We had just finished the Routeburn Track. It had been awesome but it was three days of hard hiking. It was time to take a break.
There was plenty to do. We quickly generated an itinerary to visit wineries, quilt shops and yarn shops near Queenstown. Throw in some scenic drives and we had a plan for a good day.
Our first stop was Arrowtown, about twenty miles from Queenstown. There were a lot of shops there but our primary target was The Stiching Post. It's a combination quilt shop and yarn shop so Sandy had two reasons to check it out. We spent quite a bit of time there. Sandy ended up buying some unique fabrics that were made in New Zealand. So we did well.
We went through the rest of Arrowtown, which had a lot of tourist shops, but didn't find anything exciting. Just as we were about to leave there was a big parade. It was Saturday and there was some sort of big Harley Davidson rally in Queenstown this weekend. And the event for this morning was a ride in Arrowtown.
So hundreds of motorcycles cruised down the main drag and parked. I guess it was exciting if you were into that sort of thing. Eric, one of the guys that I used to work with at U of I, goes to the big Harley rally in Sturgis every summer. He would have been in heaven. Not me though. I'm not that fascinated by motorcycles. And while many of the riders were just ordinary people having fun on the weekend, there were quite a few bikers who looked like they had just gotten out of prison the day before. It was a little too creepy for us so we decided that it was time to leave.
Next up were the wineries. Otago is the region (the equivalent of a state in the US) of New Zealand that we were in. There are some fine wineries in Otago and many of them were just north and east of Queenstown and Arrowtown. Sandy and I had been this way on our first trip to New Zealand and stopped at several of the wineries. It had been a lot of fun and we found some fine wines.
Our first stop was Gibbston Valley Winery. It was a large winery, with a tasting room, a gift shop and a cheese shop. They were even set up for tour buses. But that doesn't mean that they weren't good. We tasted some of their wines and they were excellent. I was all set to buy a bottle or two when Sandy decided to join their wine club. My first reaction was WTF we aren't coming back here every quarter to pick up our wines. But Sandy had been paying attention. Gibbston has a US distributor that ships their wines locally in the US. So it will actually work out.
We continued further down the valley and stopped at Peregrine Winery. We had stopped here on our trip to New Zealand in 2008. Sandy even had a cool Merino icebreaker top from Peregrine Winery. They had some very good wines too and we bought several. Between this stop and the last we had quite a few bottles of wine to try to get home in our luggage. We each ended up taking two bottles in our suitcases. More than one bottle makes me nervous but they got home with no problems.
While we were tasting the Peregrine wines we talked to the guy from the winery. He was very friendly and we told him how we had visited some years ago. When he asked where in the states we were from, we went into a long-winded explanation of where Boise was. He countered with "I grew up in California. I know where Boise Idaho is." Oops. Now that he mentioned it, he didn't have a kiwi accent. Kind of interesting though to speculate on how a kid from California ended up making wine in Otago on the south island.
Next we headed south to Cromwell. We had been there on an earlier trip to New Zealand. The town is next to a large reservoir. The old town is actually underwater, covered when the dam was built and the reservoir formed. There had been a cool market there so we wanted to visit again. It must have been a weekend thing, because when we got there we didn't find much. We went to a restaurant but it was crowded and they stuck us in a corner with other people. We didn't wait around. We just left.
Next was one of our most important stops. A local New Zealand yarn company listed their main outlet as a shop in Clyde. We found the town (tiny) and the yarn shop, Touch Yarns, (even tinier) but they had some very unique local yarns. Sandy did some serious shopping and ended up buying some very cool yarns.
It had been a good day. Sandy bought some unique local fabrics and some unique local yarns. We bought some good wines to take home, as many as we could possibly carry. Sandy even joined a New Zealand wine club. That was pretty good for a rest day. Now it was time to head back to Queenstown.
On the way home we stopped at a fruit stand. We bought fruit (including kiwi fruit of course) and some crackers and other goodies. That was our dinner, along with one of the bottles of wine that we had bought.
Since we didn't want a day that was totally inactive we walked along Lake Wakatipu. There is a small peninsula near Queenstown that is set aside as a public park. It's very pretty. It's commendable that Queenstown has it as a park. It could easily be sold off to a hotel or resort. As it is, lots of people enjoy the path along the lake.
We had a nice break after the Routeburn Track. The weather was still good. Tomorrow it would be time to start hiking again.