Sunday, March 6, 2016

New Zealand Trip Recap : Part 3 (Queenstown)

If you're new here, or haven't tuned in for a while, the BF and I just got back from a 10 day (counting travel) // 7 night trip to New Zealand. This is part three of my trip recap, part one here, part two here. Stay tuned as I'll be back with part 4 soon tomorrow (and let's face it, probably part 5, as I seem to struggle with being concise). As well as some tips on how to not strangle your significant other while traveling together (Thursday).
I've done my best to list our meals, anything with a + I would recommend.

{day four}
 We stayed at the Peppers Beacon in Queenstown & had a tiny slice of lakeside view. In addition, our hotel included breakfast (which after paying $25 // person for continental breakfast, I got a little too excited about).

Hotel Room View
We hopped up, breakfast-ed & headed out to walk around town. Everything we had seen the night before had been in darkness so we were excited to take a peak around.

| side note | The whole country seems to wake up late. The hotel breakfast didn't start until 7AM & when we started our walk around 830AM we were the only souls out except for a jogger or two. And this was a weekday mind you.

We walked down along the wharf & eventually made our way to the small peninsula seen at 12 o'clock in the picture above. There was a small botanical gardens & a well maintained walking trail all the way around.

Lake Wakatipu

We made our way leisurely back to the hotel for a change of clothes. Most mornings were in the low - mid 50's, but 70+ by afternoon with the sun overhead. One of the excursions included in our Groupon was a lake cruise on the T.S.S. Earnslaw + a BBQ lunch at Walter's Peak.

TSS Earnslaw sailing Lake Wakatipu

The TSS Earnslaw was built in 1912 (same year as the Titanic) & is still running the coal fired engine just as she would have been in 1912. Our cruise time was 30 - 45 minutes to take us to Walter's Peak High Country Farm, where we enjoyed a delicious BBQ lunch & this view from our table.

After lunch we saw a sheep dog demonstration & a sheep shearing, both of which were fascinating. On average, a sheep shearer will complete 300 - 400 shearings a day, which I cannot even imagine. After a peak at some other wildlife on the farm we hopped back on the Earnslaw to catch a ride back to Queenstown.

After ANOTHER wardrobe change we grabbed some water & snacks & headed to Queenstown Hill. We were told by a few locals that this was a must see in terms of local "hiking" trails. I would 100% agree. The hike was tough, but every trail we saw in NZ was impeccably maintained. ~2.5 hours roundtrip, we were out of breath before we even reached the start of the trail. We "hiked" up streets that should have been staircases & made Pittsburgh (or San Fran) look FLAT by comparison.
The first sections of the hike lead us through a forest as we wound around the mountain. Hill side to our left, steep drop off to our right.
We were rewarded with views like this just mid-way up the hill & knew we had to keep going. 

When we reached the Basket of Dreams, a local art installation, we weren't convinced we were at the summit as we could see people on a higher peak further down a dirt path, so we continued. And we were so glad we did.

The top of Queenstown Hill awarded us with this.

We sat down awhile to marvel at the views before heading back down the mountain to beat the sunset. The BF & I both agreed that sitting & waiting for restaurant service sounded like a bummer, so we ordered a pizza -- we erred on the side of hungry & ordered a large when we saw our only options were small or large.

They really weren't kidding when they said it was large. Luckily it left us a few leftovers for an early morning breakfast the next day & got us more than a few crazy looks as we carried it back to our hotel room, just the two of us.

breakfast : hotel
lunch : Walter's Peak BBQ Lunch +
dinner : Fat Badgers Pizza +

{day five}
A month or two ahead of our departure, we booked a day tour with Jucy Cruises to Milford Sound. We picked the "Sunriser Cruise". An option that would pick us up at 545AM from our hotel, drive the 4+ hours to Milford Sound, take us on a cruise of the sound, provide a lunch & then drive back, getting us back to Queenstown by dinnertime. While we knew we would have a rental car, we weren't sure either of us would be comfortable driving there, so we didn't want to do more than we had to. While driving turned out to be NBD we are still so glad we paid the $$$ for the Jucy tour. It allowed BOTH of us to catch all the scenery & catch a cat-nap as needed. Our driver was also fantastic & provided wonderful commentary & interesting tid-bits.

We took a 2 hour cruise on the Sound itself, even popping out onto the Tasman Sea briefly. But unfortunately, most of the weather during the cruise looked like this. Crazy rain & wind, that while creating these crazy waterfalls, none of which are permanent, also made standing on the top deck no fun.

Entering the Tasman Sea
The wind & rain gave us a brief reprieve, and a chance to visit the top deck for some great views.
All told, even the smallest waterfalls present at Milford Sound are about 3x the height of Niagara Falls.

Our return bus ride included several stops to take in the sights of the unique landscape. Monkey Creek, shown below, whose water is so clean the bus driver encouraged us to fill up our water bottles & did so himself.

And Knobs Flat shown below were just two of our handful of stops.

And wouldn't you know, as soon as we got back towards Queenstown it was nothing but blue skies. While I'm sad we didn't have a clearer day to experience Milford Sound, I know all the waterfalls that we saw would not have been there were it not for the rain. Quite the double edged sword. Dinner & an early bedtime ended the night. Day 6, the next day would be our final day in Queenstown & we had a lot more exploring to do.

breakfast : leftover pizza
lunch : Pita Pit
dinner : The World Bar (Queenstown)

I'll be back on Tuesday with Part 4, so make sure to check back!
Today I'm linking up with Holly & Tricia CaryleeJennaErin & Katie to share my recap.


  1. Ah! Queenstown & Milford Sound! These pictures really bring back the memories for me. It will be 14 years since I was there, so it was fun to see all your pics. Thanks!

  2. The lake views in Queenstown are stunning! How fun to visit the farm and see the sheep shearing demonstration. I can't imagine they sheer that many a day! Milford Sound also looks amazing with those waterfalls, although the Tasman Sea looks a little foreboding. Thanks for linking with us Jessie. I look forward to your next installment.

  3. Looks amazing! I'll have to check out your previous installments. This is a trip of a lifetime!

  4. WOW! That looks incredible! I'm heading to check out your previous posts on this trip. My Mom and I love to travel (hence the name of our blog) and I've never been to New Zealand, although it's definitely on my list. Looks like an amazing trip!! -C

  5. Those mountains just make me sigh in wonder. <3 They are SO beautiful. And that waterfall? UNREAL. God is SUCH an AMAZING Creator.

  6. All the sheep to shear. ahhh ... my yarn mind is just in a frenzy thinking of that.
    Those views. Goodness.
    I now want pizza... that can last a week :)

  7. Wow, it looks like there were stunning views everywhere!

  8. amazing views! amazing views everywhere wow!! its like a post card

  9. The pictures are simply amazing! I would love to try the hike to get to see these views! I'm so glad you linked this post up!!!

  10. So gorgeous! Definitely going to try and do that hike. We haven't decided whether we'll do a Milford Sound day trip or not yet, it might depend on how much we've spent at that point. I'm also happy to see you in shorts and tshirts - I was worried I'd be wearing the same long-sleeve every day. Hopefully it hasn't cooled down too much.

    1. No long sleeves! & hopefully it's still nice & warm when you're there. In the morning it would be on the cool side, but the afternoons were always warm & the sun was really bright & hot too. Much more so than here in Pittsburgh. Plus, we were almost always up & moving around. No time to get cold!

  11. ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!! <3 love this post so much. am definitely pinning it. did you love that hotel? i had another hotel in mind but that one looks amazing and the view.. woah. also yay milford sound! i cannot WAIT to there and i will definitely check that company out. that pizza is huge!! we are not hikers at all, but that view might convince us to do the one you all did. woah.

    1. We thought the hotel was nice, rooms were a little small, but the view rocked, no idea what the price was since it was all included in our Groupon, but there were probably 10 hotels all in a row on Lake Esplanade Dr. that all had about the same view.

      Think of it as a long uphill walk! The trail was really well maintained so it could easily be done in any type of tennis shoe // sneaker. The views are SO worth it.


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