Saturday, 21 April 2007

But does it have a soul?

Queenstown - a beautiful town for the rich and richer.

No wait, Queenstown- spectacular natural beauty for a high price.

I can do better, Queenstown - watch backpackers blow their trip budget in one weekend!

Damn at this rate I am never going to get that job at the Queenstown Tourist Board.

So how did the trip go.......great! The area is absolutely spectacular, without a doubt, it warrants its reputation. Queenstown is a charming, over the top, tourist town that is better viewed with a wad of cash in your pocket. But as we don't have that wad can it be done on the cheap? Why yes. Can you enjoy it? Why yes again.

Our trip started in this:

We had already postponed a day due to yucky weather and we didn't want to wait yet another day. We left in cold, drizzly weather which once we hit the mountain passes turned into snow flurries. Since I hate being cold (I should clarify from a previous post, I like cold weather, I like being warm in cold weather) things turned a little frosty in the car when Ted noted he wasn't sure if we had enough propane to run the stove (our heating and cups of tea source). We did and all was well (otherwise god help him). It was our shakedown trip for our "new" camper. There were a few bugs left (oh and mice.... literally) but it did well and we did well in it. We found a DOC (Dept of Conservation) campsite about 10km from Queensland that for a family of 4 would set us back $17 per night (as opposed to the $50 in the private holiday parks - ouch!). We could have gone cheaper at another DOC campsite but then our view wouldn't have been this:

See that little dot down there at the lake edge in the trees, that is us, right there, right on the beach. Heaven.

Meals were all from local supermarkets (given that our family is now fully vegan this is the best option for us anyway) and were mostly picnics at the wonderful parks and public places of which there are many. There are some world class restaurants in the area if your budget allows for it but expect to pay a couple of hundred dollars for two. The kids fave picnic area: the original AJ Hackett bungy jumping spot. We spent several hours watching people jump off an old railway bridge one after another into the canyon and river below. This is the birth place of bungy jumping, you did know it was "invented" in NZ right? Well modern day bungy jumping at any rate. They allow you to get really close, right next to the platform so you have a wonderful view of what it would feel like, should you be willing to shell out the $150 needed for each jump! (with DVD and photos, about $240!).

We ended up staying a week and will return. Other towns in the area were equally appealing and worth a longer look, mainly Arrowtown and Wanaka. Wanaka is a quieter version of Queenstown, it is about 45 minutes drive over the mountains at the next lake north. Another lovely spot.

Now the Tanya standard: would I live there? For a short time yes, maybe 6 months or so, though my preference would be Wanaka. Queenstown is created and run for tourists (both local and international) and I like towns where the locals have a strong presence and I didn't feel that in Queenstown. You would be hard pressed to afford a home, even smallish homes with no views are 700,000. The planning whoevers have done a great job in keeping all of the parks and beaches very accessible and lovely. Nice town, beautiful area, but does Queenstown have a soul? I am not sure, maybe, maybe not, depends who you ask. Maybe you shouldn't ask me.


jayne said...

What beautiful scenery and photography!

We have Whistler. Also beautiful, and I wonder about its soul too...

Or at least the souls of the people who live there...

Emily said...

Oh! Gorgeous!

(And I'm thinking about going to NZ on an extended trip, so I love hearing what you have to say about the towns/cities).