After about a week at home it was time to fly South again. Was easier, and cheaper, to leave AHBART in long term parking at Auckland Airport than other options to get there. I always take a few car photos before leaving (proof OK in case of damage) and, much later, this would prove to be useful. The small bag was just some extra 'cold and wet' gear for the more alpine and autumnal aspects of the Otago/Queenstown leg.
The airport was COVID quiet again, and not much open airside apart from one coffee/newsagent outlet.
Still lots of COVID retired aircraft parked permanently on the apron.
Was a bit odd, given how little traffic, we did have to wait for this aircraft before taking off.
It was gloomy, but warm and humid, leaving Auckland. Took off East, which is unusual, but gave a view of roads I usually cycle.
Further South the weather looked to be improving, this was somewhere around Kawhia.
One feature of this trip, to date, has been cold miserable weather in Christchurch. It maintained its form with this arrival. Once out of the airport terminal had to dive into the 'winter bag' for a jacket.
Driving to Queenstown
Next day the weather wasn't any better, still cold, still wet, as I fuelled up and set out for Queenstown. It's about a six-hour ~480km drive according to Google. Would take the Tekapo, Twizel route as more scenic and would be coming back via Oamaru.
Not much traffic, but slippery and wet roads and no time pressure so no need to hurry.
The weather improved a bit as I climbed Burkes Pass. According to the car thermometer it even warmed up a couple of degrees to the 'low teens'!
Not much incentive to stop at Tekapo, nice but not today.
I had to stop for that iconic view across Lake Pukaki to Aoraki / Mount Cook. It's over there somewhere...
Passing 'The home of Icebreaker', wearing their product, on the way towards Omarama.
Felt a bit sorry for the motorcyclist rugging up, preparing to ascend Lindis Pass.
But the weather steadily improved as I headed further South.
The view towards Tarras. There were rumours flying about a new International Airport in this valley but seems a bit of a leap so close to Queenstown. That airport has its issues but two in the region, really? I thought COVID had taught us how fragile a tourist economy is.
The run along Kawarau Gorge Rd into Queenstown.
Roaring Meg Power Station and the Kawarau River.
Looking towards Queenstown, the weather was getting better.
Summer was back when I arrived at Queenstown Motel Apartments, base for the week. Had stayed here before, it's on Frankton Rd outside the main town but just a short walk down the hill to get there. It's nice, modestly priced (especially for Queenstown) and all I needed. Had a cheaper studio without a lake view, not an issue as didn't plan to be in it much.
Breakfast and snack fruit fresh from Cromwell Orchards.
Checking out the town
The view across the road from the motel. It was after seven so walked downtown in search of dinner.
Was plain to see how COVID had impacted Queenstown, Sunday evening never looked this deserted.
Some restaurants were closed entirely, staff shortages due to Delta running rampant or just lack of business. Ironic that the tourist industry who campaigned to 'open up and get back to normal' were soon crippled by just that.
I was going to maintain my own breakfast, takeaway or self-made dinner, and café lunch outside mode to, hopefully, avoid COVID. Dinner tonight was expensive ($16 for one?) and uninspiring takeaway Blue Cod and Chips. Only had that because by the time I was looking to eat, around eight, lots of places were already closed.
The weather for the week ahead looked promising.
Sunset as I wandered back up the hill to the motel. I have some bike admin first up tomorrow, then exploring trails around the town, and further afield, that I've walked but never cycled before.