The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #125

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A reader writes:

Heaven. It's Heaven isn't it? The blue of the sky, the picturesque majesty of the mountains, the dreamy way they meander down into the lake, the perfection of the floral blossoms on the trees. Such places don't actually exist in real life. It must be Heaven.


Wild-assed guess but it's rare that I even get to the point where I can even make a wild-assed guess. Cherry blossoms made me think Japan but the landscape looks like a fjord.  I did a search for fjord, Japan – and the Shiretoko Pennisula came up.  A couple of photos of Rausu have some of the same colored roofs in the distance, but that's all I got.


This looks like it could be the southern end of Lake Chelan, a deep glacially carved lake in the North Cascades of Washington State. This end is serviced by roads but the only way to get to Stehekin on the northern end is by boat, plane, or hiking.


Since I'm only 22, I haven't traveled as much as some other readers of the Dish, but when I first saw the picture, I immediately thought of Lugano, a city in southern Switzerland, which is a really nice city on Lake Lugano and has beautiful mountains to hike. My parents and I have been there twice to visit American friends of ours who moved to Lugano in the mid 1990s to work for a college there. Seeing this picture makes me want to go to Switzerland on vacation again: the great chocolate, cheese, multiple languages and tax shelters for rich Americans that the country offers!


Bellagio, Lake Como, Italy? I'm guessing this isn't from George Clooney's compound, as I'm sure he's right on the water.  Let's say Hotel Belvedere, third floor or something.


Damn you, Dish. In the last 48 hours, I've traced the coasts of more little merry Balkan lake towns than any sane person should. Plužine, Montenegro? I know this isn't right – not enough pines – and it's probably in Norway or something, but whatever. If I look at another fjord I'm going to throw up.


I doubt you'd have a VFYW entrant from such an iconic town, but this looks a lot like Bellagio. Could that be the town of Fiumelatte across the Lake Como on the right shore? The blooming flowers in the foreground, though, make it likely that this is in the Southern Hemisphere.

Correct on the hemisphere. Another:

I am usually terrible at these, but I'll give this one a try. Has to be Southern Hemisphere because of the blossoming tree. The architecture stumps me, but the flora (tall pines, those scrubby yellow bushes) looks similar to that in the lake region of Neuquen, Argentina.

Not the Western Hemisphere. Another:

Flowering fruit trees mean southern hemisphere, fjord-like inlets say New Zealand, so I will guess Picton, New Zealand.

New Zealand it is. Another nails the right city:

I've been absent from the VFYW contest for a few months, and I'm sure a few people will get this one, and probably more accurate than me, but here's hoping. I did get a window last year, in Ulaan Bator, so maybe that breaks a tie for me. The biggest hint for me were the cherry blossoms in front, so I knew we were in the Southern hemisphere. The mountains looked positively Middle Earth, so I decided to check out lake resort towns in New Zealand. I quickly found some lovely shots of Queenstown. Checking out the map, it looks like we're sitting on the third floor of the Balmoral Lodge, 24 York Street, Queenstown, NZ (properly pronounced "een-zid") facing the lake.

Another sends an aerial view of Queenstown that could be from Middle Earth:

VFYW NZ Overhead Very Far Marked - Copy


Ha! I knew this was Queenstown the instant I saw this. My adrenalin is pumping now with a genuine possibility of winning the contest this week. What to say, what to say! I live in Sydney, Australia. My wife and I moved from the Boston area four years ago. She's a Kiwi and her parents have a house in Wanaka, about an hour drive north of Queenstown over the Crown Range. We now spend most of our Christmases there and consider ourselves incredibly fortunate.

The South Island of New Zealand is stunningly beautiful and hard to describe in words. If the weather is clear over Fiordland, which doesn't happen all too often, the flight into Queenstown from Sydney is breathtaking. You fly in in the afternoon and the western sun lights up the corrugated coastline with the mountains dying into the sounds. Then over the often snow capped mountains, there's even some snow in summer. Finally, up lake Wakatipu to the airport. Of the many things that stand out about this area of the world, one of the coolest, literally and figuratively, is the water. The streams are full of water from snow melt and glacial run-off and have a magnificent turquoise hue:

Helms Deep, aka the Remarkables

I'm quite certain this view is taken from the Balmoral Lodge, 24 York Street, Queenstown. I would say it is the left window on the middle floor with the wrap around wood railing in front.


This is just west of the Shire in Middle Earth, I believe. Or it may as well be since everyone now equates New Zealand with Middle Earth. Actually, it's the Balmoral Lodge, 24 York Street, Queenstown, New Zealand.

Originally I thought it was Norway, what with the fjords, but once I noticed the beautiful flowering trees, I figured it must be in the southern hemisphere. That quickly narrowed it down to a few countries I could think of with lots of fjords on that side of the globe. I checked out New Zealand first, and having never been there, just looked to see the larger towns at the end of a fjord. There aren't many. It took me about five minutes to find Queenstown, then another five minutes to find the funny red, peaked roofs in between the window and the water. From there it was pretty easy to find the building. I believe it's taken from a second floor (American counting style) room. I've attached a photo I found of the lodge with my red circle added to show my guess of the room's location:


I've correctly answered two VFYW contests before, but not in over a year. They were Ulaanbaatar and Kiev (well, Kiev I was just barely off on the address I believe, so it may not count!). I also had one of my pictures featured last year (Hofn, Iceland). Thanks again for a wonderful use of my Saturday!

There were about a dozen readers who both answered the Balmoral Lodge and who have gotten difficult views in the past without yet winning. So breaking the tie this week is very tricky. We had to resort to checking to see which of those dozen readers had participated in the highest number of contests. That number is 18, from the following reader:

This week’s view looks a lot like the previous contest view of Waterton Lake in Alberta, Canada. The flowering trees in this week’s view mean that the photo was taken in spring. I always assume that the photo was taken recently. So, that means that the photo was taken somewhere in the southern hemisphere. I know that there are several fjord-like lakes in New Zealand. After a little searching, I came upon Balmoral Lodge in Queenstown, New Zealand. The view is looking southwest towards the harbor and Lake Wakatipu. The layout of the view, and my guess for the window are shown here:


Congrats on the long-awaited win. Details from the reader who took the Queenstown photo:

We were thrilled to discover our window on the Dish.  It was taken from our window at the Balmoral Lodge in Queenstown, New Zealand where we rented a small apartment looking out over Lake Wakatipu with the cherry blossoms just beginning to bloom, as it is early spring there.  At that moment, we were using the second floor parlor room as our writing office, which was probably the best office view we've ever had in our lives.

We are an American family that has taken our kids out of school for the year (ages 9 and 13) and we're traveling around the world, currently in Xi'an, China. We're calling this our Year To Think, hence our blog, where we post short films of our experiences, observations, interactions with people around the world about random topics like their Key To Happiness and Why Maori People Have Maintained Their Culture, and even a series of posts inspired by "VFYW" which we call "WHAT WE SEE TODAY" (not necessarily restricted to window frames).  As we travel the world, the Dish is our number one link to home (literally) and we are riding the roller coaster of the election on a track built by you.  We will continue to send in views from across the world, so feel free to check out some of the content on our blog (which we can't even directly access from inside China). Thank you for everything you do.