Queenstown: Final goodbyes, gondola rides and an earthquake

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I had decided to get up early with the girls to wave them goodbye on their journeys. With their alarms going off, I laid in bed until they were ready to leave.img_20161113_132649

Outside the hostel, a crowd of backpackers waited for their bus to arrive. Waving goodbye, the Irish girl and the driver I’ve had most of the time left to do the deep south. Then shortly after, the two British girls mounted the bright orange bus to continue to Christchurch. I was in a bit of a funny mood, not sure what to do with myself. I was always fine with goodbyes but as I’ve got older it has become harder and harder. I will never forget my time with them.img_20161113_130710

As it was still early, I decided to go back to bed until midday to catch on lost sleep.

After getting dressed and eating some toast, I wandered around the city, first trying to find the market but without any success. Then I mooched over to the gardens by the beach, which was such a peaceful walk with the most picturesque scenery. The cool air brushed through my hair. One side of me was the gentle lake and on the other was a forest. In the forest, there were many Frisbee goals to enjoy and sounds of different birds chirping away. I did a loop around the park admiring the views including fountains and beautiful flowers.img_20161111_184728

While walking through the town centre, I meandered in and out of shops, looking for postcards, tasting fudge and tea. It was just so tasty.

I wanted to go to the top of the mountain so moseyed towards the opening of the hilly path. However, I had been advised by a fellow traveller to go up the mountain in a gondola. Usually I’m pretty careful with my money and would have walked up but I decided to treat myself after losing my friends.DCIM117GOPRO

Once I had purchased a ticket, I joined the queue for the gondolas, where I stepped in the revolving mental box and took a seat. A lady insisted on taking my photo before ascending up. The high I got, the better the view was. It was such a beautiful day with the sun blazing down and a slight breeze.

At the top, I walked round the viewing deck to take some photos and watch people throw themselves off a ledge to do a bungy jump. As I continued strolling higher along a windy path, many people were paragliding and racing cars down a track on the luges. I took myself to a quiet area on a patch on grass and just watched the world go by and reflect for a bit whilst being mesmerised by the sight.img_20161113_151333

Later on in the afternoon, I rode the gondola back to the ground floor and with my stomach feeling empty, I bought a veggie pie, which New Zealanders eat all the time (it was my first one as the majority of them have different meats in). Back at the hostel I met two girls who had just moved into the room and exchanged the normal sort of information but they were very drunk.DCIM117GOPRO

At about 6.30pm, I went to cookie time (famous in NZ) as they had 2 for 1 on their hot cookies, where I got a rocket road and a white chocolate and cranberry cookie. They just melted in my mouth. I went to the supermarket to buy lunch for my day trip the following day.

In the evening, I just chatted to my Mum on skype and then had an early bedtime. When I went to sleep, the two British drunk girls were already in bed together. I think they were a couple and they might have been having fun with each other when I walked.

Some point after midnight, I got woken up, which is very unusual for me. Initially I thought it was because of the girls talking to herself, saying ‘my bed’s wet’ and her rummaging about as she had wet the bed. How gross! However, the next day I found out there was a huge earthquake north of Christchurch but it shook the whole of New Zealand so this is probably what woke me up.

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Queenstown: Bungy Jump and crazy nights New Zealand

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Back on the bus, we drove to Queenstown through different high, stony valleys, passing several bungy spots including the first ever one in the world. I didn’t know what to expect of Queenstown. I kind of thought it would be like Wellington with a shopping area on flat ground, maybe even a harbour. I had spoken to many people who had been there in the past and said it was one of their favourite places in the world. I can now see why.fb_img_1479199777592

As we approached the city, there were mountains of different sizes and shapes surrounding the town with snowy tops next to a picturesque, blue lake. I just can’t put into the words the beauty of the city with houses scattered on the hills.

After an orientation of Queenstown, showing us the best places to eat and explore, we got dropped off at the hostel in the centre of town. As per usual, we checked in, took the lift to the third floor and placed our bags next to our bunks.

Our stomachs were churning due to lack of food so we decided to go to Fergburger, which is an extremely popular and famous food restaurant in Queenstown. There are literally queues down the road to order a burger. While waiting for our food to come, I popped into the travel agent to sort out a refund.fb_img_1479199782359

Finally our food arrived; I ate the fish burger, containing succulent fish in batter, tartare sauce, avocado and salad in a huge, crusty roll. It was delicious but I’m still debating whether this burger or Fat Tuis burger in Abel Tasman is better.

The other hired bikes and rode around the town whereas I just chilled back at the hostel for a few hours. At around 6.30pm, the Stray bus backpackers plus two drivers gathered on the beach to have a couple of drinks as it was the only public place it was allowed. In front of us was the perfect vision of the lake surrounded by snow-topped mountains.

When it started to rain, we vacated the beach and headed to Loco to start the Stray pub crawl. Ready to get the night going, we were given a free shot and cocktail. However, I only wanted a few drinks as I had a big day ahead of me: I was going to do a huge bungy jump.DCIM117GOPRO

Early on in the evening, people danced to the loud music with others chatting. With the crowd already quite drunk, it was difficult to move people to the next place easier but after some time we walked to The World’s end bar. It was a small kind of place with some tunes, where we were given another shot, made in a teapot. Again, we danced a little before heading to Vinnies, a club-like place with people dancing on the platforms and a huge square bar in the middle. Whilst others were going through drinks like they were going out of fashion, I just talked and danced.

In the early hours of the morning, we decided to leave, dragging and carrying one of the drivers out as he was obliterated. We decided to go back to this house about 7km away from the centre to chill. It seemed like a good idea at the time. We started walking there for about an hour but in the end we pulled over a taxi to take us there especially as the last part was a massive, windy hill.DCIM117GOPRO

At the house, I got cooked some food, a random concoction of noodles, sweet chillies sauce, lettuce and bagels. We chilled for a bit before nodding off to sleep.

The next day, we had to work out how to get back to the centre as I needed to be at the bungy shop at 11.30am. I can’t believe it was the day to do the bungy jump as I had booked it more than 6 weeks before, and had several nightmares about it. It was crazy! Why was I doing this to myself? I am generally not scared of anything except doing a bungy jump. I wanted to overcome this fear and challenge myself. Of course, if I was going to do it at all, I was going to do the biggest on in Australasia. Go big! 134m jump!

After catching a bus into town, we went back to the hostel so I could sort my things out and mentally prepare myself. I met the other three girls, who were as crazy as me and then walked to the shop. First we checked ourselves in then we went to the ipads to make sure all our details were correct and sign our lives away, then back to the counter for them to measure our weight. We lounged on beanbags for a bit, watching the extreme sport A J Hackett had to offer, while everyone else went through the check-in procedure.DCIM117GOPRO

The crowd were called into the minibus, where we would be taken to either the original bungy, the Nevis bungy or the big swing. Our driver was very perky, trying to calm our nerves and blaring out music. It was a forty minute ride to the Nervis jump through the valleys and up on a bumpy path to the top of the mountains. I was feeling more and more scared the closer we got with my palm sweating out buckets. Again we checked in then climbed into a harness, where I was strapped up. We walked outside toward the edge of the mountain where there was a cable car hanging from the middle of the valley, looking down on a stream and rocks.

After some instructions, we piled into a little carry cart that took us to the middle where the cable car was and then we carefully stepped into it. My mind by this time was exploding; working myself up, thinking there was no way this was actually going to happen. One of the instructors put two padded reels on my ankles, getting ready to jump. I watched as others jumped and came back up with excitement on their faces. There was upbeat music playing loudly to psych us up.

Out of the four of us, the Irish girl went first: she was adamant that she wasn’t going to do it, pushing herself away from the edge but in the end she did it. It was my turn next, squeezing through the gate and sitting on the dentist like chair while they attached a rope to me and going over the instructions again. Then I stood and the guide shuffled me to the edge of the platform. My heart was racing; my face looking was absolutely panicked, my hands were opening and closing, my voice was shaking saying “No”. In my mind I still though ‘There is no way I am going to do it’. The guy told me somethings which just went in one ear and out the other. Okay…3…no…2…no…1…fb_img_1479199730916

I think I just put my brain on hold and just jumped out like a bird with my arms in the air. It took several seconds to realise I was just falling, falling to my death. It was weird: there was no jolting, no head rush, no feeling of being upside-down. I looked up to count the bounces. I was way more concerned about pulling my leg strap at the correct time to turn myself the right way up than looking at the scenery or the sensation I was feeling. Yes with one swift pull I was vertical again. I clenched on for dear life, laughing and hyperventilating at the same time whilst being pulled back to the cable car. My mind was running in circles. I couldn’t think straight. What had I done? At the top, I was swing around, panicking about how I was going to get in the silver box. The guy grabbed my leg and pulled me inside. Questions were fired at me, still with adrenaline filling my body. I wasn’t sure I actually enjoyed it. I was still in complete shock. I did it… 134m bungy jump in New Zealand with 8 seconds of freefall.

Looking back on hindsight I wished I took the time to take in the view and also to be calmer. At the time, I thought I would never do a bungy again but now I know the feeling, I’m tempted to do another one so I can just take in every moment and feeling.

After me, two of the other girls did their jump too. Before leaving the cable car, our equipment was taken off ready to travel back to the top of the valley. On the other side, our harness was taken off and we had the opportunity to view our photos and videos. I had already planned to buy both as I knew I would never do it again. My video was pretty funny with panic smeared across my face just before jumping.

Once purchased we sat and relaxed for a bit before jumping back in the minivan to take us back to the shop in Queenstown. I, stupidly, left my hoodie in the cable car but they managed to retrieve it for me just as the bus was leaving.   The journey back was a bit of a daze with the feeling of unbelief.img_20161111_184728

Back at the hostel, the girl out of our foursome, who didn’t join us with the extreme activity, bought a bottle of bubbly and party hats to celebrate our success of jumping 134m into a valley. It was so sweet of her.

We were all feeling hungry after all the excitement so we went downstairs to the bar to grab some food. I had vegetable quesadillas and hot chips, which was really tasty. After we walked around town to find a hair salon but we were unsuccessful so we got ready for our last night together before departing ways: two girls heading to Christchurch, one doing the deep south route and I was staying in Queenstown a few more nights. I was really sad to be splitting up with the girls as we had been with each other for the previous two and a bit weeks. The Stray driver was also leaving me and I was going to miss him too; he was on my first bus from Christchurch doing his trainee loop so we kind of got close and I got used to having a familiar face around. When travelling, people seem to make close friendships very quickly as they are constantly spending time together.

In the evening, we gathered in Loco for some drinks and then joined the pub crawl, much similar to the night before. We danced and chatted and drank, and when I was ready to leave, not too late, I bid my farewells to everyone before walking back to the hostel and falling asleep in my bunk. It was a good last night.

 

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