We then pack back into our rental car for the drive back to Queenstown, where we check into The Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel, a lovely small inn that’s just a five minute walk from the thriving downtown and overlooks a beautiful green park and a rugby field. Our host John gets us settled; Mark decides to get a nap (making up for the sleep he missed out on while on Doubtful Sound), Peter heads out to the park to write some postcards, and I fire up the internet connection in our room and start organizing our photos from this trip.
While out back, Peter chats up a couple of young guys who’ve strung a cord between two trees and are practicing their tightrope walking skills.
We later reconvene our on patio to share a bottle of Champagne, which I’ve been carrying around in my bag since we arrived in Auckland earlier in the week. It’s heavy and I’m happy to finally pop that cork!
The hotel hosts a cocktail hour for guests from 6-7:00 pm, so we move onto the lobby for a glass of wine and a few appetizers. We meet “Rugie”, the afternoon manager, who is originally from France but has lived in Queenstown for the past seven years. He’s thoughtful and engaging, and we enjoy delicious New Zealand wine while chatting. He recommends “Flame” for dinner, where we sit on a terrace overlooking the harbor and enjoy a vegetarian’s nightmare: a sampler platter of ribs, steak, lamb chops, and a wonderful clove-tinged South African sausage, made in-house. Top that off with some French fries - and call it dinner!