New Zealand, South Pacific

South Pacific Part 11: Last stop – Queenstown & Glenorchy

Our last stop of our 2 weeks New Zealand adventure: Queenstown 🙂 We took the Crown Range Rd again to get back to Queenstown from Wanaka and what a huge difference it made on a sunny vs cloudy day! It was so foggy that we couldn’t see the mountains and lake on the background:

We reached Queenstown in an hour and checked into Crown Plaza Queenstown that I redeemed with points for 3 nights. Since I am an IHG member, they upgraded us to a partial lake view high floor room with FREE UNLIMITED WIFI! This was the second hotel in our 2 weeks that offer truly free unlimited high-speed wifi, yay!!! Our room was spacious and clean but a little bit disappointed by the bed; it was not as comfortable as the ones we had at Holiday Inn Rotorua consider this is a Crown Plaza.

No luxurious bathroom but they had facial tissues!!! I was shocked to found that facial tissues were not common in New Zealand!

Our balcony with partial view of the lake, notice how steep that road is? We had to drive up that road to get in the hotel parking lot, if I was the driver I would freaked out 😛

After we settled down, we headed out for lunch to the famous Fergburger! We were there early at 11:00 am and it already has a line there, crazy! I walked by Fergburger at least a few times a day since Queenstown is quite small and every single time it has a line regardless the time of the day, it was that popular!

The line did moved quickly and in 15 minutes or so, we could see its front entrance….In Ferg We Trust LOL!

The menu:

And also a paper menu that you could get near the door so you can think ahead and be ready to place the order when your turn at the counter! Jason and my brother were studying the menu to see which burger to order, it has so many choices!

We ordered the Fergburger, the Mr. Big Stuff, and the Tropical Swine for $42.50 NZD. I sat on the bar table to wait for our order number to show up on the screen and was amazed on how efficient those workers are! They totally have an assembly line going!

Look at how many orders they have at a given time and boy they moved quick! Hum…how many burgers they make per day?

We got our orders finally after half an hour! We order take out so we can enjoy them in our comfortable room than in the crowded restaurant! The Crown Plaza is just few steps away so the burgers were still hot!

The bar at the lobby:

We finally can catch up with our dramas with the free high speed wifi!

The burgers were huge!

It was so hard to take a bit and keep stuff from falling off; it was that huge!

Medium rare, cooked to perfection! I totally understand why Fergburger is so popular, their burgers were one of the best I ever had! Not only made with delicious and juicy New Zealand beef patty, their sauce is the key to success! It’s a must try when you are in Queenstown! Get plenty of napkins ready, it’s hard to not make a mess!

The massive burger was sure filling! We took a stroll around Queenstown by foot afterwards. Like I said, Queenstown is much smaller than I thought and can easily walk from one end to another in less than 10 minutes. The shops are all concentrated along the waterfront of Lake Wakatipu. I liked this tree with rounded-oval shaped leaves!

It was chilly and the cloudy day didn’t help! We went in Dotti to return my dresses since right after I purchased them in the store at Dunedin, I checked online and they were having an extra 50% off so I ordered online to have them ship to Evita’s home. Clothes in stores were expensive even when converted to USD! There’s an Ice Bar near the waterfront:

For dinner, we went to Bombay Palace where Jason had his 2nd Indian cuisine experience. It was a Wednesday and they had a promotion of $14 NZD for all curries!!! It was crowded and we had to wait for 30 minutes or so since we didn’t have reservation. It wasn’t bad as we had our name down and shop around. The interior is decorated by photos of main attractions of India.

Garlic naan, 3 curries, and 3 mango lassi. It was delicious but not as great as the curries we had in The Spice Room at Lake Wanaka last night but for $60.70 NZD, it was hard to beat the value!

The next morning, we walked to Fergburger bakery to get breakfast…..we ordered the chicken curry and beef pie, yummy although quite expensive at $5 NZD each.

After breakfast, we got an early start on the drive to Glenorchy, it was the most scenic drive of our 2 weeks trip!!!! It takes around 45 minutes to get there but 10 minute or so into the drive, I asked the question: how much gas we have left? Urg looking like we might not able to make it back and we were not sure if there’s any gas station in Glenorchy so we turned back to Queenstown to fill up! Note: there is a gas station in Glenorchy hehe!

Off we go again, once more! There are a few lookouts along the 28 miles road to Glenorchy!

The first look out, I was attracted by the golden grass/hay contrast with the deep blue lake and sky!

A panorama, on the far left side is Queenstown.

Next stop was a small beach…

and someone left a coach there LOL!

Next one and we could see the snow-capped mountains, it must be magical at winter with snow covered mountains and the deep blue lake!

I was glad that the day started sunny since yesterday was completely full day cloudy!

Another stop that we could walk down to the lake.

It was the most scenic drive of our 2 weeks in New Zealand…opps did I said that already earlier? The whole 28 miles with the view of the lake and snow-capped mountains!

For those of you who are Lord of the Rings fans, you probably know that many scenes in Lord of the Rings were filmed throughout in New Zealand and Glenorchy was one of the locations! Along the way, we passed by a film crew, hum…what movie, drama, or show are they filming?

We arrived Glenorchy and since the town is so small that Jason drove right by it when searching for a place to park so we ended up parking near the marina. The orange sand/rock on the beach mixed into the aqua blue water created this red hue water color!

The transition of colors was the first time I have seen!

The most photographed spot when searching for Glenorchy images is those willow trees. And without much effort, I found the spot, totally unexpected! It was right next to the walkway behind this red Glenorchy house; it’s a mini museum with photographs of the early days of Glenorchy.

The willow trees of Glenorchy!!!

This is how it is to get close to it…….flip flops help!

Along the side, there’s a “sandbar” 🙂

It was so beautiful, very peaceful, the middle earth!

There are jet boating that you can take from the Glenorchy marina.

There’s a public restroom near the beach and it was ewwwww with flies I heard!

Another angle of the willow trees:

The beach with unbelievable colors!

We waited for those people to leave and then pictures pictures pictures!

By that time, we were the only ones there 🙂

Jason was giving my brother rock skipping lesson haha!

We drove back to the main street: Mull St. less than a minute away for lunch. There are a few restaurants and cafes there along with a memorial:

And one gas station across from the Glenorchy Cafe:

We saw a sign with Chinese words “dumplings” and we went in:

Pretty shocking to find a dumplings cafe in the small remote Glenorchy!

We ordered pork and prawn dumplings 9 pieces per order, beef noodle soup, and BBQ pork noodle soup to share among 3 of us:

The noodle soup portion was much smaller than I expected for $15 NZD. It tasted not bad and definitely have the homemade feel to it. The cafe is Queenie Dumpling and the lunch was $42 NZD, not too bad consider the lack of choices and tourist spot here. Close to the cafe are those copper wired? made animal structures!

We continued onto the Glenorchy-Paradise road to check it out. It was getting cloudy by then….

We stopped by a nearby park…but it has nothing except for photo ops!

Those grass were quite hard and spiky so careful when walking on them!

A new way to carry hand bag for lazy people!

We drove all the way till it was not paved and stopped…..since don’t want to risk on violating the rental contract! There are many sheep there hummm who raise those sheep in such a remote location?

On the way back more beautiful views:

The film crew once again:

It was only 1 pm when we got back and still plenty of time so we decided to drive to Arrowtown to check out the Chinese Settlement there:

Back in the days, the first Chinese settlement in Arrowtown to mine gold (similar to the gold rush to San Francisco)!

Their houses are extremely small and I can’t imagine how harsh it is during the freezing winter!

This is Ah Lum’s Store:

Inside the “store” which is a small house, I would guess storage on top?

Those houses are so small that even I need to bend down a bit to enter! Early Chinese settlers across the ocean thousands of miles away to work hard to send money back to support their families in China. How lucky we are to grow up in the modern times!

Some houses are even built on the edge of the mountain:

Today, they have a little cafe and souvenir shop there where you can pan gold!

A colorful bird I came across 🙂

We drove into Arrowtown center to check out the cute little historical town where many shops selling gold!

Their post office:

More gold shops:

It was a good time spent there and we went back to Queenstown. On the way, we passed by where they have jet boating on this very narrow river:

Jason walked to the bridge to see and photograph the actions!

The other side of the bridge where they started the tour:

We are not thrill seekers so no thanks to those heart bumping activities! We went back to our hotel where we drove up this narrow street to get to the parking lot…I couldn’t even stand straight!

I prebooked a ride up to the Queenstown Skyline where we had dinner with awesome view at 5:45 pm. The gondola ride was included at $82 NZD per person which was not bad for the view and good food!

It was a steep ride up ahhhhhhhhhh! I was trying to focus on taking photos so I will not get scared by the height!

The platform where they have bungy jump!!!

The Skyline Restaurant with the million dollar view of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, too bad we didn’t have a table right next to the windows…I probably would be scared by the height!

It is buffet style with many international dishes!

Make your own laksa (a Malaysian noodle dish):

My own laksa noodle soup, it wasn’t hot enough though!

The food was buffet style good so don’t expect it to be fine dining. But the desserts were out of this world, please save room for desserts! If we have known the desserts to be that great, I would have saved extra room for desserts!

In the Cook Islands – New Zealand trip, I discovered my 2nd most favorite dessert after Tiramisu called Pavlova!!! It has a crunchy crust like pies or tarts and inside filled with the extremely soft but not too sweet puffy textured thing like marshmallow. It is so good! This is Pavlova and I learned it can be different sizes as big as a regular birthday cake! I am craving for it as I am writing about this!!!

The inside marshmallow like filling of the Pavlova:

We each tried out different kinds of desserts and each ones tasted so good! It totally ruined my brother’s diet lol!

After the extremely full dinner filled up with desserts, we walked up to the observation deck for panoramic views of Queenstown, it’s so beautiful! I tried to avoid places with snow for winter trip but Queenstown and area is the only place where I wanted to come back during winter time when it’s covered with snow! I’ll let photos to speak for themselves the scenery that can’t be described by words!

It was too bad that it wasn’t the best weather when we were up there…oh well…can’t be lucky all the times!

Can you believe that the picture of this world map is made by jelly beans?

And this photo by jelly beans!!!

We walked out of the observation deck and there are two: one short and one long hiking trails up there!

The observation deck on the upper floor and the lower floor is the buffet restaurant; they also has a function room on the upper floor too!

We on top of Queenstown!

Those are the cable car for the Luge ride:


A huge wooden frame to frame your photo of Queenstown…too bad those grass covered the town lol:

The Luge ride path on the left and the pedestrian walkway on the right:

This is where they jump off to para-glide too!

We didn’t have patient to wait for another 2 hours for sunset so we decided to head back down 🙁 It should be spectacular for sunset when good weather but it was getting cloudier so didn’t think there was a chance to make the 2 hours wait worthwhile. I saw this ice cream cone like tree so had some fun with this photo:

It even started to rain and the rain continued to the next day! From our balcony, look at how steep that road is, do you believe me now?

The next day was raining the full day so we didn’t go out except to have lunch. It was a good day to take a rest, watch tv, and relax while I can catch up with work hehe. For lunch, we walked across the street to Saigon Kingdom. Their pho was okay, nothing to rave about. Three pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) for $39 NZD!

For dinner, we walked to Kim’s Korean Restaurant and it was packed with big tour groups; the waiter said come back in an hour to check. Then, we walked back to a grill house and it was completely booked too! Next, we walked to a Chinese restaurant that looked like a tourist trap and no customer there which is not a good sign so we turned back and left! We walked to Madam Woo, a Malaysian restaurant, and looked at its menu; it’s expensive and not much choices! At the end we decided to head back to Kim’s Korean Restaurant (half an hour later) to see and the big tour groups left already! We were seated immediately 🙂

At that point, we were starving so we ordered a bunch of food! Bulgogi, a spicy meat dish (forgot what it is), and a spicy seafood soup pot!!!

Our table full of food 😀 We enjoyed the spicy seafood soup pot the most, it was delicious! Our dinner came to be $94 NZD, we were full!

After dinner, we headed back to our hotel and as we were watching dramas, I saw colors through the sliding door to the balcony. I walked out to the wet balcony and see, wow a colorful sunset is happening! I immediately grabbed my camera snapped some photos and decided to walk out or more photos! Jason and my brother were too lazy to get dressed and go so I went alone!

From our balcony the colorful sky as the sun was setting!

From the windows while waiting for the elevator:

I walked across the street to the pier area, wow the colors were unbelievable! That was the 2nd time I have seen such a glowing color sunset during our 3 weeks trip; one in Rarotonga, Cook Islands!

It was totally unexpected that a rainy day could turned out to be a display of colors during sunset! Do not give up on a rainy day! A look back to the Queenstown at night:

Thank you for the farewell gift New Zealand! The 3 nights in Queenstown I found to be a little bit too much since we are not thrill seekers so there’s not much activities we can do in Queenstown that we are interested in. If the last day wasn’t raining the whole day, I think I would go for a nearby hike up the mountain to see Queenstown and the lake. Other than that, I couldn’t think of any other things we can do. If you are like us who’s not seeking those adventurous activities, I think 2 nights is enough in Queenstown. I would rather have the extra day at somewhere else like Lake Wanaka or Lake Tekapo to do more hike for great views!

The next day, we had an early flight back to Auckland where we spent the full afternoon with Evita before our late night flight back home for more mouth watering food and shopping for souvenirs to bring home. I got 10 bottles of Manuka Honey 15+, 10 bags of S+P white chocolate with popping candy (families and coworkers loved those), and 100% natural Trilogy skincare products 🙂 Evita bought us to a wholesale supermarket (like Costco or BJ at home) to buy those Manuka Honey for the lowest price!

New Zealand is a dream come true for nature-loving travelers and photographers without the massive tourist crowds (generally speaking). There are so many postcard perfect places that even 2 weeks is just a scratch on its surface. We barely did Rotorua and the southern tip of the South Island: Lake Tekapo – Dunedin – Milford Sound – Wanaka – Queenstown. There are so much more that New Zealand has to offer! Over the 2 weeks, we had so much “first time and the most” experiences: the first and most colorful geothermal valley in Rotorua, the absolutely magical night sky seeing the Milky Way with the surprise appearance of the Southern Lights at Lake Tekapo, the longest hike I ever did for 3 hours at Mount Cook, the one of a kind boulders at Moeraki Boulders, the silkest and yummiest tofu I ever had at Dunedin, the ever changing atmosphere in Milford Sound, the Lone Tree at Lake Wanaka, the layers of color on the beach at Glenorchy, the most scenic observation deck and one of the most colorful sunsets at Queenstown! It’ll be sure a trip to remember for a life time!

Where are we heading to for our next trip? Stay tuned by subscribing to my blog for the latest trip report!

6 thoughts on “South Pacific Part 11: Last stop – Queenstown & Glenorchy

  1. I like your adventure but I’m more interested in riding on the cable car. To be honest, I’m afraid of heights but I still have the fighting spirit to take that long bungy jump or whatever it called.

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