Sydney to Queenstown

Thursday 2nd March

Sydney - Queenstown

Arriving in Queenstown

Jonno drove us to the airport so no need to worry about whether the taxi would turn up.  The bikes were packed in their new Tardis bags from Groundeffect. With front and back wheels removed, the bikes were much more compact and hopefully easy to load on the bus trips ahead.

We were at the airport in about 40 mins and more than three hours before our flight.  Check-in was almost fully automated with Qantas kiosks now issuing boarding passes and bag tags.  Our panniers and their contents were packed in our foldable duffel bags which caused some challenges in reading the bag tags. After about four attempts, Simon's bag finally departed. Mine was a little quicker.

A friendly staff person helped us with our bikes that she needed to weigh before they were weighed again at the oversize baggage drop off.  Finally, all sorted we sailed through immigration with an official 7 minute wait advised on approach.  My daypack warranted extra attention through security - but the customs officer couldn't seem to work out why so resent it through the x-ray. This time without incident. 

We found our "usual" cafe for coffee and breakfast.  This was our third visit.  But en route to our gate we found a new cafe - much less busy, so noted for next time.  

The flight was uneventful except for the advice that no herbs or spices could be brought into NZ.  We had a little "torpedo" spice jar full of rubs and Italian herbs.  Once our duffels had appeared, I emptied the contents into the quarantine bin and washed out the containers whilst Simon waited for the bikes.  I returned to find a young child, around 5 years old, helping to put my bike on the trolley. His mum assured us that he liked to help, so we couldn't say no. 

A few stops through quarantine to check all that we had declared - olive oil, salad dressing, coffee, hiking boots and bicycles.  We had to open the bike bags, but apparently any concerns are saved for mountain bikes, so all was cleared for us to go through x-rays and finally exit to freedom. 

it was easy to get a cab and soon we arrived at our airbnb on Panorama drive. Our host, Kimberley, provided a detailed tour and explained in great detail, multiple times how one guest had reduced their rating by a star because they thought it had take longer than Kimberley's advised 12 minutes to walk into town.  Note to self, that star ratings matter here.  

Finally we were left to our own devices, and wandered into town to walk through the beautiful gardens and along the front.  I spotted Patagonia ice cream - which we had so enjoyed on our last visit.  Simon took some persuading to agree that having an ice cream mid-afternoon was a good idea, but appeared to thoroughly enjoy it. 

We strolled through the city centre with its myriad of restaurants and bars before stocking up on essentials at the Four Square and ordering some Indian takeaway for dinner.  Simon headed back to start setting up the bikes whilst I explored a little longer, waiting for the takeaway to be ready.

I ran into Mark, the owner of the airbnb, cleaning his boat on my return and had a long chat about the impact of radiata pine on the hills around Queenstown and their devastating impact on the north island as the remnants of their logging combined with silt to destroy all that lay in their path during the floods. 

Simon had one bike assembled, so I helped the process by pouring two glasses of wine.  It was a beautiful evening and we savoured our excellent Central Otago Pinot Gris whilst enjoying the magnificent views over the lake.