It’s fair to say that New Zealand has a reputation for being a land of adventure. I’m often asked by the locals, “Why did you choose to come to New Zealand?” The answer is simple, I came for the adventure! This is the country that invented bungy jumping, need I say more? Of all the places in this country of adventure, one place is known as the adventure capital: Queenstown. It’s the place where locals go to vacation and visitors go to spend all their money having fun and pushing their limits. Quite frankly, it’s one of the most spectacularly scenic places in the world as well. I’d been hearing stories, seeing pictures and receiving recommendations on Queenstown for months. Finally, it was time for my shot at the adventure.
I made sure to give myself 5 full days in Queenstown, plenty of time to enjoy it. Thankfully, my friend Emma offered to let me stay at her place while I was there. We’d met 5 months earlier on a tandem bike ride with the NZ Foundation for the Blind. It was great to catch up with her again, and though she was busy working, we had some great times together. I’m almost ashamed to admit this, but we ended up eating ice cream all 5 nights while I was there! (If you tried the gelato at Patagonia, you wouldn’t be able to resist either). Emma actually works for AJ Hackett, the original bungy company in Queenstown. But hard as she tried, she couldn’t convince me to go for a bungy jump; just not my thing.
I did take Emma’s advice on the first day and went for an early morning hike up the Ben Lomond hill. The air was cold and crisp but the sun was rising, and as I climbed I would get occasional peaks at the city below.
At the end of the track, without intending to, I happened upon the gondola base. The gondola is probably the most popular attraction in Queenstown. It lifts visitors to the top of a huge hill to take in the amazing view of the city. Then once they’re at the top, they can hop on a luge and race around the luge track. Since the weather was perfect, I decided rather spontaneously to indulge in the gondola’s offering. Soon I was lifting high above the city and flying around the luge track. Indeed, the view was absolutely incredible. The trees were starting to show off their beautiful autumn colors, and that only added to the beauty.
Paragliding is also run from the top of the gondola. They just walk right off the edge of the hill and float down!
After descending once again into the city, I wandered around the city for awhile. The city itself is beautiful as well, fully alive with tourism. In fact, without tourism, Queenstown would cease to exist!
I ended up at the little marina on the edge of Lake Wakatipu. The activity booking agent talked me into going on a 90 minute cruise around the lake. The price was right and so was the afternoon sunlight, so I jumped aboard the “Million Dollar Cruise.” As we were departing, the Shotover Jet raced by and splashed our boat with water! I thoroughly enjoyed this very laid back cruise. It rewarded me with more incredible views of Queenstown, this time from the lake below instead of the hill above.
“Captain Kevin.” Yeah, that has a nice ring to it
This was just the first day in Queenstown! I could tell that I was going to have an absolute blast in this city. The city just had an air of fun and excitement to it. That night, Emma and I enjoyed our first round of ice cream at Patagonia. While we polished off our dessert, we met the guy sitting next to us, who happened to be from California. He mentioned that he had big plans for the next day. When I asked if he wanted some company, he readily accepted. Needless to say, I went to sleep extremely excited for my next big adventure…