At 6:45 am, we were awoken via loudspeaker by the crew. We trudged upstairs for breakfast, not nearly as good as dinner. It was cheesy herby scrambled eggs, a hashed potato wedge, fried tomato, Canadian bacon, and sausage. There were also a few cereals and yogurt put out and bread for toast. We had the hot breakfast. There was more sight-seeing after breakfast and the highlight was seeing some fur seals on some rocks and also going up close to the Stirling waterfalls. It was another clear day out on Milford Sound.
We got back sharply at 9:15 and we set off for Queenstown at 9:30 am. There was very little traffic going up and down. Marc put the seat back and took a nap. He woke up shortly after Te Anau and took a video of a bunch of vintage cars that must have been on their way to a vintage car show…
After about 3 hours of driving I began to feel overwhelmingly sleepy to the point that I began to nod off. We pulled over and I took a 20 min power nap then we set off again. It felt like the longest drive of the trip. We finally got to Queenstown at 1-ish and the rental car was due back at 3:00. We decided to go to the cafe where we had had lunch before, in the Remarkables Shopping Center. The day was overcast and there were men working on a building using loud electric tools. I was extremely cranky and tired and it was amazing what a difference our lunch was compared to the the delightful experience it had been a mere few days earlier… Lunch took forever, Marc ordered a chicken sandwich and I had the chicken, brie and thyme pie which for some reason came with a side of sweet chili sauce.
We left for the hotel at 1:45. The plan was to drop the bags off at the hotel and then drive the car to the agency in downtown QT. We got to the hotel at 2:00-ish. We stayed at Earnslaw Lodge and got a lake-facing room without a kitchenette. It was $144 per night and was one of the best accommodations we stayed in thanks to the exceptional hospitality of the hosts. Also the room had a beautiful, sweeping view of Queenstown from sliding glass doors off of our deck. We were extremely pleased with it, despite it having the same painted concrete walls that the hostel in Te Anau had–it’s amazing what a great view can do!
It was apparent we wouldn’t have time to nap, so we took showers and made it to the car rental agency exactly at 3:00. We felt extremely lucky to have found street parking in downtown Queenstown, which happened to be right in front of Fergburger, which our guidebook recommended as being extremely popular, and there was a large line in the front.
We turned in the car and then walked back to the hotel, where I took a much needed 2 hour nap. Then we set out for dinner at 6:30-ish. As we walked, we noticed a large number of people heading towards town from the various hotels along the lakefront. Many of them were dressed up and I began to worry that we wouldn’t get a table and that I was under-dressed. I remarked to Marc that it felt like zombie hordes heading out and he said, “Foooooood” in his best zombie voice. On the way, we passed through a park filled with birds and recorded their distinct songs:
We stopped at a place called Halo that the guidebook recommended, it’s by the little stone church (on Church street) and had reasonably priced entrees ($20) and plenty of tables, but it was lacking the ambiance I was looking for… We continued on to the main part of town and went to Solaro Vino, a French restaurant. They had a sign advertising $20 salmon and lamb specials and it was so adorable inside! Hardwood floors and roaring fires. The hostess said she should have a table available at 7:30, which was only 1/2 hour away so we decided to come back.
At 7:30 we were seated at a lovely window table in the upper floor of Solaro Vino. I ordered the Akaroa salmon with mashed potatoes and veg ($20 special) and the cream of cauliflower w/blue cheese soup ($10.5). Marc had the pot au feu ($32). I also had 2 glasses of Chardonnay and Marc had a beer and it was around $90. Everything was perfectly cooked and delicious and the waiter was particularly helpful. Great ambiance, food and service–we were pleased. We went back to the room and the city was filled with a strong party atmosphere. After getting back to the hotel, it began to pour down rain, it was very loud on the rooftop and was still going strong by the time I fell asleep.
Go on the next part of the journey!