18.03.2008 - 18.03.2008 24 °C
The plan today was to head into town to pick up a couple of sea kayaks and have a day on the lake, so up we got and walked into town to the hire places. When we got there one place only had 1 one man and so we went to the only other place which had fun kayaks at a ridiculous hourly rate. This highlights the problem with Queenstown in that once you have walked up Ben Lomond there is very little here that you can do that does not involve a person in a logo covered T-shirt removing large quantities of paper with the Queens head on it from your wallet.
A little despondent we had a trek around the lake before padding out time until we could pick up our hire car in the afternoon. We had a bit of scran in town which was nice and managed to see a street performer from Oz who did some juggling act on a bed of nails. The tricks themselves were average but his comedy banter made the whole thing.
This morning we felt we needed to do something and having the freedom of our Toyota Corolla we headed off in the opposite direction to Queenstown, namely Glen Orchy. The village itself is nothing to shout about, a few shops and an excellent tourist info centre, but I had picked out a nice light trek to do for the morning. Anybody who knows me will be aware that my little treks do tend to evolve into something epic, and 6 ½ hours and over 800metres of ascent later, this was no exception.!!!!
The route did involve walking a little bit on the Routeburn track, which is a famous 3 day hike, as well as on some of the other famous tracks around Glen Orchy. The place itself is used as a starting point for people wanting to do several day hikes staying in predetermined well equipped huts along the way.
At this point, and trying not to sound too critical, I need to highlight one of my frustrations with not only this part but the country as a whole. There is no denying the scenery is so beautiful and out of this world, but unfortunately it is a case of see but do not touch. All the land is owned by landowners who only offer very limited access and so most of the tracks, even though they a really well marked and maintained, stick to some extent to the low lands. Around Queenstown you have all these fantastic peaks which you can not go up. It would kill me to open my curtains in the morning knowing that a peak in front of my window could never be climbed. I am not saying have a total right to roam policy, like in Scotland, which obviously has some knock on effects with the local wildlife, but opening up some of the peaks for people to enjoy could be managed to have a limited effect on the ecosystems. I am now so grateful to the National Trust and Forestry commission in Scotland and the rest of the UK who have allowed the country to be enjoyed by everyone not just the privileged few. Right rant over.
So we did manage to get back to the car and my feet were so much better for having some soles in them, unlike when we did Ben Lomond. We both needed a bath tonight though to get the limbs moving enough to walk over to the Hotel Restaurant because I did not have the energy to cook. I will say the food was great and the view from Aspen on Queenstown balcony was simply out of this world.
So tomorrow an easy day as we are going to look at some goldmines, doing the tourist bit.
Hobitometer: 4 out of 5 awks as saw loads of locations today. The back of the todays photo is where they had the two towers in the second one.
Comedy moment on the day: Me showing two American hikers were they were as they were a bit lost on the page I had ripped out of the Rough Guide while they had a real hiking map in their backpacks. Still I knew where I was even though the lack of contour symbols on my rough map made me underestimate to magnitude of our walk.