Driving out of Wanaka the brown and green slopes and flanks of the mountains stretch and snooze under the blue sky, the peace broken only by the sight of a monster wheeled pink Cadillac. With horns. For posterity we should also record the monster minivan and monster bus. The rest of Cardrona is more restrained, but the sheep may have difficulty getting to the hotel with a vintage car in the way (see classic Speights advert).
No snow in the pass this time, just folds of golden brown slopes studded with tussocks and tumbling streams - and sheep and two wild chamois goats. There's a stunning view down into the Queenstown Valley and Lake Wakatipu, with the river anduin (er) snaking under precipitous bluffs and the peaks marching along the skyline. The hairpin bends wind their way down Coronet Peaks (and around and down and around and down and...). We diverted up to the Kareware suspension bridge for the diversion of seeing people suspended by the feet. We watched several brave lunatics do the bungee then headed along the lake to Queenstown and Glenorchy, passing much beautiful hillside and lakeside along the way, as well as numerous Lord of the Ring locations, waterfalls, lupins, views of TSS Earnslaw steaming across lake etc. Followed the unmade road towards beech forests of Paradise to the point where it becomes *really* pot-holed (theologically appropriate). Resisted most of the possum products in Glenorchy on account of price and percentage of room left in luggage but I did get a bag of offcuts for my knitting, so we've done our bit for native NZ flora and fauna. I don't approve of the fur trade in any shape or form but every wild possum trapped or shot out here is a ton of vegetation a day left for the things that kiwis eat to eat. Roadkill gives a steady possum per mile count but nowhere near enough to reduce the infestation.
Saw a tui perched in a tree on the way back and a rainbow across the lake. Stopped in Queenstown to wander on the lake shore and toss pebbles in the water (heading for shore? try again!) and watch the Earnslaw chug away and swing on the swingseat and see the abandoned mini golf next to the three pun bars (Bardeaux, Barmuda and Barup - frankly we don't get that one at all). We bought a 'rigger' of Ginger Tom from Dux de Lux to enjoy on the road (alcoholic ginger beer, microbrewery) and set off on the curvy back roads to Arrowtown.
Arrowtown is still cute and historic and under heavy if tasteful development. The Settlers Cottage motel has changed hands but is just as nice to stay in. Saffron hasn't changed at all - still delicious! We had an excelent local Carrick Pinot Gris - 2006 so very fresh and zesty for a pinot, Westcoast whitebait flour fried in virgin olive oil and sauted with garlic and lemon, rabbit and prune with parpadelle, lamb stuffed with pine nuts and spinach on a rosti and rack of rosy veal with shallots and orso pasta cake, then significant debate before we settled on vanilla, whisky and drambuie (incidentally, what is drambuie a liquer of anyway?) creme brulee, coconut crepes with rum banana and grilled pineapple and passionfruit ice cream, tokay and central Otago late harvest riesling (they really do noble rot everything here). Yum! And one of the waitresses recognised us from two years ago :)
Not a cloud in the sky except the greater and lesser Magellanics and the fool moon outshining the streetlights. Simon spotted the Southern Cross and I saw a shooting star.