Where I’ve Been: Queenstown, New Zealand
Where I’ve Stayed: Southern Laughter, Queenstown
I actually didn’t think things could get better in New Zealand, but with my arrival in Queenstown they have! I love this place so much. It is in the most beautiful location, set amongst the mountains and around a lake. It has some great bars, clubs and restaurants, a huge amount of activities to do (a lot of which are adrenaline based but I am too scared to do them), a hugely friendly vibe and I am here with a great circle of people I have met backpacking. It has been a fantastic few days.
I will admit it I am too scared to bungy!
When we left Wanaka we stopped first at Puzzling World again, and then at the AJ Hackett Bungy site at Kawarau Bridge just outside Queenstown. It was here on 12 November 1988 that the World’s first Commerical Bungee jump took place when AJ Hackett opened their doors to the public.
We learnt the history of bungy jumping, how it started out in Vanuatu, and how on that first day in 1988 28 people rocked up to the Kawarau Bridge and paid $75 dollars to leap off the 43 metre high bridge with a bungy cord attached to their ankles. Since then it has just got more and more popular!
You can watch people do the bungy jump which is most entertaining, they walk along the bridge and then into a small sort of box right on the edge and get strapped up and jump off. Is really interesting to see how people approach it – some walk up and jump straight off without having time to think about it, whilst others dawdle on the edge, keep looking over and down at the river below and getting ready to jump and then stopping. Some even took a good ten minutes to force themselves off.
I am not too proud to admit I would never do this as I am too scared! However there were some people on the Kiwi bus, particularly some of the younger guys, who didn’t want to lose face and I could see they were absolutely petrified the whole time we were there as they psyched themselves up to do a bungy. I was quite content watching – it is actually a quite good spectator sport!
Cruising Milford Sound
Anyway we then arrived at the beauty that is Queenstown and I immediately realised I’d made a good choice with my hostel – Southern Laughter – as it had a deal with one of the pubs, the Buffalo Bar, meaning we got two pints of beer for $5.60 NZ dollars (about £2.80!). This helped established a trend that is difficult to break in Queenstown of drinking quite a bit in the evenings – I think it is almost impossible to have a quiet night here!
So by this point there were a lot of friendly faces in Queenstown – Leon and Michelle who I knew from home and Greg and Rachel from the Kiwi Bus plus many others. The only slight downside of my time here has been the visit to Milford Sound, it was good, but I had read so many reviews and heard so many people saying it is stunning that I think I had too high expectations of it.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with it Milford Sound is a fjord that runs 15km inland from the Tasman Sea and is surrounded by sheer rock faces, rising up to 1,200metres and sporting two permanently waterfalls. It is probably New Zealand’s most famous tourist destination and was judged as the world’s top travel destination in an international survey two years ago.
It was beautiful, but it didn’t make me sit back and say wow, and that is probably partly due to the fact that pretty much everything I have seen on the South Island of New Zealand has been jaw dropping so far! When I saw Rachel yesterday, she said she felt the same.
So essentially my five days in Queenstown have involved a lot of socialising but also there are loads of activities here you can do such as rafting, skydiving, bungy jumping, hiking, biking, jet boating, wine tasting, skiing, canyon swinging, ziplining and much much more. So what have I done here? I played crazy golf and frisbee golf!
That is a slight lie as on Thursday we also went to Arrowtown – a small, historic gold mining town about 20 minutes from Queenstown. It is a fascinating place as most of the buildings there date back to the days when this town was a thriving community. The town was established back in 1862 when gold was found in the Arrow River and all of a sudden people flocked to the town to seek their fortune.
We walked around the Chinese settlement that was built by Chinese miners in the 1860s, and it was interesting to see the conditions they lived in and how they lived. It was well preserved and well signed with plenty of information about bygone times.
We are also fortunate enough to be here in the Autumn as Arrowntown is also famous for its rich autumn colours and we definitely saw these in full bloom. For a small place (the population is around 2,200) it is packed with tourists, but it has a real charm and is definitely worth visiting.
A BIG night out – ouch
Then came last night… Well what I can remember of it. It was mine (and my, and many others on the Kiwi Experience Bus, last night in Queenstown), not only that it was Cara’s – a girl we were good friends with – birthday. Oh dear it was very messy.
We started drinking in the hostel, then headed out to visit the multitude of bars in the town. My decision to start downing wine proved to be the undoing of me and I (along with many others I must say) started to get more and more drunk to the point a few of us were refused entry to the World Bar (a quirky bar when you get served cocktails in teapots!).
I somehow made it back to my hostel but on getting there realised I had lost my key somewhere. I managed to squeeze through a window to get into the building and then, luckily for me, the others staying in my dorm had left the door unlocked so I got in and managed to get about fours sleep.
I woke at 8am this morning still feeling drunk and crammed my stuff into my backpack and made it just in time for my last Kiwi Experience journey from Queenstown to Christchurch.
I got into my normal seat next to Rach, who promptly told me I stunk of alcohol! The six hour journey to Christchurch was a long one, but I am glad to be here and to be able to relax now.