Summer Holidays are one thing New Zealanders do RIGHT!
During my days in Kiwiland, I had the privilege of experiencing New Zealand’s awesome summer/Christmas vacation/holiday. Basically everything kind of shuts down for a few weeks and it’s the perfect opportunity for au pairs like me to go on a south island getaway! If I remember correctly, I got about 17 days to backpack the south island of New Zealand. New Zealand’s south island is very different from the North Island, and the best adventure on the south island is… Queenstown, Queenstown, QUEENSTOWN!
Queenstown is located in the south of New Zealand’s south island. It is a HUGE tourist hot spot, known for a LOT of scary adventurous outdoor activities such as sky-diving, bungee jumping, paragliding and more. The landscape of New Zealand is something I can only describe as serene and dreamy, and no place captured that dreamy serenity like the landscape of Queenstown. Considering it’s a tourist-heavy location, there is also great nightlife every night of the week (travelers don’t need to get up to work in the morning!) and generally a place to just have a good ol’ time.
World Home of Bungy Jumping’- The Kawarau Bridge Bungy!!
Upon entering the area of Queenstown our tour bus made a pit stop at a popular bungee jumping spot, the Kawarau Bridge Bungy for an opportunity for some bus riders to take the leap of faith. Of course, I certainly wasn’t going to do it, but MAN, just WATCHING people do it makes you jump out of your skin and feel a taste of the adrenaline rush those jumpers are experiencing! I watched one jump, after another, after another, several people from my bus, and EVERY TIME I jumped and gasped and freaked out when I saw their natural instinct of thinking they are about to die kick in. It really is an extraordinary experience! Anyway, one of my travel companions took the plunge, while it was my duty to photograph her. When it was her turn she while at the top, looking down, trying to get her head together. Poor girl. Finally, she went. We went back and watched the video, and we just laughed and laughed at the excitement and fear that was so evident in that girl’s body as she plunged. She did it, though! Much braver than I am! You go, girl!
After a couple of days in Queenstown, it came my turn for my scary experience – paragliding. I’m not terribly into doing scary things, BUT I had to at least try something not quite so poo-in-your-pants scary, so I went for paragliding. I’m not about to jump out of an airplane or off a bridge, but I had to try SOMETHING! Now, to be honest, I didn’t exactly know what it was when I was signing up for it, I was just kind of told that you fly in the air, no intense free-falling or anything, so it seemed reasonable to me (compared to the other nonsense going on around me!) So, it didn’t sound too bad. We booked the adventure and drove up to the top of the hill. I was asking questions to the guide like, “Is it scary, or just peaceful?” From this guy’s perspective, it was just peaceful, like a flying angel in the sky protecting people. So at this point, I was feeling pretty comfortable with it. Then we got to to the top of this giant hill thing and they explained that we were going to run OFF IT. Um, what? They proceeded to pull out these gigantic kite-like things that we needed to attach ourselves to and just… run off the hill. Well, ok. My “pilot” seemed pretty confident in what he was doing and I was just along for the ride. So we got all harnessed, I was double-checking everything to make sure I wasn’t going to fall off the thing. We started to run off the hill and sure enough that wind lifted us up in the air.
(Nearly) Pooping my Pants Whilst Paragliding…
Now this experience was interesting. All around me, I was surrounded by the dream-like beauty that is Queenstown, NZ. On the other hand, while we were flying and time passed, we didn’t seem to be getting much closer to the ground…. I was wondering what was going on when my “pilot” started to explain to me that we were caught in an air bubble. What being caught in an air bubble meant for the safety of my life was left open to my imagination…. At one point we had a significant drop toward the forest below which feels the same as a sudden drop an airplane makes during turbulence. But in this case, I didn’t have the surrounded parts of the airplane to provide any sense of security. After surviving that drop we spent another few minutes twirling more upward rather than downward, not helping any sense of security that could be lingering. At one point my “pilot” said, “I am now fighting the wind!” You are fighting the wind? That doesn’t sound like a contest you have any chance of winning, dude. Again, not really explaining to me exactly what that means, leaving the safety of my life up to my imagination. Eventually, we did start to descend and landed safely on the ground. I’ve never been so happy to have my two feet on the ground. My “pilot” told me after, “You got a longer ride than usual, you are lucky!” Oh, yes, I was VERY LUCKY. It is true that my friend who took off after we did landed a few minutes before we did, and her report was much less stressful than mine was. Anyway, it was an interesting experience, to say the least.
When in Queenstown you’ve got to try the best, and most gigantic burgers in New Zealand – Fergburgers! Fergburgers are the biggest burgers I have ever seen and did they make some great lunches and amazing 2am snack while living it up in Queenstown!
Below Zero Ice Bar
Grab one is a website in New Zealand that offers great coupons for various things. We managed to get a special deal to visit Below Zero Ice Bar while we were in Queenstown. As you can see the “glass” we drank out of was made of ice! This ice bar provided us with warm jackets and boots. There was also a little fireplace to sit and enjoy while taking in the unique ambiance of the ice bar. The place was truly a work of art with the air hockey table, and the ice sculptures all around. I can’t help but notice our incredible tans while weather these big heavy jackets and boots.
That abouts wraps up the highlights of my time in Queentown. Writing thes blogs always makes me want to travel back to these places once again. Perhaps someday…