Beyond Texas to New Zealand travel blog

view of Queenstown lake

same lake

Routeburn map

Ready to hike the trail

The valley

For Emily, our niece

G and C

G and C at Lake Wakatipu

Nov. 21 Queenstown, what can I say. Prior to arriving here, we had been in Te Anau, a small town and then Stewart Island, population wise, an even smaller town. Now, we were hit with the hustle and bustle of this high energy city. You can bungee jump, parachute, paraglide, or take a speeding jet boat thru a canyon. We chose to do the last. G was conned into the side seat on the Shotover Canyon jet so he got to experience the thrill of being up close and personal with the canyon wall. I just shut my eyes and prayed that we did not turn around and do it again. However, we did! So I kept my eyes closed some more and whispered comforting words to G as his death grip on my arm tightened. The most fun and only slightly frightening aspect of this boat ride were the 360 degree spins the boat would take. All in all, I’m glad we did it but it’s not on my “to do again” list.

Nov. 22

We did another section of the Routeburn track today with Dean, the wonder guide. He knew everything about flowers and trees, birds and bird calls, geology, climatology, and most interesting of all that sheep don’t have tails (I didn’t know that!). You see we saw all these sheep and babies in pens and so we asked him what the ranchers were doing. He said they were “tailing”. I was really baffled since all the sheep I had seen until then did not have these appendages. I asked and , yes, sheep are born with tails but these are docked to prevent a disease which causes a systemic blood poisoning. After that a lot of the baby sheep I saw had tails. I can only think that my mind had not seen them before. G, the intellectual that he is, said if it was a trivia question and the tail was between sheep or goats, he would have chosen sheep. Maybe at the next pub night they will ask that question. Glad I found out before I looked really ignorant in the presence of Kiwis!

The trailhead was an hour and a half away in the Glenorchy area so we had plenty of time to observe the scenery. Again, we were greeted by the noble and proud mountain ranges at the base of which was a seemingly unspoiled, azure Wakatipu. Hiding behind this elegance is a hydroelectric plant. It's the marriage of structural beauty with functionality.

New Zealand has lifted this to a high art form! The hike went up mountain to a large open area through which a meandering river flowed. It provided a tunnel view of snowcapped mountains and a valley in the mist of new spring growth. We hiked further up the mountains and had lunch at a rock slip which overlooked the LLewellynian river valley below.

G and I have a disagreement about our hostel accommodation. He is quite pleased with the room which is large and spacious and is not in the main building. It also has two heaters so we don’t need to get cold on the brisk mornings. Unfortunately, I am of the opinion that it smells like a sweaty body. We have no windows so the only option of airing it is to open our entrance sliding glass door. I have indeed done that every chance I get. G really does not notice noxious odors unless they are excruciatingly overpowering like month old mystery meat in the refrigerator. Plus, and both of us agree on this, the bathroom and shower are in the main building. This means we have to enter the secret code after 8pm each night if we need the facilities. It is all a matter of pros and cons. We don’t like that aspect of this particular hostel, but the heaters in the bathrooms (a first on this trip) almost make up for the deficiencies.

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