Sunday, December 4, 2011

Completing the Lakes District circuit with Te Anau

Day 10 (Tue, 29 Nov 2011)

Queenstown to Te Anau: 179km

Breakfast was provided as part of our hotel package at Novotel. This was the biggest variety we've had, closest to the hotel buffet breakfasts you tend to get in tour group holidays. There was even an Asian selection with congee, noodles and a whole salmon.

The restaurant was filled with tourists, looks like this is a popular hotel with tour groups.

After breakfast, we went for a walk along Marine Parade to take a look at Lake Wakatipu in the morning, before we left Queenstown.

It's very scenic and many people say Queenstown is the prettiest town in NZ, but for us, we actually prefer Wanaka. It has the same very picturesque lake scene but without the crowds. Queenstown has a very touristy and commercial feel, especially with the numerous discount souvenir stores, mostly run by Asians.

It's also very crowded with cars and tourists, and this is not even the peak Summer season yet. Of course, the crowds are nothing to speak of compared to Singapore's Orchard Road but this is the most people we've come across in NZ. You tend to lose the sense of expanse in Queenstown, which is partly what makes NZ so special.

Andre liked Wanaka so much, he actually said he wanted to migrate there! Methinks he just wants to escape Singapore schools.

Before we left Queenstown, we also saw the famous Skyline Gondola and Luge. We didn't go on this though, because it's similar to the one at Sentosa, just much higher. In fact, both are set up by the same company. We caught some tourist doing early morning paragliding.

So we went on our way to Te Anau. In this area, we saw more livestock than in previous legs. Lots of sheep and cattle grazing on wide acres of lush pasture, the sort of picture people usually have in their heads when they think of NZ.

It's really very sweet in Spring, you see all the spring lambs frolicking in the grass, next to their mothers.

We also drove past deer farms. The funny thing is when we stopped to take this picture, all the deer turned and stared at us.

We made good time to Te Anau. Just a nugget of information, Lake Te Anau is second largest lake after Lake Taupo. Most of the lake is within the Fiordland National Park so again, it's extremely fertile and verdant.

We tried these pies cos they have good reviews on the Internet, some people calling them the best pies in the world. Meh. Didn't find them special at all. We've had better on this trip.

We then checked into Distinction Te Anau along Lakefront Drive. I booked this because it overlooks Lake Te Anau and is supposed to have spectacular views.

We had a 2-bedroom villa and it's very spacious but to be perfectly honest, I was a little disappointed. It looks like it's seen some years, both inside and outside, and although the hotel is located at the lakefront, the villas are situated at the back, with no view to speak of.

It's not worse than the motels we've stayed at but it's not better either. For the price we paid (this is the 2nd most expensive accommodation on our trip, only cheaper than the fancy one in Nelson), I guess I expected more. Calling this "a villa in a garden" is a bit of a stretch. It's more like an old-style chalet.

Anyway, we finally did our laundry here at the self-service laundry. Can't have a 2-week holiday and escape doing laundry! The benefit of travelling with teenagers is they can help with such chores. (We make them carry bags and wash dishes too. Hey, it's the parents' holiday as well!)

For dinner, we bought Chinese takeout from Ming Garden. It seems like a very popular Chinese restaurant - many tables were taken even though it wasn't 6pm yet.

Since the weather was breezy and cool, we went for another walk along Lake Te Anau. There was even a seaplane docked there.

In the face of such tranquil beauty, tempers are tamed, moods are lightened. Even siblings can become the best of friends. Love it when that happens, even if it's only temporary.

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