One of the things I had most been looking forward to on our trip to Queenstown was the opportunity to capture the vibrant autumn colours. Living in Wellington, we have so many native trees that autumn colours are few and far between. And I knew we were going early in the season but I was just hoping and praying and willing there to be a glorious array of russet browns, canary yellows, ochre oranges and burgundy reds on display.
We'd been so favoured with the weather the previous day - a T-shirt and shorts kind of day, that it was quite the shock to the system to wake to a dull, gloomy and chilly day - it didn't get above 10 degrees all day.
Still, this didn't put a dampener on our plans at all. If anything the grey day added to the mood making it seem much more autumnal, and it made us really appreciate the warmth of the times we stepped indoors during the day.
Arrowtown is very famous for its autumn colours. So much so that every year the town hosts an Autumn festival in late April to celebrate their special place amongst the colours of the countryside.
The first thing we did on arriving was take a wander down the main street getting as close to the hillsides ablaze in glory as we could.
This guy came dressed for the occasion.
These boys, this place. Wowed me.
I also loved how the houses here have been kept as they were, so in style with their historic roots.
The leaves in the guttering adding to the character of these quaint wee cottages.
Then the warmth of a cafe and lunch called. We settled on Provisions - which is world famous in NZ for its sticky buns - there are foodie people all over the walls like Peta Mathias and Al Brown who have attested to that fact.
There are a wide selection of homemade jams and relishes on display to taste.
And a range of freshly baked bread that would rival most bakeries.
And the famous sticky buns. We couldn't NOT give them a whirl - and they were pretty out of this world.
Mark and Poppa declared the coffees to be superb. They may or may not have responsible for the caffeine surge that inspired the next photo.
The boys were dead keen to have a go at the gold panning at Dudley's Cottage.
With a little bit of expert tuition and patience....
....some crafty techniques...sloshing the water and rocks here and there at certain angles.....
OK so just a few tiny skerricks but gold that they could keep forever in a little vial nonetheless.
They were chuffed to bits.
After this we walked along the river learning about the Chinese settlers who came and worked on the goldfields. What a hard life they must have had. This is Mark inside one of their huts.
It's hard to imagine someone living in such primitive conditions, especially through the harsh southern winters. It was cold enough here today in early autumn, I hate to think how cold it would have been in the depths of winter with snow on the ground.
These men had often come on their own leaving their families behind in China seeking to earn enough money to send back home to improve their lives. They were often the subject of discrimination here too, it must have been such a hard life. Census records show up to 5,000 Chinese were living in the region during the 1870's, only nine of these women.
Our last stop of the day was the Lakes District Museum. It's a fairly unassuming building from the outside but very worth the visit. The bottom level has a full re-creation of a number of different livelihoods - carpenters, printers, bakers - there's even a school complete with old school desks, inkwells and an abacus. Poppa enjoyed telling us about what school was like in his day.
The boys were also merrily amused by the old sign saying 'lavatory' and when you pulled open the swing door there was a man (not real of course) sitting there on the loo saying 'oi you, can't you see I'm busy'. It gave me quite the fright when I opened the door the first time, so I then had to show the boys who opened the door multiple times giggling away at the rudeness of it.
Then the pull of the colours awaiting pulled us outdoors once more.
Gelatos at Patagonia Chocolates followed for our brave kiddos who didn't seemed to mind eating cold on a cold day.
To leave behind memories of golden light, and of the fifteen years of love that led us to this very moment.
These two were a mere twinkle in our eyes the last time we were in this part of the world..
I could never have imagined how much richer, broader and deeper our lives would be for sharing experiences like this with them.
Who knows what their future holds? At this point in their lives, the world is theirs for the choosing.
We hope that experiences like this serve to broaden their horizons and instill in them the same love of life, travel and adventure that has inspired so many of our wonderful wanderlust moments over the years.
It's our legacy to share.
And theirs to carry on.