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Saturday 3rd July - Arrowtown
By Claire
Sunday, 11th July 2004 07:32

I got up early to phone my brother before he went on holiday, but he wasn't there. Then I went back to bed, cos we were determined to have a lazy day of doing very little. At about midday, we went to explore a bit.

Arrowtown is actually another Lord of the Rings location, and is the place where a hobbit, and elf and a horse did their thing. (Sorry, I thought we'd already been there, and I mentioned it before - that place is where the guys sailed through a big gorge.) It was absolutely, totally freezing today. There was frozen slush on the roads and pathways, and we wrapped up in many layers and went for a walk by the river. There was no obvious way to cross, and we watched a couple experiment with making stepping stones, and Mikey tried to use a log to make a bridge, but in the end we found a real bridge, which made the whole process much easier. The river seems to be the place where youngsters with trucks come to drive though the mud and deep water, a bit like the muppet cars in Somerfield car park in Shepton Mallet but without the neon lights underneath and the weird car body kits. So everything was muddy and churned up, and the ground was frozen snow and very icy - did I mention it was cold?

We found the bit from the film (there was a little board showing us, which helped) and went for a careful walk. Mikey said that there should be a Chinese goldminer's hut nearby, so I laughed at him (as you do) and then we found a whole Chinese goldmining town, so I apologised for laughing.

Arrowtown was a goldmining town many years ago, and loads of Chinese men came over to find gold and make money to send home. There were recreated miners huts and a little walk through the town with boards explaining what life must have been like for them. I think the last original guy died in the 1920s, and they had photos of the miners and his story. It was all very interesting and unexpected. And cold. We went up quickly to the little cemetary at the top of the hill and then back to get the car and drove to Queenstown.

We had a few things we needed to find in Queenstown, and one of them was a merino fleece for my mum to spin and knit. I've been asking everywhere since we arrived in New Zealand, and the consensus was that the middle of the south island is most likely. So in Arrowtown I asked a Scottish shopkeeper for advice and he was very rude and said that it was a stupid question and that all fleeces would be sold - it was like asking a farmer for some steak. Not quite sure of his logic, I went into a woolcraft shop in Queenstown and the nice man there gave me directions to a little wool shop where an old lady was very helpful. I though it would be an easy matter to get a fleece sent to England, but she needed to know how much wool and what colour and all that sort of thing, so I promised to find out and phone her. But that was one thing off my mind, I was getting worried!

Queenstown was just full of ski shops and outdoor clothing places, and although it's the only place in New Zealand open until 10pm seven days a week, it was nothing really special. The real reason to come here is for the skiing, and we weren't going to get a chance to do that this time round. There was also some sort of race on for the winter festival, and the radio kept giving commentaries. I think they had to ski and cycle and run through the snow. Fools.

We thought that we'd seen all of Queenstown, but Mikey found that the guidebook suggested the view from the top of the cable car, so we found that. It was worth it, although it was absolutely freezing from the viewing platform at the top. On the way down, as it was getting dark, we stopped at an indoor mini-golf course, and had a great game, playing through moving models of airports and spaceships and ski lifts (where the ball goes up a chair lift and then runs down the ski slope) and all sorts. It even gave me a lollipop in the final hole, which was a sweet factory. Then it was time to go back to Arrowtown and have supper.

Which was wonderful. Mikey made the most of the wine and was very chatty all the way home. It was about eleven and bedtime by the time we got back. Another great day!

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