Travels: to Queenstown and Glenorchy

I had an eight-hour layover in Auckland yesterday morning, but it was mitigated by the arrival of reader Gayle Ferguson, Official Website Kitten Rescuer™, who met me an an ungodly early hour and took me for coffee, also imparting lots of travel tips. Many of her rescue kittens, including Jerry Coyne the Cat, who resides in Christchurch, have been posted on this site.

Security leaving Auckland for Queenstown, my first stop, was extraordinarily light. You don’t even show your boarding pass or ID to the security people, and scanning means just removing laptops from your bag; you don’t have to take off your shoes or take out your liquids. Needless to say–no groping!

And in the airport shop: Welcome to New Zealand!

Penguin-themed snacks!

The two-hour flight from Auckland to Queenstown went along the west coast of both islands, so we got a great view of the mountain ranges that line the western part of the south island. Here are some that still have snow (it’s permanent). Note the glacier at lower left:

Landing at the small town of Queenstown, in the southern part of the south island, involves flying low over the mountains and then threading between two of them to touch down at a tiny airport:

Welcome to Queenstown! Kia ora!

Reader Kevin was really nice, and picked me up at the airport and drove me to his home in Glenorchy, about 45 km north. It’s a small hamlet of 300 people, and the drive goes through some spectacular scenery along the large and deep blue Lake Wakatipu:

Kevin had prepared lamb stew (my first food in NZ, and an appropriate dish), and we had that, a local beer, and then a local pinot noir (very good) on his deck overlooking the mountains. That was followed by “hokey pokey” ice cream (a New Zealand indigenous flavor consisting of vanilla with butterscotch specks) and rhubarb sauce.

Travel doesn’t get much better than this.

Today we’re going to explore the surrounding area. Stay tuned. I won’t be able to post travelogues as often as usual because I’ll be moving about, but I will of course take lots of pictures of scenery and noms.


  1. sshort
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 1:26 pm | Permalink


    Happy trails, Professor!

  2. darrelle
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Damn. Looks like you live in Paradise Kevin. Any Kea in your neighborhood?

    • Stuartg
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      Not quite in Paradise… He’s just down the road.

      Head North from Glenorchy, down the Glenorchy-Paradise Rd, and he’ll be in Paradise in just a few minutes.

      • Posted March 17, 2017 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

        I was in Paradise today! Also crossed the River Jordan, and I baptized myself in the dry river bed by pouring water on my head. I’m washed in the blood of the Lamb! Praise Him!

        • gscott
          Posted March 17, 2017 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

          The same Lamb that was in the stew?

    • Kevin
      Posted March 18, 2017 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      No Kea – not enough elevation and in the wrong area. I’m pleased with that – while they are cute and intelligent birds, I wouldn’t really want them as neighbours – they are a bit too destructive.

      We have Tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae), Bellbirds (Anthornis melanura), Fantails (Rhipidura fuliginosa) and California Quail (Callipepla californica).

  3. busterggi
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    I recommend the sea salt & vinegar chips in the photo, they’re quite good. If they have the black pepper & sea salt try those too.

  4. sgo
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    What a beautiful view!

  5. rickflick
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    “flying low over the mountains and then threading between two of them to touch down at a tiny airport”

    My wife flew that same approach in a Piper with me in the back seat. Low between the mountains and a hook into final approach. A heavy was also in line behind us so the tower asked us to turn a wide loop to let the heavy land first.

  6. Sastra
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    I hope you bought a souvenir sheep. The one perched on the sign looked very hopeful.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

      OMG you’re right! I would not have been able to resist!

  7. Taskin
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Wow! Looks like your trip is off to a fantastic start!

  8. dabertini
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    I think you can ski on some of those glaciers!! A lot of world cup nordic skiers head there in the off-season for training because they do not get to ski enough during the European winter. Geesh.

  9. Cyrus Martin
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Nice Jerry! I highly recommend you do the Nevis bungy jump.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

      That would be an interesting chiropractic procedure!

  10. Mark R.
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Lamb stew, local beer and beautiful scenery…looks like you’re in for a hell of a good time.

  11. James Walker
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Ah, “hokey pokey”! I was trying to remember what that was called 🙂

    I have a great shot of Mt Taranaki I took on a flight between Auckland and Wellington a couple of years ago.

  12. Randy schenck
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Looks like a good place for retirement or at least a place to get away from the Chicago winters.

  13. Diana Hook
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    New Zealand is beautiful and the people are great. If you have a chance, visit the International Antarctic Centre and the hot springs at Rotorua, where boiling mud bubbles up out of the ground!

  14. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Glenorchy’s nice. Very quiet. A few years ago I was there and the local garage found a nut for my air cleaner (sorry, my 1970 Cortina’s air cleaner) and didn’t charge me for it. One of the real old-fashioned country garages; service stations in more ‘developed’ areas are all into selling groceries instead and you’d have no luck buying so much as an auto light bulb in one.

    Queenstown airport is one of the more difficult in NZ because of the mountains. (The other notorious one is Wellington, one end of the runway ends at the sea, the other at the harbour, and there’s strong wind shear because (a) Cook Straight is notoriously windy and (b) the runway is at right angles to the prevailing wind).

    Internal airport security here is light and inoffensive – since we don’t have the TSA and internal flights don’t involve Immigration or Customs & Agriculture. Nobody’s thought it necessary to guard against terrorist grandmothers.


  15. Stephen Barnard
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    You obviously prefer window seats. 🙂

    • Posted March 17, 2017 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

      On that flight I did; I always get the aisle otherwise. But this time I knew about the flight and the view.

      • Stephen Barnard
        Posted March 17, 2017 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

        I take the aisle regardless. Regretted it flying into Queenstown.

  16. Diana MacPherson
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    Told ya the security would be a breeze in NZ compared to what North Americans deal with!

  17. gormenghastly
    Posted March 18, 2017 at 1:03 am | Permalink

    That’s a great shot of the Main Divide.

  18. RPGNo1
    Posted March 18, 2017 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    Jerry, are you interested in any location of the “Lord-of-the-Rings* franchise and will you visit them?

  19. Barbara Radcliffe
    Posted March 18, 2017 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Glenorchy is the start of the ‘Grand Traverse’ walk –across the lake by water taxi, then up the Greenstone Track to where it meets the Routeburn, turn right and head back towards Glenorchy. I did it a couple of times some years ago, but sadly, the knees wouldn’t stand for it now! We took our grand-daughter on that walk when she turned 10 — perhaps a refined form of child abuse?

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