If you asked a bunch of people to describe New Zealand and amalgamated their thoughts I am pretty sure you would end up with Queenstown.
A small low rise town on the shores of a glacier fed lake surrounded by stark rocky mountains some of which even in the height of the summer capped with snow and ice.
The views are spectacular, the 100 plus year old steam driven boat plying its trade across the blue, green waters of the lake just adds to the sense of being somewhere very special.
At this level you can not help but love Queenstown.
The 21st century does however intrude… The town, especially the streets and walkways around the lakeside are festooned with restaurants, bars, shops selling ‘outdoor’ clothing and outlets wanting you to jump off the mountains in various ways, or walk across them or ‘enjoy’ a thrill ride across the water. The other manifestation of the world in which we live are the swarms of tourists filling the town.
The town has a slightly unreal artificial feel, too many enterprises catering for visitors and squeezing the life out of anything that might be deemed authentic. The alarm bells ring when you see groups of middle-aged men in golfing shirts either at breakfast or in the bars in the evening. The thought of creating manicured fairways in such a natural wilderness just seems wrong to me. Then again I belong to the half of the world that thinks chasing a ball around for four or so hours a pretty stupid idea….
More alarm bells ring on seeing coaches disgorge swarms of visitors all of who insist on taking pictures of everything that moves, or doesn’t move for that matter and push past and push in at every opportunity invading my personal space and who are absorbed in what they wish to do… Then again I am a Brit so such behaviour is bound to annoy me!
Don’t get me wrong, if anyone wants to visit New Zealand and get a fix of supreme natural beauty this is a great place to start.
We got out of town to catch a ride to the little community of Glenorchy located at the head of the lake which acts as a gateway for serious walkers to get into the mountains and tracks. The only evidence of sight seeing tourists here was almost just us!
We visited February 2015 at the height of Summer. Queenstown is also a ski resort, it would be interesting to come back in winter and get a sense of the vibe then. I am sure it would be different.