Thursday, November 30, 2023
HomeRETIREMENTLet's Go Exploring! Queenstown, the Jewel of New Zealand

Let’s Go Exploring! Queenstown, the Jewel of New Zealand

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This submit was written earlier than I gave delivery, and is without doubt one of the 6 international locations my son has been to whereas in utero. Hopefully, in a number of months we’ll be capable of bundle Little Matchstick onto his first aircraft journey and will likely be prepared to return journey with us!

Typically you journey to a spot so lovely, it’s apparent even earlier than the aircraft lands. Queenstown, New Zealand is a type of locations.

The Lord of the Ring soundtrack was already taking part in in my head as we flew over majestic snow-capped mountains, with winding rivers snaking by means of them. That’s the factor I keep in mind probably the most about New Zealand again after I was obsessing over the Lord of the Rings motion pictures in school. And though that wasn’t precisely what I bought in Auckland, Queenstown made up for it in spades.

We arrived at our Residence Alternate after darkish, and we had been initially confused by this signal on the ground to ceiling glass door.

However then as soon as morning rolled round and the sky lit up, all of it made sense. As a result of this is why the signal exists.

That’s the view from our Residence Alternate, however actually, regardless of which route you look, Queenstown takes your breath away. The one different place I’ve been to out of the 50+ international locations I’ve visited that’s even remotely comparable is Switzerland. In each circumstances I took so many photos my smartphone ran out of battery.

In the event you love mountains and climbing (or tramping because the Kiwis wish to name it) beside crystal clear lakes surrounded by snow-capped mountains, Queenstown is your jam. There’s additionally this bizarre phenomenon the place wispy clouds at all times halo proper above the mountain peaks like they’re crowning nature in all its glory. Plus, the color spectrum of the turquoise water, the pink and inexperienced leaves, and the ochre mountains appears to be like photo-shopped quite than pure.

The surroundings was so distinctive and, having gotten some follow driving on the other aspect of the highway in Auckland, we determined to lease a automobile and drive to Te Anau, residence of the glow worm caves—one other New Zealand phenomenon that’s not to be missed. You may also go to the a glow worm cave 2 hours exterior of Auckland on the identical day journey as Hobbiton, however after studying some critiques, this glow worm in Te Anau is manner higher, much less touristy, and fewer crowded.

Te Anau

After taking a 30 minute ferry journey by means of the misty fog to an island the place the glow worms are positioned, we had been informed that cameras are forbidden contained in the cave because of the sensitivity of the glow worms to digital camera flashes and noise. This turned out to be a wonderful rule as a result of after a brief stroll by means of a winding maze of cave tunnels and metallic staircases, we arrived in entrance of a small boat, simply barely large enough to suit 8 folks, and in pitch darkness, slowly floated by means of the stomach of the cave whereas staring on the glow worms within the cave ceiling above us. They jogged my memory of tiny blue LED lights and the expertise felt very meditative in completely darkness and silence.

After the interior cave boat journey, we had been taken on a brief nature stroll to a quaint cabin to get pleasure from sizzling chocolate, espresso, and tea whereas watching a presentation and video about glow worms.

That is after I found that glow worms are probably the most metallic of all nature’s bugs. I believed they had been innocent little bugs like fireflies, however boy was I improper! Provided that they seem like just some worm-shaped molecules with one finish that glows and the opposite finish that’s sticky to allow them to adhere to the cave wall, I used to be shocked how badass these little critters could be.

If you would like some nightmare gasoline to maintain you from sleeping, learn up on how glow worms feed. Mainly they secrete lengthy strands of glowing threads known as “fishing traces”, await moths to fly into them, then slowly climb down, get to the the place their prey is thrashing about, helplessly caught, after which proceed to suck out their eyeballs.


However that’s not all. These little “innocent” LEDs are additionally very territorial. Within the video, we noticed one glow worm attempt to transfer into one other glow worm’s house on the rock wall. Instantly the larger one pushed the smaller one into the fast-flowing rivers of the cave to make it drown. Fortunately, the smaller one landed on a ledge, and began climbing again up the wall in direction of the larger glow worm (out of sheer stupidly and lack of self-preservation or revenge, we’ll by no means know). Then instantly, the larger glow worm fully devours the small glow worm and you’ll see the sunshine in its abdomen happening because it digests.

So don’t underestimate these cannibalistic “Arachnocampa luminosa.” That’s the scientific identify for glow worms. Sounds rather a lot like one thing Harry Potter would study in fantastical creatures class doesn’t it?


In fact, being the LOTR nerds that we’re, we additionally needed to go to Glenorchy, the situation for Isengard. Even in case you’re not a LOTR rings fan, it’s price driving right here from Queenstown (it’s lower than an hour away) only for the views as a result of it’s in all probability one of the best drive, scenery-wise, we’ve ever carried out. And eventually, after we bought to the bridge the place Isengard was, we clapped giddily like seals and sure made all of the locals passing by roll their eyes at us.

Enjoyable reality: Isengard within the motion pictures is pc generated, however in actual life there’s a river flowing in entrance of the mountains. Within the film, it appears to be like like dry land, after which they added the Saruman’s tower/smoking fortress.

And eventually, again in downtown Queenstown, we went on a ship journey/cruise in lake Wakatipu and did the Time Tripper attraction (purchase tickets from to rise up to 50% off for each), which is a brief movie concerning the historical past of Queenstown projected onto an underground viewing station that permits you to see all of the geese and eels below the lake proper by the pier.

Even in case you simply went to Queenstown on a layover and don’t have time for all of the above points of interest, go for a stroll across the lake, which is already breathtaking sufficient that even in case you did nothing else, simply that’s price coming to Queenstown for.

So how a lot did we spend in Queenstown and Te Anau?

Class Price in USD/couple per day Price in CAD/couple per day Notes
Lodging $0 $0 Since we stayed in a Residence Alternate we ended up spending nothing on lodging, aside from the lease again residence ($51/day for 2 folks).
Meals $32.54 $44.25 ($14.92 consuming out,$29.33 groceries) We ended up principally cooking and packing lunch each time we went for hikes (which was just about on a regular basis). Apart from some snacks like ice cream or espresso, we didn’t actually eat out.
Transportation $45.88 $62.40 Transportation over the 7 days ended up being fairly costly due to the flight from Auckland to Queenstown, Ubers to/from the Airport and we rented a automobile for a number of days to drive to Te Anau and Glenorchy. Completely price it although. Plus, the three day automobile lease from “Sure Leases” was a terrific deal at $66 USD. There was a ferry and bus that we may absorb Queenstown that was cheap, although rare. Fortunately, our Residence Alternate was proper subsequent to the ferry port so stepping into city solely took a scenic 15 min journey on a regular basis.
Leisure $24 $32.64 We spent $64 USD every for the glow worm cave attraction, $5 USD every for the Time Tripper underwater theatre (purchase it from to get a 50% low cost), and $27 USD every for the boat journey/cruise on lake Wakatipu. This averaged out to be $12 USD every or $24 per couple over the 8 days there.
Whole $102.42 $139.29 We ended up spending much less in Queenstown per day than in Auckland and I discovered it far more price it. I might return to Queenstown in a heartbeat.

What do you assume? Have you ever ever been to Queenstown? Would you go?

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