Remarkables drive


Stewart Island


Taeiri Gorge


Lake Tekapo

Tuesday 27 February, Queenstown

"What's a pleasant drive to do this morning?" I asked theSofitel's concierge...

His recommendation?  Glenorchy, a place I'd never heard of, an hour or so away.  Anyhow, top marks to the concierge.

Fantastic, stunning, amazing... I could go on, but you get the picture..... (Pity about the grey skies, though) .

Our visit to Glenorchy coincided with that of hordes of other tourists, many of them Asian.  We were joined at our cafe table by a Chinese lad and his mother/aunt/?  The young fellow was only nine years old, but his grasp of English wasn't too bad.  When he couldn't understand something we said, the woman said to him in English "Grandpa says......" and simplified what Dave had been trying to say.  So, to her, we were "Grandpa and Grandma" - generic terms for oldies.. 

Queenstown has the look of a ski resort, feeling just a bit out of step with its summer (?) weather although its streets are crowded with adventure shops, offering the enticements of heliflights, mountain biking, parachuting, jet boats and so on.  When I say "summer" weather, I am exaggerating.  February is supposed to be the warmest month here, but it hasn't topped 20deg yet.  We are wearing beanies and fleeces outside.

The town appears full of young thrill-seeking backpackers, or retirement-spending oldies. (that’s us). The town itself has grown considerably since our last (and my first) visit here seven years ago, with more and more houses and lodges edging up the mountainsides, displacing the acres of pine forests (lefty).

We celebrated Dave’s birthday in a relaxed style…. He’s now the entranced wearer of a smart watch, a gift from the kids and grand children. That is going to occupy his mind for some considerable time. It even told him today that he’s been inactive for too long, and recommended some exercise, and counted them off as he did them. “There’s a lot to be learned about this watch”, he says.

The other noteworthy gift was from a friend. a former colleague, who read on Facebook that we were at the Sofitel in Queenstown for DB’s birthday. So when we came back from our drive to Glenorchy, we found a bottle of French wine and two very large glasses in our room – his friend had contacted the hotel and organised this wonderful surprise.

Dave was moved more than a little by the gifts.

To top off the day, Geoff phoned from Melbourne, and Jenny called after dinner with a Skype session, showing us little Billie’s total disinterest in the proceedings – but that was compensated by Frankie’s bouncing joy de vivre.
The sunset this evening in Queenstown was remarkable... I didn't have a particularly good view from here, but a friend of a friend on Facebook did....

Dave had been just a little cold last night in bed, so when my eyes lit on a wrap tossed on the lounge chair in the room, I saw the solution. It was a fur throw, presumably of possum fur, since they are certainly not a protected species here. It’s open season on the little critters as they are regarded as pests. This throw looks to have been made with a dozen or so animals, but since they were already dead, Dave didn’t object when I offered it as a quilt.
  Next: a breath taking drive up a mountain...