Domestic Travel

The North Island got the memo. The South Island got the memo too. The past two weeks have apparently set records for NZ Ski across its three South Island ski fields. Kiwis are throwing themselves off bridges and hiring campervans. For families unlike ours these are new experiences. Time will tell what’s around the corner but after a week in Queenstown it’s been a pleasure to see this picturesque tourist town run off its feet.

For families like ours this has been the chance to try even more. And we found a little magic along the way.

This holiday was all about the white stuff. Pure, fluffy and cold. The Queenstown region has four main ski fields. Twinned around Queenstown are the Remarkables and Coronet Peak. On the other side of the Crown Range there’s Cardrona and Treble Cone. The formula is simple. Get up early to reach the top carpark and dress for every scenario. This year the domestic tourists hired cars instead of busing from town to the ski fields. It created unheard of mountain road closures. Fortunately, there was enough room on and off all of the pistes for an amazing experience. Jobs are scarce in Queenstown right now. I’m quite sure we had the most experienced, most gregarious and most appreciative lift operators on offer. It made things easier when each of the kids had their turn at tumbling off the chairs.

We enjoyed four days of our four day passes. Growing into better skiers and genuinely experiencing a sport that we can do together as a family. But we were thinking of those in our beautiful country who are struggling. For so many this sport is out of reach, especially right now.

A gem from this region is Snow Farm. So often our holidays remind us of our overseas sabbatical and for years we’ve hoped to recreate our European cross country skiing adventure. Snow Farm is the only non-profit ski area in the Southern Lakes region and was the first of its kind in the country. We like to embrace the name given to this area by Ngai Tahu. Waiorau, which loosely translates as the place of over one hundred waters, is a gently rolling snowy landscape with undulating hills and 360-degree mountain views. It’s yet another piece of Aotearoa paradise.

We didn’t have a fine dining experience. It’s never the same with children in tow. But we hunted out local eateries at the edge of town, grateful for patronage and support. We walked into Giovi, a small eatery set within Frankton’s retail park. Its location may not be a cobbled Italian street but the eating experience was just as authentic. Greeted by Giovi herself, smiling and delightful with her northern Italian accent, she was excited to show off her extensive cabinet full of freshly made pastas, pizzas and imported Italian wine. Best of all they serve gelato, transporting us back to the heart of Lake Garda. Queenstown’s transient and international population has meant that it’s is full of these pockets of wonderfulness.

And surprisingly we found some great work coming out of lockdown. Unemployed workers are morphing into pest trappers and trail builders. Hardy work in the depths of winter and a bold change for some. The Queenstown Trails Trust already has an extensive network for walkers and cyclists. The post Covid world will see these trails expand and thrive. Kingston too, a sleepy place at the bottom of the lake, is hoping to see the life blown back into the historic Kingston Flyer. Its local pub made for a picturesque stop and a place to stop and contemplate the grandeur of the lake.

Meanwhile our bucket list continues as we tick off New Zealand experiences and explore our backyard paradise. We grieve for Victoria and its record number of Covid cases this week and turn a blind eye to the WHO warnings offshore. Contemplating a future within our domestic bubble.

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