Day 2 of my 7-day tour of New Zealand’s South Island from Christchurch with Haka Tours and we were waving goodbye to beautiful Lake Tekapo to drive to Queenstown.
Our first stop along the way was at a viewpoint over the nearby Lake Pukaki, the largest of the region’s Alpine lakes glimmering under the sunshine and backed by snow-capped mountains in the distance.
From here, we continued on stopping at High Country Salmon, a salmon farm and one of the more random stops on our tour! We got to feed the salmon, find out a bit about the salmon farming business and make use of the cafe before continuing on our way!
Our journey through the mountains was slowed down briefly as we suddenly found a herd of sheep running down the road towards our bus.
It was great fun watching them surround the bus as they squeezed their way past us and on down the road to their new field!
We made another stop at a view point along the mountain pass before arriving at our Haka Lodge accommodation for the next two nights in Queenstown. The cosy Haka Lodge was a hostel owned by the Haka Tour company. I once again had a private room although this time it wasn’t en suite.
After checking in, some members of the group had activities booked for the afternoon including the Shotover Jet boat ride and, for the more adventurous group members, the Canyon Swing – a bit like a bungee jump except you sit in a chair to swing from the cliff! Having not signed up for any of the activities on offer, the rest of us walked to Skyline Queenstown to make use of our free ticket to ride the gondola to the top that was included in our Haka Tours package.
The cable car ride to the top of Bob’s Peak is the steepest in the Southern Hemisphere. Once at the top, we spent a while enjoying the amazing views over Queenstown and the surrounding area before taking the chairlift further up the mountain to ride the Queenstown Luge back down to the viewing platforms and cafe.
After catching the gondola back down, we walked into Queenstown to meet up with the rest of the group at a local bar to share our stories over drinks and pizza.
The following day, the group once again all had different activities booked. Five of us had booked a full day’s coach trip out to Milford Sound.
Our coach drove us through Fiordland National Park making stops along the way at various lakes and mountainous viewpoints before we arrived at Milford Sound harbour early afternoon to enjoy a 2-hour cruise past waterfalls and stunning tropical scenery. This was a really amazing experience!
After our cruise, we were met by our coach for the long journey back to Queenstown. It had been a long day but was definitely worth it.
Despite the late finish the night before, it was up early again the next day for one last tour before leaving Queenstown. Along with a few other group members, I had booked onto a Lord of the Rings tour of the area to see some of the locations used in the films.
Our tour was in a four-wheel drive vehicle and took is out of Queenstown to Kawarau Gorge, the location of the Pillars of the Kings in the film then out to the nearby Arrowtown where the autumn colours of the trees were just breathtaking.
Here, we went off-roading into the woods and down to the Arrow River.
We made a stop by the river to give panning for gold a go. It was a lot harder than it looks and we came away with just one miniscule piece of gold between us!
The final part of our tour took us high up into the mountains for more dramatic scenery and stunning views over Queenstown. Even without an interest in the filming locations for the Lord of the Rings films, this tour would have been worth taking just for the amazing views along the way!
At the end of our tour we were dropped back at Haka Lodge to meet up with the rest of our group and climb back aboard our Haka bus to begin our journey to Wanaka.
It had been a fun few days in Queenstown although looking back on it, I feel I hardly seen any of the town itself being so busy with tours and activities. Definitely somewhere I need to return to one day!!
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