In the itinerary, this is described as a “Free Day in Queenstown.” If we’d known then what we know now, we may have made different choices, but life doesn’t work that way.
We started slowly, with a cup of tea in the room, then headed into town (about a ten minute walk) for breakfast. The proprietor at the Alexis had recommended two places, so we looked at the menus online and chose Vudu. The streets were pretty uncrowded, as was the restaurant. Despite being a ski and adventure city, Queenstown does not seem to wake early. Maureen opted for poached eggs on toast, while I chose the daily greens breakfast plate with gluten-free toast. OMG, yum. The coffee was good too, which was not at all common in New Zealand. Most places offer a long black, which is the approximate equivalent of an Americano, but generally less tasty. Vudu had both, but the long black was espresso with a separate glass of hot water—we went with the Americano.
After breakfast, we took advantage of the fact that we still had a car to drive to a Liquid laundromat, which was in the same shopping complex as a supermarket, Kmart, pharmacy, and outdoor store. We hit Kmart first for electronics replacements (the lost headphones), then found the laundromat. The machines required a card, but a friendly British man gave us his card and some help getting started. There was no laundry detergent for sale, but someone had fortunately left some for common use that did not have excessive fragrance. While the clothes washed and dried, we took turns visiting the grocery store for picnic supplies and the pharmacy for seasickness preventatives.
Clothes cleaned and essentials obtained, we returned to the hotel and heated soup on the two-burner hob. We supplemented with cheese, hummus, and crackers from earlier adventures and discussed our options for the rest of the day.
We ultimately opted for the second-most recommended outing from Queenstown (see Day 6 for the most recommended trip), a drive along Lake Wakatipu to Glenorchy. It was curvy, and quite beautiful. We checked out the uncrowded general store at Glenorchy, then turned around and enjoyed different views (same road) on the return. Pigeon and Pig Island views and the color of the water were among the highlights.
We stopped at a picnic area most of the way back to Queenstown and discovered that it was also a mountain biking area!
Once in town, we proceeded to Thrifty to drop off the car. The office was closed (despite it being during business hours), but fortunately there were clear instructions for turning in cars and keys. We made a quick stop at the grocery store and did a little window shopping as we worked our way back toward the hotel on foot.
This trip has been low on ice cream, so we also paused at Patagonia’s Ice Creamery & Chocolaterie. I ordered the dulce de leche ice cream stick with a coating of dark chocolate, because it seemed like the thing to try. I would just go for ice cream next time—the chocolate somewhat overwhelmed the delicate caramel flavor. Maureen chose a dark chocolate croissant, which she managed to resist eating until we returned to the room for tea.
After tea, we reorganized all of our clothes and gear so that we could have two bags that would follow and meet us each night on the upcoming bike tour, and one that could be transported straight through to the end. Naturally, we needed some of that tasty vodka to get us through this re-packing process.
A little research had revealed that Public Kitchen and Bar might be the best option for both of us to get our favorite proteins. We trekked back downtown in time for our 6:30 reservation and found a restaurant (and downtown) not terribly crowded (you maybe sensing a theme here). After waiting what seemed an inordinate amount of time for our orders to come, we enjoyed duck fat potatoes, beet salad, rack of lamb (Maureen), and confit duck (me). It was all quite tasty, and we set aside half of the meats to take back for another meal (this may be the second-best benefit of self-catering accommodations—after being able to eat breakfast in). Another nip of the vodka, and we called it a day.