Skiing the South

August 2011, by Tom

With a burning desire to get away on a holiday, but with not wanting to spend a lot of money in doing so, Jo and Shane mentioned the idea of heading down to Queenstown and Wanaka for a week. All we needed to convince us was a quick search for cheap flights - and we were booked! Not a week for the Tang clan, but a long weekend. It will have to suffice. And suffice it sure did!

After the snow storm in Wellington had caused travel chaos throughout New Zealand, the day before we were due to fly out we were a little on edge. The night before we were due to fly out, we lumped Lyon with the inlaws (thanks Helen and Robin - sorry about the lack of toilet training!!!!) before heading home for our first sleep without an early morning fur ball wake up call.

Luckily, despite a hailstorm as we jumped into the taxi the following morning, our direct flight to Queenstown was still scheduled and on time. Phew! We lugged our skis, boots and bags and checked in with enough time for a final coffee before our boarding call.

After a bumpy flight out of Wellington, the approach to Queenstown was breathtaking. They had been hit by a large dump of snow only days before we arrived. Their biggest dump of snow in over 50 years! Upon arrival, we really felt like we had landed in another country. Surrounded by mountain ranges and overlooking a picturesque lake, I was taken back to Austria. It was such a fantastic feeling.

We shuttled to the hotel we were staying at and carefully skidded our way into Queenstown for a lemon sole fish and chips at a waterfront eatery. Yum. Afterwards, I needed to splash out on a second marino top - the one I brought was not going to be enough in this crazy country!

Jo and Shane were skiing the Remarkables the day we arrived so after a quick relax, they returned to the hotel and we caught up over a few drinks in their fancy suite. Dinner was on the cards, so we wandered back into town and ended up at a pricey but well worth it Thai restaurant for dinner. Friends, food and drinks - what holidays are made of!

The following morning, we packed up and loaded into Jo and Shanes rental RAV4 (which almost half of all vehicles on the road seemed to be!) and took off to the Shotover Jet! I had never done the Shotover Jet - heck, I had never been to Queenstown before! Unfortunately Gini (carrying Bean Baby) was unable to join in on the excitement, so Jo, Shane and I took off on the fastest most intense boat ride of my life. Very cool. Very very cool. So cool we had to stop for a hot chocolate afterwards to warm ourselves up.

The rest of the day consisted of site seeing via RAV4 and wine tastings at vineyards. We had lunch at Amisfield Vineyard - where their tapas menu is excellent. We tasted more wine at Gibbston Valley and finally stopped for a drop at Mt Difficulty Vineyard. Eventually, after a quick shop, we made it to Wanaka and to the flash two bedroom apartment Jo and Shane had booked for us. With views overlooking the mountains and all the mod cons you need, we stayed in for a nice meal in.

Our third day down south we finally hit the slopes. It was a bluebird day so we decided to give Treble Cone a run for it's money. It was incredible. With long, winding runs and the nicest snow I've ever skied in NZ, it was a cracker of a day. The views from the top are supposedly the best in the Southern Hemisphere - and I would have to agree! It was almost empty of people too - no queues and express chairs (both chairs were express).

Day four - another ski day. This time we ventured out to Cardrona. Another bluebird day and more of the same quality snow. Cardrona was more popular - especially with the younger folk and families, but it was still relatively empty compared to that of Turoa. Amazing, considering it was a Saturday and there was an international competition going on. After a tiring day on the slopes, we all deserved a drink, so we popped in on the historic Cardrona hotel for a bevvie. A very cute and busy hotel - first built in the late 1800's.

Derek and Helen just happened to arrive in town on day four - so we organised to meet up with them, along with Derek's brother and brothers wife for dinner at Lone Star. It was a 5 minute walk from the apartment and was a fantastic dinner - I normally wouldn't rate Lone Star's food, but on this occasion it shined.

Our final day down south and we had to head back to Queenstown relatively early so Jo and Shane could catch their flight. We were on a later flight, so checked our bags in and bid Jo and Shane adieu and jumped on a bus back into Queenstown. Feeling a little peckish, Gini spotted a nice looking cafe, so we sat down for an incredible brunch - Gini's pancakes were to die for (mascapone between each cake!), my eggs were delish too.

With full tummies, we spend the rest of the early afternoon wandering around the lake, watching the dogs play in the water and soaking up the sun in the crisp cool air. A nice relaxing way to finish the perfect little getaway.

Just before we ventured on the Shotover Jet!

Just before we ventured on the Shotover Jet!

About to descend Treble Cone

About to descend Treble Cone

Apre Ski beers at Cardrona Hotel

Apre Ski beers at Cardrona Hotel