Stop and Smell the Roses

Trip Start Jun 04, 2009
Trip End Sep 06, 2010

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Monday, March 29, 2010

Well guys it is the end of an era for us and we are having to wrench ourselves away from Queenstown which has been our happy home now for nearly 8 months – how time flies! It hardly feels like we have been static all that time with all the adventures we've had while living here that have kept us more entertained than we thought possible from one town.  We’re just focusing now on all the new places for us to discover and fall in love with and with four months of travelling to go until we make it to UK soil I’m sure there are lots of magical moments to come yet.

Since I last left you the activities have been mounting up again for me to talk you through, I never know how we find the time to actually go to work with everything we get up to.  One really nice sunny day I spent the whole day baking muffins and scones and surprised Steve after work with a picnic in the rose garden which was a relaxing change of pace for us and we got some great macro photos of the different roses combined with the added fun of making tourists jump by springing up form behind bushes camera in hand.

The following day was a bit more action packed when we took a jet-ski out on the lake and were bombing it up and down and all over the place.  I was quite terrified at first – more about the freezing cold water than the speed but once we started to hit 80kph I felt it was fast enough – those things have no seatbelts you know!  We took it in turns driving but I seemed to scream just as loudly if I was the driver or passenger.  To warm up and dry off we had some cider and a picnic in the sun.  It was a really baking hot day and any movement at all seemed like a chore but we still insisted on having a hike along the lake edge to get back to town, I missed the jet-ski at that point.  When we finally arrived we were so hot and covered in dust that it seemed logical to join in with the tourists who were jumping off the pier into the lake.  Steve did his spectacular dive in from one of the posts and I then stepped up to the mark on the pier edge a mere two meters above the water and froze.  I was suddenly incurably terrified and stuck between two fears, the fear of the jump and the fear of standing around in public in my bikini!  Neither one was winning out and so I just couldn’t really move despite much persuasion from Steve and promises that he’d take a very dramatic photo to capture the moment.  In the end, or so I thought, I ran back to the benches and covered myself in a towel, which was when the clapping started.  Everyone on the pier, about 30 people, started a slow clap and were clearly not going to let me get away with my wimping out.  Faced with peer pressure and a new desire to be anywhere but on the pier I took a running leap and went into the truly freezing waters below.  It’s fair to say that I’m just not good at jumping off of things so before you even ask a bungy jump is out of the question even if it is free!  However…

Skydiving!  That is much more my cup of tea.  I was lucky enough to do a skydive through work with full photo pack and DVD to capture the moment.  I was so excited to give it another go since in Canada I was crying my eyes out the whole time and only willing to do it as an act of suicide so I wouldn’t have to tell Steve’s parents I let him do it!  I focused on the memory I had after landing the first time of loving it so much and wanting to get right back on the plane again, this gradually became harder to do as the jump approached and signing the waivers allowing them to administer oxygen if needed started to make my legs go to jelly again but I was determined to embrace the fear as I knew it was all worth it the last time.  Here are the stat’s for those interested, 15,000ft 1 minute of freefall before the parachute opens.  The rest as they say is history, and in this case well documented history as the videos and photos that were taken are just amazing and I’m addicted to watching them, even though I do look like a muppet and before you ask, no I don’t remember why I was doing that with my arms!  It really was worth the fear once again and I’m going to have to suggest that you all take my word for it and book one as soon as you can, there’s no feeling like it and you can’t even begin to imagine what you are missing out on (and this is the person who can’t step off a 2 meter high pier talking – so no excuses!).

We then got to properly experience the bars and clubs of Queenstown on a Pub golf themed birthday party for one of the girls at work which I embraced as I love a good bit of fancy dress.  We managed to rustle together some authentic looking golfers outfits but I didn’t really think much further than this and failed to realise that the purpose of pub golf is a pub crawl where you have to finish your drink in the allocated number of sips to be above or below par (needless to say most were par 1).  Having been out of the heavy drinking sector for some time now I did not stand a chance and Steve had to cover for me and finish my drinks too on most occasions so he did a sterling job and I just let the side down completely – but I don’t think anyone knew (until now!).  In the last bar we went into there was a crowd of people wearing suits, a very rare sight in Queenstown, I’m not sure I actually have seen a suit since we left London.  My instant reaction was to assume they were all in fancy dress too, but it turns out they were just visiting from Auckland for a conference and clearly no-one had informed them of the bizarre nature of their attire.  It’s strange how quickly you can become accustomed to a completely different way of life than you were used to at home.

On our next days off we achieved a tremendous feat, three buffets in three days – and not any normal buffet we’re talking side splitting stuffings!  The first was a return trip to the gondola where we went with Richard when he visited, we have been itching to head back there since we left but patience paid off and I was offered a free trip for me and Steve to go up and do the luge, see the Maori show and most importantly eat all their food.  First off we did our luge rides, which are basically gravity driven go-karts, and unfortunately someone had an accident.  No not me!  On this occasion it was Steve who somehow managed to maime himself on a ride suitable for 5 year olds.  He flipped his luge over at the end of the track and grated his elbow down to the bone in spectacular fashion.  I claimed this was all planned so he would get to miss the Maori singing show but when I saw the fear in eyes that his buffet eating might be slowed down I did start to sympathise (but still rub in that I’m a better driver!).  The Maori show was actually very good and I got to take part and do some twirling thing on stage.  In fact as there were hardly any people at the show we were all on stage, apart from Steve with his injury who we all performed to, I just know he was loving it.  Then the buffet began and I’m pretty sure it was the only thing on earth that would have been able to distract him from his injury so it was well timed and much appreciated but it did render us incapable of walking as we were so stuffed taking Steve down to just one working limb, which luckily is all that is required to sip a cup of tea watching the sunset.

The following day we were up bright and early for funyaks – inflatable kayaks.  Another trip up to Glenorchy and jet boating up the Dart River but this time we would spend the day kayaking downstream and stopping for a buffet picnic lunch en route.  As I sell this trip a lot I know it’s supposed to be a peaceful day out without too much paddling effort required, however on our trip the wind was vicious and blowing the boat around as well as me having to cope with a one armed Steve trying to paddle.  Essentially we spent most of the trip being blown downstream sideways and using our paddles as sails but it got us from A to B.  We then had a great paddle into a crystal clear, turquoise coloured chasm which was beautiful and then got stuck into lunch which was also beautiful.  We made it back without capsizing, unlike others in our group, and promptly slept like we were hibernating all the way back to Queenstown only waking up momentarily to take off our wetsuits in a daze.

And on the final day they rested, we had a proper lie-in for a special treat!  We were preparing ourselves for the meal that was to come that evening.  We were heading out on the old steamship but this time for, you guessed, a buffet dinner.  All in preparation for the travel book I plan to write 'Around the world in 80 buffets’ – maybe.  Unlike the stuff your face approach we had to the gondola buffet we thought that we should at least make some effort to be a bit posh for the Earnslaw crowd so I wore a dress and Steve wore a shirt to distract from the fact we were grubby greedy people.  It was rather posh there and we had to wait for our table to be ‘invited’ up to the buffet after others had already been – that was a tough time watching others eat our food, but we won in the end and positioned ourselves by the dessert table to get first (and last) helpings of that.  We watched the sun go down as the Earnslaw approached with it’s fairy lights on to take us back to Queenstown thinking how lucky we are to have experienced all this and thinking about our life long souvenirs of giant bellies to remember it all by.

Since then we've been trying to clock as many hours at work as possible in order to support an ambitious schedule for our travels over the next few months.  No matter how much money we have there's always more things that can be done so every cent is sacred at the moment.  Luckily we have still been able to keep entertained with many Quizes, Cranium, Articulate and Scene it nights with our group of friends.  After months of pub quizzes and board games here I feel like I should get some kind of qualification for how much new information I have gained, education should always be delivered in 'game' form in my opinion. 

So this is me officially signing off for Queenstown, wish us luck on the road and you can look forward to a new flurry of blogging once again. 

Lots of Love,

Amy and Stuffed Steve
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