I <3 Queenstown!
The nice man who picked the 3 of us up and drove us to Queenstown used to be a high end New Zealand chef. He worked as a chef in Auckland and on a 6 star cruise line for a bit before going into food sales. We discussed his line of work for a portion of the drive and then turned the conversation to the 3 of us. He wanted to know what our stories were.
Alicia made a comment to me a few days back that is very true. Hitchhiking is work! You can't just get in a car and ride you have to engage in conversation with the driver. This is true so I suppose it comes down to how social do you want to be? Those who know me... Know that I'm nothing but social. Alicia on the other hand likes to have her quite time every once in awhile. So, we make a good pair.
As we engaged with our Queenstown driver Alicia became quiter then usual. Andy and her sat in the back seat, the road we traveled was extremely windy leaving Alicia car sick. She slowly got over it as the road straightened out and we cruised into town a few hours later.
The driver gave us a little driving tour thru the small city as we entered Queenstown. It wasn't as big as we had imagined but man was it beautiful!
There was no sign of tall city buildings in this town, like I expected to see. This place could be compared to a much larger version of the old mill shopping district in Bend, OR. Much larger! But cute like the old mill district.
The snow capped mountains embraced this perfect little city and the bright blue lake.
The three of us were dropped off in the middle of the city to find our hostel for the next 4 days. The Pinewood lodge was where we would call home and at $30 a night and only 20min of free wifi per stay it was the best deal in town.
Imagine that!? Yep! All the other hostels came with NO free wifi.
We slowly discovered, wifi was pretty crappy all over the South Island.
Our hostel felt like the outdoor school I never went to. There were all sorts of different cabins spread out on the property with a 10 min walk from town.
I noticed shortly after arriving at the Pinewood that there was an emergency siren going off back in town. It sounded like a Tsunami warning! I mentioned it and someone said, yeah that's the fire dept. down the road. The siren goes off whenever the dept. goes out on a call. Crazy! It made me feel like I needed to escape the city!
We were all pretty hungry after the long drive in so we decided to go explore the town and give Ferg burger a try. A burger joint that had been recommended to us by several and is apprently world famous. It was delicious! It was also a perfect meal for backpackers on a budget as the standard but huge burger was only $12
- perfect for sharing. We ended up eating there 2 of the 4 days we were in town. I could have eaten their once a day. There was a Ferg bakery next door to the Ferg burger that we got coffee and pastries at everyday. Everything was reasonably priced and actually cheaper then some US bakery's would sell items for. The almond and chocolate croissant was delicious!
While we were at Ferg burger a waitress told us we could get free wifi at PeterPan's (a travel agency across the street) and that they were good for booking events with. Events like the shot over canyon swing that Alicia had intended to do in this adrenaline capital of the world, town.
We headed across the street after lunch and decided to book Alicia's jump with them for the wifi hookup. The three of us bought a $50 ticket for a round trip on the gondola and 5 rounds on the luge at the top. That was probably the best deal in town.
Andy and Alicia went back to the hostel after their purchases and I stayed for a few more hours to use their wifi and Skype.
The next few days were relaxing but action packed, for sure! We sampled and compared New Zealand meat pies from "the bakery" where I bought one and the guy decided to give me two for free. Ferg bakery had good meat pies as well and Andy bought one of theirs to share. We had a meat pie picnic on the grass in a city park.
We did the gondola and luge outing in the late afternoon of our second day. It was so much better then Mt.Hood's ski bowl luge. This one had 2 tracks, better views, faster luge karts and a ski lift at the bottom to take you back up again.
The next day we hiked the trail to the top of the gondola station. It was a good hike with a steep incline and some fun chainsawed chairs along the way. We tried to sneak on the gondola to get back down but there were two guys checking tickets so we hiked back down. The day we had tickets to the gondola no one was checking the tickets so we figured we could just get on this time as well.
When we got back to the hostel after the hike we eating lunch when...
we met a fellow backpacker named, Jack. He was living in our hostel building, from the US and working in a bar in town. He and I got into a conversation about wifi and he ended up giving me two 20min wifi codes and one 12hour wifi code! Score! I would no longer need to hang out in peterpan's travel agency OR out on the sidewalk between peterpan's and another travel agency that apparently offered free wifi too. You could DEFINITELY tell there was something going on out on the streets in between these places.
Queenstown is supposedly known for its night life so we decided that we should see what that was all about. So we set aside one night to go out to the bars.
Before we went out on the town though, we had a bit of a hair cutting session. Alicia decided to save $80 and have me chop 3 to 4 inches off her head so I gave it my best. I was a little nervous as I had only cut my brothers hair before but I did a good job on him. Actually as it turned out I did a good job on Alicia too! It was a big plus that she has thick dark wavy hair so it was pretty forgiving.
The Queenstown night life really didn't live up to our expectations. I think it's probably a bigger scene when it's a weekend and warmer summer weather. The weather was starting to cool off for us but it was still nice out. I also think that it gets so much attention for its night life because the bars just stay open later then they do in most places. 4am. Heck! Ferg Burger is even open tell the crack of dawn! We went to 2 or 3 bars before we called it a night and we were in bed by 1am.
Alicia had her Nevus/ canyon swing to do the next afternoon so I suppose we had a great excuse to leave the bar scene and turn in for the night. Somehow she talked Andy into doing the swing with her. That was fine by me as it stopped her from asking me to jump with her. I would rather jump from a plane agsin, skydiving then jump off a bridge and bungee or swing. Plus, the bungee makes me question if my back would get injured and I don't need another back surgery.
It felt like the canyon swing trip took all day but really it only took 2 or 3 hours. I was the excellent photographer and videographer of the day. I walked down and took some pre jump photos and checked out the scene and then went to an above platform to video the jump. Or should I say jumps! It was free to jump the 2nd time if you went naked so of course Alicia did! I mean seriously! That's a backpackers dream discount!
The jump was our last day in Queenstown. It rained that evening but lucky after Alicia and Andy had both jumped. Otherwise we had great weather in Queenstown! We waited for the rain to stop and then walked to dinner so Andy could have the ribs he'd been craving. Alicia and I split fish and chips
and our last night came to a close.
When morning came we made breakfast, showered and packed up. We went to check out and while waiting in the lobby I noticed 2 Swedish girls using wifi. I handed them my left over wifi codes asking them if they wanted the codes. Their eyes lit up like I had gold in my hands! YES! They both said in unison. It was my good deed for the day.
Alicia needed to finish up some quick business at peterpan's before we caught the bus and Andy wanted a coffee and the muffin of the day at Ferg's. I made the tough decision to go with Andy and told Alicia to meet us at the bus stop. We had a 10:10am bus to catch to the airport, flying back to Auckland. I had my last treat at the Ferg bakery (I need to get myself back to Crossfit!) and loved every second of it. Bought Alicia a tea and a treat as well and Andy and I headed to the bus stop and bought our 3 tickets.
Andy and I watched our airport bound bus come... and then go with no sign of Alicia. Then after the bus was out of sight Alicia came running as fast as her pack would allow. She was pretty upset that we missed the bus but Andy and I got her set straight. It was no worries. Another bus would come and we'd catch that we'd just need to be faster checking in at the airport. It all worked out, it always does.
Andy said goodbye to us at the bus stop before the airport and hitchhiked to Christchurch to meet up with his sisters.
Alicia and I flew back to Auckland to be reunited with the Peters family again (our NZ home away from home) for 2 more days. After that it's off to Australia. First stop, Melbourne!
It was cheapest to fly from Auckland to Melbourne... for those who are wondering why we flew back north.
OR you know, maybe it was because we just can't get enough of the Peters family! They are pretty outstanding, after all!