It was a beautiful blue-sky day when we left Wanaka and drove through Queenstown, stopping only for lunch at Halo Cafe (not one of “those” cafes). Oh wow the fritters were fabulous. Makes my mouth water just looking at them now. It was Sunday late morning and Queenstown was crawling with tourists and everything was open for Christmas shopping, unlike the rest of NZ. We had a lovely drive to Glenorchy on a deserted road that turns into a gravel road before ending at Kinloch (which, by the way means head of the lake). And we were literally at the head of Lake Wakatipu.
When we arrived we realized we’d forgotten a major portion of our food supply back in Wanaka. Kinloch Lodge, where we stayed, is in the middle of nowhere so we had to make the hard choice to return to Wanaka and then back to Kinloch. Good thing we did since I’d left one of our Kindles behind as well. After 7+ hours on the road we finally hung up the car keys at 9:30pm, just as it was getting dark. Neither of us wanted to get back in the car until we checked out on Dec. 26.
Kinloch Lodge was the perfect place to spend Christmas. There’s nothing to do but read, relax, nap, and soak in the hot tub. We had the first night all to ourselves in the 19th century heritage Lodge. It’s beautifully restored and decorated, including plush bathrobes. The next day the Lodge was full of guests and we lost the quiet serenity. There’s also a backpacker’s section across the lawn with a shared kitchen and small indistinct rooms. We cooked our meals in the shared kitchen but found it messy and the people using it to be fairly unfriendly. That was a bummer, along with the sandflies that prevented us from sitting on the front porch most of the day.
In anticipation of a grand meal I worked on photos all morning while Jim read and napped. Aside from the sandflies and other guests, the Christmas buffet was terrific – smoked salmon, ham, lamb, chicken and plenty of veggies. They even made me a special vegetarian dish. We were told the canopies were traditional English appetizers called Angels on Horseback (bacon wrapped oysters) and Devils on Horseback (bacon wrapped dates stuffed with smoked almonds). We shared our table with Abagail, who was traveling on her own, and we exchanged travel stories until we couldn’t eat any more.