Family adventures in Queenstown
David and Anne take their exuberant boys on a Queenstown adventure holiday in the hope of tiring them out and renewing their family connection.
‘He started it!’
‘No, HE started it!’
‘Mum, it’s not FAIR!!’
After being woken up like this for the 999th time, David and I decided enough’s enough. Since I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to adopt a warring 10 and 13 year old, I looked to my own childhood for ideas to stop them fighting. When had Melanie and I got on best? On family holidays, definitely, when we were so busy exploring the new things around us that we forgot to be mortal enemies and remembered we actually quite liked each other.
Feeling inspired, David and I cleared our schedules for a long weekend. Next, we scrolled through the Red Hot Rooms page on the Accor Plus website and miracle of miracles!! There was a great offer for adjoining rooms at the Novotel Queenstown Lakeside on the dates we wanted. At first I was nervous about the boys having their own room (I’d seen the havoc they could wreak when left alone in the lounge for five minutes). But I also knew they’d be thrilled and maybe, just maybe, the taste of independence might encourage them to act a little less like savages. Maybe we could even have some...what’s that word? Peace!
I’ve got to admit, we were questioning the wisdom of our decision after six torturous hours in the car from Christchurch. But then, glittering Lake Wakatipu appeared with the snow-dusted peaks of The Remarkables beyond. Their beauty was enough to raise the spirits of even the most jaded road trip survivors. Jamie, my darling teenager-in-training, actually removed his gaze from his iPad long enough to exclaim at the view. Who knew such enthusiasm was possible?! Not only possible but repeatable, as we found out when we checked into our rooms a few minutes later. ‘Double beds, Mum!!’. ‘I can see the mountains, Mum!!’. ‘Can I sleep on the balcony, Mum?!’...
After refereeing a brief wrestling match over whose bed was whose, I pulled rank and left David to unpack while I chatted with the concierge about kid-friendly activities in the area. When I explained that my main priority was expending as much boyish energy as possible, he laughed sympathetically. Turns out that outdoor activities in Queenstown are literally endless, from skiing at nearby Coronet Peak to AJ Hackett’s legendary bungee jump. Deciding to save jumping off a ledge for when the boys really misbehaved, we opted to try luging first.
If I’d known that it would only take speeding 800 metres down the side of a mountain to bring out the boys’ sibling camaraderie, we would have tried it a lot sooner. The boys declared luging to be ‘totally epic’ (I would have gone with ‘completely terrifying’). I felt much happier on the high-speed jet boat ride through the Shotover Canyons. Drenched with spray and laughing hysterically while clinging to each other for dear life, it was definitely an experience to remember. Jamie’s iPad didn’t make an appearance the whole weekend, and the boys found plenty of things to bond over (their mother’s terrible disc golf skills in particular!).
When we weren’t risking life and limb, some of my favourite moments were the al fresco dinners we enjoyed in the hotel’s Rose Garden. The menu had plenty of choices for everyone including hearty steaks, seafood and pastas. Inevitably, Connor ordered a margarita pizza three nights in a row. All the fresh air meant the boys were like bottomless pits, but since our Accor Plus memberships gave us a 50% discount on every bill, we let them order as much as they liked.
On our last night the boys were recounting increasingly exaggerated tales of the day’s adventures, their faces lit with excitement. My eyes met David’s above their heads and we shared a secret smile; after all, this renewed family connection was exactly what we had hoped for. As for the kids themselves, I have the feeling they will be speaking about our Queenstown family holiday for years to come. Who knows? Perhaps one day it will be this trip they think of when they’re trying to come up with a way to bring their own kids closer together.