We spent a total of four nights in Queenstown and used it as a base to explore the many daytripping opportunities around Otago and the many national parks which are all within a few hours drive from town.
On our first day, we joined a day tour to Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). This tour took us past several quaint villages across the southern part of the island, and into the western coast which has a much wetter climate. Again, we went with Great Sights. The bus picked us up from the hotel at 8AM sharp for the five hour drive. It was a very scenic drive as that morning was my first opportunity to see Lake Wakatipu in the day. We drove past the majestic Remarkables mountain range, into the town of Kingston. Our driver was especially enthusiastic and gave erudite commentaries on the notable landmarks during the trip. We passed by this extremely quaint town called Garston, with a population of only 106. Its known as the most inland town in New Zealand which does not really say much given that NZ is an island nation. What really caught my attention was the small number of people who live there – 106. I suppose it’s one of those towns where everyone knows each other. Having lived in big cities my entire life (Manila, San Francisco, Singapore), I entertained for a few seconds the possibility of spending a night or two in a town where it’s impossible to remain anonymous. But it disappeared not long after we left the town limits and passed by another (larger) town.