Arriving in Queenstown on a wet and wild evening, for Christmas week in the New Zealand summer, we were then exceptionally lucky and blessed with a week of sunshine.
Queenstown itself doesn’t have a huge waterfront, but it’s bustling with plenty do to, including a fantastic play area. To me, it is like the New Zealand Windermere of the Lake District – everything a tourist could possibly want, from shops to cafes & restaurants to fun galore.
For a bit of fun we had gone to play the indoor mini golf as it is awesome – a must if you have a couple of spare hours. Sadly it was closed so instead we played the outdoor mini golf. Still fun but standard. I discovered it is hard to play with a mini in a front sling!
So in the end we let Evie romp and she made the course even more difficult!
These are both located at the bottom of the gondola.
Easily walkable from the centre of town, this takes you up the mountain for a great view, and if you choose, paragliding, bungi jumping and riding the luge. For us though, it knocked an hours walk off each end of our bigger walk up Ben Lomond.
You may think this mountain is in Scotland, but it also exists in Queenstown! This must be one of the most popular walks given the number of people doing it. But it is obvious why once on it.
From the top of the gondola the path winds through the woods a short way before starting an unremitting ascent to the top.
It was a 1&1/2 hrs walk to the saddle. It’s unusual that we take as long as walking signs suggest, but on this walk we did! The saddle is a good place to stop at for turkey sandwiches round 1, for it has great views of the next mountain range across.
From here it got more rocky underfoot and was a harder steeper ascent, and Evie started to few super heavy! I have to admit (and this is unusual for me), that I nearly suggested that our view was good enough and we could turn back. However, so long as you can see the summit, it’s worth it.
The view from the top was nothing short of remarkable.
It is definitely Evie’s highest peak at 1,748m and we therefore woke her up to appreciate the view! She told us later how much she loved it.
Taking special care on the first part of the descent, and stopping for Turkey sandwiches round 2 back on the saddle, we then made our way back down. Although expensive, I was by this point super pleased of the lift down as both our feet were super painful.
At the gondola cafe we treated ourselves to smoothies and fries before heading back down for the evening.
Again, the New Zealand version of this Scottish sounding place. It was about a 40 minute drive from Queenstown and a beautiful spot. We liked the sound of the lagoons and thought they would be a great place to hang out and swim. Reality was that although they had their own prettiness, they were very shallow and silty.
Despite Finley repeatedly asking if we were going in, after I watched Tim wade and get not deeper than his shins, kicking up silt with every step, even as someone who swims whenever possible, here did not inspire me to get wet!
So after a hot picnic on a small jetty, we headed back to the head of the Lake Wakatipu and there we did swim. Jumping off the jetty and in and off the swimming platform, into the gorgeous blue water. Evie had a little paddle but was not hugely amused at the cold temperature of the water! So she hung out with Granny & Granded.
The Remarkables walks
Just out of Queenstown past the airport, you can drive up the steep hairpin road to The Remarkables ski area.
From this car park two walks are signposted.
Tim, Evie, Granny & Grandad went to the lake, which took about an hour to walk to. It looks a pretty special place.
Nick, Cath, Joseph, Finley and myself went on a slightly longer walk to the Lookout, as the terrain wasn’t suitable for all. We even managed a snowball fight and some bum sledging in the patches of snow left still in December. From here was a spectacular view over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.
Kelvin Heights Peninsula
This is a nice sheltered bay that looks across to Queenstown but is very easy to get to by car. With a golf course in the middle but woods around the outside, you can walk or cycle around the peninsula, walking for about an hour. The water is a beautiful blue which just makes you want to jump in. It’s also where the locals seem to hangout with all their water toys.
Back on the bike, the Kelvin Heights Peninsula is a section of the Queenstown Trail that is nice to cycle. When you have biked around the peninsula and through a small housing estate you can then continue along the Queenstown trail to Jacks point. This is a gorgeous section of trail looking down on Lake Wakatipu. However, still being new to having Evie on the back of my bike rather than in a trailer, and with the path a bit loose under wheel, I pushed up the steeper hills but we enjoyed whizzing down. From previous experience you can continue doing a bit of mountain biking around Jacks Point. Not for us on this day though.
Swimming in the lake
We were incredibly lucky to be staying in a family house that looked onto and had access to Lake Wakatipu.
Although super cold (far too cold for Evie), it was great fun to jump into and enjoy a refreshing cool off after a hot summers day.
Even Grandad couldn’t resist the tempting waters and braved the cold for a swim.
A warm Christmas Day
Christmas doesn’t seem to be a big thing in New Zealand, but Santa and his reindeer still got left their drink, mince pie and carrot to ensure that we were not forgotten out here.
He thoughtfully left some very small gifts that Joseph and Finley helped Evie to open.
A nice walk around the Kelvin Peninsula, a turkey dinner and then (apparently) a New Zealand style pudding, a pavlova.
Merry Christmas one and all – time to move on in our trip.