Long Road To Queenstown
Trip Start Aug 08, 2007
58Trip End Sep 01, 2009
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On the way back to the hostel we popped into one last pub before last orders. 'The Empire' had a band on that night, so there was added incentive but it turned out to be Slipknot wannabees so not quite my cup of tea but something to tap my foot to with a beer nonetheless. I got chatting with the barmaid in here who was originally from Sheffield, came to New Zealand traveling, married some guy and stayed. In fact her and her husband now owned the pub we were sitting in which was cool as she treated us to free flat-liners and whiskeys for the rest of the night and an impromptu lock-in till 3am. I think it was a novelty for her to see fellow northerners in her pub.
The next morning we headed on across the bottom of the coast stopping at the Purakanui and MacLean waterfalls and Waipapa point on the way to our eventual destination Bluff. Bluff is right on the edge of the southern coast and it is the ferry port and access to Steward Island. However a quick rethink was on the cards here as the price of the ferry had more than doubled to what we originally anticipated and secondly the weather was looking pretty crap for the next few days, so we decided to give it a miss and start heading north. Oh yes and the tramps on Steward Island? Well I found out tramps means a trek over here, so nothing to be worried about after all. After a brief food stop in Invercargill, we headed further on to the smaller town of Riverton and stayed at a pub in the town centre - I love staying in pubs, bed and beer in one place, brilliant!
The following day we headed up to Te Annau via places called Monkey Island & McCrackens Rest where we read that there was the possibility of seeing penguins here too - obviously not on the days we get there though. We stopped at Lake Hauroko for lunch which was once again a beauty of a lake - New Zealand really have mastered this lake business to a tee. In Te Annau we stayed at another lakeside lodge and didn't do much other than spend the night drinking and chatting with the rest of our mini-dorm. In the morning we were up early for the 2 hour drive to Milford Sound. While backing out of the car park we saw two hitchhikers who were just pulling their 'Milford Sound' placard out of their bag when we offered them a lift. The quickest successful hitch-hike in history? It took all of 5 seconds we reckoned beating their previous best of a minute. Julie and Sebastien were both from Germany and entertained us on our journey with arguments with each other about whether there were speed limits on the autobahns or not. At Milford Sound we checked into our cruise, getting a real bargain in the process as we had vouchers from our car rental company that meant we only paid $30 each. The cruise lasted and hour and a half and took us through the very beautiful Milford Sound. I think it's one of those things that has to be done in New Zealand, but the Three Gorges in China was still much more impressive for me.
On the way back we made a brief stop at 'Knobs Flatt' (I want a job naming villages when I get back home, it sounds a hoot) and after dropping our hitchhikers back off at Te Annau, we headed up to Queenstown - adventure capital of the southern hemisphere. And so my 3 nights in Queenstown consisted of the following:
1) Jumping of a ledge to a 134 metre drop over a canyon with a piece of elastic tied around my ankles (thats the Nevis Bungy jump - highest in New Zealand). I didn't think I was mega nervous about it but the DVD images of me just before the jump tell a different story. The adrenaline rush was brilliant but far too quick for my liking.
2) Mad Dog River Boarding - This consisted of surfing down grade 3 rapids on just a body board rather than a big dinghy. I have to say that as far as work outs go this was a complete killer and very hard work. I had cramp after about 5 minutes and all my legs and upper body ached afterwards. As well as the rapids there was some cool water slides and swings, rock jumping and a very cool hanging off the back of a jet-ski while it tear-assed it around the river at high speed.
3) Partying hard to celebrate still being alive! Of particular note was the Buffalo Bar where a round worked out at less than $5 because of an offer with the hostel we were staying at, and the World Bar where cocktails were served in teapots. And then there was Fergburger, a burger joint that everyone had raved about in Oz and New Zealand. A great bit of word of mouth marketing methinks as the burger wasn't anything special for my money but the place was consistently packed at all hours of the day.
And that was it for Queenstown, it would have been nice to stay a while longer as it was a really cool place (very cool in fact I had to wear 3 layers of clothes at one stage) and I think there was more to see and do, but doing stuff is very expensive indeed and I can see how you could easily blow your budget to pieces in a place like this.
Still searching for them damn penguins though .....