1YoT: Queenstown

We’ve finally reached it! The end of our roadtrip, and with it the end of our visit to New Zealand. We finished in Queenstown, where we gave ourselves two nights. Here is what we did:

First up, we drove from the dairy farm we stayed at to Queenstown. This drive took us through the Kawarau Gorge and it was incredible, a great final drive for our awesome roadtrip.

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We’ve made it: Queenstown, located on the coast of Lake Wakatipu.

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Here’s a better view of the lake, with the Remarkables mountain range behind it. This entire area was gorgeous.

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First thing we did in Queenstown was return our car. Then we explored the city. This was its central square.

Another New Zealand city, another WWI memorial. Also, Christmas is coming!

Queenstown was filled with sculpture art. The most interesting one we found is pictured far left; it is a moa, a large, flightless, endemic to New Zealand bird. Despite appearing enlarged, this moa sculpture is actually life size; these birds were so large they could weigh up to 500 pounds! Unfortunately, they went extinct somewhere between the 1400s and early 1800s, due overhunting by Maoris.

Like Tongariro, Queenstown was another destination we could have spent our entire New Zealand trip. But unlike Tongariro, Queenstown was expensive. The city was basically a college town, filled with bars and extreme sports and other adventures. They all sounded amazing, but they were expensive and we were already over on our New Zealand budget, so we chose to go on a free hike instead. The above pictures were taken near the trailhead.

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The hike, almost straight up one of Queenstown’s mountains, was pretty unremarkable until we made it to the top, where we were presented with this.

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If the previous view isn’t enough, here is the view looking the other direction. No lake in sight, but still beautiful.

And with that, we come to the end of our visit to Queenstown. Not a lot I know, but as I said we were overbudget and also tired from our big long roadtrip. We missed a lot of fun stuff in and around Queenstown, like bungie-jumping, Mount Aspiring National Park, and the world’s largest swing, but missing Milford Sound is what upset us the most. From everything we’ve heard its the most beautiful destination in New Zealand and one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, but it is super remote and we lost so much time because of that earthquake, something had to go…

Oh well, not going to Milford Sound means we’ll just have to come back. Inna and I won’t say no to that!

For now, our roadtrip is done and we’re heading back to Australia. But Queenstown is so beautiful, even flying out was an incredible experience.

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Because Queenstown is surrounded by mountains, airplanes must take a steep approach in and out. The result is what Travel and Leisure Magazine deemed the most beautiful airport approach in the world.

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There it is, the Southern Alps as viewed from our plane. This area, which I wish we could have explored more, is considered the most beautiful area in New Zealand. It’s not a coincidence that the majority of Lord of the Rings was filmed here.

At this point Queenstown was below us, we’re moving towards Australia, with New Zealand soon to be behind us. Up next, Australia’s other greatest city (we’ve already visited Sydney), which we will cover in our next post (coming soon)!

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