November 28, 2003

Queenstown

Finding sleep was difficult. I was sharing the room with a couple of brainless noisy kiwis and the bed obviously engineered to support 12-year old rather than a normal adult was shaking and menacing to collapse anytime while I was fighting against cold under a 160cm blanket and do my best to avoid suffocating by disappearing in the depth of a soft mattress. I 'woke up' at 6:30AM to find my way into a hot shower during 30 minutes. I had to wait until 8:30AM for the office to open so that I could have my key deposit back, I then headed to the visitor centre to figure out if I could join a wildlife tour in the morning.

After a careful look at her computer, the woman at the visitor centre informs me that everything is fully booked and that there is no way I can see something if I go by myself. Thanks, that's great news.

Anyway I decide to take a tour by myself and drive to the peninsula. I stopped at the Larnach Castle (NZ$15), went walking down the beach at Seal Point rd to see a couple of sea lions lying lazily on the sand and went to the Penguin Place to see Yellow-eyed Penguin ($NZ30). The latter is supposed to give you excellent photographic opportunities, but there are only a couple of penguins and they are very shy and easily disturbed. So unless the penguin fall into your arms by accident or that you are equipped with a 800mm lens there is no way you can get a decent picture. Kind of a disappointment compared to Simonstown near Capetown. Moreover a Malaysian family with excited gremlins decided to jump in the same tour and not to listen the guide when she insisted on keeping QUIET !

At 2PM it's time for me to take the road to Queenstown. After being lost for about 30 minutes trying desperatly to find a useful road sign, I finally managed to find the appropriate direction.

New Zealand, Australia and South Africa are in the top list for providing absolutely useless and inappropriate road signs that make you open a road map (if you have one) while their purpose is exactly to avoid that. Frustrating, especially when like in the US street signs are so conveniently placed for a driver. A contrario, street signs in France are conveniently hidden or positionned in a way to make it invisible from a driver.

It is raining again. Too bad, as there are a couple of photo opportunities for the landscape. It lasts until about Beaumont, this is where I decide to stop a few minutes to get a strong black coffee, a sandwich and a muffin. I nearly fell asleep a few minutes before (due to last night mess, obviously) and I still have 200km to drive so I'd better get some energy.

The remaining kilometers offer an absolutely splendid landscape and luckily the sun decides to show. This has obviously been the case here for a while as the land is much dryer than around Dunedin.

I finally arrive at Queenstown around 7:30PM and decide to stay at Pinewood Lodge (NZ$22) after checking around. Queenstown is some kind of adrenalin-junky town where they offer everything X-treme like bungy, paragliding, skydiving, jet-boating, white-water rafting, abseiling and whatever weird activity you can think about. All of it is of course at X-treme prices as well. That makes it a must-stay place for backpackers.


Otago Harbour with Goat and Quarantine islands Landscape around Pukehiki, Otago Peninsula Larnach Castle, Dunedin's Otago Peninsula Larnach Castle, Dunedin's Otago Peninsula Larnach Castle, Dunedin's Otago Peninsula Larnach Castle, Dunedin's Otago Peninsula Larnach Castle, Dunedin's Otago Peninsula Larnach Castle, Dunedin's Otago Peninsula Sandfly Bay, sheep land Sandfly Bay, sheep land Sandfly Bay Sandfly Bay, I'm lost between seals and sea lions Sandfly Bay, I'm lost between seals and sea lions Sandfly Bay, I'm lost between seals and sea lions Sandfly Bay, I'm lost between seals and sea lions Sandfly Bay, sheep land Yellow-eyed pinguin, Otago Peninsula. Cannot see it ? Look better at the dot in the middle of the beach !! ;-) Yellow-eyed pinguin, Otago Peninsula This plant has a very strong odor similar to thym Tree bordering a lake Lake on the road to Queenstown Lake Dunstan, Dunedin-Queenstown Dunstan Goldfield Cromwell and Lake Dunstan

 
Posted by stephane at November 28, 2003 08:02 AM
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