Waking up to this...
...makes it really difficult to leave a place.
So before we left, we decided to have a walk around the peninsula (in pic above and lower peninsula in pic below) that was home to the Queenstown Gardens.
Sigh. I miss this view.
The little community beach I blogged about yesterday. Can't you just imagine all of the children running and playing and splashing in the summertime?
Pics from our hike around the gardens. We could have walked around for hours, I think.
Kyler found a cool rock. A really big cool rock.
So of course, he had to climb it.
They had a really wide variety of evergreens in the gardens. This one was my favorite: the "monkey puzzle" tree. Check out those awesome leaves!
I don't even know this woman, but I want her reading spot.
Looking back at our hotel (dead center) from the shoreline of the gardens.
Kyler was loving this hike. Huge, interesting trees, big rocks to climb, smooth, flat stones to skip across the lake...New Zealand, I think we found a keeper in you.
Someone before us had made a little village of rock towers. We thought they were neat. And I like to take pictures of neat things.
Eventually, we had to pull ourselves away. We ducked into town, enjoyed lunch on the wharf, and began our 4-hour journey over to Dunedin.
Goodbye, Southern Alps!
Okay, back to the Lord of the Rings thing for just a bit. Seeing all of the bare, brown/gray mountains on this bit of our trip, it really wasn't difficult at all to imagine scenes from the movie. These mountains were huge, ominous, and quite ugly.
Yep, that's a vineyard built right into the side of a mountain.
The Kawarau Gorge river, filled with gorgeous, crystal-blue water, especially in contrast with the brown, murky hills all around.
So as it turns out, Queenstown is home to the world's very first bungy, and we passed it on our way to Dunedin! You can click this link or the one above for video. It's pretty incredible, and of course we stopped. Kyler and I had a pretty intense discussion about whether or not he would jump (I....ahem...preferred that he did not...) but it was $175 so that was the end of that discussion. Looking back on these pictures though, if we'd had the money I probably would have caved, and maybe done it myself - doesn't it look cool?? (check out the video and shhhhh, don't tell Kyler). We missed a jumper by about one minute (heard him scream his way down just as we got out of the car), or we would have gotten his jump on video. On this particular jump, the top half of your body actually goes into the water. Wow.
The road was hilly, incredibly wind-y, and the views were chock-full of sheep. Some of them were grazing on mountain faces at a 45* incline. Seriously!
It was nighttime by the time we reached Dunedin. The city is at the innermost part of a harbour and peninsula on the east coast of the southern island of New Zealand. We stayed in a bed and breakfast on the Harbour just in between The Cove and Macandrew Bay, and it was incredible. I booked it online, based on two pictures, a very reasonable price for the area (cheaper than hotels and included breakfast!) and the "about us" section provided by the hosts. The couple had run a small motel for many years and mentioned that they loved chatting with their guests and making recommendations on the best places to eat and visit. I thought Kyler would love talking with them (and we both did). The views were just spectacular. We were the couple's only guests that weekend, so to allow us all more privacy, they moved us downstairs to their king apartment (with a living room and wrap-around balcony!!) at no extra charge. From their balcony, we had 180* views from Taiaroa Head where the Harbour opens to the Southern Ocean, down the channel and into the city of Dunedin (New Zealand's second-largest city). Absolutely fantastic.
Kyler got up the next morning at sunrise (not until 7:40am!!) and took some great photos and video:
The view from our balcony. Pretty incredible.
More from Dunedin in the next several blog posts! We met and spent a day with friends Trevor and Joan, who began writing my grandfather in 1954 and have kept up with our family through four generations, we walked up (and down) the steepest street in the world, and so, so much more. Check back soon!