls were spectacular. The vistas were amazing. We will definitely have to come back and do the full hike. We came to a beautiful waterfall called “Bridal Veil.” Why is every waterfall called “Bridal Veil” — can we not come up with some more names?
I ignored the sign that said I was going to die if I walked down toward the falls so I could get a good picture of Jason, Cynthia, and Susanne standing on the bridge. This resulted both in a nice picture and a scolding from all three that this was not a moderate thing to do. They have all come to expect/accept that some day I will go careening to my death with a smile on my face doing the things that I love.
We all had a wonderful time and none of us got badly chowed by the sand flies.
We headed back to the house on the very windy road. I was getting a little too into the drive and was instructed by my passengers that, maybe I could slow down. Oops. But we were late for happy hour!
Downtown Queenstown is a zoo. The traffic is terrible and it is a classic overrun tourist town. Full of shopping and overpriced restaurants. We are glad that from our house we can’t even see it. I think it took over 30 minutes to navigate through it and it is only a mile long. Ugh. Some idiot had driven over the roundabout rather than around it. Doh.
We made it home, showered off $800 worth of bug juice and enjoyed the evening and the views.
Tomorrow we head back to Wanaka for a day of flight seeing. The weather is looking fantastic!