I had been counting down to my mid November days off ever since my start date, the days my friends were visiting from Auckland. Kylie, Bobby, Ricky and Michelle were due to land in Queenstown at 10am so I caught an early hitch up the hill and waited at their gate with homemade signs, shaking with excitement. Once we were passed the sweat, tears and shaking (which they took the mic out of me heavily for) we picked up our car, headed into town and got a big brunch to prepare us for a weekend of adventures.
We drove along the winding shores of Lake Wakatipu to Glenorchy, plenty a photo stop overlooking pig and pigeon island. On the quieter shores of Lake Wakatipu we enjoyed a coffee and played a game of catch until we recruited a sixth, less cooperative member, a Labrador who kept stealing the ball and headed for the water.
Later in the afternoon we returned to Queenstown, our two goals to consume a Fergburger and follow it up with a night out. We made for the famous eatery where the ritual includes a long queue to consume your chosen treat. We ate our burgers at the waterfront on one of the low hanging trees which looked over the lake.
Once beautified, we had a few drinks, then hit the town. The music was good, the drinking heavy, the dancing plenty, the next morning tough.
We checked out of the hostel, heads hanging low and headed across the Crown Ranges, climbing to cross the mountains, then winding down into Wanaka. Our expectations for a challenging climb were quickly shrinking down into size and we readjusted our expectations from day walk, to an hours walk, with breaks, and Tim Tams. The view from the top over Mt Aspiring national park and the Diamond Lakes was well worth the sweat and puff.
Our second night together was rather more chilled. A big feed was followed by a foreshore walk along Lake Wanaka. A similar mountain backdrop but a quieter scene makes Wanaka my favourite lakeside spot.
It was a slow retreat back into Milford, all the way me trying to play tour guide with my smattering of facts. It was a first time for some, a second for others, home for me. We had to pass Queenstown to pick up two mislayed, but separate shoes, then on to Five Rivers for a coffee, Te Anau for lunch and food shop, then into Milford for an afternoon cruise.
The skies were blue as we cruised around the pond. I interjected commentary over the microphone with my favourite facts.
In the evening I was keen for the others to experience the other side of Milford, it’s community. With a few drinks on the deck, a shared meal and a bonfire, they began to imagine why this sociable little place is so special.