Chapter 11 - Queenstown

25 Feb 2013

We had a lie in - 7.30 am! Mike was ecstatic to discover that the entire England Cricket Team plus entourage were staying in the same hotel as us and spent the whole of breakfast telling me who they all were! We left the hotel at 8.30 am in a four wheel drive minibus driven by Graham, a very enthusiastic Kiwi, to go on a four hour drive to and through Skippers Canyon - a wonderful trip. He was full of information about the area and the stalwart people who lived and worked there. The canyon is incredibly bleak and isolated, particularly so in the winter months. The scenery was stunning and prolific little black flies were hungry and dined well on all of us! Too late we realised we should have applied the insect repellent before we left the hotel!

On our return to Queenstown we got Graham to drop us in the town rather than take us back to the hotel and found a very nice restaurant alongside the harbour where we had a salad for lunch followed by an ice cream. We then walked back to the hotel, the last hundred yards up a very steep hill indeed, we needed a rest after halfway! The afternoon was spent wrestling again with the washer dryer!

At 5.30 pm the coach took us the short distance to the Cable Car Station in Queenstown and we enjoyed a ride up the hill in a gondola up to the Skyline Restaurant high in the hills above the town. We had tables with magnificent views. There we had a wonderful buffet dinner - the king prawns in particular were gorgeous! The views over Queenstown were amazing as we were so high up. A few of us decided to make our own way back to the hotel, which was probably in hindsight a mistake as 'us girls' had our 'bar to car' shoes on which, as all ladies know, are no good for actually walking in! It seemed a very long way back! To get over the suffering we retired to the Bar and spent a very pleasant hour or so recovering. Mike was ecstatic again to discover that the cricketers were also enjoying the Bar.

26 Feb 2013

A true lie-in! Our first actual day off since the tour began - we were so excited! We had a fairly leisurely breakfast (the cricketers were also having a leisurely start to the day by the look of it), and then a few of us walked into the town and took a bus to the little town of Arrowtown, about twenty minutes out of Queenstown. The town had been preserved to look like the small gold mining town it was in the mid-nineteenth century. On the way there we saw the England cricketers starting a match (probably a friendly warm-up prior to the Test Series with New Zealand which was due to start in Dunedin on 6th March). It was with some difficulty that I persuaded Mike not to get off the bus and watch the match rather than continue on to Arrowtown! Once there, following a much needed drink, we visited the town museum. The museum was really interesting and we met up with Fred, the oldest member of our group, who it turned out used to do some gold prospecting with a friend of his many years ago. He was in his element!

We eventually took the bus back to Queenstown and Michael and Joy met up with us for a quick drink in the town. We sat outside a waterfront bar along with a few English 'Barmy Army' members - here for the impending Cricket Test Series against NZ. Then we boarded the 'Million Dollar Cruise' boat. This took us for a leisurely cruise around the lake for a couple of hours whilst the crew pointed out the all the very expensive properties built around the shoreline - hence the name of the 'cruise'!

We just had time to spruce ourselves up before the four of us met up for dinner in the hotel's restaurant 'Lombardi's' - a most enjoyable evening with excellent food and much laughter. We didn't finish dinner until after 11.00 pm and headed straight for bed as there was to be yet another early start in the morning.

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