WOAH. EIGHT, I repeat EIGHT months have gone by since we touched down on this pristine piece of earth. Where did they go? Is this how fast life goes once you turn 30? Wait, I’m 30? How the hail did that happen? I don’t know, but it happened. What to do with all this anxiety and panic over how fast time is flying and life decisions that must be made??? I know! I’ll distract myself by updating the blog!
So…it may be the dead of winter here, but that’s not going to keep me, your ever dependable and consistent blogger, from posting photos from the end of Kiwi summer (March), through to Autumn (April and May). Who knows, maybe by winter of 2018, I’ll have the photos up from this year’s winter! Noooo…don’t you worry, I’ll get ‘er done. What you’ll find here is our journey west after setting off from Dunedin. This whole region is called Otago. Besides being known for outstanding Pinot Noir, delicious stone fruits, Alpine mountains, high country sheep stations, and the clearest baby blue lakes you’ve ever seen, it’s home to several adorable one horse towns that were founded during the New Zealand gold rush of the 1860’s. We stopped and meandered through them on our way to Queenstown, with our final destination being Wanaka. Enjoy m’loves.
Greetings from Clyde! A one street town…okay, maybe a one and a half street town. As my mom and Mimi would say, a “tee-niney” town.
Clay just loved that building so much that he had to photograph it from far away (above), up close here, and the next one is from inside.
It’s a restaurant, coffee shop, and hotel called Oliver’s. I think everything about it is gorgeous. The stone, the big hearth, the brick flooring, the hanging lights, the natural light, the arched windows, and the big wooden railroad ties used for the counter… we’re constantly taking notes for whenever we build something one day. I love places that feel airy and uncluttered.
Across the street from Oliver’s. Clay misses his motorcycle, so he takes pictures of other people’s. I can see him get wistful whenever one flies by.
Now this here town is called Cromwell. One could easily mistake this for a California gold rush town eh? I feel like a cowboy wearing chaps and spurs is about to come around the corner.
This sign was outside of an Italian restaurant in the historic part of Cromwell. Lady and the Tramp immediately makes me feel like I’m five years old again, sitting in Mimi and Papa’s bedroom in Birmingham, and falling in love with this movie I so adored when I was little. Thumbelina and Rapunzel were two others that competed for screen time at their house. I am so grateful for those warm and cozy memories.
Beautiful stonemasonry work!
Lake Dunstan…the lake that Cromwell is situated on. All lakes in this region are frigid year-round. It doesn’t stop the hearty Kiwis from jumping in though. If you do get the nerve up to dive in, at least you never have to worry about snakes or alligators or weird spiders, which have always terrified me in our murky Southern waters of Bammie. None of those eerie creatures exist in New Zealand.
Yeah, I could live in that humble, ramshackle dwelling. It’s an artist’s studio. I love those doors like the one on the first floor. I yearn to swing the top part of it open and greet my neighbors, Beauty and the Beast style. “Bonjour! Bonjour! Bonjour, bonjour, bonjour! There goes the baker with his tray like always. The same old bread and rolls to sell!” Ohhhh garsh. It’s hard to refrain from singing the whole darn song for you right now.
This totally picturesque two street town is called Arrowtown. It is my favorite of the gold mining towns. It’s Clay’s favorite too. That’s what he’s saying through that mouth fulla sandwich. Actually this looks more like his, “It’s the shiny black button. Press the shiny black button, Molly” face.
In between Arrowtown and Queenstown, there is a golf resort called Millbrook Inn. Mr. Mo, bring your clubs! Think you would like it here!
One of the pretty restaurants on the golf course.
A nice view from the golf course of Speargrass Flat.
The view of Queenstown once you take the gondola to the top! You’re looking at Lake Wakatipu heading South towards Kingston, as well as the mountain range called The Remarkables.
Oh hello there, pre-shower and shaven Molly and Clay.
So this is what the kiddos who grow up in Queenstown do after school. Strap their mountain bikes onto the gondola, ride to the top, and tear down the mountain like a bunch of wild banshees. It’s incredible to watch them. They are not afraid of anything it seems like. Must be nice. Did you know that you can pay a bunch of money to have someone helicopter you up to the top of some of these peaks, and either mountain bike or ski down the mountain? I’m telling’ ya…daredevils man.
There they go!
Okay, this is one of my favorite videos EVER. At the top of the gondola, if interested, one can buy tickets to a half hour cultural Maori show. Our plan was to experience a lil Maori culture, then snap a few pics at sunset, then head to dinner. Little did we know, Macmama’s worst EVER nightmare was involved: audience participation. Here we have Clay attempting (key word), to perform a traditional Maori Haka… aka an intimidating war chant or challenge. A haka was traditionally performed by warriors before a battle, proclaiming their strength and prowess in order to intimidate the opposition. The haka is perhaps best known these days as the New Zealand rugby team’s pre-match tradition. And they are really good. Here is Clay doing a haka, with a bunch old white men. The Maori haka is all about fierceness, craaaaaazy eyes, and sticking your tongue out as far as it will go, while being almost naked in a squat position.
The T.S.S. Earnslaw. The Lady of the Lake. Lake Wakatipu that is. Despite how small she looks from the top of the gondola here, she ain’t no small thang. See there. She is a beauty of a steamboat, built in 1912, with the capacity to carry around 400 passengers. Before she became a tourist attraction, she was responsible for carrying passengers, sheep, cattle, and supplies to high country sheep stations (ranches), as well as supplying goods to the wee town of Glenorchy before a road existed. Now the Lady of the Lake takes tourists like us on rides out to Walter Peak High Country Farm for tours, horseback riding, and bbq’s. We are going to do this with Macmama and Macdaddy when they visit!
There she is up close. Don’t you just love an old steamboat? So romantic. You can’t beat the sound of a steam whistle. There she blows! That’s also what my Papa used to say when I would blow my nose within his ear shot. He had a bit of a weak stomach, and my sinus issues were very loud, and my nose blowing was very, um, productive, shall we say? Still is. Pretty sure Pamcakes was a tad concerned I would never get a date because of my “nose noises.” Sorry, I’ve made you all queasy now, haven’t I? Back to our lovely vessel…my favorite thing about hopping on the Earnslaw: there is a little cafe with a piano, and a lady who plays sing along songs. I loved getting a coffee and joining in with all the old folks gathered around the piano as we belted out tunes from The Sound of Music, the mountains dreamily passing by. Yeah, I fit right in with that crowd.
While I was singing about the hills being alive and pretending I was Fraulein Maria, Clay was in the steamy underbelly of the ship, totally engrossed with all the sounds, smells, and action of the engine room…the ruddy crew tirelessly shoveling coal into the furnace, going around oiling the mechanicals, the pistons pumping, the sweaty mates yelling over all the noise…it makes Clay feel like he’s aboard the Titanic, experiencing the anything-is-possible excitement and boundless optimism of the turn of the century. When it was time to disembark, he was wistful. “I want to work in the engine room,” he said. I said, “Nah…you’d rather be the captain I would think.” “No,” he said. “I wanna work in the engine room.”
I love watching light and shadows move across mountains.
Perky’s! A floating bar run by the nicest gent. We came here for a quick pre-dinner drink, but instead we immediately became the target of one of those types that becomes super friendly and chatty with the whole world when they drink, and boy howdy, he just wanted to talk about everything under the sun, from Trump to country music to how weird he thinks Kiwis are, even though he himself is a Kiwi. He was hilarious and made us late for dinner…the one time we would ever have been on time! But still, I’m glad we chatted with him. At first, I was like, oooooh great…not this…I am not in the mood for this. Turns out he is the owner of Queenstown’s Lone Star restaurant, New Zealand’s interpretation of what an American restaurant is. Just imagine if Epcot had a “Texas” restaurant. Get my picture? I gotta admit though, when we take a day trip to Queenstown, I always have to stop in at Lone Star to sit in front of the roaring fireplace and gaze at the massive twenty foot sculpture of a cowboy’s pistol, and listen to the best darn country music around. Apparently Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn recently paid Lone Star a visit when he was on tour…so I guess there are perks to running the franchise that sells “redneck ribs” , “lassoo of hog”, and “honky tonk chicken.” I do adore their slogan: Be Staunch, Walk Tall.
The road to Glenorchy, a tiny town at the very northern end of Lake Wakatipu. Pure New Zealand right thar.
This line of camper vans (Wicked Campers) is all OVER New Zealand. They are all painted/graffitied differently, but the common thread is that they always say something edgy and provocative. This one made me laugh.
Before there was a road out to Glenorchy, the Earnslaw would navigate the waters of Lake Wakatipu and dock by this shed, unloading people, farm animals, and much- needed supplies to this tiny settlement.
Always in a pondering, pensive state when in misty mountains. I love misty air. Feels refreshing to the face and soul. I think it must be in the Irish blood in me.
His dream is to earn his pilot’s license. Until then, this’ll have to do. He’s 100% confident that if for any reason the pilot and co-pilot are incapacitated, he can safely land a jetliner. He tells me this every time we board a plane. Every. Time.
Sista Mollymac coming to ya from the pulpit! One day, I’mma testify. And I’ll be a mess. But that’s okay. People like messiness. No one wants to be around those annoying types that have all their ducks in a row. Those stable people, what with all their marbles in their brain and their heads screwed on straight, and “all their oars in the water,” as Macdaddy likes to say.
Bye bye Glenorchy. Your beauty was magical and mystical, and your cafe shut down an hour before what was listed online. But I still love you.
This is the Crown Range Road…taking you from Queenstown to Wanaka. It takes an hour to drive it, and a solid 20 minutes of it is constant hairpin turns. For some reason, I always find myself trying to do my makeup during that stretch of the drive. It’s ridiculous. By the time we get to the bottom or top of the mountain, there’s powder all over my clothes, mascara in my hair, and concealer on my lips instead of my acne.
Life would be so terrible without sunshine. The plant that makes the landscape so golden has a name by the way…it’s a bushy grass called tussock, and it’s everywhere. It’s quite beautiful the way the sun lights it up, eh?
Cardrona Hotel, an iconic, oooooold country hotel and pub that was founded during the New Zealand gold rush. It’s our favorite place to go when we’re craving atmosphere…two roaring fireplaces, rugby on the tele, blues music cranking, a beautiful garden out the back with another outdoor fireplace, and hearty food that sticks to your ribs.
Back in the day, it was literally a hotel, pub, gas station, general store, and school house. I wish gas pumps were still looked this awesome. Clay says the reason they don’t is because designers were replaced by accountants.
My house. Clay likes this picture of himself, because he thinks he looks better here than in real life. I think it’s the head tilt. 😉