Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Planes, Boats and a Gondola.

First things first.  Bloody tourism radio!  Quirky and funny at first, then becomes the norm.  And now a pain in the bum.  For the first time since we’ve been in our little van, we’ve turned the bloomin’ thing off!  Now, rant over, let’s start at the beginning of this two day epic.

Following on from the seven hour drive to Franz Josef, we woke up refreshed after an excellent nights sleep at the FJ Top10.  Now, the night before, whilst in McDonalds car park (parked illegally someone tried to tell us) I booked the four of us onto another flight the next morning departing from FJ aerodrome at around 10.00am.  the purpose of this flight, well, a private flight over the Fox and FJ glacier.  Guided by our pilot, Tom, we went off in what can only be described as perfick weather for our trip around.  We’ve taken loads of photos, none of which have been put on here.  Mainly because tonight, the blog update is via email.  Anyway, we digress.

So, what followed was another half an epic of a drive from FJ to Queenstown.  Yet another Top10 site.  It is at this point where the whole tourism radio started to get a bit annoying.  We are now world experts on Lake Wannaka, Arrowtown and Queenstown.  Travelling South West on SH 6, we drove along the coastal road taking in some amazing scenery along the way.  At one point, we stopped at a beach where people had left all sort of stone monuments, cairns, murals and general beachy type sculptures, and many artfy farty type photos were taken.  Taking in other lookouts, some waterfalls and more zigzag roads, we skipped through Haast and on into Queenstown.  By then it was dark!

The site we’re on is pretty central, a four minute walk into the centre of town which we undertook last night to find ourselves in the bustling town centre.  On recommendation, we went for a Thai meal which was excellent.

Now, a pause in proceedings.  Some interesting facts about Queenstown. 

1.        It’s supposed to be a hub for skiing in the South Island.  The truth is there’s naff all snow apart from some limited manmade snow right at the top of one of the mountains.

2.       You can play a round of extreme golf based from Queenstown which comes in at the less than attractive price of $300.  For this, you get to hit 3 balls off a cliff top out into the wide open air, without a hope in hell of retrieving your balls.  Look out if you fluff your tee shot!  But, I do expect the helicopter ride to the first tea might have something to do with the silly price, it’s still a bit over the top.

3.       The best/only brewery actually base in Queenstown as far as we can tell is the Dux de Lux brewery.  This is the home of the ‘dark lager’ named ‘Hereford Ale’ complete with a picture of a Hereford Bull on the front of it.  Now, quite what the connection is with this beer and Hereford is beyond us at the time of typing.  However, the brewery is on the corner of Hereford Street.  Now, quite how this street has become known as Hereford Street is beyond us at the time of typing, but it is home to a brewery which brews a beer called ‘Hereford Ale’.

4.       It has been established that the best place for Alan and I to be left to look after ourselves whilst Ali and Ali are keeping themselves entertained on a wine tasting tour tomorrow is the afore mentioned Dux de Lux brewery.  www.thedux.zo.nz  In there, they have a tasting paddle which contains somewhere around 6 or 8 different beers to taste.  After tasting all 8, you can then move on to eating your first meal.  In the publication Jasons ‘Queenstown What’s On’ (available in all touristy type areas), there are two vouchers for free beer when you buy a meal at the DDL brewery and restaurant.  This means, for eating two meals, we can get two free beers.  Also, on a Wednesday, it’s free beer with burger night.  This means that with the aid of purchasing another meal, we can get more free beer.  And so the offers go on.  Whichever way you look at it, Alan and I should be suitable well fed and watered by the time Ali and Ali come back from their wine tour.

5.       After consulting some literature with the intention of booking a sky diving trip, Tony is too fat to do a tandem jump.  Very gutted!  Must lose weight by the time we come back so I can fulfil that ambition!

This morning, another sensible start time brought us to the conclusion that we wouldn’t need to do much today.  The ideas of mainly, eating, drinking and drinking with about more easting this evening seemed to appeal to all members of the group.  To break this up at least a little, a trip up the Gondola was in order up to the Skyline restaurant and viewpoint.  The weather has stayed kind to us so the views from the top were brilliant, looking down over the rest of the town and over the lakes, one could see where people were supposed to be enjoying their skiing holidays – but not quite.  Hot chocolate and cakes and muffins later, we all piled back into the gondola back into town and headed for the Dux de Lux brewery and restaurant.  Not sure if we have mentioned this yet, but it is a good place and worthy of more time and research.  Burgers, soup, beer and wine later it was time to walk bleary eyed back out into the bright sunshine and head for our cruise on the lake.  The Million Dollar Two was the name of our boat, (or was it Millon Dollar One?).  On board, we were joined by 30 odd other people for a 90 minute guided tour.  Guide, skipper and general boss was Wayne.  He and his wife Betty own a tidy little pad on the posh end of the lake which he took great pleasure in telling us all about.  Now, the best thing about this boat wasn’t so much the information being thrown out at us every few minutes, but was in fact the honesty bar run at the bow of the boat, behind the skippers wheel.  A fully fledged bar where you went up, helped yourself to beer, wine, softies, munchies or whatever, and then left the money in the cash tin by the sink.  Excellent work!  If only all bars could be run like that!

Off the boat, straight to the nearest ice-cream parlour with an incredibly bad busker sitting on the wall trying to entertain crowds and failing miserably.  Plans were made for a rendezvous tonight and more food and beer.

And that brings us to hear and now.  Time to send this is, and maybe a couple of pics if I can find a way.

Till next time,