Australasia | New Zealand | South Island | Otago Province | Queenstown – Queenstown
Now for those of you who dont know – Queenstown is the self-proclaimed adventure capital of the world. The first bungy ever was set up here by A J Hackett in 1988 and today there are 65 different activities you can do. This according to Chris the driver (remember what I said about Chriss) would cost you $4500 NZ to do them all and would take you minimum of 9 days (weather conditions providing). I think the hardest part about Queenstown is that in addition to the crazy day activities there is also a hectic nightlife there too. Its totally touristy but in a relatively tasteful way and its bizarre to look down what looks like a regular high street but find adventure shops, internet stops, trendy bars and outdoor adventure clothing outlets instead of chemists and newsagents! All this overlooking a stunning lake and mountains, for a change (am I getting too blase perhaps?)
Bungy not interesting me much… my first adventure was rather low risk – a day trip to the Milford Sound. Actually technically my first adventure in Queenstown was a visit to the Doctor. Id been feeling a bit dodgy and my glands were up so I thought Id be sensible. $60 later plus medication it came down to allergies but isn’t it amazing how much doctors like to chat when theyre not tied down to NHS regulations!
Back to Milford Sound… Situated in Fjordland – that’s an area not a fun park Milford Sound is really a fjord it just seems it was named that way to make it easier to pronounce. To clarify, a sound is a drowned river valley, a fjord is a drowned glacier valley. We drove down 5 hours to reach this body of water where we took a cruise where we could stare up at these giant mountains and waterfalls. That said, the ride was awesome in itself. Following a bland Hugh Grant movie which allowed us to catch up on sleep and then good chats with Heather an English girl Id met on Magic who was one of the most travelled people Id met (shed visited Israel before and had a passion for world politics so the whats life like? questions could be answered with slightly more depth and intelligence) we then reached the point where we were just gazing outside and straining our necks to look up and see everything around us as everything was so enormous. On the way we drove past the beginning of several of amazing 3-4 day tracks which Ill have to attempt on my next visit, when I have more time. We also stopped off on the Milford Road for various photo opportunities. This road was built by depression workers between 1929-1954 – toll roads now pay for all the maintenance needed due to little things such as tree avalanches and rocks the size of houses rolling onto the road. It rained on the way but that was good news as it just created new, spontaneous waterfalls. The cruise itself was wonderful and serene interrupted only by dolphins showing off outside and a spoilt Israeli teenager having a tantrum inside. The journey back was more sleep and movie focussed allowing sufficient rest before meeting up with the rest of the gang that night. Like we needed an excuse to drink – Mick was moving on due to time restraints so obviously a good send-off was called for.
I guess it was slightly bad timing on my part, if unavoidable, to do my high risk option about 3 hours after getting back from the aforementioned send-off. This option was the Shotover river three – White water rafting, a maniac ride on the Shotover jet ski and a helicopter ride through Skippers Canyon in the middle. At 7:30 in the morning my main challenge was clearly going to coping with the two v loud American women who were in on leave from their military base in Japan than any of the aqua-adventures. Encounters with people like these made me realise that thank G-d, the vast majority of Americans are nowhere near as loud or as obnoxious as we sometimes like to pretend they are. Loud Americans and hangovers aside white water rafting was a fun experience – the rubbery outfits made one identify pretty well with a flattened Michelin man and grade 3 rapids were sufficient to give the beginner experience with a kick. The helicopter ride through the valley was thrilling but not long enough, and the jet ski was an adrenalin rush however unfortunately it was raining which meant we had the added effect of feeling like we had hail stones being thrust in our faces. Mmmm – pleasant! On return to my hostel at 2:30 I was absolutely knackered and was already to shower and change into nice clean clothes when I realised I didn’t have any – grrrr! Just as I finished my laundry, my Canadian friends from the North Island popped round (wed bumped into each other, the previous evening), one thing led to another and before I knew it was time to go meet people to go up on the gondoliers and watch the sunset over Queenstown.
Oh for the calm routine of the office…………. not!