A Travellerspoint blog

I only wanted to upgrade to business class but they threw me

Activities in Queenstown

sunny 23 °C
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Day 22

After a long a deep sleep due to yesterday’s strenuous activity we decided to wander into town to book cars etc to get us to Christchurch next week. We were after a nice relaxed day but because the weather was so good again I decided to check out the final thing I wanted to tick off as done and truth be told one of my main reasons for coming to New Zealand, although I had not told anybody this.

Throughout the trip I have been stupid enough to fall off the Skytower in Auckland, a deep hole in Waitomo, and a large cable car in Queenstown and the only thing left, and a lifetime ambition of mine, is a plane!!!!!! So off to NZone to see what Tandem Skydives they had. Once again I was told I could go right away so I said I would be back in an hour after I had had a cup of tea to let it all sink in. Before I knew it I had signed my life away and bundled into a minibus with 5 other very quiet people for the trip to the airfield. Fortunately they do not muck about and I was no sooner off the bus then I had my jumpsuit on and had been introduced to Sasa my instructor or executioner, one of the two, from Croatia . He was very professional and went through all the safety before walking me, another guy from Liverpool and a nice 50 year old lady from Dunedin, which is just up the road, to the plane.

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Kitted up to go

We all climbed in order, pilots: instructor: bloke from Liverpool: cameraman: Sasa then me. Unfortunalty this meant I was next to the door which was only covered in Perspex, then cameraman : lady from Dunedin and her instructor. I was being cheep and declined a cameraman, partly because of the cost but also I wanted to enjoy the view rather than having a guy buzz around me taking photos. The worst bit was the plane because it was a bit of a bumpy ride. At 9000ft Dunedin woman went. I felt sorry for the camera guy because he had to climb out of the plane and try and hold on for ages until she was in position, his face rippling in the wind like you see in the movies. Me and the Liverpool guy had gone for the long jump, 15000ft, so it was ages after the first jump that we got to our altitude. Now after 12000ft you need oxygen, which I did not realise when I booked in, so we had to have these pipes to put near our noses so we could breathe.

The plane levelled out again and the door was opened and I was shuffled to the edge. With no cameraman for me there was no hanging about and before I knew I had that stomach in my ears feeling again as I dropped to 9.281metres per second. Once we reached terminal velocity, look I am even using the terms like a pro, I had nearly 60 seconds of freefall. Now you can take your skyjump and bungy. Exciting yes but 60 seconds of freefall 15000ft up, well I am sorry that is just a whole different ball game. The good thing was that once I had stopped accelerating to a constant speed there was loads of time to enjoy it. We dropped what seemed like forever and then whollop the chute was open and the deceleration was tremendous. It was fun from then on as I was still miles above the mountains and could see all the way to the coast and dropped for another 10 minutes or so to the ground. Sasa asked if I was ok and I said great so for my pleasure he put in a few turns and spirals which increased the g-force no end and then we were down with a perfect landing.

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Me and Sasa landing

What can I say, I loved it. If there was a space, and I had the money, I would have jumped on the next plane and do it all again it was that good. So much for a quiet chilled out day. It took me until 9pm to get off the high. Brilliant.

So tomorrow it looks like it is going to be grim so we are going to try and get on the jet boat.

Comedy moment of the day: Me at the door of the plane waiting for the 3,2,1 count which never came as we were away before I got to 2.

Posted by karlg598 00:44 Archived in New Zealand Tagged air_travel Comments (5)

Sole man

Walking up Ben Lomond, Queenstown

sunny 23 °C
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Day 21

That is our 3rd week today which is scary because in some respect it has gone fast but in others it feels like ages since we were on the Americas Cup boat in Auckland.

Today we thought we would get away from it all by doing the Ben Lomond summit walk which is 1748m high above Queenstown. Safety first again, we went to the Hotel reception to let them know where we were going and to our surprise the Chillian receptionist had done the walk herself and gave us some top tips, certainly a lot different than when with did the Alex Knob track at Frans Josef when they hardly knew the track existed at the camp site.

There are so few tracks around these parts, relatively speaking compared to Scotland, that they are really well signposted and maps are so large scale that they do not have enough detail. This was our excuse for not taking one with us and as usual the first 100 meters we may have gone slightly wrong and had to walk back to the start to look at the board with the route on it. I used my initiative though and took a photo of the route with my camera so we did not make the same mistake again, although setting the map to true north proved somewhat tricky!!!!

The route took us up near the Gondola then out onto open hillside with only scrub vegetation, rewarding us with excellent views most of the way. It was a bit of a push for the top but we did manage it in about three and a bit hours. Like a magician not willing to unveil his trick until the last minute only after the final push to the top did the mountain reveal the 360degree view we had sweated for. Words or photos can not come close to describing the beauty from the top and with hardly a cloud in the sky it was just “awesome”.

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Me on top of Ben Lomond

By the time we got back to the hotel my feet we a little swore and after a bit of a soak in the bath I may have had a tiny afternoon power knap to revitalise me. Top day though. We have no plans for tomorrow although there are a few logistics that need to be sorted out. I am sure we will do something that will increase our photo count enough to really bore our families when we get home though.

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The two numpties on the top

Comedy moment of the day: Me getting nearly to the top and realising my feet are hurting more than usual and the getting my boots off only to find I had not put the insoles back in from Frans Josef walk. This was to prove a fatal mistake on the down trek as there are seams in my walking boots right on the heels and so I am now sitting typing this with two blisters on the bottom of both feet. Numptie.

Hobitometer: back by popular demand, today and yesterday combined gets a 4 awks out of 5 due to several reasons. We did see where they filmed various scenes from middle earth around Queenstown. Also Julian tried to drag me into the Lord of the Rings shop in town to buy a plastic Awk axe, fortunately I managed to stand my ground even though they did have the LOR tour. Finally Julian said I looked like Gandalf the grey with my stubble and the fact that because my feet were hurting me so much I had to pick up a wooden staff to take the weight off!!!!

Posted by karlg598 23:38 Archived in New Zealand Tagged ecotourism Comments (3)

buncy start to the day

adrenalin in Queenstown

sunny 23 °C
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Day 19

We travelled to Queenstown today at breakneck speed in order to drop off the campervan. I am sure Julian had a tear in his eye when we left it in the car park alone which was a surprise as it attacked him every night, you can still see the bumps on his head.
So Queenstown. Not too bad but it is as expected, very commercialised. There is a bit of competition between who has the largest sunglasses for the ladies, and who has the lowest shorts without them actually being described as fallen down for the guys. I am not too sure what’s cool about constantly pulling up your pants, maybe it must be my age. Apart from the fashion victims the town itself is pretty good and the views of the Remarkables Range and Lake are fantastic.
Got to the hotel, Aspen on Queenstown, and were told we did not have any lake view apartments but when we got into the room it looks out over the lake and the mountains, fantastic.

Day 20

It has been a while since the adrenalin was pumping so when in Queenstown this only means one thing, Bungy. Following on from the epic theme at Waitomo I decided that if you are going to do your first bungy jump you may as well make it the biggest. Forget platforms or bridges, I decided to book myself on the Nevis Bungy, 134m of shear terror over the Nevis gorge.
Having done the Sky Tower this should be a walk in the park, but when Mr Cool dude picked us up in the bus playing Firestarter by the Prodigy, I may of got a little worried. We drove to the site and I must admit I have no idea how he got the bus up the incline to the jump but I had my seatbelt on!!!!
Once strapped into my harness, after a last toilet stop which was due to the second cup of tea and not the fact that I was about to launch my 134m to certain death, we got put into this little truckie thing to take us out to the jumping gondola suspended on wires across to gorge. I said my farewells to Julian who’s job it was to film the event from the relative, although he was still a bit twitchy, safety of the viewing platform because I am a cheapskate and did not want to pay for the DVD.

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Happy before the Jump

I was 5th to jump so when it came to my turn they sit you in this “electric” chair, so called because everyone who sits in it are shaking (not me I was playing it cool), and put the straps around you legs. I have to say the two old jump masters were very professional and obviously took safety very seriously. Then you waddle up to the ledge and realise there is no going back. 3, 2, 1, and then my stomach launched itself into the throat and I freefell fore 8 ½ seconds. What a rush, it just feels like it is never ending. I would like to say the view was great but it was all a blur.
After a couple of bounces I pulled the cord to turn me the right way up and got hoisted back to the gondola and time to enjoy everyone else cacking themselves. Just brilliant. There was some blue language from some of the ladies which was a surprise as I did not know ladies swore.

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Spot the Griffster

Once I had my pictures and T-shirt, we were shuttled back to Queenstown. This afternoon we decided to take a trip up the Gondola as the weather was great. Well worth it as the ride is very steep, Julian was twitching again, and the views are out of this world. We saw a few people jump of the Ledge bungy at the top, which is only 43m so hardly a jump at all, although the language from one poor girl was enough to send all the Japanese tourists flicking through their English translation guides to work out what she said. One poor lady bottled it big time and was in a right state by the time she walked back to the walkway. That’s peer pressure for you.
Julian had to do something exciting today as well so he had a couple of goes on the Luge track at the top of the Gondola. No one was safe on the track as he came around on only two wheels. Small children were seen fleeing for their lives!!!! Very funny to watch.
Tomorrow we plan to do Ben Lomond which is over 1700m high. I have got the plasters at the ready just in case and I am hoping the day will be like today as the views will be out of this world.

Comedy moment of the day: Watching a cool dude with all the trendy gear on just about collapse off the bungy as his legs gave way from terror and his ego deflated faster than his legs forgot to hold him up. He went but it was not pretty.

Posted by karlg598 00:17 Archived in New Zealand Tagged air_travel Comments (2)

I thought you were suppose to ride it

Mountain biking in Wanaka

storm 14 °C
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Day 18

I thought you were suppose to ride the bike

We had big plans today of heading out onto the lake in a hired sailing dinghy but awoke to what can only be described as the end of the world. The wind was certainly up, even for us two sailing nutters, and it was truly dreadful. Still not to be easily deterred, the hardened men of the campervan went and hired a couple of fully sprung mountain bikes, due to the fact that there were no others left, for what was suppose to be the excellent trails around Wanaka. The ride along to lake was fantastic even if it was tipping it down, but when we got to the forest things went downhill quite literally. To be honest the black runs were some what above my abilities so I spent an awful lot of time chuntering to myself about what a whimp I am while pushing the bike. Julian went off at his usual reckless pace but soon got lost as the trails were not that well marked or followed into each other. Basically we both spent pretty much 50% of the time off the bike pushing. I think a little local knowledge was required.

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Me looking like I know what I am doing

Once back into town we met up for lunch with Julian’s niece Siận who he had not seen for 10 years. We had a great chat and she was generally pleased to see us which was brill. We spent ages blethering away like right gossips so Julian was glad he had had the opportunity to catch up after all this time.

By the afternoon lets just say the past few days of high activity had caught up with one of the members of the group who may have had a power knap, before we finished up with a stroll along the Lake.

So last night in the campervan and to be honest I am glad. Sleeping on two cushions and a dinning table has began to get to me and at the risk of offending anyone with campervans, I will be glad to get in a proper bed. We are off to Queenstown tomorrow and have big plans to get the adrenalin running again, but I will talk about them when we have tried and succeeded. Obviously I will not say anything if we chicken out.

Comedy moment of the day: Julian banging his head so hard on the roof of the van and me not knowing what to do, whether to make a laugh and joke about it or keep quiet until he regained consciousness

Posted by karlg598 00:13 Archived in New Zealand Tagged bicycle Comments (1)

The definition of heartbreak

travelling from Frans Josef to Wanaka

sunny 23 °C
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Day 17

The definition of heartbreak is not when your misses has left you or you have just pranged your brand new car, it is getting up in the morning with not a cloud in the sky surrounded by hills and a glacier and not being able to hardly walk because you did a big hill in the rain the day before. Yep as is usually the case the weather was fantastic today, although later on it did cloud over so we still probably would not have had a view (I keep telling myself that anyway), after our rain sodden trek yesterday. You win some you loose some I suppose and today the result was pretty much a England cricket score, a loss.

So we packed the van up and went over to Fox Glacier which is in the next valley across. Even though we had pretty much exhausted glaciers it was well worth the short drive as it is so different to Frans Josef and just a spectacular. We did see the Fox glacier guides going up as well and it seamed a more of a low key affair with small groups going up and one guide, which taking nothing from Frans Josef guides, I think would have suited us two more rather than the production line we had.

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Then we trundled down to Wanaka in the centre of the South Island and because we had gone a fair way inland the amount of annual rainfall drops and the scenery takes on a whole new pattern. Most of the mountains around here have a distinct lack of forest, I think making them far more spectacular. Looking like the Scottish hills and with a glorious day the whole area around Wanaka is just awe inspiring.

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The Top 10 campsite is great again, if not a little out of town but nothing too challenging for us two whipper snappers, and the town itself is great. Not too commercialised but enough to have good bars and restaurants and loads of activities.

This is Ski resort area in the winter so all the houses have logs burners, which I was checking out having installed one myself. (sad I know). So thumbs up to Wanaka. We have another day here and we have the option of sailing on the Lake or Mountain biking again, as it is a big biking area. Depends on the weather.

Comedy moment of the day: Booking into the campsite the guy said he could not give us a front site tonight but could tomorrow. Julian reply’s why we need a front site and he said so we could have a view. Julian’s reply “a view of what”. The guy looked dumb founded as the site overlooked Wanaka!!!

Posted by karlg598 00:21 Archived in New Zealand Tagged travelling_with_pets Comments (0)

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