Monday 10 January 2022

Back again

With thanks to Destination Queenstown for this famil

My last work trip was to Queenstown, last July, for the novel experience (to me) of seeing its winter incarnation. Today I'm back to my usual relationship with our top tourist town: coming here again in the height of a hot, dry, brown summer.

Still not over the bitter disappointment of having deliberately sat on the left of the plane returning last time, and then totally missing the most gloriously clear, sunny views of the snowy Southern Alps, purely because of the pilot's whim in for once taking a more westerly route, I made sure this time to select a seat on the left going down. And what did the sodding pilot do? Only fly down on the left of the mountains, so all I could see were plains and sea. Don't talk to me about wind and flight plans and stuff. He did it on purpose.

He did though at least bring us in from the south, which was new to me, and I got lovely views of the turquoise Kawarau River in its narrow gorge, and neat vineyards making a splash of green against the burnt brown hills. It's always a delight to step out of the plane and see the Remarkables up so close, and glimpse Lake Wakatipu's shining blue.

The main purpose of this trip is to review the new Holiday Inn Remarkables Park, which is located in Frankton, near the airport. It's 4 storeys of shiny glass, set in a mildly industrial area but with great views of the nearby mountains, and the public rooms are big and airy and bright.

Not our room, though. The friendly manager told us we had an upgrade to a suite, so it was a surprise to open the door to a living room that felt more like a corridor, long and narrow and also shaded by thick curtains that blocked the views of the Remarkables. The bedroom is nice and bigger, ditto the bathroom, but, really, this is an upgrade? For a reviewer? Tch.

Anyway, since my first activity at a honey shop didn't happen today, we went into Queenstown and ended up happily rocking gently at a table on the roof of Perky's Floating Bar, watching excited people board the horrifying Hydro Attack boats just below, and then dazedly tottering ashore again after their ghastly outing ducking and diving on, over and under the lake. There were others (and a labrador) bravely doing manus off a nearby jetty into that always challengingly cool water; the TSS Earnslaw chugged past; people strolled along the waterfront and chattered at tables outside the restaurants; the crabby busker's dog howled along to his songs; paragliders drifted down from Bob's Peak; the sun shone; and it was all just gorgeous.

We ate at Giant's, the hotel restaurant, where the food was fine and the service excellent, and the views of the Remarkables glowing nearby in the lowering sun were simply beautiful. It's great to be back here again.

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