After an assuredly solid night's sleep, we get picked up at 9:45 am for
our 11:20 QF4191 90 minute flight to Queenstown
We're staying at the Aspen Hotel
at 155 Fernhill Road,
Queenstown. "The hotel has an Alpine ambience, stunning scenery
and panoramic views"
And here is a picture of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu which I found on
Weather Underground - wow!
We arrived this afternoon after
what was a totally stunning flight. The flight itself was
completely normal and fine, but we flew over all of the Southern Alps
and saw tremendous beautiful views of nature's splendor.
Unfortunately our seat positions didn't offer good photo vantages, but
I will try to find equivalent photos of what we saw. The approach
to Queenstown was incredible as well. The descent took us into
the mountain range, with the mountains seemingly rising up next to us
as we descend, until a final left turn on final yielded an incredible
scene with the mountains you see in the photo above on one side, an
expanse of lower hills and natural land on the other. An amazing
We got to the hotel, which has a really nice view of Lake Wakatipu,
where we met up with Jen, who traveled over from Sydney to see New
Zealand. After getting settled we went into town to see the Kiwi
& Birdlife park. This conservatory rescues injured birds and
is active in the breeding programs to save endangered New Zealand
species, such as the native Kiwi bird. We saw a couple of Kiwis
in a natural-like setting, where they poked the ground with their bills
looking for worms, and then started chasing each other around as if
they were a couple of kittens! They were pretty neat. In
the wild their eggs get eaten by predators like feral cats and stoats,
and so they are on the verge of extinction. The show had some of
their other birds swooping over the audience, which was entertaining
and educational. Here are some of the animals we saw:
This is an alpine parrot, the kea, the only parrot native to New
Zealand, and which lives on mountaintops and is very curious. It
messes with skiers' roof racks and peels the weatherstripping from car
Never did find out what kind of bird this is, looks like a fancy
chicken to me.
This is a native parakeet, known as a Lorikeet.
This is a native pigeon, the largest in the world.
After this we wandered around the shopping areas for a while looking
for some additional cold-weather clothing. The temperature is
about 10+ degrees colder than Auckland, which was a cool but
comfortable 52. Since we're going on a boat trip on Tuesday we
thought we should have some extra layers, so we bought some fleece
jackets which were on sale, since it's the end of their winter
We also wandered around and took some shots of the lake area.
Some of the nearby mountains with mist over the Lake. A steamship
which runs on the lake is coming right for us.
Here is a quick shot of the three of us with the Remarkables in
After dinner at Monty's, which is in one of the original buildings here
in Queenstown, with a huge walk-in fireplace suitable for cooking
sheep, it was back to the hotel. We're up early tomorrow for our
trip to Milford Sound.
More information about Monty's - it is in one of the oldest buildings
in Queenstown and has been an inn/pub for more than a hundred
years. The fireplace is huge, and was obviously built in a time
when you heated and cooked from the single fireplace in a
building. About 6 feet high and 8 feet wide.
Some have noted that I did not put up any pictures of a Kiwi when we
visited the "Kiwi and Birdland Park". That's because the
buildings where they are kept is very dark and you see them running
around behind glass. You also can't use any flash photography
because it scares them. But upon my return I scanned in a
postcard of a typical kiwi such as we saw: