Canyon swing, canyon jet and Queenstown

I am going to use this post to tell you about our final day on New Zealand’s south island and also for some general photos of Queenstown that I took on various evenings throughout the week.

As you may know, Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand. Actually, they claim to be the adventure capital of the world… If you’re interested in bungee jumping, paragliding or white water rafting (to name just a few examples), Queenstown is a pretty good place to be!

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Paragliders over Ben Lomond

We decided that we should partake in some adventure tourism before leaving the south island, so we booked the Shotover Canyon “Double Shot”, which meant the canyon swing and canyon jet for a special price (cheaper than booking each thing separately). We were told to be at the Shotover Canyon shop half an hour before our booking, which we did. There, we were weighed and waited around a bit for the rest of our group to arrive before being driven up to the top of the cliff that we would be swinging from. Jan and I decided to do a tandem swing and I’m a wimp so we chose the least scary version, The Cutaway, where they lower you over the edge of the platform and then pull the pin so you fall down (the next least-scary option is jumping forwards). Neither of us wanted to go backwards because we actually wanted to see the view as well as having the adrenaline rush.

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The above photo shows the platform you swing from with the canyon below. We couldn’t take a camera with us on our swing (you are allowed a GoPro if you have a proper wrist strap for it, but neither of us own such a thing), but after our swing I took some photos of other people from our group. I think it’s okay to use them here since they’re too far away to be identifiable.

The initial freefall is 60m, but it seems much shorter… it was over so fast! I didn’t even scream when they let us go because my breath was literally taken away! After the freefall, you swing around at the end of the wire for a bit before being brought back up. Various jumping methods are available, including diving head first or going down a slide. For a small fee, you can do a second jump, but we chose not to since we had already spent a lot and had a whole week of north island to go!

Once everyone in our group had finished their jumps and purchased whatever photos/videos they wanted, we headed back to the van. Everyone else went back into town while we were dropped off at the canyon jet. Again, we couldn’t take any photos – all our possessions had to be placed in lockers so they wouldn’t get wet or fall out of the boat! But here are some photos of where we went and of one of the boats:

The jet ride was really fun! The driver (captain?) of the boat stopped a few times to tell us where we were and give us some information about the area and the views down in the canyon were absolutely spectacular! I so wish I could have taken photos. The only annoying part was that we had a lady behind us who would not stop screaming and carrying on! The driver used hand signals to indicate when he was about to do a 360° turn because we were supposed to hold on and brace ourselves at those times, and every time he did the signal the annoying woman would start screaming before we even started the turn (he gave us plenty of warning). Gah!! I thought the turns were fun. The worst part for me was when we went over huge rocks  because there wasn’t much warning there. We were right at the front of the boat and I got jolted around quite a lot! I can definitely recommend the Shotover Jet though.

After our jet ride, we took the free bus back into town where we decided to have a relatively relaxing afternoon. We went for lunch at an organic café called Rehab then went to play Frisbee/disc golf in Queenstown Gardens. We then took the gondola up Ben Lomond for some evening views of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountain ranges.

I also found some more of my little friends the Paradise Shelducks. These ones were much easier to photograph than the ones in the Gardens and I spent ages trying to get a shot of them that I was happy with.

After taking the gondola back down, we tried to go to the Queenstown Birdlife Park to see the Kiwis, but it turned out to be closed (Good Friday!) so instead we went for dinner.

And now, as promised, some of the photos I took of Queenstown at various other points during the week:

Photo overload! Gallery two below:

Finally, I shall leave you with a photo of the full moon… which from our point of view was upside down!

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As you can hopefully see, despite being incredibly touristy and not really feeling “real” (I would like to know where the actual residents live/eat/shop!), Queenstown is a beautiful. There aren’t many of the original buildings left, but the builders have done a pretty good job of making everything feel quaint and not too modern. As a base for exploring Milford Sound, the Central Otago region and other parts of southern south island, I can definitely recommend Queenstown!

That was the end of our time on the south island. The next day we returned the rental car and then spent most of the morning at Queenstown airport waiting around because all flights in and out had been delayed due to fog! Watch out for my north island posts coming soon…

Queenstown Gardens

Because we had come back from Milford Sound by plane, we were back in Queenstown relatively early. I had to charge my camera first since it had died on the plane back, so while it was doing that we went to the convenience store to pick up something to drink then made use of the free wi-fi in the hotel lobby (note to anyone considering staying at Novotel – you get 1 hour of free wi-fi per day in the lobby; wi-fi in the rooms has to be paid for! Remind me which century we’re in?!). We weren’t ready for dinner yet having bought quite a bit of food in Te Anau to eat on the Sound cruise, so we decided to go for a walk and ended up in Queenstown Gardens. What follows will include many pictures of plants! I couldn’t help it – so many of them were so different to what I’m used to!

I spent way too long trying to get a decent picture of these birds, which I’m fairly sure are Paradise Shelducks. They just didn’t want to stand still!

The one with the white head is female and the male has a black head. Shelducks form long-term pair bonds, often life-long (aww!) and tend to hang around as couples. Driving around, we would often see a male and a female Shelduck standing in a field somewhere!

In the rose garden, I took far too many photos, mainly because I was trying to play with my camera’s macro setting. Here are a few:

I love the kind of multi-coloured pink/orange ones! They looked so pretty.

The gardens are on a little peninsula, so once we got round to the other side we had a view of a different part of the lake – a part without lots of boats on it (the side where we had entered from is where all the touristy boats are moored). The view there was stunning, especially with the way the evening sun was hitting the mountains.

Back round the other side, a few more photos had to be taken before we finally decided to head off and find something for tea.

There was also a Disc/Frisbee Golf course in the gardens, so we decided to come back and play on our final afternoon in Queenstown. We hired our discs from a place in town for $5 for five hours, but the Internet tells me you can also hire them from the ice rink, which is in the park.

If you have any idea what any of the plants in this post are (other than roses – I can recognise them!) please let me know in the comments.

New Zealand was my March trip for 2016’s redo of Take 12 Trips.

Also linking up for Monday Escapes:

Packing my Suitcase

Food and drink in Queenstown

Instead of doing multiple posts on all the places we ate at, I thought I would just do one post and lump them all in together. Apologies in advance for my inadequacy when it comes to photographing food!

On our first evening in Queenstown, after taking a trip to Paradise, we chose to go to a place we had spotted while looking for the hotel: Smiths Craft Beer House. We originally went for the beer, but ended up eating some of the most delicious pub food I’ve had in a while! I went for venison pie (mmm, Bambi! Sorry vegetarians!) while Jan chose the vegan burger, which consisted of a kumura (sweet potato) pattie with salad and pesto, served with hand cut fries and the most amazing aioli!

Obviously beer was consumed. I can’t remember the names of all the ones we sampled, but this one was definitely among them:

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Why bother giving your beer a fancy name?

It was actually quite nice, despite the lack of creativity in the name 😉

On the second night, we went to The World Bar, because my sister’s boyfriend had recommended it. Their main claim to fame is that they serve cocktails in teapots. We initially decided to go for something slightly less strong though and chose some interesting sounding ciders from the menu. To eat, I went for “Chicken & Waffles” which, as the name suggests, consisted of southern fried chicken on waffles. It also came with bacon and maple syrup. The combination sounded intriguing, but the chicken was quite fatty and not that nice. Jan had some quinoa wrap thing, which was quite tasty (if incredibly trendy!). Definitely the better choice!

Obviously we had to partake in teapot cocktails, if only so I could take a picture to send to my sister’s boyfriend! Mine was called Bloom and tasted exactly like a strawberry Mini Milk, but with alcohol.

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The teapot came with shot glasses to drink it from, but trying to pour it into them was messy! Much easier to stick a straw in the teapot…

The cocktails are fun, but other that I wouldn’t say The World Bar is an absolute must when you’re in Queenstown. (Sorry A!).

On night three, we went to another beer place on the recommendation of our wine tour guide! We mentioned that we had been to Smith’s, so he suggested we try out Atlas Beer Cafe. According to him, they have the best steak and chips in Queenstown… I can’t comment on that though since Jan and I both chose beef sausage on kumara mash (are you sensing a theme here?). It was absolutely delicious – more than making up for the previous night’s disappointing chicken!

We both chose to drink beer by Altitude here since it’s a local brewing company. Unfortunately neither of the ones we tried was particularly to our taste. Oh well, you win some, you lose some!

The next night we went to a fish restaurant where I took no pictures, but was asked for the first time in my life how I wanted my salmon cooked! (They recommended “medium rare”, I went for it and it was delicious!), so to the final night…

Our last night in Queenstown was Good Friday. According to New Zealand law, alcohol is not allowed to be sold on Good Friday… unless you’re having it with a meal! Many places were just closed entirely, some were open for dinner then planned to close afterwards, opening again at midnight (when it wouldn’t be a holiday any more…). Everywhere was absolutely packed! We managed to find some room at a table in  Pub on Wharf though (yes.. that’s its name. Who needs articles?). This time Jan had salmon (because it came with wasabi mash), while I chose pork belly stuffed with apricot, sage and onion and served with mash, veg and apple sauce. It was a good choice! The beer on tap was from Mac’s brewery, and it was all very tasty. Win!

Overall, I can recommend every single place we ate at… except maybe The World Bar. I’ll leave that one for the youngsters and party animals, I think 😉