This would be our holiday from holiday. A couple of nights in a proper bed in a hostel with shower and Wi-fi included was a welcomed break from sleeping in the car, trying to find a place to do our dishes. It was also our chance to socialise if we’d still know how. About 4 weeks 24/7 together without other human contact than a random Pak’n’Save cashier can make you feel a bit alienated from the social circles.
The arrival day was a sunny one and we spent some of it just sitting on the beach, watching a group have a swim (clearly a dare as the water is well below 10 degrees) and I drank coffee from Starbucks, my first $4,50 coffee since I quit working. Can’t afford that luxury anymore..
Queenstown had a familiar ski-village vibe and I could have stayed there for the winter season, just snowboard and do nothing else for 4 months.. Facebook's 'On This Day...' reminded me that it’s 9 years since my winter in the French Alps and that’s way too long ago. I started secretly planning to make Richie a snowboarder so that we could move to the Alps for one winter but not sure when we’ll have time for that.
Since the winter has not arrived yet, we had to find something else to do than snow-related activities. Only thing is that all these adrenaline-escapes Queenstown is so known for are very, very expensive. How about $200 for a swing that lasts a couple of minutes? Same for a bungee jump? After going through a thorough cost-benefit analysis we chose rafting and a skydive for me since I’ve never experienced the joys of a 45sec freefall.
We rafted the same river that was used for the scene where Arwen rescues Frodo. Didn’t see any water horses as the water levels are lower in autumn but we got some exciting rapid descents and a lot of relaxed paddling during the 2,5 hours we spent in the river.
On the road to Paradise
Since we had the leisurely luxury of just winging it on some days, we took our car for a day-trip to Glenorchy, Paradise and even further. I had some hazy directions of a place where Gandalf rode to Isengard and despite not being the most obsessed LOTR-fans we decided to follow the narrowing roads there.
Once we had spent way too much on activities it was time for the other type of financial extortion Queenstown is known for – nightlife. Only to find out we can’t really do nightlife and alcohol anymore.. Went to bed at 12.30am, mostly because (this is what we tell ourselves) the next day was our only chance to do the full-day Ben Lomond Summit hike and we didn’t want it to be more of a suffering than it already would be.
Ben Lomond Summit is a 6-7 hours return trip that climbs over 1,100m from Queenstown to the Summit. To this date, the most vertical climb we had done was Cradle Mountain Summit which was apprx. 600m so it was interesting to see how this turned out.
It was a long walk but worth it! Especially when couple of those birds from my nightmares showed up and were every bit as cheeky as the stories tell. One of my favorite moments was three of them surrounding Richie slowly, leaving him with a deathly 20m rocky fall as the only escape route. Clever Keas!
The walk back was very painful, we must’ve caused some weird looks and laughs as the last 2km was walked partly backwards to give our toes some rest.
Only thing left to do in Queenstown was to go purchase the next hiking item – hiking trousers! We had done careful comparison over the four days and believe or not – Richie spent over 100 dollars on pants. Unfortunately, both of us liked the exact same brand and model so I said I would get the beige ones and Richie green to avoid the “matching trackies”-phase of our relationship. Only to find out well out of Queenstown that I bought the green ones as well so I guess we are at the matching phase now!
Lastly – don’t know how I left this last – Fergburger is as good as they say. Ate there twice. Best burger place I have ever been to.