Monday, September 29, 2014

Recharging the Batteries

Holidays and travelling can be many things. One can go somewhere for relaxation, or for adventure, to party or pamper, to discover new experiences or revisit favourite places. There seems to be no end of reasons for going somewhere. However, on coming back home, we are all hoping to be invigorated from our holiday experience and ready to jump back into normal life with a refreshed outlook.

This last week I've spent time in the southern island of New Zealand. I've been there before, and visited places both new to me and where I'd travelled before. I went with my lovely wife Caroline, and our friends Nick and Zoe, spending a week in Queenstown, with an overnight excursion to Milford Sound. The point of the holiday for me was to relax, walk a bit, see some of the most beautiful landscape in the world (and cleanest air and water), and spend quality time with those people I most value.

It's less than 4 hours flight to New Zealand, and we stayed in a lakeside apartment. The view from our apartment was already refreshing.

The view from our apartment
 We arrived on Nick and Zoe's anniversary which was a nice touch. It meant heading to town and a meal on Saturday night. The biggest noticeable difference between Melbourne and Queenstown is the amount of people and traffic. Even Saturday night in Queenstown was a gentle experience with no trouble finding parking or a place to eat. A week without queues or traffic jams was indeed a refreshing experience.
Anniversary couple, Nick and Zoe at Milford Sound
Queenstown is an adventure playground for those who are that way inclined. You can ski, bungy, canyon jump, white water raft, climb, mountain bike, jet boat etc. I must admit that I'm not into that sort of thing, but it doesn't stop me taking in the views of those who do.
AJ Hackett Bungy platform

Shotover Jet Boat
Queenstown was only a base for us, albeit a beautiful base. We hired a small car for the week which took us to some historic and scenic places. The area became populated in the mid to late 1800's due to the discovery of gold in the Otago region. Arrowtown is a living monument to this, with a Chinese Settlement area which preserves the buildings of the early Chinese miners.
Caroline giving scale to a hut from the early Chinese settlers to Arrowtown

Arrowtown was more than just history, nestled in magnificent scenery
There is no doubt that the area is amazingly beautiful. I'd be hard pushed to decide whether Queenstown or Wanaka were more stunning, not to mention Te Anau, or the areas between these places. The mountains, lakes, rivers and forests are beautiful. However, these are eclipsed by Fjordland, the scale of the beauty I'm unable to capture in pictures. You really do have to go there to experience just how amazingly beautiful this area is. I took my second trip to Milford Sound and was just as stunned as the first, perhaps even more so as the weather was completely different making the Fjord look totally different.
It was worth getting up at 5.45 am to get this view of Mitre Peak, Milford Sound

Mitre Peak, Milford Sound. Picture postcard beauty
So am I recharged? Absolutely! It was just the break that I needed. A week of losing oneself in a pristine environment to come out the other end ready to take on the world. Highly recommended!

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