! Once we’ve mentally spent millions, we walked through the wee streets to a small café, that would appear to most as a well-manicured house if it weren’t for the sandwich board. Through the picket fence we found the beautiful café Providence, decorated in pastel heritage colours. The walls are lined with renovated furniture, The shelves of a dresser are lined with freshly baked cakes and the drawers below are open to expose packets of sticky buns. We order a ginger cake and coffees and take seat at our table to see on the walls are white plates signed by different chefs… and who’s signature should appear but Fleur’s! It seems we may be on some sort of ‘Fleur-tour of NZ’! After a delicious coconut meringue (so much for having a ‘good’ day) we set off for a quick gander around the town and hop back into the car. Our next stop is Cromwell. We passed it the other night, the sight of a very familiar sign ‘The fruit capital of NZ’… complete with Manui-esque 5ft, 3D fruit! Further away from the road, through Cromwell, lies the historic town of Cromwell. What a fabulous place. We’re immediately curious by the well-behaved horse that sits with cart in the street down to the town… alas, he’s fake. Disconcertingly so. He appears to have been on some sort of size 0 diet. The lake here is as incredible as ever. I need to do some research back in the UK to see if our lakes reflect as well as NZ’s… these take my breath away on every occasion
! We stop for lunch in the ‘Seed and Grain store’… Helen has a Salmon&Cream cheese sandwich, Jenny, Mam and I have Tomato and bacon soup. Delicious! Such an interesting combo too. We had a swift mooch around to find a girl working with interesting wire pieces, a dairy and common household tableaux, a goldsmith - who had TWO of the exact vintage singer sewing machine I am craving, and another Providence café - but closed. Onwards we go, Helen and Mam ran off to find the bathroom… so naturally Jenny and I decided to wander into a Masonic lodge… of which the door was wide open! The gate creaked so loudly, then we crept up the steps (not easy when both were in clicky heeled boots) and poked our heads through. We could hear voices so thought better than walking straight in. Jenny started to edge inwards, but pushing me too! Ha haa, we ran back down the steps and waited in the car. Both of us are in two minds about the Masonic lodges, they’re either something really sordid and creepy, Or, it’s just a big boys club with an invisible ‘Girls not Allowed’ sign on the front door. You decide. We set off again taking the road up past Cromwell lake towards Bendigo. We flew past the vineyards, very young in appearance, and stopped at the tourist sign which showed us the small off-the beaten track way to Welshtown… I kid you not. Dewi and Jenny discovered this by just ‘taking a road’ on the way up from LIC. We drove up the windy sand tracks, looking down on the most diverse countryside I’ve ever seen
. We could be in Italy right now. Vineyards sprawl the plateaus at the basin of the valley, divided by strips of dark pointed trees. Around sit bizarre ‘table top’ hills, with incredibly deep gulley’s. Small lakes reflect perfectly the snow caps high above. The ranges here are hugely vast, and draped in cloud. It is like a really extreme Europe, times 20! Anyway, Welshtown… driving up to the site was a journey in itself. Bumps, creeks and pot holes guided us up to the surprisingly well-signposted car park. It was strewn with old dry stone buildings, dilapidated of course, but still telling a story of the Welsh community that thrived here during the peak of the Gold mining era. Ha, 12 years they lasted. But, I think the bitter elements would have been worth it. They view from here is just unbelievable. Although, maybe they moved as it was too ‘Italian’ for them? We take a stroll around the perimeter to the ‘local pub’. The houses here are quite difficult to spot as the natural rock formations appear in dry-stone shapes themselves. It’s a bit breezy, so we move on. Back down the hill and onto the Bendigo loop road. The views are incredible. I just can’t believe that places like this exist. It’s as Jenny says, like a small Europe, all in one country. Our next stop is Wanaka. Beautiful, stunning and amazing. The lake was too enticing, so we grabbed our coffee to go and drank it by the waters edge to watch the now low sun
. The views were straight off an advert… dark hills in the middleground, snow capped peaks in the background, glittering waves and the bluest sky. Another place that’s difficult to leave, but being bitten by some insect certainly helped! Mum and Jenny have found a reduced price Doubtful Sounds cruise, $99 instead of $278 we were quoted in Queenstown. Helen and I are being a bit more careful money-wise, so decided to give it a miss this time. They’ve booked on for Monday, so we’ll have our last night in Queenstown tonight, travelling on to Te Anua tomorrow morning with a day-tour to Milford Sounds courtesy of our private tour guide Jenny. The sun is getting very low in the sky now, so we drove back to the campsite. As it’s quite late and we’re on our last night in Queenstown, we decided to go out for food, embracing the ‘locals suggestions’ and going for a Fergburger. Apparently ‘The best burger in the world’… I agree actually! A must-do when in Queenstown. The burger itself was amazing, the atmosphere when waiting for your burger was really good fun and the staff were great! After our food, we were going to go to the harbour, but it’s freezing, and full of tourists… so we head off back to the camper to try and recall our fun-packed day and transcribe to diaries.
Whoops, super lie in again. This is finally a holiday! Today we set off for 11 for another whirlwind trip around the outskirts of Queenstown. The weather’s with us again today, clear blue NZ skies, peppered with wispy white clouds hang over the vast mountain ranges of Queenstown. Our tour is taking us up to Arrowtown today, a really twee town up in the mountains, stopping on the way to photograph more perfect mirrored mountains in lakes. There’s some serious money up here, you can tell by the cars and café society. We stopped to take the obligatory photo, well for us anyway, of ‘Denbigh st.’. There’s a few Welsh names around here like Caernarfon st.! We’ve come to the conclusion that there was some Welsh settlers here, I can understand why though. The scenery is just like Wales - just more extreme! We had a little mooch around the town, Jenny took us to her favourite shop - which is now my favourite shop! It’s great for ideas. Lots of renovated vintage household items and furniture… pricey, but like I say, good for ideas