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New Zealand: Queenstown

The edge of Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown
Queenstown is perched on the edge of picturesque Lake Wakatipu

On Boxing Day, after spending the night in the Blue Lake public shelter with Ben and Mira – where there were no Himmlers or camp fees, but then again, no right to be there either – I said my goodbyes and started south through the Lindis Pass towards Queenstown, making a lunch stop on the way at the historic Kawarau Suspension Bridge, a lovely little bridge across a deep gorge in the mountains. Well, it would have been lovely, but it's near Queenstown, the tourist centre of the South Island, and so Kawarau is now a bungee bridge, and being right on the main highway, it's an extremely popular and rather overcrowded stop-off for busloads of tourists. Still, it was interesting to see my first bungee bridge, even though it's quite a small one at 43m high – the biggest, Skippers Canyon Bridge, is 69m high, and is also near Queenstown – but at NZ$130 a jump I decided to stick to watching.

Return to Queenstown

The mountains surrounding Queenstown
Queenstown is surrounded by slopes, which make for good skiing in winter

After visiting Bluff I took advantage of the lack of distractions in Southland to head north to Queenstown once again. My plans to camp in a dirt cheap DOC campsite at 12 Mile Creek were dashed when I discovered a bikers' rally there for the weekend, so after pussyfooting about – something I tend to do when my plans get scuppered – I checked into a rather posh caravan park right in the town at the princely sum of NZ$10 per night, the most expensive place I've yet camped in New Zealand. Still, Queenstown is regarded as one of the most expensive places in the country, so I decided to treat myself, and despite the fact that in the dining room I heard every language except English, making it rather hard to believe I was in New Zealand, I enjoyed the pampering; I also enjoyed the real meat that I'd bought for my supper, my first meat this year after eating nothing but dried rice and the odd bit of tinned tuna on my tramps.