Glenorchy

Our reason for being in Queenstown is our trip to Doubtful Sound tomorrow. Because that requires an early start and getting here involved a late arrival it seemed prudent to allow a day between arriving and that trip. We have been to Queenstown three times previously but have never ventured up the lake. Glenorchy at the head of the lake is about 50 km by road and seemed a good option for today.

We both slept late, a combination of poor sleep in Brisbane and being 2 hours out of our time zone, but we were moving by 8:00 am. We breakfasted on coffee using the pods supplied and the muesli and yoghurt we bought last night. I slipped downstairs to complete checkin and sort out parking arrangements which got us a space in the multilevel car park across the street.

Soon after 9:00 am we were rugged up against the 6ºC temperature and on the road along Lake Wakatipu to Glenorchy. The drive took us somewhat more than the 45 minutes estimated in the tourist information. That was because we had to stop several times to admire the view and take photographs. I think it would be a scenic drive at any time of year but snow capped mountains up, down, and across the lake with just a few clouds to interrupt the sunshine would be hard to beat. 

Lake Wakatipu

At our first stop, Seven Mile Reserve, we spotted signs about walking and mountain bike trails through the forest by the lake. We made a note that we might walk part of it on our way back but thought the access from our next stop at Wilson Bay might be easier. At one of our stops closer to Glenorchy we met a couple from Brisbane who had stopped for photos. Majella offered to take one of them and they took one of us with Lake Wakatipu and mountains in the background.

We arrived at Glenorchy around 10:30 am and took some time to walk around and explore the foreshore before having coffee at the Trading Post, not far from the wharf. After coffee we walked around some of the few streets in Glenorchy. We found some interesting old buildings including the community library and a small church. The library was not open but the building dates from the 19th century and a copy of the rather bureaucratic rules was posted outside. The church had originally been built by a property owner but was later moved to its present location in town. It has never been the property of a single denomination but has been used by several.

Sheep on the road to Kinloch

While having coffee we had discovered that it is possible to drive around the head of the lake to Kinloch which is directly across from Glenorchy. The map indicated that the road is sealed as far as the bridge across the Dart River but gravel beyond that point. We decided we could go to the end of the sealed road and then decide. Either way we could be back in Glenorchy in time for lunch. When we reached the gravel road it looked smooth enough so we drove on to Kinloch. The only hazards we encountered on the road were a couple of pairs of sheep that had escaped through the fence from where they should have been grazing beside the road. We arrived at Kinloch in time to see a pair of jet boats exit the river and head across the lake with the usual spins and other characteristics of jet boat tours. We enjoyed a walk along the foreshore and the old wharf and admired the views down and across the lake.

As we started to drive out of Kinloch my phone rang with a FaceTime call from Jane who was enjoying herself at Apple HQ. She was lucky to catch us at a spot where we had connectivity, which is limited in that area.

Back in Glenorchy we ate lunch at the Glenorchy Hotel. Majella had the home cooked beef pie and I had an Angus burger. She drank a hot lemon and ginger concoction while I had a dark Speights beer.

Tui
Tui at Glenorchy

On our way out to Kinloch we had noticed a walkway over a wetland just out of Glenorchy. With a little effort we found a track on the foreshore that led to the walkway which is a combination of raised gravel path and boardwalks over the wetlands and around the Glenorchy Lagoon. Majella was excited by a flock of Tui birds in tall pine trees near the entrance to the walkway. I managed to catch a couple of photographs including the white tuft that so fascinated Majella. The walkway featured a number of locations with seats that afforded views of the water and mountains. There were swans and ducks on the lagoon and a variety of small birds in the trees and shrubs. With all that to see and enjoy we took more than the estimated 30 minutes for the circuit and managed to bring up 10 000 steps for the day.

As we drove south from Glenorchy toward Queenstown the sky, which had been mainly clear all day, became cloudier. Despite that and our already substantial walking Majella was keen to try the trail at Wilson Bay. We stepped out of the car there into a strong and cool breeze which prompted renewed resolutions to wear all our warm gear to Doubtful Sound tomorrow. I had thought we would walk just the level section of the trail along the lakefront but Majella was keen to press on up the hill to Eagles Nest. We made it there but were not much impressed by the view. The hill is mostly devoted to trail bike paths. They have signs denying pedestrian access but the main trail we walked is dual purpose and two-way. On the way down we took a wrong branch which was not signed and found ourselves on a downhill bike path. Fortunately we made it out without encountering any bikes to find our car the only one left in the chilly car park. 

We headed for home via a supermarket where we picked up the makings for a simple evening meal. Lunch was filling and, despite having walked 15 000 steps, neither of us was needing another large meal. We will have a quiet night in preparation for an early start tomorrow.

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