Posted by John Cole on Jul 19, 2018
Lynne and I together with another couple have spent the last week staying in Queenstown.  To me it is the most beautiful region of New Zealand.
It is not the town of Queenstown that is the major attraction for me, but one cannot deny the beauty of Lake Wakatipu, Coronet Peak and The Remarkables.  It has been described as the Adventure Capital of the world and deservedly so.  The greater Southern Lakes and Central Otago are what I love.
I would like to tell you about three days trips we undertook during a fantastic 7 days of blue sky.
Our first trip was to Wanaka.  The Crown Range road had snow on its higher parts which helped with the atmosphere. The Crown Range is one of the highest roads in New Zealand reaching an altitude of 1121m.  Our first stop was at the Cadrona Hotel for coffee.  It still has its vintage charm and is one of New Zealand’s most photographed buildings which dates back to the 1860’s. It once quenched the thirst of goldminers and still does the same for tourists over 150 year later.
We did not make use of the Cardrona ski fields but moved on to the recently opened Cardrona Distillery.  They make crafted Vodka, Whiskey and Gin all of which was sampled.  Then on to Wanaka.  Thank goodness it was such a great day weather wise so most tourists were on the slopes skiing and not wandering around the town.  The growth rate of building in Wanaka is tremendous, only exceeded by Queenstown.  After lunch we did the return over the same road with a driving time of about 1 hour each way.
The next day was to have lunch in Bannockburn, another 1860 Gold Mining town famous for its rich alluvial gold fields.  Our lunch venue was at Mt Difficulty Winery Restaurant.  It is perched on a rocky outcrop on Felton Road looking across the Cromwell Basin to Lake Dunstan with the Pisa and Dunstan Ranges on either side looking fantastic.  The highlight of our 7-day holiday for me was two splendid platters shared by four very close friends at a stunning location. As you will see in the photo the two boys each had a five-tray wine tasting of their Pinot Noir.
We spent nearly three hours at what can only be described as a truly unforgettable experience.  Then back to the hotel via the Kawarau Gorge another 60min drive.
Another day was a drive to Glenorchy then a further 25km in to the very small settlement of Kinloch, near the mouth of the Dart River.  It is a beautiful drive through ancient Beech Forest.  We had lunch at the Kinloch Lodge that could be described as an outpost in the wilderness that provides accommodation and meals.
The “dining room” quaint with a very homely atmosphere and delicious home cooked food.  The proprietor told me that he has owned it for 18 years and that the previous person had lived there 71 years.  Lunch was washed down by mulled wine.  We continued onto Kinloch to the end of the road which was the start of the Greenstone Track. 
The reason for the visit is that four of our club members will be tramping from this point for 6 days in December.  It is called the Grand Traverse and is described as, “for those adventurous spirits; combining the peaceful Greenstone Valley, with the Routeburn, for an unforgettable journey".  The tramp crosses the main divide twice and passes through two National Parks (Fiordland and Mt. Aspiring). The length of the trip is 75km, but we do not carry any food or bedding. Cooked meals are provided and wine and beer can be purchased.  Not to mention hot showers and fancy toilets. 
If anyone is interested in joining us please have a chat with Tony Cornelius, Jaye, or myself.
My next bulletin article may be titled, “The Terror of the Grand Traverse” or, “The Tranquil Traverse”.