The Bed and Breakfast I had booked called me three weeks before my honeymoon trip to let me know that my booking could not honor the reservation. “Sorry, not sorry” was the general answer I was getting from the owner. The acid in my stomach churned and gave me heart palpitations for a solid day until I managed to pull myself together and look for alternatives. By sheer luck, I noticed one of my marketing newsletters from JetSetter.com was advertising a deal in Queenstown New Zealand. There must be a God. I booked our stay for two nights at Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel and never looked back. Although it was the polar opposite from my original lodging intention (quaint bed and breakfast) my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed it’s location near the gondola base. Did I mention they also served evening canapes with wine and local beer?
That evening we set sail on magnificent TSS Earnslaw which proudly chugs across Lake Wakatipu as one of the last remaining passenger coal-powered ships in the world. My favorite part by far was walking on a sturdy (yet thin) bridge which looked directly over the coal-shoveling and mechanical operations. It was a warm refuge from the whipping cold on the outer deck (also nice but can only be enjoyed for so long). The TSS Earnslaw took us directly to Walter Farms, where we feasted upon a staggering buffet display with more desserts than I could possibly sample. Vacation problems.
Typically, I’m disagreeable when I wake up at 6am during holiday, but not on this day. I felt alive with energy, brimming with anticipation at the thought of our visit to the Milford Sound. FergBaker (a branch of the ever famous FergBurger) called to me with her menu of savory meat pies. With my pork belly pies and flat whites in hand, we piled into the Milford Sound BBQ Bus and met our tour group-mates. We rode on a small passenger van with our exceptional guide Marty. He had an endless trove of knowledge about the surrounding landscape, and enlightened us on the conservation effort for endangered Takahe birds. In fact, one of the images on the shuttle bus are of two Takahe birds sharing rare moment.
We wound through the roads, stopping often for incredible photo opportunities and short nature walks. True to it’s name, we enjoyed a BBQ lunch sitting outdoors in the glorious sun, bums content in comfortable camp chairs. The Milford Sound was just a short drive away and its grand presence reverberated in the lush green forests, and jagged peaks in every background. I felt it before I truly saw it. Seeing it before my eyes brought a surge of emotions I couldn’t articulate. Maniacal joy, fear, splendor, unworthiness, confusion, topped with electric excitement. It’s difficult to comprehend the 360-degree view while you travel through the fjord. Waterfalls gush and flow in droves, sharp air slaps at your face, while the sun continues to shine boldly.
Seize every moment and carry it with you.
We flew on a tiny passenger plane back to Queenstown, relishing in the sights below. The road we had traveled on just hours before looked insignificant; bending to yield to the looming mountains above. In just thirty minutes, we found ourselves back in Queenstown. It felt eerily similar to time travel.
The next morning we found ourselves in another elevated locale, atop the Skyline Queenstown Gondola. There is a stunning view of Lake Wakatipu and the residences of Queenstown that curve around her edges. For lack of adventuresome technological equipment, my husband and I tethered my phone to my shirt pocket to capture the ride down the hill. It’s basically a three-minute movie of my right thigh, hysterical screaming (I forgot how to brake once we took off), and sporadic glimpses of blue Lake Wakatipu. I’ll treasure it forever. Luckily, our next item of business (of the calmer variety) was to visit Onsen Hot Pools to soak in the panoramic sights of the mountain ranges and braided lake below with yellow-flowered bushes peppering the landscape.
We had moved from our swanky boutique hotel into a comforting bed and breakfast called the Queenstown House Boutique Hotel. Our day lightly eased into relaxing massage at Body Sanctum and into a quiet evening. After dinner, the clouds had moved in. By nightfall, rain fell gently across homes, buildings, trees, lakes, and mountains.