New Zealand! (some of the photos are smaller than others, I’m testing your eyesight).
Ben and I arrived in Queenstown on 30th December after a six hour drive across the South Island from Christchurch.
Our first appointment was with the Nevis Swing, a 160m high swing above a canyon with a 300m arc. After a white knuckle ride in a van up a steep mountainside track to get there, we prepared ourselves for the drop.
It was bloody scary to say the least!
The initial drop was thrilling, and gave me a fear of falling for a few days afterwards, but being pulled back up to the platform at the end was the worst part. The operators at the top dragged the swing back painfully slowly, so that at the end we were dangling so far off the ground. Knowing what it felt like to drop from that height put me on edge and I was relieved to be grabbed back onto the platform.
Next up, we took the gondola up to the mountain overlooking Queenstown. There is then a second gondola which can take you up even higher, and you can ride the Luge back down. The Luge is a cross between a sledge and a go kart that you can ride down a windy track complete with tunnels, bends, and bumps.
The Luge was really fun, but was probably the busiest thing we did in New Zealand! Queenstown was rammed for New Years Eve, every hostel and motel was sold out, and there were reports of people sleeping on the beach because they couldn’t get a bed. It was like the population of the country had moved there, because the rest of New Zealand seemed deserted!
On New Years Eve, the town was buzzing with people. Two stages had been erected for the celebrations, and there was live music in the main square all night.
The fireworks at midnight were great, and then we headed on to party the night away listening to a dodgy band singing Mumford and Sons with strong kiwi accents.
Queenstown has one of my favourite natural creations: a beach! We went there on New Years Day, equipped with Ferg Burgers. Ferg Burger is a bit of a phenomenon in New Zealand, as the burgers are great (not to mention GIANT) and the whole time we were there there was a queue for them which never seemed to get shorter.
The only downside to the beach is that it isn’t a sea beach, it’s a beach by a glacial lake. This means that the water has come straight of the mountains and is FREEZING! However hot Ben and I had become from sunbathing, but we could only manage a quick dunk in the water, and afterwards it took my toes a while to recover and get back to normal temperature.
One of the must-do activities in Queenstown, is the day trip to Milford Sound. Milford Sound is a six-hour coach journey from Queenstown, so you have plenty of time to take in all of the breathtaking views along the way.
We stopped at the Mirror Lakes, where the water is so still and so clear that it creates a perfect reflection of the mountains behind. We also stopped in some of the valleys along the way to admire the views and take some pics.
Milford Sound is beautiful! When we arrived, we hopped into a boat to cruise around the Sound all the way up to the mouth of the river.
The boat took us up through the Sound, and the captain pointed out waterfalls, and told us some interesting facts about the area. We also sailed past the fault line, where some of New Zealand’s earthquakes have originated from.
The boat went very close to a flat rock where a big group of seals were sleeping. It was a beautiful day, and the scenery was astonishing – I felt like I had stepped into a painting!
On our last day in Queenstown, we made a last-minute appointment to ride on the Shotover Jet, dubbed as ‘the world’s most exciting jet boat ride’. It was very exciting, as the jet boat skims across the Shotover River, which in some parts didn’t seem to be more than one foot deep!
The boat goes very fast, and scarily close to the rocks protruding out of the water and on either side of the river. When the boat does a 360 degree turn, you need to hold on, and prepare to get very wet!
Queenstown is definitely the thrill seekers capital of New Zealand. Ben and I met a German guy on the gondola who had done three bungee jumps in different parts of the town in the same day! That pretty much says it all!