Sunday, January 4, 2015

Cycling New Zealand 2014 Day 9 : Wakatipu Cycling & Steamship Cruise

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Cycling New Zealand 2014 Day 9: Lake Wakatipu Cycling & Steamship Cruise
Queenstown, New Zealand : 23rd November 2014
Small Group Ride - cycling around Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown town centre & steamship cruise in Lake Wakatipu.
It's another free and easy day for us to individually do our own things. That's the thing of going on group tours, there have to be free and easy days where members can just do whatever fancies each one respectively. Different people have different interest, so such days allow each to pursue their own liking.
Today is also a watershed day as in the morning we returned the rented van; from then on we get around by cycling, bus or train.
Siew Yung cycled a bit a Queenstown then took a bus to Arrowtown to do more cycling there before taking a bus back. Yong Sin and Hui Min had a relaxing day before cycling down to town.
Me? I cycled around the lakeside admiring the views, flowers and meeting people along the way. I then headed into town and did some cycling there to get more acquainted with the city. After that I took a memorable cruise on a pristinely maintained steamship that still runs on coal!

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Today is one of the great days of our trip here in NZ.
Straight after breakfast, Siew Yung and me drove the van up to Jucy's office at Queenstown Airport to return it.
Near to it we stopped to fill up the tank of the van. In NZ most vehicle rental comes with with a full tank, so it is expected to be returned with a full tank toO.
The guy who accepted our return was a tall fellow, standing next to Siew Yung he looked like a giant from the Lord Of The Rings movie. The thing about New Zealanders is that they do things based on trust; he accepted the van keys got us to sign some papers and that was it! There was no checking on whether we had filled the tanks. Thank goodness we remembered to fill up or else my conscience will be troubled all the way. See, trust works both ways.

Wooooohooooo.... the dark clouds have said good bye and the sun is shining bright and the sky is a true blue with swaths of white clouds.
It will be a good day to RIIIIIIDE!
We rode off from the airport down Frankton Road, made several stops to take photos of this beautiful day AND then a little while later, Siew Yung said goodbye and zipped off and headed on her own plans.

Cycling along Frankton Road is nice, the wide pavements are shared lanes for both cyclists and pedestrians. Where there is no levelled land, timber board walk bridges have been constructed for the convenience of both cyclists and walkers.

Lake Wakatipu looks so blue today, I have to get down closer to it. But Frankton Road at this point runs about fifty to hundred feet above the lake!
Fortunately at many points along the road are paths that leads down to the lake level, just look out for the dark blue "walking/cycling" trail signages. At the first opportunity, I took one of this down.

Down at lake level is the Lake Wakatipu Ride Trail that runs all the way round the Frankton Arm of the lake. Starting from Marina Parade next to Queenstown Gardens it runs eastward around this arm and crosses over the Kawarau River via a road bridge next to the Kawarau Falls Scenic Reserve. From there it continues westwards to end at the Queenstown Golf Course. I only rode from somewhere near the airport down to the town centre.

As I rode along the trail, these were what I noticed:
Lake Wakatipu from afar has a shimmering blue hue, but from close up I noticed that the lake water is super clear. That's what I like about New Zealand, everything is so naturally clean - the air, the water, the skies and the trees.

The lakeside trail is made from gravel and sand. Through constant use it has been naturally compacted making it easy to ride on even with our 16" Brompton wheels.
Along the way are distance markers that states how far more to reach Queenstown town centre.

Young and old, local and tourists frequent the trail, either cycling or walking on it.

Whole families come walking here, some even were pushing prams with their babies snugly sleeping inside.

There were lovely flowers for the AhPek to appreciate along the way:
Pinkish white Manuka.

Pink Lupins.

Purple Lupins up close.

On the outskirts off Queenstown, I hit the Queenstown Gardens. With tall shady pine trees, it is a lovely place to cycle in. Other than these tall pines, this botanical gardens (which is more than 150 years old) also have some exotic flora, and is also a centre for some sporting activities like skating, lawn bowling. In winter time it hosts sports like ice skating and ice-hockey.

Nearer to town, the crowd becomes more active. I saw a couple of young girls walking the tight-ropes while in the back ground pedalling boats and canoes were floating in the lake.

Seeing the girls having so much fun on the tight-rope, I tried my hands (oops... more like my wobbly legs) on it.... unsuccessfully!
This AhPek better stick to cycling.

In town, a group of tourists were on this Segway gyro-scooters wending their way through the pavements and streets. Looks interesting, but I think I will stick to the freedom of my own biking.

This mean shark-looking semi-submersible speed boat was being towed to the lake.
Hey! I wouldn't mind a ride in this.

I cycled up the steep road to the lower station of the Skyline Gondola lower station. Tourists takes these gondolas up to the mountain side for a superb view of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. Mountain bikers also take this gondola up and ride their bikes down. While they are in the gondola, their bike a hung onto the trestle on the outside to accompany them up.

... and high up in the sky above, paragliders are having fun too.
There's is so much going on in Queenstown on a bright, sunny day.

I met up with Hui Min & Yong Sin for lunch at this place called Noodle Canteen. They served very tasty rice and noodles dishes, too tasty in fact as we felt that very thirsty after the meal. Perhaps they used too much MSG.

As we were eating, who should roll by but Tiansak and Nisakorn, the Thai touring couple whom we met four days earlier at Te Anau. I really take my hat off for this couple who have taken an venture to cycle around both North & South Island in two months; they must have lots to tell after that.

Okay, it's time to leave the landlubbers behind, time for this old dog to become an old salt.
Time to go on a cruise of Lake Wakatipu.
There are several ways to cruise the lake, Hui Min and Andrew took a motor-boat cruise; I on the other had decide to pop into the TSS Earnslaw for a real steamship experience.

The Earnslaw is a immaculately refurbished old steamship, large enough to walk around. and stretch one's legs while on board. With several decks it offers different views of the lake. And it's a real authentic experience as the ship still runs on coal!

The cruise will take us across Lake Wakatipu on a south-westerly route to Walter Peak on the other side of the lake.

With loud bellows, the ship's hands released the moors. Smoke streamed out from the from the funnel and we are on the way. I stepped onto the top-deck and revelled at the scenery- blue waters surrounded by greenish-yellow hills and in the far back-drop, snow-capped mountains. I closed my eyes as the wind blew onto my face and imagined myself back to a time when this ship was one of the means of transport; I imagined myself among passengers dressed in the fashion of the day.

Up at the ship's bow I did a "Titanic Lover's" pose ..... unsuccessfully - for one thing I did not had a beautiful girl next to me and I was facing the wrong way.
Still, it gave me the that top of the world feeling, a feeling like that of a bird flying freely in the sky with the wind whooshing by.

I popped up to the top-most deck, the one next to the captain's command post and waved hello to him and his first mate.

Bow-ward view of the ship.
There's a small open deck next to this which can accommodate about six people. It's a deck that gives an almost interrupted view of the lake and its surrounding.

Time to go down.... at a porthole I espied the hills surrounding the lake.

From the main passenger deck, there are a couple of large openings that gave a view of the ships engine level below.
Hey! I have to go down there and see how this old fella work.

Passengers can go down to the engine room; they won't be at the floor level though but will be walking along cat-walks slightly above.
Here, the engines roar as their piston furiously pumped up and down. At the centre, colliers can be seen shovelling coal into the boilers. Yes, they really use coal to run the engines. The smoke streaming out from the funnel is not just for show, it's real smoke!

The ship reached Walter Peak on the other side of the lake. Here passengers can disembark, explore the town and returning on the ship's next trip here.

Back in Queenstown, I cycled over to the Village Green where I joined the local teens in a sing-a-long before returning to the apartment for an early night.
Tomorrow we will be starting early for a real cycling adventure on the Central Otago Rail Trail.

Having had such an exciting day, I slept well and will be raring to go the following day.

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Related Blogs :

New Zealand Cycling Routes
These were the routes we rode in New Zealand, including the South Island's Central Otago Rail Trail.

You may also like :

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