I was staying the night in Frankton near Queenstown in South Islands Lakes District. In the last few years the development and growth in Frankton has been quite amazing. So, I found myself staying there the night before an early morning flight from Queenstown Airport the next morning. Late in the afternoon I went for a walk on a section of the Twins River Trail which is part of the Queenstown Great Ride’ network that follows the iconic Kawarau and Shotover Rivers and provides wonderful views of The Remarkables.
The boardwalk track at Glenorchy is a most magnificent place as it twists, turns and loops around the lagoon. It crosses and cuts over the wetlands that have incredible views of Mt Earnslaw, the surrounding ranges and is filled with amazing birdlife.
Like most towns in Otago and the Lake’s District, Glenorchy was born out of the gold rush that occurred in the 1860’s. Once Glenorchy was settled and populated by prospectors, the only real access to it was via steamers that carried people and cargo up and down the lake from Queenstown. At Glenorchy, the goods and cargo going to and from steamers on the lake was stored and sorted in a goods shed that also operated as the local station.
As the steamers were owned by NZ Railways, Glenorchy was officially a railway station and the rails that ran from the end of the wharf to the shed were technically railway. Thus, at the time, the track that ran from the shed to the end of the wharf was the shortest piece of railway in the country.
Just outside of Arrowtown, or 15 minutes drive from Queenstown is Lake Hayes. A tranquil and beautiful lake that is filled with all sorts of bird life, the lake also has an 8 kilometre, loop walking track. Surrounded by some spectacular mountains, it’s a perfect place for a stroll, walk, run or bike ride.
I spent some time wandering the various streets that make up the town’s centre, I walked along the lakefront and took in the splendid scenery that surrounds the town. When I was younger, I remember Queenstown being a place with spectacular scenery, full of wonder and excitement. As you approached there was always an air of eagerness in the backseat of the vehicle my Dad was driving. Firstly you’d drive through Frankton, then the housing developments would become less frequent and almost non-existent until we passed the bottle house which was a marvel in itself. The famed Bottle House was always a clear sign that the magical place of Queenstown wasn’t too far away, until we rounded a bend and caught sight of the gondolas making their way up through the trees to the Skyline Restaurant. This was always the cue to look in amazement out the car window at the most mysterious of towns. Although it always did seem to be packed with people, rather expensive (so my parents told me) and full of construction everywhere we went.
The next day, I moved accommodation from Queenstown to Frankton as I needed to be closer to the airport. I was flying to the North Island early the following day, so I figured being a short distance from the airport would make life easier first thing in the morning. I was staying at the La Quinta Hotel and after checking-in and exploring my room for a few minutes, which included turning all the switches on and off to see what they did, I went for a walk. It was late in the day and a big bank of clouds was rolling in over The Remarkables and the Kawarau River, threatening to rain.
At Arrowtown I took Malaghans and Gorge Road (through Arthurs Point) to Queenstown. The hills were covered in clouds and the lake was darker than expected with patches of strong wind gusts creating a choppy surface in the distance. There can be no doubt that the scenery around Queenstown is quite stunning however the lake is something just as special. People often comment about the unique colour of Lake Wakatipu, which is created by glacial dust from crushed rocks falling into the lake from rivers at the head lake I had read.
As special as the scenery is, navigating the town can be something of a nightmare and deciding I couldn’t face the overcrowded town centre, I headed straight for my accommodation looking across the lake to the suburb of Kelvin Heights and The Remarkables.
Back in autumn I was fortunate enough to spend some time in Arrowtown. I say fortunate because I wasn’t meant to be there at all. I had planned to spend some time near Christchurch, but my accommodation was unexpectedly cancelled. So, I had to choose an alternative destination and Arrowtown was it. What a joy the town is during autumn when the colour takes hold.
A few years ago I stayed in Glenorchy for almost a week, it was quite delightful. In fact, I was greatly taken by the whole area. I’ve been there many times and every time it doesn’t fail to disappoint. One of the truly magic places to visit is the Glenorchy Walkway with its views of Mt Earnslaw, Mt Alfred and the surrounding ranges. The boardwalk traverses the wetlands just north of Glenorchy and is filled native birds that call the lagoon home. It’s very splendid.
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