When we told people that we are going to drive through Queenstown in our journey of the South Island, those who had visited the town lit up with genuine excitement and began to tell us about their amazing experiences, and those who hadn't visited told us all about what great things they had heard. Naturally, hearing this, we thought wow, we might even end up staying 2 nights in or near Queenstown. Little did we realize at the time that the people that gave us their reviews were people without young kids who took advantage of the extreme sports atmosphere that is quite popular in Queenstown.
Driving to Queenstown, we absolutely loved the scenery as we drove past the beautiful Lake Wakatipu and past the Remarkables mountain range.
The town itself reminded us a lot of ski towns in the US, except with a lot of signs advertising skydiving, helicopter rides, bungy jumping, and jet boating. The previous night we had checked for some family activities, but most of the things we found were either really expensive or just not suitable for young children. This is why after driving through the town and eating our lunch in our awesome motorhome, we said our farewells to Queenstown and headed to Arrowtown. The scenery as we drove was once again gorgeous and breathtaking.
In Arrowtown, we located a couple of fun family actives we had found online. We stopped at the Chinese Settlement to look for some gold.
Although we had to pay $10 per person to look for 23 carat gold flakes, it was a fun experience for the kids, especially when they saw the tiny gold flakes at the bottom of their sifting bowl and got to keep them in a vial of water. The guy that helped us with the sifting process was a young man, probably in his early 20s. He has been sifting for gold with his parents since he was about 3 or 4 years old. His parents still look for gold in a specially designated area further up in the mountain, where finding a good size gold nugget is more likely, and they own a jewelry store in town! People that visit Arrowtown are welcome to try their luck in the public areas for free. If you know what you are doing, this might be a more exciting experience. We had fun with the abbreviated version, which was guaranteed to strike gold (flakes)!! :)
After our fun gold "digging" experience, we headed on a short, but educational and beautiful hike. We saw a few huts where the Chinese settlers lived and learned about the hard lives they lead while they looked for gold and sent money to their families in China.
There are many hiking paths to choose from, but we chose the shortest since we were all tired and still had a bit of a drive left until our next camp ground.
After our hike, we drove through Arrowtown. What a cute town! The town itself is still very much stuck in the gold rush era, or at least that's how they have kept all the buildings on the main street.
We drove on the Crown Range Road out of Arrowtown and onwards towards the town of Wanaka. The road is very windy and at parts very narrow as you climb higher and higher around a mountain to have the following views revealed! I know I keep repeating myself but the West Coast of the South Island has been really blowing us away with its beauty.
Since we spent last night at a paid camp site, we planned to stay at a DOC site tonight (low cost of $6 per person for adults and $3 per person for children under 5). Originally we thought of staying in Wanaka, but most of the holiday parks were very pricey. We headed to our "free" ish camp ground a few km down the road and as usual loved it! The only facilities were public restrooms, although they were quite a far distance away from where we parked. Thankfully we didn't need them anyways. We parked right by a beautiful river, and as the kids played outside and fed the ducks I made dinner and we set up our picnic table outside to eat dinner.
After dinner, I cleaned up while the kids had a blast playing outside. I even got to capture one of the many messy scenes in our motorhome. Both our kids, especially Kian, are really into all sorts of art projects, so this scene was actually quite a popular one in the RV. We didn't mind how much mess they made because it made them feel comfortable and at "home". Besides, cleaning up was super easy. We had two nice deep drawers where most of the things disappeared in during clean up! :)
To conserve the fresh water in our Wendekreisen, my husband suggested using the water from the river to wash dishes, and it actually worked fabulously! It was a bit cold, but it got the job done! When you live in an RV you really start becoming aware of how much resources you use, water, gas, battery ....
After the clean up was completed, we all huddled up in our "living room" and watched Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer for our movie date night.
With our newly learned skills of insulating the doors and kicking up the heat to max for 10 minutes before bedtime, we stayed nice and warm all night. It also helps that we are moving up North to warmer temperatures!
Elmer the Elf Update
Do you remember Brownie and Whitey from Mossburn Country Park? Well, Kian loved Brownie so much that he wanted to draw a picture of him as soon as he had a few free minutes last night. He cut him out too so he would look more like a "toy".
Well we woke up this morning to find Elmer holding one of the food pellets and trying to feed Kian's paper Brownie! I guess he wanted to let the kids know that he loves animals too!