Sunday 8 January 2012

Days 3 & 4 - Queenstown, Te Anau

Day 3. We flew into Queenstown. As we approached the city, this was the view from the airplane window.

Enough to excite us about what lay in store!

We checked into our hotel. The kids got some downtime, playing in the room. Then we headed out (it was hot and sunny) to the waterfront, the Steamer Wharf. S and I always plan very deliberately, during a pure sightseeing holiday, to give the kids an opportunity every day to do kid stuff. Otherwise they can and they do get, very cranky and bored. In Queenstown, we set them down near the lake (there's a tiny pebbled beach there) and they spent a good hour throwing stones and sticks in the water and competing to see who could throw farthest. The insane beauty of the surroundings was kinda lost on them :) S and I took turns to explore the city center, such as it was (the town's permanent population is only 19000, and in peak season the tourists outnumber the residents!)

A quick ice-cream later, we boarded a Gondola for a ride up the hill, to catch a Maori performance as well as some fantastic views of the city. We were also hoping to see some people bungy-jumping (since we didn't plan to do it ourselves, a fact that disgusted many of our friends....but more on that later :)) but unfortunately the bungy-jumping area was deserted that evening. Ads enjoyed the Maori Kiwi Haka thoroughly, especially all the chest-thumping and loud war cries. Even I got a chance to go on stage and practise some of their moves :)

Back down, we wolfed down some dinner and headed back to the hotel, to give the kids their bath and wind them down before they were ready to fall asleep. The next day, we were driving 3 hours to Te Anau, from where the Milford track commenced. We weren't going on any tramps or hikes (another day, another time perhaps!) but we wanted to stay 2 days in Te Anau and experience Fiordland and of course, take a cruise down the world-famous Milford Sound. A few friends advised us to do both Milford and Doubtful Sounds but I felt it would be overkill not to mention the extra effort involved in getting to Doubtful, it being not as accessible as it's better-known sibling. We would have done both if it was just the two of us. But with young kids around, we were always mindful of putting them through needless extra travel. I've been told - where's the strain for the kids - all they have to do is sit in the bus/car/train. But it's not like that is it? There is so much disruption to  their routines, so much extra stimulation on a trip that they never asked to come on anyway!
The drive to Te Anau was our introduction to driving in NZ. We had a very large SUV which was difficult to maneuver initially especially in the smallish parking slots everywhere. NZ roads are excellent but S tut-tutted at the inappropriate speed limits (either too high or too low) and the roundabouts, where you had to give way to the car or cars on your right, no matter how many there were (instead of following the rule that the vehicle inside the roundabout gets right of way, the way it's done in Delhi - much more sensible. The fact that no one in Delhi except us seems to follow this rule is another matter altogether :))
The scenic drive. We were lucky that most of the days we were blessed with clear skies, very blue and with lots of fluffy, very solid-looking clouds. 

Lake Te Anau, very placid. The town itself is a one-horse town, subsisting entirely on tourism. There was one main street and of course everyone knew everybody else :)

We spent some time lounging around near the lake and marvelling at the complete absence of people. Ads was thrilled to see his first ever seaplane. We had a 5 hour round trip the next day and we knew there were no petrol station on the way, so we tanked up before heading out for dinner. Pizza again! Little did we know that we would be subsisting on Italian food for the entire trip till we were sick and tired of it. The country has few vegetarian options so one has to fall back on sandwiches and Italian. Though I must say every Italian restaurant we went to served us simply scrumplicious food. I did laundry at the hotel while S bathed the kids and that was the end of Day 4.


  1. am thoroughly enjoying your NZ series, Aparna! (albeit, going greener with every breathtaking snap ;-))

    did I sense the "sigh!" on not being able to tramp and hike??

    Completely understand the part about not putting the kids through mindless travel. kids, you've to take their needs into the plan, else the holiday can be ruined.

  2. Dear Aparna,

    I've been in some sort of limbo in 2012 and not catching up on your posts as quickly as I should have.. apologies :(. But now that I am here at last, I am just drinking it aaaalll in!! Just loving your descriptive posts and lovely photos, and especially your thoughtful planning with the kids in mind - you make it sound such smooth sailing ;).

    Looking forward to the rest :), hope your work is going good and schools have opened at last !!

  3. @Uma, aparna: Thanks :) Uma, the hiking part I would have defly loved to do. However i'm resigned to the fact that it will not happen with the kids or husband (sanjay has early osteoarthritis so he can't do any strenuous stuff)
    Aparna: They extended hols by ANOTHER week!!! I am seriously stressed!!! Honestly if I'd known this even 10 days ago, I would have sent the kids to chennai amd everyone would have been happy :( School reopens on 17th, after sankranti.

  4. Gorgeous pics and descriptions! :)
    I second Uma - I am going green with every picture that I see here. :) :) :)


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