After our first freedom camping experience, we were ready to drive out to Queenstown, given it was winter and we’d read a lot of warnings about some of the alpine roads we were a little nervous about driving over Lindis Pass. We needed to refuel so checked with the garage if there were any warnings for the road and we were relieved to find that no all was fine despite it being early morning.
Our drive over the pass was a stunning as we had expected with views across the valley, mountains and vineyards all culminating in a stunning reflection on Lake Dunstan as we arrived in Cromwell. We choose to follow the SH8 all the way to Cromwell but there are options to run off and drive a slightly different route the other side of Lake Dunstan on the SH6.
We were amazed by how much Queenstown has grown and is growing since we were last here in 2007. This popular town has so much to offer young people and families – especially those craving adventures and thrills! As the girls are still young we drove quickly past the famous Kawarau Bridge Bungy and into town.
For those driving into Queenstown, please be aware that parking is limited and not cheap, if you are in a motorhome you will find that there are very limited spaces that are big enough so you may want to arrive early, book a campsite in town – most will let you park up earlier than you can check in, or park outside of town and take a bus in.
Once we had found a parking space, we made up some sandwiches and headed up to Skyline Queenstown. We booked a family gondola and luge package with 2 luge rides each included.
After riding the gondola we were treated to some amazing views of Queenstown – we felt very privileged that it was such a stunningly clear day as 11 years ago we had been able to see very little due to the clouds.
We then took the girls over to the luge, where we got our helmets and took the slightly old looking chairlift to the top of the luge run. After being shown how to control our carts we set off down the track with Daddy and Sophie riding together. Trip 1 was interesting as the girls didn’t quite know what to expect but everyone wanted to go again!nTrip 2 saw Mummy and Sophie ride together with Daddy and Molly riding solo, this time everyone finished at a similar time. Surprisingly after trip 2 we still had 2 rides left – the way things work on the luge are that one trip is one cart so as Sophie had ridden with us, we had a bonus final ride in 2’s to complete the experience.
Relaxing at the top with hot drinks and ice creams, we took in the views and looked at the maps to spot the different mountain ranges around us. It was soon time to head down into town as we only had a short time left on our parking ticket.
Walking around the town brought back many memories for Dave and I, so we decided to try to find the Ice Bar where we had met a barman from Oakwood (just down the road from us at home). Last time we went children weren’t allowed in the bar, so we pre-warned the girls that we wouldn’t be able to do in but it would be nice to have a look through the windows. When we got there we found out they did allow children in now so after 5 minutes debate we decided we would take the girls for this experience! With only 40 minutes left on our parking ticket the staff at Minus 5 Ice Bar quickly kitted us out with coats, hats and gloves and we headed inside.
The girls were astounded at the sculptures, lights and music in the bar, and we were lucky to have a good 15 minutes of exclusive access to the bar before anyone else arrived.
Back to Cromwell
After looking at campsite prices in Queenstown (and hoping to get in a couple of wine tastings!), we decided to drive to Cromwell for the night and booked into the Top 10 Campsite there. Sadly as it was winter all the wineries had closed at 4.30pm so we missed out on the wine tasting, but a little investigation at the campsite office led to the discovery of one that opened at 10am the next morning – and that story will be for another blog!