My initial skepticism about Queenstown was unfounded. I had many activities that were geared toward the locals as much as tourists. It turned out that there was a huge Harley Davidson rally in town. So there were leather outfitted groups walking about the town all weekend. At various times I would run across big gatherings of bikers and while having breakfast one morning they had a giant ride by. While not local to Queenstown these guys were definitely NZ locals.
The afternoon before I had seen a sign that there would be wine/food festival in the gardens on the peninsula. However the forecast was for rain and I figured it wouldn’t be a good outdoor event. However the day turned out great so I headed to the gardens. It was a smallish event with about 8 wineries from Gibson Valley and 8-10 nice food tents. I paid my entrance fee, got a nice wine glass and tokens to taste 3 wines. I also signed up for a cooking demonstration class. The setting was really nice.
As I strolled about tasting the wines I could see that the food was very nice as well. I settled on a tent selling 3 kinds of brochettes Beef, Salmon and goat cheese pear. I settled on Salmon with a base of arugula and a Dijon dressing. Delicious. I wanted more but knew my cooking class was soon.
The cooking demonstration class was in a tent for about 50 people. The chef was a famous British chef, Sean Connolly, with a fancy steak restaurant in Auckland. He was very funny and entertaining. He prepared three courses. As he demonstrated there were two sous chefs making plates for each person. All the food was delicious and we got more wine tastings.
The courses included scampi crudo, steak tartare and duck fat chips. All three were great.
Afterward I returned to the wine festival. It was mostly a local crowd. There were tables set up in the park and musicians playing at several stages along the way. I sat and enjoyed one glass of wine.
I headed home for a nap ( I can’t drink wine in the afternoon). Afterward I headed out for an evening beer at a pub (I can drink beer in the evening). On the way I came across a crowd of mostly young people streaming into a fenced off parking lot where there was loud music. I watched for a while and saw that it was some sort of wild bicycle championship. I decided for $5 I’d check it out. There was a tall deck built 40 feet up on scaffolding. The bikers would launch off the deck and follow a rather short course through several hills and drops doing various stunts. It was amazing and hilarious.
I noticed that everyone has beer but nothing was for sale in the fenced off lot. So I crossed the street and purchased a beer (I wanted to fit in). After a bit of trouble getting it opened without an opener I enjoyed the beer and watched what appeared to be true locals.
Afterward I headed back to the backpackers as the sun set over the lake. I had Indian takeaway in the small shared kitchen with the 20 year olds, though they weren’t local I don’t think.