February 17th, 2015 - Queenstown, New Zealand - Day 185

This morning we all decided to take a hike on the trail behind the house.  The trail winds up the mountain behind us for about 1000 vertical feet through a dense pine forrest and then the remaining 800 feet are on a wide open mountain top with stunning views of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains.   It's a really challenging hike straight up the mountain with almost no flat parts, so it is great for a workout and for the views.  The round trip on the hike is about 1:30 mins, so by the time we were back home everyone was getting hungry for lunch, but unfortunately, I still needed to go to the store.  Peter and I changed quickly and ran out for a big grocery run.  We spent $330 (NZD) which is about $254 for a couple of days food and a little wine.  Everything is expensive here.  

After lunch we headed back out for a cruise on late Wakatipu.  We had read on TripAdvisor about how much people loved these cruises and thought we would give it a try even though, guess what, its expensive.  There are several highly ranked cruises, but we decided to go on the TSS Earnslaw, which is a 1912 Edwardian vintage twin screw steamer and one of the oldest tourist attractions on the south island.  It also happens to be the only remaining commercial passenger-carrying coal-fired steamship in the southern hemisphere.

Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of the world and we were so excited to get on with this 90 minute adrenaline packed adventure.  

We found a table and settled in, trying to calm our nerves down as the steam engine stirred to life.  Soon we were off, zipping though the water at the breakneck speed of like 15 miles an hour.  With our hearts in our mouths the kids looked around and asked "uh is there anything else to do?"  We went and watched they crew shovel coal into the fire, walked to the front of the deck, went into the little museum they have on the boat and then settled back into our table.

Vintage ship thingy in the museum

"Hold on everyone - I am going to blow the horn"

Halfway through the trip the real adventure started as we arrived at the Walter Peak High Country Farm.  The farm and restaurant looked pretty cool and we were excited to do a little exploring - until Stacie asked if we could get off and have a look around.  Turns out you can only get off if you are having dinner there.

"No soup for you!" Saying goodbye to Walter Peak Farm

So we thought we would mix things up a bit and we went and found a different table to sit at.  That got our blood flowing again.  Then the kids upped the intensity by actually eating ice cream while riding on the boat.  Stacie and I thought this was really reckless, but they are teenagers and at some point we just need to let them make their own mistakes.  Turns out they were able to get the cones down without much of an issue other than this guy trying to take a bite:

We pulled into the Queenstown harbor exactly 90 minutes after departure.  We were all dripping with sweat, our hearts pounding, but we could finally breathe again.  If you were able to make it this far without getting completely swamped in my sarcasm, you will understand that I had more fun writing this post than I did on the TSS Earnslaw.    

We wandered home slowly and had a nice dinner before watching St. Vincent, which we all enjoyed.  As we were wrapping up the evening the sunset was again stunning.  I could look at our view for a lifetime and not get bored.