Last week a fantastic package from Waitrose arrived with details of an Easter hunt game to play with the twins during the school holidays, plus a box of delicious Easter treats to hide along the way. Themed around Spring, the game includes questions and answers to help children explore the signs that Spring has arrived. There are ten questions and answers to cut out and hide on a hunt or trail (along with an egg if you want).
We had a street Easter party today, and I hid the ten questions around our front gardens for the kids to head out and find. They brought the questions back to me so I could read them out. The questions were perfect for the twins at age four (they were designed to be suitable for children age three and up), and then we’d go through to find the answer together, before they could choose a chocolate treat.
We had great fun with the game, and I’ve kept the questions and answers to chat through them with the twins again at a quieter moment. I highly recommend downloading the kids’ Easter game from the Waitrose website to play this Easter weekend. Happy Easter – have fun!
Disclosure: Waitrose sent me instructions and a box of chocolate treats to help us play this game
Seeing the vintage TSS Earnslaw steamboat come in and out of the bay with its black smoke curling up into the sky, will be one of my strongest visual memories of Queenstown. We watched it from all over Queenstown – Queenstown Gardens, the lakeside, Bob’s Peak and I’ve got huge amounts of photographs of it from all those different locations.
A lake cruise on the TSS Earnslaw was one of the activities that was on my to-do list before we arrived in Queenstown, having been recommended by a friend. We didn’t manage to fit it in until our last full day there, but it was a wonderful thing to round off our trip. As well as the fantastic views of the mountains and lake on the 90 minute cruise, we also loved exploring this historic 100-year-old steamboat.
Built in 1912 (same year as the Titanic), every inch of the steamboat is interesting, and really was a photographer’s dream. I loved just wandering round and looking at all the fittings on the boat, heading out onto the decks and bridge, and watching the pianist play in the bar. You could even go into the engine room to see the giant engines at work – the twins were slightly nervous of the noise and heat at first, but then they were fascinated.
There’s a bar and cafe serving drinks and snacks onboard, as well as amazing sheep’s milk ice-cream from the farm at Walter Peak. The steamer travels across the lake to Walter Peak High Country Farm, where you can disembark for a farm tour. We chose to stay onboard, and go straight back to Queenstown Bay, and the length of this trip was perfect for the twins. They were just losing interest by the time we were back in Queenstown.
One of the twins’ favourite moments of the trip happened after we’d docked back at Queenstown Bay. They watched a big truck load the coal onto the steamboat, ready for the next trip and absolutely loved it – it was a pretty impressive sight.
The steamboat cruise isn’t cheap at NZ$55 per adult (about £28), but under 5s are free, so I thought that wasn’t bad value for all three of us. Doing the farm tour adds another two hours onto the trip, and costs NZ$75 (about £39). I’ve heard great things about it though, so if you have the time I reckon this would be a great option.
For plenty of other activities for children around Queenstown, click here.
Yesterday I wrote about Arrowtown, and just a short drive (about five minutes) from there is Lake Hayes – a perfect spot to head to after a morning in Arrowtown. While Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown itself is so large that the water is cold all year, Lake Hayes is lots smaller and so the water is much warmer for padding and swimming. It’s a popular spot so I can imagine it gets pretty busy on sunny weekends, but during the week there was plenty of space for parking, and you could spread out in your own area.
Plenty of trees on the lake’s edge mean that you can easily find shade if you want it, and the shingle and pebbles made it perfect for paddling. One tip – in some places the grass is a little boggy, so make sure to check before you sit down if you want to avoid a damp bum! There are a couple of perfectly serviceable long-drop toilets if you’re caught short which is good when you want to spend to be at the lake for a while. The 8km loop walk around the lake would have been too long for the twins, but my parents have done it and gave it the thumbs up.
We can also strongly recommend Walnut Cottage a cafe and gift shop just down the road from the turning for Lake Hayes. We picked up takeaway coffees and some gorgeous sweet treats to enjoy back down at the lakeside when we were feeling in need of some refreshments.
For more kid-friendly things to do in and around Queenstown, click here.
About 20 minutes drive from Queenstown is Arrowtown, a historic gold-mining town nestled below the mountains. We parked down by the Arrowtown Chinese Settlement, where you can walk around the the partially restored village (around ten tiny huts) which was established in the late 1800s when the Chinese settlers came to the town to mine gold. It gives a really fascinating insight into their lives and the twins loved exploring the huts, and asking lots of questions about the settlement.
We walked up from the settlement into Arrowtown itself, which is centred around a main street lined with stunning heritage buildings that really invoke the gold-rush era. The town is full of independent shops, galleries and restaurants and is a great place for a wander. My favourite shop was The Stitching Post, a quilt, patchwork and craft supplies shop with a wall full of fantastic New Zealand yarns, and tables stacked with gorgeous fabrics.
Back down behind the carpark at the Chinese Settlement is the Arrow River, which provided the twins with a welcome opportunity for some paddling. It’s a beautiful spot, and one I really wanted to go back to again before the end of our trip, but sadly we ran out of time.
I was really taken with Arrowtown. I loved the sense of history, the shops all looked interesting (although with two four-year-olds in tow I didn’t get a chance to go into many of them), and the whole place had a laid-back charm. I hope one day I’ll be able to go back there.
Click here for more things to do in Queenstown when you’re four.
You don’t really think I meant the twins did a bungy jump, did you?! Or even that I did one? Not a chance. But I’d mentioned bungy jumping before we even flew out to New Zealand, and the kids were so interested that one of things I put down on our list of things to do while we were away was to find a bungy jump so that we could watch those
crazy brave people launch themselves into the air and then plummet towards the ground.
The AJ Hackett bungy jump at Kawarau Bridge was the first commercial bungy jump in the world, and is probably the most famous. The 43m jump off the historic gorge suspension bridge was first set up by AJ Hackett and Henry van Asch in 1988. There’s a great viewing platform where tourists gather to watch the proceedings, or you can walk up on the bridge itself to see the action close up.
There are also steps down to the river (the bungy jumpers have to climb back up these steps after they’ve jumped), which offered another great perspective on what was going on. When jumping, you can select whether to you want to bob above the water, touch it, or even get dunked so we had great fun guessing what each person would choose.
A great free activity, the bungy jump is about a 15-20 minute drive out of Central Queenstown and is well worth the trip.
For more things to do in Queenstown when you’re four, click here.