Skyline, Arrowtown and away we go! 11/29-30/16

Queenstown is a bonny place, with a population of about 19,000. It’s situated at a lower elevation than the high Southern Alps, maybe 1000 ft above sea level, making it a calmer, warmer spot to live, but it's also popular with the outdoor sporting set. Snow in the mountains allows for good skiing, plus there’s great water sports and sailing on the lake, para-sailing, and even bungee jumping, but I’ll save that for a bit later.

Jimmy and I enjoyed wandering the streets of Queenstown, lots to see and do.  We're not shoppers, but we like looky-looing!  Back at the hotel, our group transferred to our coach, with a dinner reservation at Stratosphere Restaurant.  Woot-woot, the only way to get there is by Skyline gondola!  Straight up!

And once your heart gets used to the steep incline, you can appreciate the fantastic views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu as they shrink in the distance.

Perfect weather for such an outing.

Albert, Ibby and Bernice posing at the top.

Most of the group.  Me and Jimmy are toward the right.

It begins!  Yum-yum!

After a group photo was taken on the top viewing deck, we proceeded into the Stratosphere Restaurant for the first seating, with impressive views from floor-to-ceiling windows, where a massive (mostly) seafood buffet was laid out in front of us by sections … this was a food frenzy to end all. Their brochure lists these fresh locally-sourced produce fare items: Breads; soups; Caesar salads; market garden salads; from the deli; vegetarian fare; sushi and sashimi; from the Southern Oceans; Green-lipped mussels; grilled fare; flame rotisserie; cheese selections; and sweet treats, plus tea and coffee (or wine). And this, believe it or not, was our third buffet of the day (breakfast, lunch and dinner)!  If we don’t come home needing larger sizes in all departments, it will be a real miracle. 

I made straight for the shrimp cocktails and fresh sushi, mussels, fishies, salads, seasonal fare, and sweet treats. Not a big meat eater, I bypassed the rotisserie (besides we had meat for lunch).  Imagine the staff having to start this all over again for the second seating at 8:15pm!  The picture above of one section was taken after everyone had heaped their plates more than once, and we were all ready to call it a day, and a night!  I helped myself to the sweets (photo below), and really, everything was superb.

Close to 8 pm, we made our way to the Gondola to ride down, as full as stuffed sausages, and hooked up with our coach for the ride to our hotel. Only one or two intrepid souls in the group opted to walk back.  The rest of us rolled onto our seats like we'd never get up again, till the coach pulled up to the hotel door.  Road Scholar knows how to feed its people, and how -- first class!

Down we go!

We loved looking out on these vistas from our hotel room.

We checked out the next morning (Wednesday), en route to historic Arrowtown, with photo stops along the way at popular Coronet Peak Skifield and to the “Skippers Lookout."  Quite a dramatic view from up here, as well.  Para-sailers with colorful chutes were drifting toward earth as we traveled to our next venue ....

We checked out Arrowtown, peeking into shops, buying a postcard or two, some of us admiring flowers and birds.

New Zealand Chaffinches.

As you can see by the sign above, the Arrowtown area produced another Gold Rush in this world, along the Arrow River, below.  Lupines were popping out all over.

And now, whoo-ee, we've arrived at the bungee bridge, where two of our crowd wanted to try jumping off the Kawarau Bridge!  Unfortunately, with all the other folks/tourists wanting to LEAP off the bridge, there would be time for only one of our Road Scholars to have a go, and that would be Linda.  What a trooper! 

A lot of us are standing on a platform where we can watch the goings-on.  Jimmy is second from left. I was taking the picture, and then I moved to the bridge to see how the bungee business was handled.

Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge, completed in 1880, is classified as a Category 1 historic place. (A new highway bridge was built in 1963.)  Queenstown bills itself as the "Adventure Capital of the World." This bridge is the location of the so-called "World Home of Bungy Jumping -- The Kawarau Bridge Bungy!"  It's 43 metres (141ft) above the Kawarau River, which translates into WAY TOO HIGH (for me).

Linda is, uh, ready to go?  Maybe saying a little prayer?

Here's a shot of our group from where Linda is standing.

Ohhhh ... good grief, what Linda sees from her perch!

Harnessed up and ready to PLUNGE!

When we saw her on the edge at this point, we all began chanting, "Linda! Linda! Linda!"
I think she liked that we were cheering her on.

The other things you see dangling are counterweights.

Linda in her red sweater is left center of this photo.  Beautiful dive!

And here she is, safely inside the boat.

Later, she said it was a real adrenalin boost, noticed no jerking at all, and even felt very secure.  The rest of us were impressed, and lauded her the rest of the day (more like, the rest of our trip!)  You, go, girl!  Our hero!

So, that was it for jolly Queenstown. From this point, we made our way to the airport for our 2:30pm departure for Wellington, which will be our last stop in New Zealand.  What a fun day!


  1. I really enjoyed seeing the views from the gondola and top of the mountain. We had to make a choice b/w the gondola and Queenstown Hill Walk (which was no walk but a lung-buster climb) and I've been wondering how it compared. What, no bungee jump for you and Jimmy!

    1. The gondola, always heart-stopping to begin with, was great. Uh-uh, no thank you on bungee jumping off anything ... I'm a scaredy-cat!

  2. What a brave woman! And such a beautiful place!


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