On to Queenstown

On New Year’s Eve, we went down to the lobby at a little after 7 and checked out. The driver was already there. He took us to the depot where the tour bus started, which turned out to be right around the corner. We could have walked, had we known.

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The inter-city bus is a tour bus. I just carried my day pack onto the bus, instead of putting it into the cargo compartment.
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There was a toilet in the stairwell of the bus, but I wondered how someone would use it if they weren’t really thin. Look at my glasses on top for scale. The thing was like 18 inches wide.
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Or was it?
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Lots of sheep. A moving bus isn’t the best place to take a picture of them.
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And cows.
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There was this statue at Lake Tekapo (rhymes with peek-a-boo) McKenzie District. The district was named after James McKenzie, who would use his sheepdog to drive other people’s sheep into town and sell them – without the people’s knowledge. Eventually, he was caught, and sentenced to 5 years, while his dog, Friday, was put down for his part in it, which was basically being a good boy and obeying his master. Shame. Should have put down the man, and named the county after the dog, if you ask me. This statue memorializes Friday.
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Lots of Lupine in the area. It’s not a native plant. Maybe it came from the Sierras?
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We stopped at the Hermitage Hotel near Mt. Cook for lunch. Not a whole lot of time. I don’t like organized tours for the rush component. There was a track (=trail) that the advertisement said we might explore after lunch, but there simply wasn’t time, as they were running behind schedule. What a view. I’m only appreciating it now from the picture, as I was mostly looking down at my food instead of out the picture window.
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Impressive buffet including scallops in the shell, lamb chops, and mussels on the half shell. And candy. Maybe it’s a Kiwi thing to have candy for dessert.

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Some travelers jumped off at the Hermitage. A large group got on. Like a regular bus, people seemed to get on and off at many of the stops. But more like a plane, reservations were needed, as just about every seat was always filled. I regretted bringing my day pack into the bus, as it wouldn’t fit into the 6-inch overhead rack, and legroom was cramped. The bus route adjusted to fit passengers’ needs. One guy wanted to take a helicopter ride, so we dropped him off there, and another bus picked hin up.
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The bus made a stop at Johnson’s Fruit Stand, where we got high quality fruit. This bin of cherries was called “Seconds,” but they were firm and good, as if individually chosen. To the left of this, was another “seconds” offering, looked like maybe 5 kilos for NZ$10. Those looked like the seconds at a California farmers’ market.

We finally made it into Queenstown at about 5:30 pm, where we checked into our huge room, then walked down to the lakeshore tourist district. It was kind of like Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki. We had dinner at a place called Big Fig, which was very tasty food, served in a small, medium, or large bowl. After buying some breakfast for the next day at Starbuck’s, we happened upon the Night ‘n Day store, which had pies for $2 every Tuesday in December. Couldn’t pass it up. We got a Lamb and Mint, Venison, and Goat Pie. They were good, but the Goat seemed to be chicken – I probably took the wrong one. At midnight, we heard the boom of fireworks, and stood outside our room to watch. We could hear the festivities even from several blocks away. Happy New Year!

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