We woke up Sunday morning to a beautiful sunny day. We started the day right with a lovely French breakfast in town. Then, it was time to see the sights!
The first thing we decided to do was to ride the Shotover jet boat. I had done a jet boat ride on the North island a few years ago, and they are a blast. Shotover is generally known as the first and best, so it was a must-do while in Queenstown.
The jet boat ride was as fun as I remembered. This one went racing through a narrow canyon at 40 mph or so, skimming by the canyon walls and doing 360’s in the wide section. There were Korean grandmas in the row behind us, squealing on each sharp turn. It was a crack up.
After the boat ride we decided to head to Queenstown to ride the gondola up the mountain. We had heard that the view was amazing there, and we figured we would check it out and then head put on a hike.
The top of the gondola seems pretty much to be the extreme sports capital of New Zealand, and therefore the world. From the skydeck, we could watch bungy jumpers, paragliders, downhill mountain bikers in full pads, zipliners flying through the forest, and luge-cart riders on a concrete track. We decided to skip all that stuff, if you can believe it.
We left the madness of the gondola and started our hike up Ben Lomond, the big mountain next to town. It was very clear and very hot. All in all, though, it was a magnificent hike. Check out a few pictures!
After our rigorous and vigorous hiking, we felt justified in returning to our more normal vacation activity; that is, eating,drinking, and generally chilling.
We awoke to rain on Monday morning. It was a driving day, so we checked out of Arrowtown and started heading south to Te Anau. Our plan was to head over the pass to Milford Sound, one of the most beautiful drives in NZ to one of the most beautiful places in NZ. Unfortunately things were attenuated a bit by the misty, cloudy, rainy weather, so while the drive was certainly impressive – dozens of thousand foot waterfalls were cascading off the cliffs due to the rain – it wasn’t exactly stunning.
After this misty journey we had a lovely dinner in Te Anau, headed to our accommodations in Manapouri, and called it a night.
Tuesday dawned a bit brighter, and we packed up for our 12-person overnight boat excursion on the misty and mysterious Doubtful Sound. This trip was awesome, no other way to describe it. We cruised the various as of the sound, did some kayaking, some fishing, and are plenty of seafood. We pulled in a lobster trap filled with enormous creatures, were followed by an albatross for a while, and almost crashed into porpoises while kayaking. All without a boat or human habitation in sight. Truly magical.
We had a nice sleep in our very cozy berth, and had an awesome breakfast of lobster legs. We got back to Manapouri around noon, had a leisurely and sunny drive back to Queenstown, and caught our short flight to Christchurch.