In my last post I described a stop we made near Queenstown, on New Zealand's south island, to watch bungee jumping over the Kawarau River. After watching people hurl themselves off a bridge, we got into Queenstown in late afternoon and checked into our hotel. After checking in, we wandered downtown to meet up with our group and take an evening cruise to dinner. Below is a shot I took on the walk to downtown from the hotel, looking across the lake.
Queentown sits at one end of Lake Wakatipu, a large glacial lake that stretches over 80 kilometers and is surrounded by mountains. Downtown is pretty cool with lots of bars, restaurants, and outfitting stores to handle all the adventure seeking tourists that come to town.
After wandering downtown along the lake front, we met up with our group for a cruise to dinner aboard the TSS Earnslaw, a coal powered steamship built in 1912. Here it is as it approaches Queenstown's harbor area.
The TSS Earnslaw is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Queenstown and there was actually a wedding party on the ship heading to a reception at the same farm and restaurant we were having dinner at. As of last year there were no other coal powered steamships offering commercial passenger service in the southern hemisphere. It is important to choose your seat on the ship wisely because you want to be upwind (front of the ship) to avoid the smell of the coal fired engines.
The ride to dinner was very scenic. In the little canyons that broke up the mountains that surrounded the lake, you could see that they had their own weather systems. It is raining in the photo below in the canyon between the two peaks, but sunny along the shore.
Our destination for dinner was Walter Peak High Country Farm and was all the way across the lake. I ask and was told that it would have taken several hours by car to drive to it. The ride aboard the TSS Earnslaw only took about half an hour, but still enough time to enjoy a drink and the sights along the way.
The farm itself is quite beautiful sitting along the shore beneath a mountain.
It's a lovely house and event site with a beautiful rose garden along the shore.
Dinner was a buffet with every imaginable kind of meat and seafood. I think it ran over $100 a person including the boat ride, but the meal alone was worth that much. After dinner we made our way over to a pavilion on the farm set up for sheep herding and shearing demonstrations.
The two sheep dogs were so incredibly enthusiastic about their jobs. They were practically bouncing in the air waiting for the farmer to give them to go ahead to run up into the field and herd some sheep back for shearing. With different signals, the farmer could make the dog take the sheep in any direction. These were very smart, well trained dogs.
After the sheep were eventually herded down to the pavilion, we learned how and why the sheep were sheared. This little one year old lamb was getting its first shearing.
After the demonstration, the TSS Earnslaw arrived for the trip back to the harbor in Queenstown and we were fat, happy, and tired.