Long lunching


Shammi Sandhu who guided us round India in October owns Mantra, an Indian restaurant in Arrowtown.

It was one of those who supports the annual Arrowtown Long Lunch which raises money for charitable projects.

While we were in India Shammi suggested we all join her at the lunch in our saris and turbans.

On Friday 15 on the 18 who toured plus some friends and others from previous tours dressed as requested joined the sold-out crowd of 400 for four hours of fine food and fun.

The ODT reports on the lunch here.

We stayed at Millbrook. We hadn’t been there for several years and it’s grown a lot. It was very busy but, as always, a wonderful place to relax.

On Saturday we met again for a second long lunch at Gibston Valley Winery. This wasn’t for charitable purposes, it was just another excuse to enjoy fine food, matched with wine, and have fun with friends.

One of us hadn’t been to the area before and was wide eyed at the beauty of the scenery. Those of us more familiar with it were reminded once again how blessed we are to have somewhere like this so close to home.



Queenstown Lakes most affluent



If affluence counts then Queenstown Lakes is the jewel in New Zealand’s crown.

This was the finding of Stephen Hart in a study commissioned by the ASB.

We looked at the average sale prices of residential homes in over 70 territorial authorities from all over New Zealand.  We then took the top 20 highest priced places and dug beneath the surface to see how they stacked up in the affluence stakes.

We didn’t just consider house prices; we also examined:

* Households earning more than $100,000 a year.

* Homes least likely to be in deprived areas.

* Percentage of residents who have a degree.

* Lowest unemployment rates.

* Residents who are Chief Executives, General Managers or Legislators.

Points were awarded based on performance across each of these criteria, then added up to create a league table of New Zealand’s Most Affluent Places.

And the winner was Queenstown Lakes. 

That’s not just the town of Queenstown, it’s the whole district which includes Arrowtown, Wanaka and Hawea and all the land in between including farms, ski fields and wineries.

Queenstown Lakes scored well against all of the set criteria, especially in terms of jobs; its unemployment rate of 1.7% was lower than any of the other contenders.

All places have some degree of socioeconomic deprivation, it’s measured in deciles with 1 being the least deprived and 10 being the most deprived.  On average 30% of New Zealanders live in deciles 1 to 3.  Not so in Queenstown where more than two-thirds of residents live in the top three deciles.

Back on the jobs front; Queenstowners are a well qualified bunch with 19% possessing a Bachelor’s degree or higher, the fourth highest in the country.  Queenstown also came fourth in terms of its percentage of population who are in the top occupation category of Chief Executive, General Managers and Legislators, only surpassed by Rodney District, Auckland and North Shore Cities.

It’s hard to know which is the cause and which is the effect but higher property prices can only be afforded by people on higher incomes and people on higher incomes can afford higher prices.

The top 20 most affluent places were: 


Queenstown Lakes District


North Shore City


Wellington City


Auckland City


Rodney District


Selwyn District


Franklin District


Porirua District


Manuaku District


Tauranga District


Tasman District


Central Otago District


Waitakere City


Kapiti Coast District


Thames Coromandel District


South Wairarapa District


Lower Hutt City


Taupo City


Christchurch City


Nelson City

Lonely Planet likes Otago


Lonely Planet’s newest guide to New Zealand is generally enthusiastic about Otago.

Dunedin’s live music and cafe and restaurant scene were given a significant plug and the Otago Peninsula was said to be “rich” with wildlife and outdoor activities.

The University of Otago was given recognition for the energy it provided the city.

“The country’s oldest university provides an energy that might otherwise be missing and drives a thriving theatre, live-music – and it must be said – drinking scene.”

Indeed, not all education takes place in the lecture theatres.

Otago was said to be unhurried and “rife with picturesque scenery” with few crowds to share it with, although Queenstown was called an area with a cinematic background of mountains and a “what can we think of next” array of activities.

As it is.

What they said about Otago

Alexandra: “Unless you’ve come to Alexandra especially for September’s NZ Merino Shearing Championships or the Easter Bunny Hunt, the reason to visit this rather nondescript service hub is for the nearby mountain biking.”

Arrowtown: “Beloved by day-trippers from Queenstown . . . The only gold being flaunted these days is on credit cards and surrounded by a bonanza of daytime tourists, you might grow wary of the quaint historical ambience.”

Balclutha: ” . . . South Otago’s largest town but is of little interest to travellers other than a place to stock up on supplies before heading off into the Catlins.”

Clyde: “. . . looks more like a cute 19th-century gold rush film set than a real town . . . retains a friendly small-town feel . . . and it’s a great place to chill out for a couple of days.”

Cromwell: “There’s plenty of good reasons to visit Cromwell: the sweet little historic precinct . . . and to eat (and eat, and eat) . . . Oh, and a third reason – to take a photo of yourself beside the spectacularly ugly giant fruit salad at the entrance to town.”

Dunedin: ” . . . captures the hearts of locals and travellers alike. It’s a surprisingly artsy town, and has more great bars and eateries than its small size deserves.”

” . . . has attractions both urban and rural . . . party down in the South Island’s coolest city, and get up close and personal with the island’s most accessible wildlife.”

Glenorchy: “Set in achingly beautiful surroundings, postage-stamp-sized Glenorchy is the perfect low-key antidote to the hype and bustle of Queenstown.”


Lawrence: ” . . . a sweet little town in a valley surrounded by farmland and forestry plantations. For most travellers its not much more than a place to stop for lunch.”


 Naseby: “Cute as a button . . . little old Naseby is the kind of town where life moves slowly. That the town is pleasantly obsessed with the fairly insignificant world of NZ curling indicates there’s not much else going on.”

Oamaru: “Nothing moves very fast in Oamaru: tourists saunter, locals languish and penguins waddle”.

“. . .eccentric gems such as the South Island’s yummiest cheese factory, cool galleries and a peculiar live music venue are other distractions.”

Yes, Whitestone Cheese is yummy; the Penguin Club is a gem; and lets not forget our artists, and while Victoriana isn’t old by world standards, the historic precinct gets better every year – newest attraction is the Whysky Bar.  Outside town there’s the Vanished World Trail  and Elephant Rocks where Chronicles of Narnia was filmed and Riverstone Kitchen.

Omarama: “surrounded by mountain ranges, the Omarama area is at the centre of fabulous landscapes.”

Queenstown: “The town wears its ‘Global Adventure Capital’ badge proudly, and most visitors take time to do crazy things they have never done before. But a new Queenstown is also emerging,
with a cosmopolitan restaurant and arts scene and excellent vineyards.”


Ranfurly: “Ranfurly is trying hard to cash in on its Art Deco buildings but while there are a few attractive buildings, the town itself is fairly bleak.”

But it is on the Central Otago Rail Trail.

Wanaka: “Beautiful scenery, tramping and skiing opportunities, and an expanding roster of adrenaline-inducing activities have transformed the lakeside town of Wanaka into a year-round tourist destination.”

Call me biased and parochial if you will, but the guide has not overstated the delights of New Zealand’s most beautiful province 🙂

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