Luge racing, huge burgers and Milford Sound.
11.12.2009 - 13.12.2009 14 °C
Our trip to Queenstown (the self proclaimed adventure sport and party capital of NZ) didn't start well. Up at 6.45 to catch the bus without knowing it had broken down and wouldn't be leaving until 9. Then a mammoth 9 hour bus journey on a heaving bus with not a lot to see on the way. Stopped off at Lake Matheson, which on a calm sunny day reflects the mountains behind it to form a typical NZ postcard view. It was not a calm sunny day, more windy and rainy. It looked like a rainy lake. Not impressed. The only other stop was Lake Wanaka which again pretty much just looked like a rainy lake. Maybe we've just been spoilt for views in the last 2 weeks!
The hostel we're in is the first one not recommended (or stopped off at) by the Magic Bus that we're on so we had to find it ourselves. On first impressions we were a bit apprehensive, a tiny little shack with paint peeling off the walls, maybe its name "the last resort" wasn't as ironic as we'd been expecting! Luckily it turned out to be pretty decent, free internet/breakfast and a crunchie on our pillows!
We weren't really in the mood for a night out after the bus journey but we'd won a few drinks playing games on the bus and it is supposed to be the best night out in NZ so we made the effort. Our bus driver had recommended a burger restaurant called Fergburger for dinner so we thought we'd have our 1st proper meal out. The burgers were unbelievable, definitely the best we've ever tasted and absolutely enormous!
The place was rammed full of people, it seemed to be the place to eat in town! Barely able to move, we headed to a local bar to meet some people from our bus (including the driver!). We had a really good night, taking advantage of the 2 for 1 beers and cocktails served in teapots but seriously regretted this when we weren't up for doing very much the next day! :s
After a quite considerable lay in we decided to take a gondola ride up one of the many mountains around Queenstown and have a go at "luging" which is a bit hard to describe but is basically rolling down the mountain sat on a plastic tray on wheels with handle bars to steer, accelerate and brake. Hopefully the pictures will shed a bit more light on it but it was loads of fun (after our first tentative attempts). The views from the top of the gondola were pretty impressive as well, the town being set around a huge lake and snow capped mountains.
We made it an early night as we were up mega early today for our 10 hour round trip to Milford Sound (in the Southern fiordlands), reputably one of the most scenic places in the whole country. Unfortunately, however, the bad weather was back, and this made the day probably the only time on our trip so far we've been disappointed. The beautiful snowy mountains were covered in cloud and everything looked grey. It was also the most touristy thing we've done by a mile. On board the boat cruise you couldn't really see out of the windows since it was raining so much, and when we passed anything of interest everyone was fighting to get out on deck to take a photo! We did see some more seals swimming about though which were pretty cute, and the waterfalls off the high valley sides were really quite impressive (and only appear when its raining heavily) so it wasn't all bad. Just not what we had hoped for.
One more day in Queenstown tomorrow (and quite possibly one more trip to Fergburger...)
So the final day in Queenstown was BUNGY DAY! (not for Dani but she did an excellent job as camerawoman (see the great video below.)) There are three different bungy jumps to choose from around Queenstown so I (Alex) chose to do the "original bungy" from the first ever bungy site in the world (the bungy jump was invented by Kiwi A.J Hacket 20 years ago, don't you know!) It's in a spectacular location, on an old bridge suspended between mountains, with a crystal clear blue river rushing below. Its a 43m jump and you have the option of splashing into the river below, so I asked them to measure it so I just got to dip my hands in (some people go for their whole body!). It was the most amazing thrill I've ever had, the ground rushing towards you at 100mph! They measured it perfectly so I just got a touch of the water before bouncing back up. I was so excited afterwards I just wanted to run up and do it again. The man at the top told me that its better if you dive off instead of just falling off the edge so I really went for it. Hopefully the video will speak for itself, but safe to say it was AWESOME!