Our last full day in New Zealand was a welcome free day to take in the sights in and around Queenstown, NZ. Some of the group joined a tour to some film locations of movies like Lord of the Rings and X-Men. Others tested their balancing skills by joining a guided Segway tour of Queenstown and then headed up the gondola to not only enjoy the breathtaking sights over a thousand feet above town, but to take a few thrilling runs down the luge track.
In the evening we gathered at the wharf to climb aboard the “TSS Earnslaw”, one of the few remaining steam powered vessels still operating in Australia. We crossed lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Station where we enjoyed an impressive buffet dinner, a stroll in the beautiful flower gardens and a sheep demonstration before heading back across the lake as the sun set over the mountain peaks.
Sunday morning was relaxed as we packed up and checked out of the exquisite Hotel St. Moritz. Before our departure some experienced a bit more of the warm Kiwi culture through a worship service at a local church and many could not leave Queenstown without trying a world- famous Ferg Burger. (Followed by an unanimous “I won’t need to eat anything for a week.”) After lunch we climbed onto the bus for the short ride to the airport where we said goodbye to Ethan, our second amazing driver guide, and after smoothly moving through customs and security we were aboard our Air New Zealand flight to Melbourne, Australia.
Once we landed in Australia and successfully gathered all our bags we were warmly greeted by an Australian Customs Agent. Fay, our guide in Melbourne, met us in the receiving area and whisked us over to the awaiting coach. Upon arrival to the Sofitel Hotel, which would be our home for the following three days, we were in awe when we absorbed the view from our 44th and 45th floor windows as evening approached. Those with an easterly view could clearly see the bright blue tennis courts where the Australian Open had taken place just a few weeks prior. The many sports venues in Melbourne will be just a small part of the sights we will be introduced to in the coming days.
– Terry Petkau