Day 8 – Queenstown

We had a leisurely day, getting up later, enjoying breakfast, then going into town. The downtown isn’t large but has lots of interesting shops. There were a lot of outdoor sports stores, like Patagonia and North Face, as well as upscale clothing stores. Cashmere and Merino wool items were everywhere and they weren’t cheap. A typical sweater can run between $300-500 NZD (approximately 30or more. Even at the current exchange rate between the NZ dollar and the US dollar (30% more), we weren’t that interested. Besides, we wouldn’t be wearing them much in Mexico and having room in our suitcases is always a challenge.

We did wander over to the famous Fergburger restaurant, where there usually are 50 or more people waiting in line to get a burger. In the same block, they have Mrs. Ferg’s the gelato store and Fergbaker, the shop that makes the buns for the burgers and a large variety of meat pies. The pastry was very good and the choices were interesting.

Rather than waiting in the line, we opted for one of the savory pies and a milkshake. Both were delicious but, as it turned out, they didn’t like me and I had to be near a bathroom for the rest of the day. I can’t be sure.

We decided to walk back from town, about a 3 km walk, which wouldn’t have been bad except for the wind and chill. After relaxing a bit, we had plans to take the steamship, the TSS Earnslaw, to Walter Peak, a boat ride of about 30 minutes from the Queenstown wharf. This boat is an old-fashioned, coal-fired boat and the poor fellow below was shoveling coal as fast as he could. Interestingly, New Zealand is a VERY environmentally conscious country, with trash-sorting everywhere. To have this anacronism of a boat using coal was a unique experience.

Walter Peak is actually a huge farm, where they raise sheep (duh!) and grow many of their own produce. The building is very pretty and the grounds, especially the flowers, were absolutely beautiful. The boat-load of folks (probably around 200) went up to the house that was more of a giant dining room to partake of the enormous buffet (again). There was lamb, free-range chicken and pork, fish, lots of seafood, veggies, salad, and many desserts.

However, lunch was starting to kick in for me and I found that the two bathrooms had only two stalls each for women. I couldn’t believe that this was the case, considering the number of people there. And, you know that the women’s room always has a line, while the men’s room never has a line! You can imagine the bottleneck after the dinner for the women to make a pitstop!

After dinner, there was the ubiquitous sheep shearing and border collie demo. The poor sheep wasn’t having any of this and kept squirming to get away. But the young sheep shearer prevailed!. The border collies here are very different from those we are accustomed to seeing. They are short-haired and almost look like a Labrador Retriever, but with a longer snout. This dog was very good at his job, always look back to his handler to make sure that he was doing it correctly. It was actually pretty cute.

Finally, back onto the boat for the ride home. The steamy warmth of the boat instantly put me to sleep but once in the bus back to the hotel, we fell into bed. At least, we had a relaxing day to catch up with life.

Tomorrow is another travel day. We take a 3.5 hour flight to Melbourne for three days of enjoying our first visit to Australia.

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