I arrived in Queenstown yesterday evening and was pleasantly surprised not to be greeted by hordes of staggering, beer-breathed late teens clogging up the streets (or ‘twatpackers’, as a Lancashire bloke I met affectionately referred to them as – classic no-frills northern bob-on description). I’d been warned the town was a favoured hang-out for groups of young’uns (I do feel old as I write this), who tend to come all the way to NZ to basically do an incredibly expensive pub-crawl across the country. But instead, it seemed incredibly mellow, with a very mixed crowd – locals, families, yes some t**tpackers (I do realise my chaste censoring is rather redundant at this point) and various odds and strays like myself. A very easy place to wander around as night-time descended, such that I found my way into a bar with some excellent live music. Mostly covers, but respectable ones – the bloke did a particularly good Eddie Vedder impression, so I happily relaxed into some Pearl Jam-induced teenage angst nostalgia.
Today I began my own ‘food-crawl’ around the town. I’m keeping a photographic record of my consumption, and will post the delicious fruits of my labour tomorrow. I am quite proud of my gourmet experience so far (or should that be gourmand?). I do sometimes think I should have gone into professional eating competitions as I do seem to possess the dubious skill of being able to eat copious amounts without feeling full. For example I polished off my mighty Fergburger in no time, whilst those around me started to get a meat sweat on and assume a dazed look of near-defeat.
Queenstown is simply stunning – not so much the town itself, but its lake and mountain setting. It is one of those places where you feel you have been superimposed into a picture-perfect postcard, because it just seems too good to be true. The huge mountains rearing up on the other side of the lake look somehow 2D – like a painted backdrop on a film-set. I remember also feeling this at Machu Picchu – the scale of the grandeur somehow plays a trick on your eyes and mind, such that you can’t believe you’re actually there. The water in the lake is crystal clear, and dangerously inviting. I haven’t accepted the invitation yet, as there is an autumnal nip in the air, but we’ll see – I do have a strange liking of jumping into icy water that stops your breath and makes your skin tingle all over – for me it’s pure exhilaration and a way of feeling acutely alive.
Finally, the other thing I like about this place is the proliferation of cute puppies – not sure if there’s some kind of puppy convention going on, but I’ve seen four already today. Their irrepressible zest for life and excitement over, well, EVERYTHING, is very infectious. Puppies should be compulsory in all offices.
View looking back across the lake to Queenstown town centre.
View across to the film-set mountains.
Early signs of autumn’s fire starting to spread through the trees.