With the move to Alert Level Two, we’ve broken free and flown to Queenstown to enjoy the last of the autumn colours and seasonal changes. Over the last couple of days, we have had some magnificent frosts and have enjoyed the icy crunch underfoot. As the sun gets high late morning, the frost eventually melts leaving a window of winter sun to enjoy. Hard as it may seem when the temperature is in single digits, it was still warm enough to dine outside and enjoy a delicious long lunch at Akarua.
From our home in Arrowtown we look up to Coronet Peak, can see The Remarkables and get a glimpse of the Cardrona Valley. Overnight we had a significant dusting of snow creating promising signs for a great ski season. Coronet Peak has their snowmakers working to capacity and as we are on the brink of moving to Alert Level One, it is hoped the chairlifts too, will be working to capacity. Hopefully, a bumper ski season will bring New Zealanders to Queenstown and provide some relief to the locals and the hospitality sector, who are hurting badly.
The still, clear mornings have also seen the hot air ballooners over Arrowtown. It’s not an adventure I have embarked on, but they certainly look beautiful gliding in the Wakatipu Basin among the white mountain tips.
With the restaurants slowly opening again, some have made subtle changes to meet the demand of locals and visitors. While a lovely long lunch was always available at Amisfield and Akarua, one of our favourite Spanish tapas restaurants in Arrowtown, La Rumbla, has just started a lunch on a Sunday. For $45 a-head, food starts being served at 1pm. The restaurant opened at noon so we enjoyed a drink outside in the sun, watching the chef put the final touches, prawn and fish on the paella.
Following chilli garlic olives, house bread and paella we were treated to grilled wagyu beef bavette, chimichurri with potato bravas, finishing with warm pistachio cake, winter citrus and lemon curd.
With a diary lean on expeditions and excursions, I’m exploring the Central Otago region further to see what fun activities I can come up with for the remainder of 2020. Welcome Rock is on my list. It’s a high country farm about an hour out of Queenstown with a 27 km hiking trail and accommodation. They’re creating a bespoke package for us, with a two-night stay on the farm and we can walk the track without carrying our gear – perfect! They also offer many other great activities, as well as hiking.
Meanwhile, I’m making the most of the local walks, with my favourite ‘go-to walk’, Lake Hayes Walkway just a few minutes drive from the house.
It’s a relatively small lake in the Wakatipu Basin, only about 15 minutes drive from Queenstown. The eight-kilometre scenic loop wraps around the tranquil and beautiful lake. On windless days the mountain tips and foliage are reflected on the water. Craggy mountains including The Remarkables mountain range and Coronet Peak provide a magnificent backdrop, especially when they are snow-clad. A boardwalk over wetlands provides closeup viewing of birdlife. Several historic cottages are dotted around the lake, as well as a large lakeside recreational area at the northern end. Notable lake-side properties provide for interesting viewing on the western leg of the walk.
The hike is easy making it suitable for all ages and levels of fitness. It can be completed in two hours. The walking track can be accessed from a number of points including The Lake Hayes Pavilion on SH 6 or North Lake Hayes picnic area off Arrowtown Road.