the trip part 6: queenstown, arrowtown, routeburn

Queenstown is amazing, as we had heard. It’s in a pretty location, is very busy, is growing, and has so many outdoor activities on offer. The natural features and facilities for most outdoor or extreme sports are available within an hour of Queenstown. Us? We took it easy. We spent a few nights there in a backpacker’s (hostel), and took our time.

A highlight was renting a tandem bicycle and pedaling to Arrowtown and back. Arrowtown is an old gold mining town with a well-preserved Chinese miner’s settlement.

The fall colors were impressive, even under overcast skies.


Far below us, a jet boat roared up the Shotover River.


We headed toward the Alps for a day walk on the Routeburn Track, one of New Zealand’s “Great Walks.” As we drove into the car park at the end of the track, we noticed lots of people busily setting up tents, refreshments, and time clock. What..? Turns out, a couple of hours earlier, 300 runners had entered the other end of the track, running toward us, and this was the finish line for the event, the Routeburn Classic. We were in for an exciting day. About half an hour into our walk, the leader passed us, followed by hundreds more runners! I have never been greeted by so many strangers in my life (I think they were well instructed on protocol). Later we found the winner’s time was just short of 3 hours – for a 32km track that takes most trampers at least two full days to complete.