It took me nearly a full day to travel from Bay of Islands, at the northern tip of New Zealand, to Queenstown on the South Island.
It began with a drive, followed by a car ferry, followed by more driving.
Next up, was a small jet from KeriKeri to Auckland.
The airport in KeriKeri is small and charming.
There’s a woman who makes cookies and sells them whenever a plane comes in.
(A long cry from the chaos of Los Angeles International Airport!)
From Auckland it was about a two and a half hour flight to Queenstown.
I arrived around 4 p.m.
It was pretty easy to find my way out of the Queenstown airport.
“Way Out” – Many of the signs in New Zealand made me smile.
I picked up my rental car and headed to my hotel downtown.
It was a spectacular late afternoon in Queenstown.
Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, New Zealand, just before sunset.
The sky was clear, the weather was warm, the air was dry, and the scenery was stunning.
I hurriedly dropped my bags at the hotel and set off to explore.
My first stop was at a small cafe with an outdoor patio on Lake Wakatipu.
I hadn’t eaten in about twelve hours and I was starving.
I ordered a New Zealand craft beer and a $20.00 (New Zealand dollars!) steak. (The equivalent of $13.40 US.)
The beer was STRONG and I was tipsy after just a few sips.
(Yes, I’m an alcohol lightweight, and also … empty stomach!)
Once I had refueled, I began walking the town and eventually hiked to the base of the world-famous Queenstown gondola.
I wanted to time my gondola ride for sunset.
In no time at all, I found myself approximately 1,500 feet (450 metres) above the city of Queenstown.
Queenstown looks small when you’re on top of the mountains!
I hiked around as much as possible, mountain-top, before sunset.
I was already in love with Queenstown and my plane had only landed a few hours prior.
When I saw the mountains turn a beautiful indigo and golden rose with sunset, my heart skipped a beat.
The Remarkables bathed in sunset beauty!
Once the sun was out of reach, behind a mountain, I took the gondola back down to town.
I took this photo from the Queenstown gondola when I was over halfway down the mountain.
I don’t love heights, but the gondola ride up the mountain was definitely worth the view.
In large part, my day had been consumed by travel.
But, I definitely had made the most of my afternoon and evening in Queenstown.
I knew I was quickly falling in love with New Zealand.
(New Zealand travel stories to be continued ….)