Friday, 25 November 2011

Otago Road Trip - Part two. Queenstown, Wanaka and Oamaru

Hey there, welcome back to the Otago Road Trip. I left part one in Gore getting ready to head to Queenstown. 
 Road trip route- 
  1. Dunedin - Mon 14th – Thur 17th November
  2. Gore – Fri 18th November
  3. Queenstown – Sat 19th November
  4. Wanaka Sun 20th – Tue 22nd November
  5. Oamaru Tue 22nd November

Incase your new to blogger, if you click on a photo that will enlage it. I take so many photos I don't have the space to put them all as large on here.
Saturday 19th November

Kingston flyer
We began the journey on Saturday aiming to meet the Kingston flyer on our way to Queenstown. The Kingston Flyer is a old steam train maintained and run on an old section of the track between Kinsgston and Fairlight a 14km trip. Chris (one of the people I was on the road trip with) is a bit of a train enthusiast, so Gretchen thought it would be a great opportunity for him to go on a Kiwi Steam Train in a lovely setting. We met the train in Fairlight and Chris hopped on there. As I had already done the Overlander a couple of weeks ago I was quite happy to do the drive between Fairlight and Kingston and meet Chris at the other end.
I really enjoyed seeing the train. I love history for any place and I'm finding it particularly interesting whilst being in New Zealand, as their history is so young in comparison to England. I got slightly carried away taking photos of the train, but the sun was out and I couldn't resist.

From a petrol station on route. Breathtaking!
After picking up Chris in Kingston we continued on our way to Queenstown enjoying stunning scenery along the way. I had heard many things about Queenstown over the last couple of weeks. The main things I had heard where, 'you wont want to leave once you get there, it is stunning, the bars are great'. So I was expecting a lot from Queenstown and I have to say I was not disappointed.
It was stunning from the moment we started driving around Lake Wakatipu. seeing the mountains still with snow on it was spectacular. As soon as I got out of the car I was busy taking pictures, taking advantage of the gorgeous weather.


We went for a delicious lunch by the lake, of fish and chips at a bargain of $10 amazing. Followed by a little wander around a little craft market. Gretchen and I then went up the SkyLine Gondola, this is cable car that takes you up to Bob's peak an amazing and spectacular view point over Queenstown. With our amazing weather we could see for miles, and the best thing was we could see it all without putting too much strain on my foot. Chirs decided not to go up on the Gondola as he does not trust things that just hang from a cable, haha.

 Views from the top of the Gondola skyline.
Gretchen and I on Bob's Peak.

Once we were at the bottom again we had a quick wander around some shops. I was really impressed with all the bars, restaurants and shops in Queenstown it is defiantly a place I will come back to when I return to the South Island. If I am still here in the winter, perhaps I will come back for the ski season. 

A quick stop for a photograph on our way to Wanaka.

Back on the road again we made our way to Wanaka our home for the next two days. One of Gretchen's friends had very kindly loaned us her stunning house in Wanaka for three nights. Driving around Otago was constantly breathtaking as I have mentioned, it's truly impossible to capture it through taking photographs. The roads will take you across flat fields, up steep windy roads and all the time you will be wowed by the setting you are in.

Dinner on Saturday night


Sunday 20th November

On Sunday we woke up to aweful weather, a perfect opportunity to have a lazy morning (much appreciated I have to say) We then went for a drive into the Mt Aspiring National Park unfortunately when we got half way we could not go any further into the mountains to our destination. The rain had got very heavy and we had to cross a ford. As our car did not have 4x4 setting we did not want to risk it driving through and end up getting stuck. However we went to Albert Town, a very small town set on a river. With a nice walk to enjoy. I decided to use a walking stick at this point (hence the pictures with me looking like an old lady) as I was still suffering from my stupidity of my sprained ankle. Chris and Gretchen continued on the walk a little further than me. I took the opportunity to rest up and do a spot of drawing.

Puzzling world
On the drive back to our house we stopped in for a quick cup of tea. One of the quietest tea breaks we have had. We stopped at puzzling world a place of illusions and puzzle games. As you can see by the photographs it kept our attention. Definitely a must do for anyone in the area. We did not pay to go in the maze or optical illusions, but the puzzles over our cup of tea and the toilets (yup the toilets) were enough if you don't have lot's of time or want to spend the money going into the paid sections.
Wanaka seemed like a lovely little town. Not as big or busy as Queenstown, because the locals don’t want it to be they want it to stay unspoilt. Wanaka does not have all of the gap year backpackers as they stop for a day and continue on to Queensrtown. I believe that its a good thing, as it gives it a little more grown up feel to the town. Wanaka has some excellent things to do in the area mainly if your an outdoors type person. Someone who likes walking and hiking would love it here. In summer I have heard being on the lake is great, when I was there in spring it was too cold and wet to go in.

Monday 21st November
Wine tasting at Mt Diffficulty

Mt Difficulty
On the last day of our road trip we had a lot of distance to cover to get from Wanaka down to Oamaru. We wanted to be in Oamaru by 7pm ready to see the Little Blue Penguin come in from a day at sea. We popped in on one of Gretchen's friends who lived in a stunning house on the top of a hill. She uses a programme called HelpX. She offers accommodation and food for four hours of work a day. I had heard of it before but it was nice to meet one of the hosts. Chris seemed rather taken with it and said it seemed like a great way to save money as you travel.  If your interested have a look here:

After our quick pit stop we continued on to Mt Difficulty vineyard. Otago is very famous for it's Pino Noir wine and we could not be in the Otago Valley without stopping at one VinYard. We did a brief wine tasting followed by some yummy tapas over a bottle of wine. I am still not very knowledgeable on wine but slowly learning what is nice.


Oamaru Beach
Our final stop before getting back to Dunedin was Oamaru, home of the Little Blue penguin. The little penguins nest in an old quarry very close to the town, at dusk every evening they come back from a day of being at sea to the mainland. We arrived around 6pm still with plenty of day light so time to have some dinner and explore the area. The town it self is very pretty and would be great to see it open. There are not many towns in New Zealand that have an old feel about them but Oamaru with its beautiful 19th century architecture does. Once it reached dusk we went to find our seats to get ready to see the Little Blue Penguins come in from a hard day of fishing. The penguins fish all day alone and meet up with other penguins and come back in to the mainland, in 'rafts' of about 10 to 20 penguins. Safety in numbers when returning to their nests on land. It was very funny watching the penguins arrive back, they do a lot of shaking, grooming themselves making sure there feathers are all good. And what seemed to me greeting each other. They then make there way up the rocky ramp and dash across a small path into a fenced off area containing there nesting boxes. I really enjoyed watching the penguins I was like a child, so excited. Another must do I would say for anyone in the area and a perfect end to the road trip before heading back to Dunedin.

Me and my new friend
I could not take photos due to flash, however I did buy two photographs.

Tuesday 22nd November
Dunedn Railway Station
Steepest Hill

Our last day of the road trip was spent in Dunedin. I wanted to go and see the railway station with its claim to fame being the best known and most photographed building in New Zealand; second in the Southern Hemisphere after the Opera House in Sydney. It was a stunning building I thought it odd that the building is not really used any more as a train station and only does tourist trips. We then went to see the worlds steepest hill followed by me cooking paella for Chris and Gretchen as a thank-you for a great week.

Thankyou Paella
My first trip down to the south Island was fantastic and helped to remind me why I am here and that is to see and experience New Zealand. As we moved around very quickly seeing lots in such a short time I started to make a list of things to do again next time I am down in the South Island and in the Otago region.

For part one click here:

Note to other travellers/ ex-pats:  
South Island is amazing, as is all of New Zealand. I would highly recomend both the Albtross and the penguins even if you are not huge animal/wildlife lovers.
If you want to do any adventure type things most places expect you to have a credit card to book on as they know they can get the money from it.  

1 comment:

  1. Another good write up Katie. If I get my finishing date next year we will plan a trip. I like the idea of HelpX.


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