I take risks in many ways in my life but the physical realm is not one of those areas. So you might imagine how out of place I felt in the Adventure Capital of New Zealand, beautiful Queenstown! Quite honestly, I have never seen more Northface-clad, dred-wearing, barefoot, care-free spirits than I did in that town. It was insanity – a little town of clones! Oh Nick and I pretended for a bit that we were going to do something adventurous, pulling brochures for para-gliding and skydiving…. but what did we actually end up doing? Jet-boating and a bus ride to Milford Sound!
And no, I’m not embarassed. We had a marvelous time doing them, even if they were ‘tame’ choices in comparison to what our fellow Queenstown-ers were parataking in. Maybe on our next visit we’ll feel up for something a bit more ‘risky’. But most likely not! So since I can’t talk about bungying over a canyon or skydiving out of a plane, I’ll just focus on talking about what we did do, starting with our 12 hour day trip to Milford Sound.
Milford Sound is something like 60 kilometers from Queenstown, so it seems like it should be nice and close. The only problem- there’s a mountain range in the way, so you’re required to drive south, west and then north again, making it 5 hours of car time to get there. Our coach, for example, left at 7:30 AM, got us into the National Park around 1 PM, had us on the 90 minute ferry ride at 2 PM and then we were back on the coach at 4 PM for an 8:30 PM arrival back in Queenstown. It’s a grueling day, but seriously there isn’t really a good way to do it and the views are SOOOO worth it!
I just decided to make the best of it, befriending all the people around me. I met two lovely study abroad students from Japan and Korea (Sana and Minyoung) who I had lots of fun conversations (and pictures) with. There was also a group of 4 Filipinos who I spent quite a bit of time talking with. It was a very diverse group!
The next day we did a Jet-boating trip on the Dart River in Mount Aspiring National Park. The jet boats are basically a big jet-ski and are useful in that they can travel on 10 cm of water, so they allow you to get in to places that are otherwise not usually accessible by boats because the water levels are so shallow. The combination of speed, spins and breathtaking views made for a fun-filled 75 minute ride.
After that it was time to board an off-roading bus to head farther into Mount Aspiring Park. This park is most famous for being the filming location for Lord of the Rings, Willow, Wolverine and a Coors Light Commercial. It was easy to see why it was so popular. Lush green for as far as the eye could see, very befitting of it’s nickname “Paradise Garden”.
I also have to give props to my husband again for finding us another kick-ass place to spend 3 nights. We had an apartment at Oak Shores, which had magnificent views of Lake Wakitipu right from our balcony! Highly recommended for those who are looking to go there – the bus into town is easily accessible and the rates are quite reasonable. Despite feeling out of place in town, we honestly could have been content spending our entire trip at that apartment. Amazing how time flies by when you’re sitting on the balcony enjoying incredible views and the perfect glass of wine! And now… on to the cities (Wellington was yesterday, now we’re in Auckland)!
PS- 200 pics of the Milford Sound beauty waiting for you at SMUGMUG. You’re going to want to see these, I promise!