Thursday, October 24, 2013

NZ - Queenstown - a boat ride on the lake

After the long drive to Queenstown from Hokatika, I was quite tired and bed was very welcome.

The next morning I woke up to this view from the bed. The motel was an old one but we tend to like the unusual varieties.

Queenstown is famous for the lake and the surrounding mountains. The part of the lake in the foreground is actually a small offshoot of the main lake and is comparatively calm compared to the wider sections of the main part of the lake.

This peninsula is the location of the local golf course which rates in the top 10 scenic in the world. I will have to look up where the other top nine are but I find it hard to believe that there is much better than this. 

We had decided to take it easy and do a boat ride on the lake. We drove the mile or so into town and parked by this park by the lake.

The main part of the lake. Note the waves driven by the wind from the west.

It was a Saturday morning and there was a market selling the usually jewelry and junk that I would never need.

As well as the sedate boat ride that we were going to take, you can also take the jet boats that are much more exhilarating (and wet). Since I am an old fogie, I am happy to take the slow boat.

The captain of our boat started off the proceedings by feeding some of the trout in the lake.

If you look closely towards the lower right you might be able to see a trout.

This was to be our vessel, the 'Million Dollar 2'. The cruise costs $25 for about 90 minutes.

Forty years ago when my sister Clare and I drove around the South Island, our rental car had a flat tire when we were in Wanaka about 50 miles away. Back in those days, the population of Wanake was small and we had to drive to Quenstown to get the tire fixed. We dropped off the car at the bottom of the hill and took the cable car to this building at the top of the mountain. We enjoyed looking at the view and had lunch and when we saw that the garage had repaired the car, we descended.

The cable car trip looks really high and really scary.

I doubt that there is too much left of the Queenstown of forty years ago. It was touristy back then but even more so now. As part of his spiel, the boat captain said that the local population of Queenstown is about 14,000 but the normal tourist population is 18,000 for most nights of the year.

We initially sat on the top of the boat so that we could see more of the view.

The captain advised those of us on top to come inside as we went around the peninsula on the left since he would have to speed up and there would be a lot of splashing. We wimps went inside.

Tourist accommodation, mostly well above $200 per night in this area.

The northern part of the lake. We did not go there.

The boat had two engines and the captain fired up the second engine and this placid looking boat really started to move. He said that he took his sons water skiing using this boat! I believed him.

Eventually we reached calmer waters and the captain slowed the boat down to about 5 knots. This is he golf course.

Of in the distance further up the lake I could see a boat making smoke. This was a vintage tour boat.

The northern part of the lake is where most of the tourists stay. 

Zoom photo of the restaurant at the top of the cable car.

Some sort of old boat launching ramp.


The boat went close to the southern side of the lake which is popular with local residents. There is a micro climate with less cold wind and of course, the houses get the northern sun which is not blocked by mountains as it is on the northern side of the lake.

The average price of a house on the lake in this area is well over $1 million. Some of the architecture is interesting.

The lake is lined with willow trees which actually originated in St Helena from Napolean's time.

Notice the walkway that sticks out from the house like a nose.

This boat was the original tour boat on the lake. It was built for the King of Tonga but he could not fit through the doors to get onto the boat. He was a big lad.

The captain remarked that nobody gardens in front of their house much. They just plant some stuff and hopefully it will grow.

The captain mentioned that this relatively modest dwelling was his house that he was fortunate enough to build in the early 80's before the area became popular.

This was one of the original architect designed houses in the area. These days, even the modern houses are knocked down to be replaced by even more grand designs.

I was intrigued by the curves of this house. It's a cool design.

The water in the lake is crystal clear and is the second most pure in the world. Essentially it is identical to distilled water. The captain said that it would not conduct electricity.

Part of the range of mountains called the Remarkables.

The bridge that carries the road heading south. This bridge is built on top of a small dam.

Suddenly we noticed the weird cloud patterns.

These patterns were amazing. I pointed them out to another photographer with a serious camera who had not noticed them. He immediately started to take photos of them.

One of the boats they use in the Shotover Gorge. It looked like a good recipe for getting quite wet. Bungy jumping also popular in this area but neither of us was inclined to jump off a bridge.

More clouds in a different part of the sky.

More cloud patterns.

There are several small islands of trees at the top of the lake in this area. Many years ago a local tour boat operator put some stakes made of willow into the shallow parts of the lake to denote where to avoid coming aground. These stakes branched and grew into these little islands.

These units on the northern side of the lake were built as holiday cottages for workers on the NZ Railways. Apparently the guidelines stated that all such units had to face north to catch the northern sun so these were installed in the wrong direction to catch the view. You have to go into the toilet and stand on the seat to see the magnificent view.

A faux castle.

If you look directly under the two chimneys you can see an internal skylight for the room that juts out. I thought that was an interesting idea.

Tucked away.

Since we own a round house, I thought this was interesting.

An odd sort of boxy house.

This would not be out of place in one of those Italian towns that overlook the Med.

This catamaran was built in the style of the vessels that brought the Mouris to New Zealand. The cross beams are lashed to the hulls.

The yellow rooms are where we stayed.

The captain fired up the extra motor to speed us around the point back to the wharf.

This sailing boat was a former Americas Cup racer.

This boat was used by Winston Churchill and the story is that it went to Dunkirk.

A few months after my sister and I completed our trip around the South Island forty years ago, my father asked me if we had taken the boat ride on the lake. I replied 'No because the tide was out'. I think he was ready to clip me over the ear.

It really is a wonderful boat ride. Forty years ago most of the houses in these photos would not have existed and Queenstown would have been much smaller and traditional. But it is still a wonderful location.

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