Queenstown – waiting for snow in June

Depart Auckland 7.10am, arrive Queenstown 9.00am
Near the end of June Jo and I spent a few of days in Queenstown during their Winter Festival. We planned this trip months back in hope that if we booked a nice room and hired a car, by the time June came around we might have saved enough, sure.

The day we arrived in Queenstown we went north in pursuit of Arrowtown, Cromwell and Wanaka, on the roads that loop back to Queenstown via Highway 6 and the Cardrona Valley Road.

All roads led to Luggate
From Cromwell, Highway 6 is the Luggate to Cromwell Road, traveling first beside Lake Dunstan and then the Clutha River, gradually bending westward toward Luggate. Here for a brief moment Highway 6 is Main Road Luggate, just enough to become the Albert Town to Luggate Road itself becoming the Wanaka to Luggate Road.

On the Cardrona Valley Road south from Wanaka you start to feel the climb up the Crown Range Road soon after Cardrona, from here it steadily climbs, and climbs. The Crown Range saddle is the gatekeeper to Queenstown, controlled by the weather. As the highest sealed road in the country it can benignly hide in the clouds just as easily be snowed in, iced up, or closed at this time of year.

The following day while the ski-field workers, tourism operators and the Winter Festival folk prayed for snow we drove south to Glenorchy and on to Kinlock. We had even better weather this day; cold, to very cold with any elevation, especially in the breeze. With the sun’s low angle plus clear skies the light seemed perpetually like a late afternoon.

Winter Festival director Simon Green said to the Southland Times, “2011 will be remembered as the festival with a slow start to the winter and the disruption of the ash cloud.”

Ash cloud sunrise North Island

Sun up South Island




Arrowtown St. Patrick's Church

Cromwell War Memorial

Cromwell Church of Mary Immaculate and the Irish Martyrs

Lake Dunstan

Road to Luggate

Cadrona Valley Road


Botswana Butchery

VuDu Cafe

VuDu Cafe

Queenstown Martini Room Crowne Plaza

Glenorchy Cafe

Glenorchy Eclectic Store

Glenorchy Motors

Glenorchy War Memorial

Road to Paradise

Road to Paradise

Road to Kinlock


Lake Wakatipu

Pig & Pigeon Islands



waiting for snow

Amanda Jo Williams put country on my playlist

The band is Lynard Skynard’s family jamming under a big tree in the front yard, at times they settle into the band where everyone is J. J. Cale (1). Amanda Jo Williams is Bonnie Riatt’s ‘Bluebird,’ chirping like a cosmic child, as punkish as a Georgia raised Patti Smith.

I first heard Ohio from her first album Yes I Will, Mr Man. This is the song that added Country to my iTunes playlist. (I’m not counting Johnny Cash or The Broken Family Band).

“They say he lost his ammunition in Vietnam, but I could be wrong…” begins Ohio. I had an early theory that the Lynard Skynard family and Neil Young did make up, had a daughter…

Ohio from Yes I Will, Mr Man

“You sound exactly like Sandy Cheeks from Sponge Bob” (2)

In April this year she released Mary’s Big Feet, less punk, more experimental, more folky. While her character is still clearly as visible as her accent is still audible, it is her unique voice that is well remembered and talked about:

“Her squeaky voice reaches as high as she is tall, with an accent that washes her in the purity of cartoons.” L.A. Record

Homeheart from Mary’s Big Feet

Banjo Paul is back!!

I am hoping that Amanda Jo will take some of the raucous swing from Yes I Will, Mr Man and some of the craft roots from Mary’s Big Feet for the album of swaggering country and folk story-telling that the song Sick and Dying, also from April this year, suggests is possible.

In the mean-time I would settle for a live album of the in-between years. (3)

Sick and Dying

Nickel On My Back at Viva Cantina

I’m a Country Girl Live on KXLU
Not every one gets her; but that’s not new, back in 2008 after appearing on Radio KXLU’s ‘demolisten’ show, one comment said, “You sound exactly like Sandy cheeks from sponge bob.’

I’m a Country Girl
at Casa Princessa
Paul Johnson on banjo. YouTube Comment – “Banjo Paul is back!! ( : { )) >”