Our first full day in Queenstown provided clear evidence that it really is Autumn even though the calendar says April. When we arrived last night we knew that we had great views from the house of Lake Wakatipu and the mountain range (appropriately named “The Remarkables”), but the morning light really illustrated just how beautiful this place is and how vibrant the colors are right now. The bright yellows with the occasional shock of red on the trees make for a truly picturesque postcard view.
We started our day with a quick drive into Queenstown, less than five minutes from where we are staying. Arriving into town we quickly appreciated that this is a tourist oriented place, particularly by New Zealand standards. There are storefronts everywhere advertising one form or another of adrenaline pumping activity - bungy jumping, jet boating, sky diving, paragliding and canyon swings to name just a few. There are also more hotels, restaurants and bars here than we have seen anywhere else we have visited in New Zealand. Despite the tourist trappings, it really is a lovely place, with its setting on a large lake surrounded by the mountains. It feels to me a bit like Park City (if Park City was on the shore of a beautiful lake).
After walking around town we took a short drive to Arrowtown, a small gold mining town located about 10 miles down the Shotover and Arrow River valleys. While again a “tourist friendly” locale with art shops and restaurants on main street, the town also has a lot of charm with its tree lined streets and original frontier structures which date back to Arrowtown’s origins in the gold rush of 1862. Situated on the bank of the Arrow River, the Fall colors are really beautiful with a panorama of color lining the mountains.
Some visitors tried their hand at panning for gold in the river, but our kids decided that the riverside skateboard park looked more interesting. The kids had great fun at the skateboard park, even though they had no skateboards to ride. The cement hills and tricks are fun to run up and down even without a board it seems. We’ve noticed that just about every small town has one of these skateboard features in the local park and they seem to get a good amount of use but we have yet to see any of the kids wearing helmets while doing their tricks.
We took a short walk along the banks of the arrow river before heading home. It is really nice how many walking paths there are in this country and how well built and maintained they all seem to be. After returning to the house I discovered another beautiful path along the lake near our house. The path runs right along the lake with spectacular views in all direction. This particular section is 5km long and runs from Queenstown on one end to Frankton (near the airport) on the other and is part of a 100km long network of paths that follow the Wakatipu shoreline. I’m happy to have found a perfect running path for the rest of our stay here!