Hi Definition Holiday in Queenstown, New Zealand.
Wow what can I say?
Queenstown and the surrounding region is one of, if not the most spectacular and beautiful part of the world we have visited.
The beauty begins before you have even landed, the approach to Queenstown is magnificent, from the moment you cross the coast you are greeted by majestic snow capped mountains, deep fjords and turquoise lakes. You disembark the plane in the shadow of the Remarkables Mountain Range, they soar high above the Queenstown Airport, and Lake Wakatipu. Our Holiday in High Definition has begun!
Queenstown is located in the Otago Region of the South Island of New Zealand, the landscape has many contrasts, flat farming land to high snow capped alpine peaks, bare moonscape like gorges and canyons, to vineyards, and throw in turquoise lakes and raging rivers.
The Otago region is world renowned for the wines it produces, mainly cool climate varieties such as Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Riesling from wineries the likes of Peregrine Estate and Amisfield Estate. Many of the wineries in the region offer outstanding dinning option and we had a beautiful lunch on the lawn in the spring sunshine at Carrick Estate for Dianne's birthdayat Bannockburn and a very special lunch with our two children at Amisfield Estate at Lake Hayes for Fathers day. The outlook from here was over snow capped mountains, vineyard and lake, while the whole afternoon there was light snow flurries falling.
We were very fortunate to be joined on this trip by both our adult children, who both live away from us, it was very special for both of us to spend some time and share some adventures as a family as it does not happen very often now days. Thank you Kate and Shaun for making the effort to join us, it means so much to us.
This was meant to be a skiing trip, as the year has progressed one by one the skiing was ruled out for some of us, me under doctors orders not to ski after my heart surgery, Dianne with a hip problem and at the last minute, Kate with a bad back. So last man standing, Shaun had to do the team thing and go skiing, and it just happened to be the best season the Kiwis have had in years, it is tough for some - Coronet Peak, Soho Basin Cat skiing (a brand-new field adjacent to Cardrona), and Treble Cone, some of the best ski resorts/mountains in the Southern Hemisphere. While Shaun skied the rest of us toured around and went sightseeing at some beautiful places, and enjoyed lunch at the many pubs, restaurants, and cafe's.
We had planned to visit Milford Sound, so we loaded up the car and headed off, we were staying in Te Anau this night, had a lovely dinner and went back to the house we had booked through Airbnb and settled in for the night, meantime a snow storm was brewing. We woke to road warnings and road closures, so after consulting some locals we were advised the road to Milford Sound would open at 10.30 am, so we again headed off for the 2 hour drive on icy and snow covered roads. The scenery along the way was breathtaking so many photo stops were necessary, and the going was slow as the road was windy and steep in place with large drop offs in some places. For about 20Km of the trip you were not permitted to stop due to avalanche risk, a little bit of a concern! Because of the amount of snow that had fallen overnight, the valleys and gorges we were driving through looked like a winter wonderland, trees covered in snow and the amount of water that was cascading down the rock walls and in the creeks and river had to be seen to believed. The gorges and canyons were spectacular with rock walls rising up to 1500m on either side.
On arrival Milford Sound did not disappoint just like the postcards and tour operator brochures, except because of the snow the night before it was all covered in snow, not something everyone gets to see, very beautiful. We took the mandatory tourist cruise down the sound to the Tasman Sea and back, a must do if you venture to this part of the world, again the amount of water cascading into the sound was amazing very impressive, all under blue skies and sunshine. The 4 hour drive back to Queenstown was shared and quite easy after the mornings drive, a great day all be it long.
Shaun skied at a new Cat skiing operation adjacent to the Cardrona Ski Field, Soho Cat skiing. Cat skiing is sometimes referred to as the poor mans Heli skiing, instead of using a helicopter to lift you back up the mountain they use a snow grooming machine with a passenger cabin on the back, so you ski down the hill, they pick you up and take you back to the top, so you can do it all over again.
The weather in this region can change very quickly, one moment it is calm and bright sunshine, the next the heavy clouds roll in and there is strong wind and rain. The movement of the clouds around the mountains is very mesmerising, I found my self watching the cloud moving amongst the alpine peaks for hours, the light constantly changing, rainbows moving across the lake, and the whole time the vista constantly changing.
During our stay in Queenstown we were fortunate enough to have some auroral activity on a couple of nights, the first night Kate and I went to to Moke Lake to take some photos of the Milky Way and to our delight, the Aurora Australis showed up, and then our last night the was very strong strong Aurora activity, we went up to Coronet Peak and captured some great images of the Aurora Australis (Southern Lights) the lights danced across the sky visible to the naked eye, this is an amazing phenomenon to witness, on arrival back or apartment it they were still visible, even with all the light pollution from Queenstown. This was great way to finish our trip in this beautiful part of the world.
I have posted some of my of photographs I have captured in this trip to the Queenstown gallery, just follow the Queenstown Link
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