Hitting the pause button in Queenstown

Hitting the pause button in Queenstown

From the gold mining ruins of Macetown, we walked down to Arrowtown. Unlike Macetown, Arrowtown is a happening place, bustling with tourists. It has that somewhat tacky but fun feel of an old west gold town re-creation, not unlike Ballarat (Australia), Tombstone (Arizona), or Dawson City (Yukon).

The idea behind the Te Araroa is that it takes you on a journey through many of New Zealand’s most beautiful places. In reality, it links together many stunningly beautiful walking tracks with some pleasant cycling paths and, well, boring road walks. As picturesque as the cycling paths can be, they’re hard on the feet after having already walked many days through the mountains.

There’s a very nice cycling path between Arrowtown and Queenstown, so we decided to hire bikes for a second time on this trip.

If I were to walk the Te Araroa again, I’d try to have a friend meet me at the end of every trail with a mountain bike so I could cycle all the roads and cycle paths rather than walking them or getting a ride.

Getting to Queenstown feels like a big milestone. The hard walking is behind us and we’re suddenly back in civilization.

It’s a beautiful town but arriving here after two months of walking through fairly remote areas is a bit of a shock to the system. It feels like a once quiet little town with the retail core of a big city plopped right on top of it. Suddenly, there are shopping malls, expensive restaurants, fashion boutiques, and Asian tour buses everywhere.

But it is a beautiful place.

We’re spending three nights here so Sil can visit a friend who now lives in Auckland and flew down especially to meet us.

Next up we head back to the trail and continue our way south toward Te Anau and the famous Milford Sound.


Ballarat – A Tale of Two Towns

Ballarat – A Tale of Two Towns

Last December I visited Ballarat, the historic Australian gold boom town. Unlike many mining towns, the gold continued to flow for decades and the town grew large enough to survive even after gold production declined. Nearly 50 years after the discovery of gold in the hills not far from Melbourne, another rich gold find popped up, this time half way around the world. Taking its name from the now famous Australian city, Ballarat California was born in 1897. I’ve just had the opportunity to visit and the contrast between the two towns couldn’t be more striking.
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