Saturday, April 30, 2011

South Island, cont'd: Milford Sound to Queenstown

The next day, we checked out of the Manapouri and departed for Queenstown.  We hit it off with Fikrye and she found us a terrific 2 bedroom lakeside motel unit to share.  She had her own car, so we planned to rendezvous over there.  The apartment was great, and it had a dishwasher (Yay!), washer and dryer, and .... TV!!!! Yay!

Queenstown has European alpine lake resort town atmosphere, but less traditional and younger in spirit.  There are young visitors everywhere.  A gondola rises from the center of town to a nearby mountain peak.  Bill and Fikrye walked up to the top.  I rode the gondola (duh!) and met them.  There are neat observation decks, restaurants and cafes at the top.  Also, luge tracks and most importantly mountain biking trails.....  Don't for forget paragliding as well.
 We drove over yet another stunning high mountain pass to Lake Wanaka on the other side.  The fall weather was again, sunny, clear and calm, with a hint of fall in the air.  There were a few trees turning autumn colors.
On the return trip, we drove through the renowned Central Otago wine country and a scenic rocky gorge, where bungie jumping originated.  Looking at the site, I'm not sure how the idea was conceived.  It didn't inspire me to want to jump off that bridge.  We flew back to Auckland from Queenstown.  Domestic flights in NZ are so relaxed compared to the US.  The scenery as beautiful as we flew over the Southern Alps on a sunny afternoon.

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