Our day off in Queenstown was vewy vewy kwiet (Elmer Fudd voice). We’d been on the road for a while by now, with mostly very full days. Peter and I had done the gondola ride up to the lookout last time we were here on one of our few good weather days, so we didn’t bother going again. We stayed in our palatial room, watched a bit of TV, and napped. The rooms are studio apartments, complete with a small kitchen and laundry facilities, and a balcony with a view across the lake. It had snowed overnight, dusting the mountains and offering beautiful photos.
Other people went on the optional excursions, such as the Shotover jet boat ride (very exhilarating) and the drive down to Skipper’s Canyon (in places quite terrifying.) For you fantasy fans, the scene in Lord of the Rings where Arwen stops the black riders from crossing the river was filmed in Skipper’s Canyon.
This evening we would be going across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak station for a barbecue dinner. We were looking forward to that. Last time we went, in 2019, the meal had been awesome. TSS Earnslaw, a lovely old steamer, would take us across. It’s quite a long trip well down New Zealand’s longest lake.
The homestead itself is a beautiful old building, lovingly restored and full of paintings and photographs illustrating its history. It also has a to-die-for English country garden, full of colour and buzzing bees.
Our group was put into a separate private room for our meal and given first access to the buffet tables loaded with all sorts of seafood, barbecued meats, salads, vegetables, bread, cheese, fruit, and (of course) a variety of desserts. It’s an all you can eat experience but for a second helping, you have to mingle with the other folk. I’m sure we all ate too much.
After dinner a young man (let’s call him Ben) and his two working dogs, Sky and Speck, escorted us to a covered arena behind the house, where they would put on a show. (Interesting how I remember the dogs’ names, but not the man’s) They’re both elderly ladies, past their full-on working days. Speck is 9 years old, Sky 10. I’ve no idea how old Ben is. But working dogs love to work and these sprightly older ladies clearly were eager for the opportunity to have at least a little run with the boss.
Ben asked us to choose which of the dogs he should use. We picked Sky, so Speck was tethered for the duration of the show, clearly not at all happy. Sky went off to bring four sheep down the hill behind the arena while Ben controlled her with whistles. This was a show, so he stopped her a few times. You could almost see her saying, “What are you doing, boss? This is dumb.” Speck, watching from the stage, clearly thought the same thing.
When the show was over, Speck was released and we were invited to come over and pat the dogs. Speck wasn’t having it. She stayed well away, clearly sulking.
Then it was time to go. Ben, accompanied by his girls, walked us to the ship, brought in the gangplank, and waved as we left.
It was a great night. Tomorrow we’d be on our way to Lake Te Anua.
By the way, if you’ve happened upon this page by accident and you’d like to read more about the tour, go to the tour page where you’ll find the rest of our adventures.