Friday, May 22, 2015

Queenstown: NZ’s Buzzing Adrenalin Capital

A nice ride along the rivers in the valleys.
You can kill or maim yourself in any number of ways here! In addition to being taken out on the roads, there are numerous opportunities to risk life and limb. And the Kiwis come here just for that reason! It makes Rotorua look like a place for sissies.

I had booked a beautiful two bedroom condominium without realizing what we were getting. I could have just moved in and stayed permanently! It was on the Frankton Arm of Lake Wakatipu, the lake on which the town sits. Our large balcony was right on the water’s edge. And we made good use of the bathtub to relieve sore muscles and the laundry facilities to clean up after our adventures – and the mouse!

The area is known as Queenstown and the Southern Lakes. Queenstown is small enough to cover on foot, but the Lake Wakatipu is huge. And it is very cold – only averaging 11 degrees Centigrade in the middle of summer. The view across the lakes offers a sight of The Remarkables, which is the snow skiing area.

There is Queenstown in the distance! It looked close,
but was nearly two hours of winding roads away!
Having driven by the area in summer on dry pavement, I can guarantee that it is not an easy weekend drive up for a day of skiing. I think you would want to stay a while since it takes half a day in good weather to get there on the switchbacks and skinny roads. I can’t imagine it covered with snow and the wind blowing!
Farmland near Queenstown.
Of course, Vicki was keen to find a particular jet boat ride: Shotover Jet Boats. This is an adrenalin-spiking ride on the Shotover River through the Shotover Canyon. She had heard about it from friends and Prince William and Duchess Kate had been here a couple of years ago. Naturally, the venue promoted their visit in their advertising and PR literature.

The view from our balcony - spectacular morning and night!
The Shotover River is an old gold mining area giving it a nickname of “The Richest River in the World.” The first miners were extracting over 10 kilograms of gold a day, which drew thousands from Australia and throughout New Zealand seeking their fortune. It only lasted from 1862 until 1864!

Sunset across the lake.
Actually, it turned out to be a thrilling ride through a very narrow canyon. I swear we were going to hit the rocks on every turn as it was so narrow and winding. Those drivers are very skilled in bringing you close enough to the rock walls to touch them, but not crash into them. I highly recommend this jet boat company in Queenstown.

We actually went under this bridge several
times and it felt like we were going to hit it!
There is every kind of adventure activity available in Queenstown: jet boats, mountain biking, kayaking, whitewater rafting, canoeing, packrafting, river surfing, whitewater sledging, paraflights, bungee (they spell it: bungy) jumping, canyon swings, ziptreks, skydiving, paragliding, hand gliding, helicopter treks, luge, go-karts, 4WD safaris, rock-climbing, horseback riding, and abseiling  - not to forget wildlife encounters, eco-tours, walks and treks, farm visits, scenic flights and aerobatics, hot air ballooning, scenic cruises, fishing or a stroll in a botanical garden or around the town! 


I guess we are going to get wet on this one!

We are waving goodbye to everyone. Hope we return!

That little strip of water is what we flew along in and out
of curves and rock walls while spinning around at times.
Are you exhausted just reading the list of activities? As I have said earlier, Kiwis are big on outdoor activities – the more thrilling, the better! One could spend several weeks here just trying a few of these. In fact, Queenstown in the favorite vacation spot of Kiwis because there is so much to do.

For us, it was a chance to slow down and rest after a fast tour down from Auckland. We covered a lot of kilometers and say most of the things one should see in NZ on the way. Queenstown is also the base from which we took our Doubtful Sound tour.

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