The adventure capital of the world
26.03.2013 - 30.03.2013 23 °C
En route to Queenstown we stopped at Kawarau Bridge, the bridge my sister jumped off in 2009 (thankfully attached to a bungee cord) and the place where the modern bungee jump was invented. We watched a few other brave souls also dive off the bridge. Having fallen 12,000 ft from a plane just hours earlier, a bungee now seemed do-able however I wasn't prepared to fork out over £100 for just seconds of adrenaline. But it was cool to watch.
In Queenstown, upon the recommendation of Ruben, I'd booked to stay at Adventure hostel. I was joined by a couple of the Germans, Lea and Wiebke, and we couldn't have been more grateful for the recommendation. Being somewhat an expert on hostels by this point, this was by far the best I'd ever stayed in anywhere in the world. It was better than my house. It was better than my mum's house. It was even better than my Aunty Hannah's house! It was spotlessly clean, they had free hair straighteners, free calls to international mobiles and a bread maker and a toasty machine in the kitchen.
We spent the afternoon chilling out in the sunshine by the lake. That evening much of our group would split up so we had a last night out at a pizza restaurant followed by some bars.
The following morning, Wiebke went to Milford Sound on a day trip. Having spent too much time travelling by both busses and boats and seen many beautiful places already on my trip, I opted not to join her and Lea and I went hiking instead. It was a beautiful day for it and the views afforded from the top of the mountain were well worth the slog it had been to get there. We lay out in the sun for a while, gazing over the lake and the Remarkables before skipping back down quickly. We made dinner together and sat on the balcony eating again with the mountain range as our backdrop.
The next day's activity was one that I was particularly excited about. Wiebke and I had booked to go canyoning, something I'd wanted to try since watching people jump off cliffs on the North Wales coast (which I later found out is actually called coasteering - similar to canyoning but in the sea). After a beautiful drive along the lake through Glenorchy out to the Routeburn Canyon, we were dressed in more layers of neoprene than I'd have previously thought possible - over my bikini I wore a neoprene vest, wetsuit, socks, booties and jacket complete with hood as well as a buoyancy jacket, a helmet and a harness. All this clothing made it difficult to walk which was slightly problematic given that we had a twenty minute hike up hill to reach our starting point. It was a hot day and rather toasty under the layers - although we'd be grateful for them later once submerged in 7 degree glacial waters that had been snow just hours earlier.
When reaching the starting point, just under a small bridge, we relieved a short safety briefing (which was difficult to hear under hood and helmet) before sliding backwards down a natural 'slide' into a deep pool before a small crowd of hikers who'd gathered on the bridge to watch us. It was pretty chilly in the water, but with only our hands and faces exposed it was bearable and the water helped to loosen the wetsuits slightly making movement and scrambling over rocks a little easier. From there we slid, scrambled, assailed and jumped our way down the canyon. Some of the jumps - off waterfalls six meters high into small icy pools - were utterly terrifying, as was the abseiling, as was being pushed over a slippery rock without being able to see what was below you. Supposedly the most fun you can have in Queenstown, I spent the majority of our three hours in the canyon feeling scared - it was worse than skydiving on the fright scale! I think I'd have to go a second time in order to determine whether or not I actually had fun!
And I woke up the following morning very achey in my arms, legs and abs. Wiebke left for Mount Cook and Lea and I spent a day doing not very much - reading, napping and watching Inglorious Bastards. Perhaps I should have felt bad for not getting out and enjoying more of the surrounds but the view from the hostel's balconies was still so wonderful and my body craved rest.
But the next day I was back in the saddle, quite literally as Lea and I signed up for a horse trek in Glenorchy. Once again the drive there was spectacular and, whilst I'd been sceptical about paying $200 to sit on a horse for three hours give how many hours I'd sat on my own horses for free in the past, it was completely worth it. As we rode along a river bed through the glacial landscape, I doubted whether there was a more beautiful place in the world to see from horseback. And as all of the group could ride, we spent a fun few hours crossing deep rivers and cantering around before returning (slightly achey) to the stables.
We we in for a pleasant surprise when we arrived back at the hostel as Sophie and Chiara had caught up with us and arrived at Adventure Hostel as well. We spent the afternoon catching up and eating a late night Fergburger before bed. It was my last night in Queenstown and my last night New Zealand before flying to Tahiti. As we said our goodbyes, I wished that I was staying longer. Having spent such a short time in New Zealand (and with several rainy days) I didn't feel that I'd done the country justice. I'd also met some amazing people there - it had been fun travelling with them and I could have easily spent longer in their company.