Holy smokes, I Live in New Zealand.

Wanaka, Queenstown and Environs.
August 5, 2008, 7:38 am
Filed under: Actual Travelling | Tags: ,

I finished off my Mount Cook day with a two-plus hour drive to Wanaka – the next Queenstown; seriously, invest in property there.  It got really foggy at the end of the trip.  It was so hard to see anything at all there!

Alternate link.

It was a holiday Monday so the prices at all the restaurants were up a few dollars (to pay the overtime wages, most restaurants add a surcharge of a couple of dollars or a fixed percentage to the bill).  I had a very expensive hamburger dinner as a result.  It was fantastic.  None of the area hostelfolk were interested in attending due to the cost of restaurants that day.  This is one of the charms of having a real job.

The next day, I did the skydive.  I think everyone knows about the skydive by now: 15,000 feet over Wanaka, with ALL of the important landforms of the South Island visible all around.  EVERYONE has told me that I was really brave for doing it, but I still don’t see why it was such a big deal.  The operation is staffed by consummate pros, my tandem guide has been jumping for 16 years and it was his third jump that day, the weather was good…I got over my jitters with math.  Mathletics.  That said, I’m in no hurry to do another jump anytime soon.

After the jump it was off to the great South Island adventure tourism destination: Queenstown.  I think about one quarter of their downtown is built up with backpackers’ or hotels.  It’s on a giant lake surrounded by giant mountains.  It is in a valley of sorts, ringed by ski resort mountains buffered from the community by vineyard upon vineyard.  I was feeling pretty stiff from the half marathon a few days earlier and my ankle was still throbbing a little bit from the descent incident at the Tarns (I was bounding down too fast), so I did an hour at a spa on a backpacker’s deal ($20).  I had a bachelor’s dinner of a tin of pasta and one litre of orange juice, and spent the evening at the bar by myself, pouring over my maps and being ignored by the fleets of teenagers dumped there by the tour buses.  It made for some great writing ideas, at least.

I did a wine tour the following morning.  Awesome.  I think I’m a wine snob now because I can pick out a “Central Otago aromatic” from the shelves at the LCBO (I found only one in Ottawa) and know why they always describe wines as tasting or smelling like pears or peaches and such (that’s just how they choose to define the taste of a wine…with a little more detail than “dry” or “sweet” or “spicy”).  I goofed around with an army guy from Honolulu most of the time; I wouldn’t mind living in Honolulu, I think.  I also ate lunch at the one winery with a family on vacation from Minnesota who were celebrating their daughter’s graduation from med school.  WONDERFUL.

South Island 117

Full album here.

The drive through the area was fantastic.  Just some unbelievable topography down there in New Zealand.  Queenstown and environs were just gorgeous.  No wonder so many Aucklanders are moving down there.  I could have stayed. myself.