Monday, May 31, 2010

Today in America=Memorial Day BBQs ... Today in Queenstown=Winter Has Arrived!

This last weekend is traditionally Memorial Day Weekend in America. The weekend to remember those fallen heroes, usher in Summer, and have cocktails and BBQs.

On the flip side, this last weekend in Queenstown, New Zealand brought us Winter. The snow levels on the glorious mountains that surround this town are dropping. It's still the tourism shoulder season, but the nomadic travellers who follow the snow, have already been arriving over the past few weeks. They've been arriving early to try to secure jobs that will take them through the Winter season so they can work and ski till the snow disappears, at which time they'll be headed off back to the Northern Hemisphere to do the same thing. If they're really lucky, they've already secured a job at one of the local ski resorts - which I hear gets them a free season's pass!

Yesterday as I left the house in the morning armed with a puffer jacket and driving gloves, I drove past two jibbers walking towards the CBD in full snowboarders wear, boards under their arms. The local mountain, Coronet Peak, doesn't even open till this Saturday. Apparently these die-hards were planning, like quite a few others it turns out, to walk up the peak and ride down. No wonder that these nutters are so fit!

I heard that most of the rest of the town turned up at the big Wakatipu Ski Sale that was held at the Queenstown Events Centre. Seriously, I heard (and later read online) that there were about 1,000 people in attendance. I didn't even know that any place in Queenstown could accommodate that many people. I didn't make the sale.

Later,  I saw a group of heavily rugged up men, golf bags on arms, scrambling to find another place to tee off within the hour. Not being a real golfer myself, I wondered why they didn't just have a go at this gorgeous course. That was until I hit a patch of ice and almost slipped on my ass right there in the car park, in front of this group of golfers.

When I got back into my car ten hours later,  It was a glorious, clear (and freezing!) night. The only clouds in the sky were over the Crown Range which were lit up by the just-past-full moon rising. I knew a delicious dinner and a warm fire were waiting for me at home, so I was anxious to get back indoors. Unfortunately, I first had to find water to throw over my windscreen to get rid of the ice that had built up after the sun dropped.

Dinner was delicious, the fire was raging, and I fell asleep in the middle of the movie. But this is the view I woke up to this morning. Yes, Winter has arrived. Now it's time to go pick up my Season Pass, pull out the ski gear, and get some windscreen wiper fluid (with antifreeze!) into the car!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Calling all Cookie Munchers!

Something really exciting happened in May. Cookie Time, the Christchurch based and privately owned Kiwi company opened the first "cookie bar" storefront in the World here in the Queenstown CBD. I was really excited when I first heard about the store coming a few months ago because of the concept. The company had apparently enlisted the help of WETA Workshops to help them design an interactive brand experience.

I decided to pop into the store the week it opened and have a look. I met Verity Richards, the franchisee, and had a nice chat despite the fact that she was obviously quite busy. Unfortunately on that day, she was having a challenge with the new tap that pours milk at the bar. A milk tap! Love it! Fortunately, it didn't seem to affect business while I was in the store. It was fun to see families enjoying the interactivity of the touchscreens, having their photos taken by these screens, and filling their cookie pails with a selection of all the different sizes and types of biscuits.

Not being one to ever pass by a sweet treat myself, I had to endulge. As I drove home from town, I opened my little brown paper bag to relieve the warm, chewy treat. Yummy! There's nothing like the melt-in-your-mouth, chewy, ooey goodness of a warm chocolate chip cookie. I'm such a big kid. But I don't care. It made me smile and made me feel all cuddley inside.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Night of Bollywood

Once a year, Mantra, an Indian restaurant in Arrowtown, holds an event attended by hundreds in the town hall. The evening includes food from Mantra, an Indian DJ and singer, and the Bhangra Boys from Auckland.
Bhangra is a joyous folk dance which marks the harvest season and is celebrated by the men of Punjab.

It's such a great night. Besides the really infectious music and dance, one of the best parts about the evening is the fancy dress. Locals love to dress up, especially in Bollywood style, and this evening was no exception.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I saw a really great film last night, "Boy". It apparently competed at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and was written, directed by, and stars Taika Waititi. To me, this is impressive enough to write, direct and star in your own film. But I was so impressed by the acting and the characters, especially considering the fact that most of the characters are children. It's a funny, sad, good story that is staying with me even the morning after I saw it. At the end of the movie, in a sort of Bollywood style, the cast does a Michael Jackson dance that incorporates some of a Maori Haka. Classic!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Reinventing Yourself

Summer doesn't really last long in Queenstown. So when it's here, everyone wants to be out enjoying it. I could say that is what happened to me. Why I've been such a slacker at blogging. But the reality is that I became very busy in January - out of necessity. I actually started in December. It was around that time that a friend asked me to help him set up a new tourism operation.  He was a farmer, and this was a very, very new and different experience for him.  I've loved this project, helping someone to bring his vision to reality.  Someone told me when I first arrived in Queenstown over 2 years ago now that you can reinvent yourself in Queenstown. I guess that is what he was doing.

I needed a laugh today ...