My last morning was the most spectacular of the trek. It was a perfectly clear sky with views of the mountains across the flats. I had my breakfast as the sun rose.
The last leg of the journey was only about 1.5 hours and my shuttle was at 10 so I had a nice leisurely (downhill) walk to the end. It was a nice final walk as the sun streamed through the trees.
At the end I waited briefly until my shuttle arrived. Again only two other people were on the bus. Off season is certainly nice. The bus was a 2 hour drive through nice scenery mostly along the lake that ended in Queenstown.
I retrieved my box (it had arrived!!!) and dropped my things at the backpackers (Kiwi for a hostel) since I couldn’t check in until 2:00. I wandered the streets full of shops hawking adventure trips like bungy jumping, parasailing, river rafting etc. I was a bit concerned about spending 3 nights here. I came across a shop with a huge line down the street. It was a place called Fergburger. I’d heard talk about this place on the trek. Great burgers and long lines. I joined in. It was just a street front no place to sit. I ordered my Fergburger and chips (fries) and was told to come back in 20 minutes. While I waited I found a great park on the lake with a weekend market. There was a man playing great music. I went back, got my burger and returned to the park for lunch. The grass was covered with people enjoying the sun, music, and many with a delicious Fergburger.
Turns out the park was right in front of my backpackers. After eating I went in checked into what turned out to be the best location in town. Below is the view that $36 gets you in Queenstown….
If your willing to have have 3 strangers for roommates (and yes I snagged the double lower bunk).
Over the next 3 nights I had roommates that included a 68 year old NZ woman that came from Timaru every weekend to go to the casino, an angry looking German girl, a tattoo covered guy with a skateboard and an Asian guy from France that once he got into his bunk I never saw him get out in 2 days. After covering more ground I found that Queenstiwn was a lovely town. Amazing views, great parks along the lakes, lots of music and nice pubs.
I hit a pub for nice beer.
Then I returned to my backpackers to make dinner in the common kitchen where the young guests were gathering for their dinner as well. I wonder what the youngsters thought of the grandpa in the corner watching them.
The Routeburn was an amazing experience but it was nice to get a hot shower and a meal that wasn’t freeze dried.