There are things to get used to in Queenstown. What side of the road do you look at first, for starters. Then, that there is never really winter. It is like Bay Area, U.S. or Trieste, Italy. But with Suisse sized Alps right behind it. Very steep place. 4wd country. And there is no other place you can find illegally working Suisse citizens.
Gas so expensive it is hard to believe New Zealanders didn’t develop their weapons of mass destruction and nuked a couple of countries. Instead they are getting their cheap electricity from clean hydro power. And driving Subarus and those preferred vehicles of warlords worldwide: Toyota Landcruisers. American SUV-s are fairly rare. So, the heat and everything else in the place is running on electricity.
Queenstown is where Auckland’s elite escape from the city’s summer heat. Hamptons? In winter it is pretty dead. With Yen-paying Japanese kids packing the hotels and motels. With European kids packing the cheaper hostels. With the proverbial snowboard tribe trying to get the best value out of private rentals.
It works more kind of like you are in some tourist place on Croatian coast, not like the US. Opatija? With Triglav behind? You get ripped seriously if you go through an agency (you end up paying nearly 5 rents in advance). But you can completely just respond to some wild flyer in a restaurant.
Ok, not only the cars drive on the wrong side of the road, but the gondola is built on the wrong mountain! It serves The Ledge bungy site (and a restaurant). Bungy is the second national sport over here (rugby is still #1). I guess ‘hugdy’ is next.
During the winter most of the private rentals would be vaccant if there is not for the snowboard tribe - and hotels and restaurants would not have any staff left. Half of the Queenstown population are Aussies and Poms, or whinging Poms as my landlord calls them. So, there are some options. But the landlord won’t be happy if you trash the place that they rent to some high paying family from Auckland in summer.
Word Poms, as a name for British people here, is derived from POHM (Prisoner Of Her Majesty). POHM-s were the first British settlers in New Zealand. And everyone coming from the U.K. is still considered a Pohm, only ‘h’ got lost in New Zealand spelling.
Now I understand my landlord’s Dave's "whinging poms" term - here there are two young lads from London - Charles and Giles - they simply can't stop complaining how this place sucks. I couldn't get them to say a single nice word about the entire New Zealand. Queenstown is way to ugly and provincial for them and ski resorts are beyond primitive. Where are the lifts? Charles is comparing this recently settled town to Serre Chevaliere, a place in South France where he rode in winter, developed as early as two thousand years ago by Romans. (Of course, by now the French built a gondola to take your ass out of your condo to the top of the mountain.) The bus ride is an ordeal that they didn't take up often. So, they are here since June and they packed so far about 15 days on snow, about as much as I hope to have by the end of my 20 day stay. They sleep till noon, play video games till six and then go out and drink cheap alcohol at one of that dingy and, to them, quite disagreeable tiny cafes around Queenstown. Gee, what a waste of air fare that was.