07 Jun The Queenstown Experience – art meets accommodation
Last weekend we took the opportunity to join a celebration with family in Queenstown. It sure is a different world down there.
On the morning we arrived it was minus 7 degrees, so our first stop was a beanie shop.
Indeed, the sun struggles to peek over the mountain tops this time of year and we noticed that many pockets of houses are perched in the permafrost. She’s a bit nippy alright.
For Deb and I, jumping off a perfectly sound bridge connected to a giant rubber band wasn’t high on the hit list, so we scrambled up a hill (mountain by our standards) to find some fresh air, solitude and stunning vistas of Lake Wakatipu.
Like Rotorua, Queenstown boasts a magnificent natural environment – lakes and mountains of which we are all fiercely proud.
But a few weeks back I mentioned the effects of tourism on our paradise, and last weekend certainly reinforced my thinking.
Case in point, we thought we’d check out the annual light festival, Luma, one night. Yes, the lighting displays were absolutely amazing, but we didn’t quite see it all. Over 10,000 people shared the narrow, dimly-lit footpath around the exhibits so we struggled to stay together, or even on our feet as a billion bobbing beanies fought for right-of-way. We bailed.
Next morning, we sought refuge from the busy streets and ducked into an art gallery cluttered with montane landscapes. The assistant was reading a book at the counter.
“Bit quiet at the moment?’ I asked.
“Ski season hasn’t started yet, so I’m just pre-loading some sleep’, she replied. ‘It’s gonna be nuts around here in a couple weeks.’
No question that Queenstown has grown at breakneck speed. I’m hearing that the ratio of locals to visitors now averages something like 1:35 – even more in the summer months. This is staggering stuff.
As a result, accommodation in this part of the world has reached crisis point in recent years. Housing prices have soared beyond the reach of locals, and even the centrally located schools will be re-sited to make way for much-needed housing developments.
Of course, there’s a wide range of accommodation options for visitors. From $10,000 per night for luxury digs, to the newly- arrived pods. Yes, you can now slot yourself into a plastic capsule for the night – there’s a whole bank of them in a building downtown.
I get a bit claustrophobic, so fortunately we probably had the pick of lodgings… with a little help from family there.
In short, we flew down for an event marking the 30th anniversary of Creeksyde Campervan Park and Motels.
After many years running a successful plumbing business, hosts Tonnie and Erna Spijkerbosch decided it was time for new challenges – either move into plumbing supplies … or start a campervan park on a section close to town. So, back in 1988 they tossed a coin.
It came up heads, and three decades later Creeksyde has grown to fill an entire block, hosting some 75,000 visitors every year.
These days, Tonnie is still fitting pipes and plumbing fixtures – though now with quite intriguing outcomes. With all the prowess of a master craftsman, the park has become a gallery of the most engaging, quirky sculptures and appendages created from recycled treasure. Refreshingly, in this busy town, here’s a place that grew with character and charm.
At last weekend’s event the mayor of Queenstown, Jim Boult acknowledged the success of the park, though it seemed, like most others, that he was more taken with the eccentric sculpture and unique artistic enhancements!
Creeksyde is a holiday park where art meets accommodation. This combination has created a veritable oasis of tranquillity, delight and inspiration – right in the heart of Queenstown.