Wednesday, December 23, 2009

NZ 2009 Day 8 - Arrowtown / Mt Cook

Started our very long journey to Mt Cook (427kms) at 830am, with our itinerary passing through Hway 94, then 97, then 6 passing by Arrowtown first before heading up to Mt Cook via Hway 8 then Hway 80.

From Kingston
we chanced upon a flock of sheep along the road

Along Highway 6, we stopped at the Fairlight Station. The Kingston Flyer, which is a vintage steam train, operates here.

From Kingston

From Kingston
took pictures at the station

The train was supposed to pass by the station but we didn't want to wait for it since we still had a long way to go to get to our final stop for today. So we decided to drive to the Kingston Flyer depot which was anyway along the way (at the southern end of Lake Wakatipu).

We were able to see the steam train but, unfortunately, it was temporarily not in operation.

We were also able to take nice, mirror lake pictures.
From Kingston

From Kingston
Good thing the weather was better today. The blue skies and clear, calm waters. Perfect mirror lake views.
Had lunch at Queenstown (Burger King) before driving to Arrowtown, just 20minutes away.

Arrowtown - the town born of gold. This was so far the "warmest" part of New Zealand. We have stripped off our jackets, just to the bare minimum (but decent) clothing (how I wish I had worn a sleeveless top!).

We walked around the town, going through the main street first.

we visited the Lakeside District Museum but just the "free" area. We wanted to have more time exploring the town.

the post office

We then headed to the river, just a short walk behind the museum, where they were able to pan for gold years ago. You can actually rent a pan from the museum.
From Arrowtown & Kawarau Gorge
looking for GOLD. Not my lucky day though.

From Arrowtown & Kawarau Gorge
a dog passed by to have a drink while Ira was playing near the stream. The owner was signalling to the dog as he was walking away. He said the dog was deaf so he had to use sign language.

Walked to the Chinese Settlement Area.
From Arrowtown & Kawarau Gorge

the houses were so small outside but when you get inside it is actually quite spacious (as long as you don't have furniture)
After Arrowtown, we continued our drive along Cromwell. and passed by Kawarau River.

We were able to visit AJ Hacket Bungy at Kawarau Bridge - the location of the first bungy jumping in NZ.

the boys checking the bungy cord

From Arrowtown & Kawarau Gorge
From Arrowtown & Kawarau Gorge
walking to the edge of the bridge to see the bungy jumpers

watching one jumper take the plunge. Ready.... Get set.... JUMP!
We didn't have the nerve though to take the plunge. Watching the other jumpers was enough. Although it was not as high as I expected it to be.

So much for adrenaline rush (as an observer), we continued our drive towards Omara where we filled up gas.

Along the way, we stopped at this welcome sign to a very barren town.
WAITAKI -- waKITA = walang kita (in Filipino) meaning nothing to see. As you can see in the picture, there really is nothing much to see in this area.

Final stretch to Mt Cook village. We were wondering why we weren't ascending as much as we expected (something like driving to Baguio, Philippines from Manila where you can really see that you are driving on the edge of the mountain side road).

From Mount Cook
Before we knew it, we were already there, at the foot of the mountains! I checked our olympus camera for elevation and we were around 2600ft high!

The weather was not good. It was a bit drizzling. It was cloudy. We couldn't see Mt Cook at all!

We checked in at our hotel - Mt Cook Alpine Lodge. We were the last one to check in :) We settled in, fixed our luggage and headed out to have dinner. Unfortunately, because it was already late (around 830pm) the cafe was closed. We were left with only one choice - at the Hermitage Hotel Panorama 4 Restaurant. It was sort of a fine-dining restaurant - candelit dining. The ambiance was really romantic. The downside is that we couldn't see the beautiful scenery outside.

Anyway, we checked out the menu, ordered our food and prayed that the boys behave well so as not to disturb other diners (there was one table with a group of around 7 guests and another table with one guy). We were first served with compliments from the chef (for the kids: a happy face made up of marshmallows and candies, for us: salmon with tartar sauce), then main dish (for the kids: nuggets/fries/peas, for us: beef/sausage/vegies), then dessert (banana split). Dinner was sumptuous. Everything went well. The kids stayed put (probably because they waited for the food for a long time).

When we were almost done with dinner, a guy from the other table (the group of 7 or so) approached our table. He wanted to let us know that it's been a long time since he had seen well-behaved boys on the dinner table. He was quite amazed at how the boys dined without running around or making any unnecessary noise. He commended the boys and went back to his table.
 We were caught by surprise but felt proud that our boys were given such comments/appreciation. Well, the boys did behave better than our usual dine-out experiences. They felt good that a stranger came over and was happy about their behavior.

 After dinner, we walked back to our hotel, passing by the visitor centre and taking some photos (night shots).

long exposure, in front of the Hermitage Hotel

From Mount Cook
overlooking the snow-capped mountain ranges, but Mt Cook was hiding (this was taken around 11pm, under long exposure)

taken in front of our hotel, just as the light in the dining area was turned off


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