Walking Tour around Queenstown, New Zealand

Around Queenstown, New Zealand

Today was an exploring day. I began by taking a ride on the ski gondola that climbs to the top of the hill behind the town of Queensland and ended with a walk around the shores of Lake Wakatipu. The gondola is not for those who are faint of heart as it ascends steeply and fairly rapidly with minimal clearance between the gondola car and the rock face of the mountain, but the views from the top are breathtaking, as these photos will attest.

Riding the gondola, high over Queenstown New Zealand

Riding the gondola, high over Queenstown

View from the top of the gondola ride Queenstown New Zealand

View from the top of the gondola ride

View from the top of the gondola ride Queenstown New Zealand

View from the top of the gondola ride

In between the gondola ride and my lakeside stroll I wandered up and down the steep streets of town in search of historical buildings, but other than a couple of old stone churches I found little else of a historical nature. Queenstown has an interesting past steeped in gold mining lore. Sadly, nearly all traces of this early history have been wiped out by modern development and redevelopment. However the town is undeniably picturesque – I was not disappointed with the scenery I discovered during my five-hour walk. The spectacular Remarkable Mountains that loom beyond the town were formed by faulting and folding of schist rock to the extent that many of the rock faces are nearly vertical. Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand’s third largest lake, is unique because it “breathes” – the water level rises and falls as much as 12 centimeters every five minutes. This movement is caused by the wind or variations in atmospheric pressure. Geologists tell us that during the last ice age, about 15,000 years ago, glaciers covered most of the region. A glacier coming down from the northwest was responsible for gouging out the bed of what is today Lake Wakatipu. So today’s blog is mostly about the photos I was able to capture, despite struggling with ice-cold fingers, toes, and nose in this alpine weather.

Walking along the shore Lake Wakatipu Queenstown New Zealand

Walking along the shore Lake Wakatipu

Walking along the shore Lake Wakatipu Queenstown New Zealand

Walking along the shore Lake Wakatipu

Walking along the shore Lake Wakatipu Queenstown New Zealand

Walking along the shore Lake Wakatipu

Tomorrow I visit Milford Sound in Fjordland, located on the west coast. Also a glacially carved landscape, this area of the country is reputed to have the most stunning scenery in New Zealand, including hundreds of waterfalls when it rains. It rained for a couple of hours this evening and I am crossing my fingers that it rains during the entire trip to Milford Sound tomorrow morning, with the sun emerging just as we arrive, so that the waterfalls will be at their most spectacular when we board the boat to travel the length of the Sound.

6 Comments on “Around Queenstown, New Zealand

  1. Just got back from Queenstown, I’m from the North Island and no matter often I visit, I’m always blown away by the stunning beauty of our South Island. I have lots of favorite spots. I was talking to a very well travelled Chinese gentleman on the plane who said he said New Zealand is the best and most beautiful place he’s been to and that it was like a postcard every where he went. I guess we Kiwi’s take it for granted sometimes that we live in such a beautiful country with so much to see and do 🙂 thanks for sharing your gorgeous pictures…

    • That’s so interesting Mia. I also think New Zealand is one of the most stunning places on the face of the earth, so it’s a bit hard to imagine anyone taking it for granted. But I think that’s just the way it is – we never really appreciate the places that are most familiar to us. I know that I never appreciated Chicago until I moved away. These days, I understand what a truly magnificent city it is.

  2. I used to go to Wanaka every winter with my family to ski, but we rarely travelled over the pass to Queenstown, and certainly never did it in summertime. Your pictures are gorgeous.

    • Hi Sarah: I always think how odd it is that the place we live is often the place we know the least. Same happened to me – though I grew up n Chicago, I never really toured it much until after I had moved away. Glad you enjoyed my article and photos.

    • Thanks Jessie – New Zealand is one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever visited.

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