Friday, September 16, 2016

South Island Trip - Day 3: Queenstown in the Spring

On Friday morning we had planned to spend some time exploring around Fox Glacier, but the weather "turned to custard" as they say here in New Zealand.  The skies were totally grey so we couldn't see the mountains at all and it rained hard all morning long.  So we simply got on the road and headed on down toward Queenstown.  

Because it rained most of the morning we got glimpses of many waterfalls coming down the mountain sides.  The rain let up enough for us to get out and do a short walk at Fantail Falls.

A 23 metre waterfall, Fantail Falls is located in Mt Aspiring National Park, along HAAST Highway. 

It rained for quite a bit of the morning, but once the skies lifted we began to get some amazing views as of the stunning South Island scenery.

We stopped for lunch in Wanaka which was a lovely lakeside community surrounded by stunning mountain views.  We would have like to have had more time there, but we wanted to make Queenstown while we still had plenty of daylight, so after lunch and a short walk around town, we got back on the road.


After several hours of car time through some very beautiful country, we finally arrived at our destination of Queenstown.   This is what Wikipedia has to say about it:
Queenstown (MāoriTāhuna) is a resort town in Otago in the south-west of New Zealand's South Island.
It is built around an inlet called Queenstown Bay on Lake Wakatipu, a long thin Z-shaped lake formed by glacial processes, and has spectacular views of nearby mountains such asThe RemarkablesCecil PeakWalter Peak and just above the town; Ben Lomond and Queenstown Hill.
Queenstown has an urban population of 13,150 (June 2015 estimate),[3] making it the 29th largest urban area in New Zealand, and the third largest urban area in Otago, behindDunedin and Oamaru.
The Queenstown-Lakes District has a land area of 8,704.97 square kilometres (3,361.01 sq mi) not counting its inland lakes (Lake HāweaLake Wakatipu, and Lake Wanaka). The region has an estimated resident population of 32,400 (June 2015 estimate).[3] Its neighbouring towns include ArrowtownGlenorchyKingstonWanakaAlexandra, and Cromwell. The nearest cities are Dunedin and Invercargill. Queenstown is known for its commerce-oriented tourism, especially adventure and ski tourism.

We LOVED the view of the mountain range known as the "Remarkables" we had from our room.                      

After finding our motel and getting settled there, we went out to find where the LDS chapel was so we would know where to go for meetings on Sunday. Being early spring, all of Queenstown was in bloom. We were very impressed by how beautiful the town was. 

Next we went to find a place to have dinner. There is no FHC in Queenstown, so we did not have any appointments there. We expected our time here would be a chance to catch our breath between meetings and relax a bit.  However, as we were sitting in the restaurant eating our fajitas, I got a STRONG prompting that we needed to contact the leaders of the church in the branch.

We brought up a hotspot with Larry’s phone so we could go online and check the Church Director of Leaders (CDOL) for contact information. The person listed as  “Acting Branch President”, had no phone number given. However, there was a phone number for the first counselor, Peter McClean, so we called him. A child answered the phone and began chatting, apparently not too eager to hand the phone over to an adult. Eventually, however, a woman’s voice came on.  I was able to introduce myself and explain we were Family History missionaries from Auckland.

As soon as I said “Family History”, I heard a sharp intake of breath. Then Sister McClean explained: “I can’t believe this. My husband and I are planning to go to the temple.  We want to take family names to take with us.  Also, we want to teach our children about our family history.  But, we don’t know how. There is no one in our branch who could help us. So I said a prayer that Heavenly Father would help me find a way to learn how to do this. And now you are here. You are an answer to my prayers.” That was very humbling. 

I told Sister McClean we would be in church with them that Sunday. However, she said there was a game night activity at the church that very night and they would love it if we could come. So we hurried up and finished our dinner, then went back to our room to change into fresh clothes and get our computer to take to the church.  We very much enjoyed getting to know the McClean family.  Originally from the island of Vava'u in Tonga, they have lived in New Zealand for about ten years.  When we told them we knew Vava'u they were excited and we had a very animated conversation about life on the island.  Then I helped both Brother McClean and his wife to submit family names to take to the temple. This was their first time ever being able to do this for their own ancestors. Getting a chance to work with them was an extra blessing for us we had not expected.  We had much to give thanks for that night.

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