This is the official blog of my Study Abroad Trip to Australia and New Zealand. I'll be leaving December 26th and returning home February 2nd.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Day 31-33: Queenstown. Kiwi Excellence.

Recap of my favorite free weekend of the trip and definitely the coolest place I've ever been in my life. I know I've worn out that phrase but this time I really mean it. Seriously. Queenstown is awesome. I am definitely coming back here next time I can afford it. With the kind of debt I'm in to bank of Schmidtke it could be awhile. So worth it though. By the way Kiwi is a term that New Zealander's use to refer to themselves. It's the national symbol of the country, along with the silver fern. It's a weird little bird that resembles a chicken, kind of. Not really though. I don't really know how to describe it. It's obviously cool enough for New Zealanders to associate themselves with it. Back the point though. Queenstown is absolutely gorgeous. As soon as we stepped off the plane we were surrounded by snow-capped mountains and this perfect summer temperature with a cool breeze and no humidity. It reminds me of a Colorado-esque town with that New Zealand flair. Downtown is a 3 block by 3 block square so it isn't difficult to navigate and you are surrounded by mountains on just about every side. So many adventure and adrenaline activities to do. Jet boating, sky diving, bungee jumping, mountain biking, luging, 4WD tours, ATV adventures, LOTR tours (Lord of the Rings for you non-nerds), and so many more that I forgot to name. I wish I had the time and money to do all of them.  It was great.

Our housing situation was the crazy hostel only known as Nomad. It was pretty nice but the best part about it was the people I met. Our booking somehow was messed up so our group of four got placed in different rooms with random people. I was nervous about it at first, but that all went away when I kept meeting people from all around the world that were so friendly! In my room I had a guy from Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and a girl from the UK who were all really nice. We had kind of a crazy group of people sharing a balcony with us hailing from Argentina, Sweden, Ireland, Germany, Canada, and even a taste of home with California and Iowa (about as random as Alabama I know). It seemed like a giant dorm full of people my age from all around the world. Good times.

View from the front door of our hostel. Impressive, I know.

After getting settled in, we hoofed it over to the Queenstown Adventure Station and took a shuttle out to our jet boat ride! It was the Shotover River Jet Boat Experience and it was so much fun. It was a 15 passenger, twin V-8 engine, jet propulsion boat that could fly at 70-80 km/h and could float on 6 inches of water. We flew through the canyons of Shotover River and narrowly avoided rocks and did 360 degree turns. Crazy. Check out the pictures and the video:

After our the world's best Jet Boating Experience, we decided to try another world's best in the category of hamburgers, also known as Fergburger. The burgers were enormous, but delicious. And they even used American bacon! Huge plus. None of that Canadian bacon nastiness that I've been eating since December 26th. After loosening up my belt, our group caught wind of one of the fun things to do on a Friday night, a pub crawl called the Kiwi Crawl. Six bars, free drinks, free entry to Minus 5 which was a bar made entirely of ice kept at a cool 23 degrees Fahrenheit, and all for 25 NZ dollars. They had us at free drinks. It was a fun night with great live music, lots of good stories, and of course the ice bar. Here's a few pictures:

The Crawlers

They gave us parkas as we walked in. Functional and Fashionable. Great combo. 
Eating my glass after I finished my drink. Sustainability is just who I am.
After a fun night, I woke up early, fought for the toaster with 20 other hungry hostel-mates and ate a light breakfast. I decided to wander around the city alone and enjoyed like a local. I stumbled upon the Saturday street market down by the harbor and picked up a few souvenirs for the family and Caroline (get excited everyone). Everything was hand-made and really neat so I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to get everyone.

The Harbor

 I met up with Patrick, grabbed some cheap but good Subway and we decided to rent some mountain bikes and head up the gondola and try the downhill mountain bike trails they had at the top. So let's clear this up now. I'm not claiming to be an expert biker or trail rider or anything, but I believe I'm confident enough to handle a bike pretty well. But I started to get a little nervous when I was standing in line to catch the lift and all the other bikers around me were wearing motorcycle helmets, goggles, gloves, and what appeared to be biker's body armor. And I was in khaki shorts, a t-shirt, and what appeared to be a Wal-mart helmet. And I soon found out why these guys were so decked out.  These trails were ridiculous. It was almost straight down the majority of the time on dirt and gravel with switchback bank turns that if you screwed up you would literally fly off the side off a mountain. I abused my brakes so much the first time I went down I could smell them burning every time we stopped.

 I know I am sounding dramatic but I believe I am describing everything accurately. Patrick as my witness. After I built my confidence up on the first run I started getting more comfortable and I started having so much fun! We could dart around the trails and even attempt at a few of the little jumps. But everyone knows pride comes before the fall. Literally. While taking a turn, a pebble decides that it hates me and clips my tire funny and sends me toppling over the side of my bike. I checked my injuries which thankfully were just a scraped left hand and a bruised ego and set off back down the trail. 

The coolest part of the trails was the scenery. After rolling down the trail for a little while you would come an open area where you could stop and enjoy scenery like this. It was breath-taking.

We got back to the hostel, cleaned up for dinner, ate some really great Japanese and decided to explore the town and try to go to bed fairly early because we had to catch our plane back to Auckland in the morning. I was so sad that we were leaving but felt extremely blessed that I had the opportunity to go there in the first place. We're back in Sydney for the last leg of our trip after a fairly painless day of international traveling. Thanks for taking the time to read this long one. I had a lot of things I wanted to tell y'all. War Eagle!

1 comment:

  1. Who hoo....sounds like somebody had quite the weekend. New Zealand sounds like a blast!!!! Keep safe for your last week! See you soon!