Queenstown: Adventure Capital, Baby Style

Queenstown is considered the “Adventure Capital of the World”, and seems to have earned the title. If you want to throw yourself off of something (a plane, a cliff, etc), this is the place to do it. As new parents, we get enough of an adrenaline rush every time Xander stands up, so we skipped all of the adventure sports. Instead, we opted for the lower key, baby-friendly alternatives.

It’s a ski town that started as a mining town after gold was discovered on the Shotover River in 1862. It always amazes me that no matter where you go, ski towns all feel fundamentally the same.

They have a touristy complex at the top of a gondola with restaurants, go-carts, a launch pad for paragliding, etc. We had been told that the view of Queenstown from up there was unbeatable, so we booked the buffet dinner in the main restaurant.

There was an elementary school at the base of the hill, and we were amused to see that the playground was also used as a landing site for paragliders. The kids were out there playing rugby and thought nothing of the random people dropping out of the sky every few minutes. The preschool next door has a mini rock climbing wall in their playground. When we saw the kids getting dropped off in the morning, a number of them got out of the car already wearing their ski boots, skis in hand. None of them have any idea how different school is everywhere else. They have it made!

Xander can now add a gondola ride to the list of conveyances he has sampled in his first year.IMG_4504IMG_4527IMG_4529The view from the top overlooking Queenstown and the Remarkables was impressive.IMG_4536IMG_4550IMG_4559IMG_4566We were early for our reservation (because we generally assume everything is going to take us four times as long as we think it will), so we had to hang out in the lobby for a while. Xander started by using the chair as a drum…IMG_4572And then he stood on it…IMG_4580And then he examined the front of it…IMG_4583And then he finally crawled under it before they showed us to our table. Everything is a jungle gym in his eyes at the moment!

The buffet was delicious and let X-Man sample lots of different foods. He tried his first kiwi fruit, and was a massive fan of it.IMG_4584Before we rode the gondola back down, we braved the cold wind for a glimpse of Queenstown by night. It was lovely.IMG_4593The next morning we were treated to another mystery (our last one is still unsolved). How and why did this dry cleaning van very nearly end up in the lake?IMG_4601As you can see from the image below, it was at the bottom of a very steep hill.IMG_4602You can see the bollard they took out in the next image…as well as just how close they came to going for a swim.IMG_4603And here is one that shows where the bollard came from.IMG_4604Kris feels that they lost control as they reached the stop sign at the bottom of the hill, veered off the road, and somehow swerved back to face the direction that they ended up in. Since it seems to have happened late at night or early in the morning, he has reasonably concluded that alcohol may have been a factor. I think that the driver was pretty clearly set upon by a band of orcs as he reached the bottom of the hill, and he started to lose control as he fled. Everyone knows that orcs hate the water, so he drove as close as he could and then fled for his life into the lake. Anyone else care to weigh in?

On our itinerary for the day was a visit to Mt. Nicholas Station, a working sheep farm on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. We booked the tour through Southern Discoveries again, the same company who did our fabulous cruise through Milford Sound. The tour included a boat cruise across the lake to the farm. 

Mt. Nicholas Station provides wool for Icebreakers clothing, a brand that we swear by, so we were excited to see where our clothes had started. 

The cruise across the lake was relaxing and included great commentary.IMG_4610IMG_4625The image below is Mt. Nicholas Station. It covers over 100,000 scenic acres. IMG_4631IMG_4633IMG_4642IMG_4644Xander got to see pigs (tasty ones?)…IMG_4647And a former race horse…IMG_4650But I think the highlight of the day was getting to see Belle the sheepdog in action.IMG_4656IMG_4657IMG_4659IMG_4664IMG_4667IMG_4674The guide explained the process for herding the sheep down the mountains and demonstrated how they are funneled through to be sheared. IMG_4678IMG_4680Below is an image of our guide showing Xander what a year of growth looks like on a Merino sheep just before it’s ready to be sheared. IMG_4685After showing us where the shearing takes place, they drove us around the farm. X-Man decided he was sick of being photographed!IMG_4698IMG_4700IMG_4712On the boat ride back to Queenstown, he gave us a good look at his new bottom tooth that was just beginning to erupt properly. IMG_4723IMG_4728We struggled a little more with him on this tour than we have doing anything else on the trip. He was his usual happy self to begin with, but got really agitated when the other people in our group refused to acknowledge his existence. He’s in a phase where he is intensely focused on getting feedback–it excites him to no end to know that if he smiles, you smile back…if he waves, you wave back. He absolutely loves seeing new people and interacting with them. We just happened to be on a tour with an awkward bunch who refused to acknowledge him and it drove him bonkers. It was a very small tour, and two of the other families had slightly older kids with them, and we were outdoors on a farm–not in a movie theatre or a church. It was honestly a bit bizarre. I am by no means saying it is anyone else’s job to entertain my child, but if a grinning ten month old waves at you, be a decent human being and wave back! Otherwise, he gets confused and quite reasonably concludes that maybe you just haven’t noticed him, so he starts to squawk at you. It was still a wonderful day, though.

We did a bit of shopping in Queenstown to pick up some All Blacks gear ahead of the match we’ll be going to in a few weeks.

Kris also got me a brand new pair of ridiculously cool hiking boots as an early birthday present, so I could stop wearing the ones that were duct taped together. My new ones are cool enough to make me forget how sad I am to part with the old ones. They’re already nice and dirty!img_5824We also stopped for lunch at Ferg Burger and it lived up to the hype!IMG_1944.JPGOur next stop was Wanaka.

For the full list of New Zealand Adventure posts I’ve shared so far, check here.


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