A Town fit for a Queen

Trip Start Jun 15, 2011
Trip End Jun 01, 2012

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Wednesday, February 15, 2012

If you mention that you're going to Queenstown you're almost always asked what adrenaline activity you're going to do, as the whole area is like a giant playground and it is the Adrenaline Capital of the world. 

 'Are you going to bungee jump, sky dive, bungee swing, go canyoning, white water rafting etc???' 

There is pretty much nothing you can't do. The lake has all sorts of water activities, the mountains provide ample space to jump from, the rivers have awesome rapids and just outside of Queenstown are Canyons and places to rock-climb, abseil, BMX etc. 

The main one you hear about is definitely Bungee jumping as Queenstown has the world's first commercial bungee site, something the kiwi's are very proud of. "We were first to throw ourselves off a bridge with a bit of elastic tied to our feet!" (Does this say something about the kiwi's... I'm not going to say!)

Initially it wasn't exactly top of our list of things to do but we thought we would do something adventurous when we got into Queenstown maybe white water rafting, just not bungee jumping. However we ended up deciding to save our money for later trips (such as South Africa) as Queenstown is just so expensive. 

We paid a visit to the World's first commercial bungee site, Kawarau bridge which I think is a 40m jump (tiny compared to the highest one in Queenstown which is 140m). The site is really cool, it's set out of the town above a beautiful river and you jump off a picturesque bridge across the canyon. Having watched a few people I think if I was going to do a bungee it would be that one as I started to half consider it. Perhaps I'd feel differently if I was stood over the edge with nothing but some elastic stopping me from hitting the ground. Katy remained adamant that Bungee jumping was not for her and definitely couldn't justify all that money for 10 seconds of adrenaline rush!

 We spent most of our time exploring Queenstown which is so much more than a place to jump off a bridge. Set on the beautiful lake Wakitipu and surrounded by mountains including the Remarkables mountain range, it really is a stunning place. We camped right by the lake and the next day spent our time exploring the town and surrounding area. We caught the cable car up to a lookout point and watched people doing bungee swings before we raced each other down the mountain-side on a luge track (I won!). We also had lunch at the world famous Ferg-burger where the burgers are about the size of your face and taste so good! The place was so popular and stayed busy all day.
From the mountainside where we got the cable-car to, there were a number of people Paragliding and it looked so cool. The views they had over Queenstown must have been simply incredible as they were circling right over the town with views of the Lake and mountain ranges. We were very tempted to have a go ourselves, however when we investigated the prices we really couldn't justify it when we have so much more to come in our travels. Oh well, maybe next time!
After Queenstown we carried on heading North through Wanaka, then following the Gold mining trail . The Gold mining route takes you through a few backward little towns which were founded when they discovered gold, and you can see some of the original buildings such as houses, convenience stores, hotels, post and telegraph stores and bars. They're really cool little towns including Arrowtown and Cromwell which we visited en-route and have been maintained really well even if the buildings now have alternative uses. The old buildings from Cromwell had to be dismantled and moved further up-hill as they built a new dam and completely flooded the remaining buildings in the old town. They must have been strange little towns to live in as they seemed to be so detached from the rest of the Country.

Then it was onto the Haast pass, which has to be one of the best (and under-rated) drives in the world, and strangely I hadn't heard about it at all when looking into our New Zealand trip. We were expecting to have a fairly standard dive up North and found ourselves along some of the most beautiful countryside yet. I had read that there were a couple of good walks in the area which we were looking for, but the area way exceeded our expectations. 

If you are heading North (as we are) you start off at two beautiful lakes (Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea) and then for miles you drive through lush forest surrounded by mountains, past clear blue glacier pools, stunning lakes, waterfalls and rivers before you get west enough to be on the coast and then you get incredible coastal views. This continues all the way up until you reach Mount Cook and the Glacier region (which we haven't yet reached). Every few kilometres there are stops with walking tracks to some beautiful part of the Mt Aspiring National Park and we stopped at most of them. 
It's a beautiful Country, and I think the West Coast is the most beautiful of all in my opinion! The whole of the West Coast is a national heritage UNESCO protected area and when you see it you can see why. Photos just can't do justice to it because you are completely surrounded by beautiful scenery, it really must be one of the most beautiful areas in the world. We would love to come back to this area in Winter to see all of the mountains covered in snow!

 So we have been lucky enough to explore beautiful areas and sleep by some of these stunning lakes. The only negative thing about it is the Sand-flies which are particularly feisty in the morning and early evening. One of the early explorers to the region wrote that the Sand-flies were added to stop you from loitering in the beautiful countryside, then when it was realised that the sand flies got lazy at night, Mosquitoes were invented. This time it's my turn to be bitten by all the bugs (it was Katy's turn in Asia) and my foot has been munched by dozens of the bitey little buggers, although fortunately Mosquitoes haven't really been a problem so far. 

 Next we head into Glacier Country! Unfortunately the van is still playing up and shows that the tank is completely full, then it will suddenly drop from full to empty in around 5 minutes... not ideal when you are driving long stretches with no petrol stations. 

  Anyway, so far so good as we haven't run out yet. 

 Wish us luck!
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Trevor on

I am jealous. Really looks and sounds incredible!!

Ann-Marie on

Oh my god reading this brings back amazing memories of the awesome NZ!! how yum are the ferg burgers?? And they really are the size of your face

Can't believe you cheated and got the cable car up instead of hiking up to the look out,haha ;)
Glad you are enjoying NZ so much!!! Can't wait to see you guys when you get home

sweet as bro !!!!

seanspacifica on

Thanks for the tips Ann-Marie I think we did everything you suggested for NZ. By the way, we had to get the cable-car because our feet were still recovering from the Tongarirro crossing!

charlene on

easy to get your 5-a-day in cromwell !!! :-)

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