The final stop on our month long New Zealand tour was Queenstown, a scenic two hour drive from Te Anau.
Along the way we stopped at all the scenic lookouts (as usual) including the “Devils Staircase,” a scenic mountain range along Lake Wakatipu.
Ask any tourist who has been to the South Island what their favorite place was and there’s a fair chance that they’ll tell you Queenstown. The place is an adventure-seekers dream, with loads of activities on offer including jet boating, skydiving, parasailing, bungee jumping, luging down a mountain, snow skiing (in winter), and even riding in a semi-submersible jet boat that looks like a shark.
We didn’t do any of that crazy stuff, in part because most of the activities would have been nose-bleedingly expensive for our family of five, and in part because our insurance policies probably didn’t cover them. 😉
Instead, we enjoyed a few low-key days hanging out at our comfy AirBnb home and seeing some of the local sights. We even went out to see a movie for the first time this trip (Annette saw “Captain Marvel” while everyone else went to “Lego Movie 2”).
Fall was just beginning to arrive in Queenstown and many of the trees were turning beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red.
Our stay in Queenstown spanned the Easter holiday and the town was jam-packed with tourists. To get away from the craziness we decided to stay in an AirBnb in a residential neighborhood east of the city. The house provided easy access to walking trails along the Shotover river.
The day before Easter we went to the local market. Here the kids got to decorate eggs while we parents perused the different stalls where we found a range of handmade products including authentic Swedish kannelbulle and chocolates.
Later the kids took part in a race in which they had to balance an egg on a spoon.
Our oldest got a good lead on the pack and was just steps away from winning.
Sadly she dropped her egg just before the finish, but this gave our second oldest the opportunity to leap across the line for the win! 🙂
He was quite happy with his prize of a mug and hot cocoa.
Our AirBnb hosts had a great collection of board games and we enjoyed some great family time playing them at the dining table.
One day we made the drive up to Glenorchy, a cute small town about an hour north of Queenstown.
We decided to stop by Glenorchy Animal Experience, a farm with friendly animals including Alpacas, ponies, pigs, horses and sheep.
I grew up in an agricultural area so it felt a bit silly to me to pay someone for the privilege of walking around their farm and feeding their livestock.
The kids have mostly grown up in the city though, so they enjoyed the novelty of hand-feeding the animals. 🙂
Our ticket included a sheep shearing demonstration by the farmer, a man in his 60s. We learned that the average age of a sheep shearer in NZ is over 50, and the number of sheep in the country has been declining, from 70 million in the 1980s to around 30 million today.
Once the kids tired of feeding farm animals we continued driving north towards an even smaller community called “Paradise.”
This beautiful area was one of the places where “The Lord of the Rings” was filmed.
Back in Queenstown, we took our daughter to The Bead Shop, where she had a great time making a necklace and bracelet from a large selection of beads.
She was quite happy with the finished product.
Our time in Queenstown was a bit more relaxed than what most travelers experience, but for us it was a nice way to wrap up our month-long journey across the North and South Islands of New Zealand.
As we boarded our plane under sunny skies we were sad to be leaving, but excited about all the adventures that awaited us in Australia, country number 27 in our family sabbatical!