South Island, Pt. 10: Queenstown Views

Well, my South Island trip is definitely coming to a middle. Having left Christchurch behind and with Mt. Sunday now also in my wake, it was time to enter the Fiordlands. Often regarded as the most beautiful part of the beautiful South Island, the Fiordlands are home to placid inlets and lakes, large mountains, and tons of waterfalls. And Queenstown is the gateway to all this.

Queenstown is a quiet little town with a lot to offer. It is on the Eastern shore of Lake Wakatipu, and the esplanade (right off the small downtown area) is just gorgeous. There’s a large grassy area where a cute little market is set up every Saturday (see above), and on all sides there are towering, picturesque mountains.

That’s a mountain sticking up over the clouds catching the morning sun, with my little Nissan Sunny in the foreground. That’s Queenstown.

As always, I took a stop by the gardens. The Queenstown Gardens are, among other things, the site of the country’s first disc golf course! They’re also more of a park than a garden, though there are a few flowerbeds around.

The ducks are very social and have no qualms waddling right up to humans in the hope of getting a bready morsel.

And garden or park, I’ll say this: It’s beautiful here.

Hey, I found the flowers!

There’s also this really cool sculpture. I’m not sure why she’s sitting on this stack of pillows, but I really like this sculpture and I feel, in all humility, like I managed to get pretty much the best shot of it I have found (OK, maybe not all humility).

(I did an uncharacteristic amount of research online and found out that the title of the work is “Fleur” and it is by Liz Hall and was donated to the gardens in 2001.)

Walking on down to the lake, we get great views of the beautiful green-blue water and the mountains in the background. Such a pretty place!

And such a cool ship, too! Man, I really love Queenstown.

Queenstown isn’t just about startlingly beautiful views, though. There’s a great foodie culture here, as well as a number of independent stores such as this one, Black Cat Bookshop. This store recently came under new ownership, and I had a chance to meet and chat with the new owner, where we had a nice discussion about many things.

I hope one of her tasks as the new owner will be to sort the books properly, as they’re pretty much haphazard right now. It’s near-impossible to find anything the way they are currently. Funny story, actually: after I had finished browsing and was chatting with the owner, another customer came in. She asked about books on a particular subject. The owner wasn’t sure if she had anything, but I said “hey, I saw something on that while I was browsing” and pointed her to it. She ended up buying the book! Maybe if the whole software engineering thing doesn’t work out, I can move to Queenstown and work for a bookstore :)

I should have gotten a picture of the massive line in front of Fergburger, but this tatty-looking menu will have to do. Fergburger are a local burger joint who have somehow convinced Queenstown that they have the best burgers in the world. I consider myself something of a burger aficionado — something my waistline will also attest — and I can tell you that Fergburger are not even the best burger in Queenstown. But for some reason locals will wait in line for nearly 40 minutes just to get one (or perhaps the line is mostly tourists wanting to say they’d eaten a Fergburger; that’s certainly why I waited for that long!).

Take my advice: Go to Flame Bar and Grill on Beach St. or Devil Burger on (ironically) Church St. instead. Both have burgers at least as good as Fergburger without the wait.

Before we leave Queenstown and take off on some adventures in the Fiordland, I have to post some of the amazing views around Wakatipu.

First, here’s Queenstown. Yep, it is just that small, and yep, it is that steep. I imagine the locals all have very strong quads, haha.

All mountains all the time.

I love this shot. That road (which I subsequently drove on) is such a cool road. So pretty!

Queenstown’s views are so gorgeous they almost don’t seem real. I love it!

Next time we’re going to drive a bit North and visit another lake. See you then!

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