Queenstown – A Royal Good Time
The fact that I haven’t written in a while can only mean one thing: we were saving up for a big weekend. Two of our friends from the States were coming to visit, and they wanted to head south. And we wanted to go back. Our friends got into town shortly before the weekend started and on Saturday morning, dark and early, we took advantage of their jetleg and cheap flights, and flew down to Queenstown. We met up with our friend from Invercargill and sought out all the ruckus we could get up to in Queenstown.
If you recall, Andrew and I had driven through Queenstown before, and as we were driving, we passed Puzzling World. How could we resist? We went, we were puzzled, we still are…
We took it slow-ish. On a rather relaxing ride up a gondola along a mountain in town. A great view was promised, and it did not disappoint.
But we’re young. What could make this more exciting? Maybe if we climbed into a gravity-powered luge and tore our way down the mountain? Yes, that sounds like a superb idea!
About this time our friends from the US had to take off. They were driving north to see more of the island because that was the best excuse they could find to not partake in following adventures…
As with most vacations, much of our time was consumed by yummy breakfasts, lunches, and a snack here and there and dinners. Regrettably, Queenstown grub is plentiful, but it didn’t stand out. Rather, many of our stops involved a drink or two for courage.
So what could make imbibing more interesting? Well, what if we donned winter coats and drank in a freezing cold room where everything, and I mean everything, was made of ice. Yes, yes I suppose that will do it!
And of course, in Queenstown, one of the most popular winter activities is skiing. Relaxing, good old skiing. Well, sort of. You only have to drive up to the tippy top of some of the steepest mountains! And then the nice little “blue” intermediate slopes? Uh, is that intermediate really? I’d skied a bit as a child, but it’s been many, many years. Sadly, it hadn’t snowed in a week, so the snow was a bit sharp or saggy in some places. But the views were incredible and no one seriously injured themselves. I had a blast until I bent my knee on an unorthodox tangent so I took it easy and enjoyed some hot chocolate while the boys took on a few more runs. I know I have posted this before, but I really need to work out more! It was a fun ride! And I’d love to head up again when the weather was more cooperative. Mid-morning an attention seeking cloud caused a bit of a white-out which forced us to go slower on some easier runs, but the day cleared up and we felt more ambitious by the run. I can see why Queenstown is known for skiing. We went to Cardrona Mountain, but there were many, many more around that we’d love to head to, and some on the North Island we might try next year.
This weekend we felt like kids in a playground with all the fun and good coffee (Well, for the energy part, anyway.) we were having. And what is the best part of the playground? The swing set! After some (a lot of) convincing, Andrew and Simon grudgingly agreed to head to a remote location in the Southern Alps where they had suspended a shack some 160m above a river in a valley for the world’s largest swing. Now that doesn’t sound too bad, right? With the aid of some liquid courage, everyone felt better about the idea.
The bus ride to the site was probably the scariest, a 4WD rig careening up the mountain with a cliff on either side. And then you have to walk along a thin suspended platform; wouldn’t this be safer if I had a harness? They don’t put a harness on you until you’re on the platform and ready to leave solid, yet swaying ground on a 300 m arc. Just before we were ready, the operator pulled the cord and we fell 72 meters before the swing pulled us into a graceful arc through the valley. Beautiful! And much easier way to generate endorphins than running a mile. Maybe you can say we were just lazy, not brave. But alas, we made it back to the platform. Next, Simon garnered the sexy harness and enjoyed a relaxing swing through the valley. Once we were back on the shaky platform, we carefully made our way back to the station on actual solid ground and that was all we could handle. And we still had the bus ride back!
So needless to say, after lots and lots of money well-spent, I finally felt like we were indeed living in the extreme sport capital of the world (the bungy in downtown Auckland and the Auckland bridge and base jump off of the Auckland Sky Tower in town didn’t seem to click it for me, mostly since I’d never do those crazy things 😉 )
We flew back to Auckland, where Andrew had to get back to work for the remainder of his contract. I start my new engineering job on Monday (can’t wait!) and we have to save. Every penny counts! My job will be sending me to Spain soon, and I’m hoping Andrew can join me. I wonder what kind of trouble we can get up to there? I think Andrew is voting for a relaxing vacation next, but I’m just not sure I’m ready to relax when, as Charles Muntz says in UP, ‘Adventure is out there!’