Last night we thought a bowl of spaghetti would go down well, so we identified the local Italian joint and on arrival find a queue out the door. We are not good at queues so we drive a short distance to the centre of the shopping strip and walk. We found another place that advertised pizza and went in. Well, at least the queue was inside the premises. One of the reasons there was a queue is the habit of backpackers to order and pay individually. But it all worked out and we ordered and eventually received our meals, which were quite acceptable. Although, like food everywhere in the Shaky Isles, it was not at all cheap. The two young waitresses happened to be German so Liz had a little chat to them about this and that. Like Australia, New Zealand's hospitality industry would collapse if it was not for international backpackers on working holidays.
Come the morning we hit the road, heading for Arrowtown. It wasn't far, about 180 kms, so we were looking forward to the opportunity to stop and look at things. However, it soon became apparent that away from the east coast, villages and towns are far apart; and aside from another pretty mountain and more waterfalls than you can poke a stick at, there is not much to see or do, unless you are into adventure sports, which includes hiking. But like, three day hikes! So we just did our driving and decided to go straight to Arrowtown, check in and have lunch before driving back the 20 odd kms to have a look at Queenstown.
We were delight with our accommodation. It is very quaint, very pretty and very period, but refurbished to a good modern standard. We then drive the two minutes to the town centre and are once again delighted by the picturesque main street. This is an old gold mining town, which also has a Chinese village built at the time of the rush in the 1860's. The street is now a tourist trap, but quite a classy one. We also had lunch in one of the cafes and were quite content with the experience.
Ok, off to Queenstown. This place has a huge reputation and so is also on everyone's list. Well, perhaps the youngsters like it. The lake and waterfront are pretty, but the rest of the town is, in my eyes, pretty ordinary. It is a tourist trap without class, although there are some shops that definitely cater only to the well-heeled. We walked up and down the shopping streets, going in here and there and I think we came away empty handed. Perhaps because we had made our purchases in Arrowtown; but then again, we didn't see the same attractive merchandise in the Queenstown shops.
Feeling a little let down we retraced our path to Arrowtown where we relaxed for a while before walking back to the main street for dinner. That was a rather disappointing affair on all counts. Finding a decent meal in New Zealand at a decent price is very difficult; and we also discovered that on a public holiday there is a 15% surcharge. In Australia, if they charge it, it is only 10%.
Well rugged up against the evening chill, we walked back to Settlers Cottages and agreed that all considered, Arrowtown is still a rather pleasant place, with its period features and position nestled between the mountains.
Something I have not really mentioned is the autumn colours. They are quite spectacular and we will take some photos tomorrow.