Yes, I’m still journalling… Albeit a bit behind schedule… Nonetheless, lets pick up where we left off, the day after skydiving.
After saying our goodbyes to the resident hostel cat Smoky, we checked out and explored the recently almost-flooded Wanaka by car (there was a walking path, but we’d done the only decent hike in the immediate area the day before)
then drove from Wanaka to Queenstown via the tourist-drive-esque Cardrona Valley (which reminded me of the desert hills between LA and Las Vegas.
It was especially odd seeing signs for ski resorts all along the drive, because to imagine that area with any snow, even up the mountains did not seem plausible.
We stopped at an especially nice vista overlooking the Queenstown area, and as we stood taking pictures, we were approached by a couple (Herve & Wanda, from Belgium) that we’d met in Kaikoura, giving weight to the old adage that it’s a small world.
We’d already run into them a bunch of times on the east coast, and not bothered exchanging contact info, so I’d promised Julie that if we ran into them again I’d make sure to do so.
We spent a while standing around the lookout chatting about Belgian politics, rugby, and travelling with them, and decided to make sure we met up if we ever traveled to Belgium (or Canada respectively).
Our arrival in Queenstown was heralded by less than spectacular weather, but by the time we’d checked into our hostel
and chatted with Lisa at reception (from BC), it had cleared up enough to enjoy finding a parking spot for our hired car.
This task was made especially daunting by the National Rugby 7s tournament which was being played around the corner from our abode, and meant parking was ridiculous and definitely not free.
A smile was forcibly returned to my face not long after when we arrived at NZ icon Fergburger (presumably of international fame too, since we’d been recommended it before we left Canada) and I received my ‘Swine Burger’ along with an ice cold half of Speights draft (Julie opted for a delicious Lamb pie from the Fergbakery next door [I still think she should have nomnomed on a burger, but c’est la vie…]).
This whet my whistle so I grabbed a 6pack of local brew Stoke which proved to be quite delicious while sitting on the glorious rooftop patio at the hostel enjoying the interesting combination of mountainous scenery and bustle of the main street of Queenstown below.
After a while, some obnoxious british girls whose room opened onto the communal patio got drunk and loud enough that we were forced to go inside, where we watched the said rugby tourney on TV and commiserated with an Aussie couple and a bunch of other travellers until calling it a night since we had to get up to go put funds in the parking meter early the following morning (run-on sentence ftw).
Following in the footsteps of our good Fergsperience from the previous day, we dropped by the Fergbaker for brekky, where I proceeded to drop ~10$NZ on a coffee creme donut (yum) and an eclair (pretty yum too), and another 4$ish for a long black (nope, haven’t kicked the coffee habit yet).
These donuts (of which I was only able to finish 1.5 of after which I felt pretty ill) provided fuel for me to participate in our daily exercise which consisted of a simple enough looking hike up the ‘Tiki Trail’ to the top of the Skyline Gondola hill.
As the sign implied, the walk would take 1 hour for even the slowest visitor, so we were proud to be able to complete the long and arduous journey to the top in 1.25 hours.
We spent the next couple hours catching our breath, chilling, eating cookies, and taking pictures, both of the beautiful surrounds
and also the masses enjoying their (unfortunately) short luge runs and the select few daredevils bungee jumping off a platform over the local cliff.
We considered doing the Luge, and I even had a brief thought that bungee was a good idea (if Julie paid), but opted out of both activities due to cost and the fact that there are many awesome things to do for free (like walk back down the Tiki Trail, which this time only took us 1.1 hours).
At this point we had not managed to get a proper meal in us (since donuts), so decided that we’d earned ourself our first sit-down dinner in NZ.
The hunt was on!
I of course love patios, and somehow Julie manages to put up with my patio habit (even though she’d probably rather find somewhere nice and inside), so after deciding on dinner from the menu outside the Mac’s Pub on Wharf, we went to order at the bar (as is custom in NZ… rarely will you get table service at a bar or pub) only to find that we’d have to wait over an hour until they started serving dinner at 5pm (it was currently 3:45ish?).
I was content to sit and enjoy the action, live music, and great views from our well located table on the patio, but Julie had a hankering to do some shopping, so for the first time on our trip, we deemed it safe enough to split up outside so we could both do what we wanted while waiting for dinner.
The patio was quite crowded, and we ended up sharing our table with a couple local ladies who were escaping their kids for a couple hours and were happy to impart some local wisdom and good conversation.
This first sit down dinner in NZ ran us about 20$ each, and after subsisting on pies, cookies, and fruit (with the occasional budget pasta meal thrown in for good measure) lamb rump for Julie, and steak frites for me was a very welcome change.
But some things never change, one of which is the awesome (?) pictures that many Japanese tourists insist on taking, in this case posing with a rambunctious kid who was running around while his mom was drinking on the patio as well (how awesome does that make us though, taking pictures of some tourists taking a picture with someone else’s kid?).
This awesomeness paled in comparison to the bungee jump from a helicopter we saw next… What a champ…
We lay on grass in the wharf square to digest and contemplate life, the conclusion of which was that we had to take off shoes and walk home like a kiwi to fully enjoy our experience, so after much protest from Julie, we made like a kiwi and barefooted it (on the sidewalk) back to our hostel for a shower and bed.