January 26, 2015 by bck1402
It was just a day trip with two activities planned. The drive to Queenstown took just over an hour by way of the Crown Ridge road from Wanaka – a road I wasn’t planning on using for the trip back. Heading towards Queenstown, the climb up the Crown Ridge road was a gradual one unlike on the other side which is much steeper, putting a strain on most car engines. On the day we arrived in New Zealand, we were given a ride from the airport in Frankton to Wanaka, and the car needed a rest to cool down about three-quarters up the mountain. We weren’t the only ones to take a break, so for most cars, it would be quite a climb. I wasn’t going to risk it with the rental we had.
The Crown Ridge road knocks off close to 20 minutes travel time between the two towns and if you have the power in your vehicle, it’s a nice road to take, especially with the rest stop at the peak- The Crown Range Summit at 1071m.
The first activity planned was a cruise on Lake Wakatipu on TSS Earnslaw, an old-fashioned steamship that started its service in 1912, going across the lake to Walter Peak Farm. We didn’t take that farm tour, just the boat cruise which was good enough for me. It was a magnificent ship to ride and you could explore several levels from the engine room below to the helm right on top. There’s even a mini museum on board chronicling the history of the ship.
Around the town and the mall area, there are a lot of food stalls to check out, and in search of something different, I ended up with a chicken ‘kone’ (see right) – I didn’t get a receipt from this eatery, so I can’t recall the name of the shop. They had this waffle cone on display alongside some other waffle and muffin snacks and I thought it was different enough to give it a try. Fried chicken tenders sitting on some salad that’s been stuffed down a waffle cone, topped with a sauce of your choosing. Any other restaurant would have served this on a plate, but this would allow you to carry it around like some ice-cream desert and snack away as you wander around town.
The second activity was star gazing up on Bob’s Peak, which meant riding a gondola up the hill. This being Summer (in January), the star gazing was scheduled for 10:30pm just after sunset. We headed up at around 9pm to wander about, but ended up being herded to a safety zone when a fire alarm went off. We didn’t start the star gazing until about 10:45, and what was to be a one-hour excursion finished around 12:30 in the morning.
That was my favourite thing because I got to see the Milky Way clearly for the first time. The lights back home are just way too bright to barely make out the few stars from street level, but on that night, at that peak, with this awesome guide Kelly, we had one of the best nights for the stars. At least that’s according to our guide who’s carrying out these sessions often. Using a pair of telescopes, we peered to another galaxy, checked out a black hole and managed a magnificent view of Jupiter and a number of its moons.
It’s a little after 1:30 in the morning when we got back to the hostel to crash for the night.
While it was recommended to try the local Fergburger, I felt I didn’t want to waste too much time lining up for it. It’s so popular that you have to queue to order, which could take 10-20 minutes depending on the crowd, and an additional 20-30 minutes before you can pick up your burger and go on your way to munch down elsewhere. Despite being in a shop, it’s not a restaurant.There are seats there for you to use while waiting for your burger. Even at 1:30 in the morning, after the star-gazing, there was still a long line for that burger. Fergburger and it’s companion shops (one for ice-cream and another for snacks like pie, sandwiches and buns) operate from 6am – 3am.
The next morning, before heading off, we took in breakfast at Arnold’s Diner, a 50s styled diner modelled after the one in the sitcom, Happy Days. Complete with Coca-Cola barstools and a jukebox, which played CDs instead of vinyl records. We don’t have these back home, so it was cool. Outside, a little after 10:30am, the line at Fergburger seemed short enough that we took the shot at ordering it. Very tasty and worth its reputation. I’ll leave it to you to decide for yourself should you decide to drop by the place.
Almost a full day since departing, we headed back to home base in Wanaka.
It should be noted that a little further beyond Queenstown, if you follow the road along the lakeside, you’ll hit a couple of places, one called Paradise and the other is Glenorchy. A couple of places where The Lord of The Rings films were shot. There are paid tours for these too, and nothing else much. There is a planned trip back to Queenstown later, as well as it’s neighbour, Arrowtown. Maybe we’ll check out Glenorchy too… We’ll definitely have a better car by then as there will be more passengers to accommodate.