Monday September 6

Welcome to Queenstown!

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!

Queenstown & Lake Wakatipu, (c) Weather Underground

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 vista.

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:
Alpine Parrot
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 windows.

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 here. 

We also wandered around and took some shots of the lake area.
Lake Wakatipu, NZ
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 the background. 

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. 

9/21 Update

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:
A New Zealand Kiwi Bird
All text content and images on this and any and all subpages, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright (c) 2004,  Alex Kuhn