Today we finally arrived in Queenstown, which would be our base for the next few days. What a place!
On our way we stopped off at Puzzling World to tackle one of the world's first 3-D mazes which proved too much of a challenge for us. It was pretty damn cool, but as with all mazes, utterly infuriating... so while Matt keenly went about completing the challenge properly (by finding the colour-coded corners in a suggested order), we merely searched for the corners randomly. Needless to say, none of us had succeeded in completing the maze even with our adjusted goals, when we called back to the Kiwi Bus with a honk of the horn. Before tackling the maze we had found some less taxing activities indoors and had a lot of fun reliving the Lord of the rings effect in the Ames room. It demonstrated the technique used to make the hobbits so damn small and those around them, well, so damn massive. I won't bother trying to describe how this works but it was pretty slick, transforming Josh & Shil instantly into their middle earth equivalents as they entered the room. This place was chock-full of tricks and games, and other highlights included a slanting room and hundreds of optical illusions. Our entry had included a "free bacon" sarnie, and although we weren't duped by this cheap marketing trick, an early start meant that this "special offer" breakfast was necessary. However, free or not free, the sarnie was definitely not worth it, especially since we were in much need of fuel after our aimless wander around the maze. Not impressed!
Our next stop was the Kawarau Bungy Centre- a museum (with an optional bungy over the Kawarau river at the end) dedicated to bungy jumping, serving as a lasting homage to A J Hackett - the inventor of bungy jumping. A quick video schooled us in the origins of the bungy, when A J Hackett and his mates had take to jumping off various bridges across NZ. As you do. It wasn't until 1986 when Hackett threw himself off the Eiffel Tower strapped to a bungy that bungy jumping as a sport, really took off. This illegal stunt was all that the sport needed to get the full attention of the world media and the rest is history. Seeing all the videos and then watching a few people launch themsleves off the bridge, I knew I had to book myself in before I decided to back out, scheduling the Nevis Bungy for the next day. Of course I was very nervous, but after seeing the videos I was also psyched at the prospect of doing the highest bungy in NZ.
A short stint on the bus swept us into Queenstown, where our driver, Spud, left us to the controversial claim that Frank 'n' Burger was better than it's older, undisputed big brother: Fergburger. It's a well-known fact that Queenstown offers people the chance to do numerous adrenaline sports and is a mere hour's drive away from some of the best skiing in NZ, but one thing that seems more of a myth than a fact is the reputation of Fergburger. The first thing a couple of mates had told me about NZ when I first looked into travels here was: "Make sure you go to Fergburger", while the other added: "you have to order a "Big Al"". In short, the name of Fergburger to travellers is the equivalent of A J Hackett to adrenaline junkies or David Beckham to the world of sport. Ferg is huge.
Intirgued by Spuds' claim and not feeling quite up to a "Big Al" just yet (the menu read: the Big Al delivers a double serving of prime NZ beef (1/2lb), lashings of bacon, a whole lotta cheese, 2 eggs, beetroot, lettuce, tomato, red onion, relish & a big wad of aioli) we grabbed a Frank 'n' burger to make up for our average breakfast attempt. Admittedly it was one of the best burgers I had ever had, but over the next few days three and a half Fergburgers would prove that there is only one winner when it comes to burgers in QT.
The Base hostel in Queenstown, as with Base all over NZ, was the choice hostel for those on the Kiwi Buses, and catching up with Charlie Griff in the lobby, minutes after he'd just sent us a message pretending he'd left QT for good (cheeky w***), was the first of many reunions there. After some catch-ups in the room we decided to chill out by heading to the cinema to watch Inception, much to the annoyance of Matt who was busy having a new tooth fitted following a fight with an ice-axe on the Franz Josef glacier. No prizes for guessing who won. The film was brilliant, but utterly confusing, which was probably just a clever marketing ploy by the director because we immediately decided that we needed to see the film again to piece together our many theories.
Finally, it was time to sample the nightlife of Queenstown, which, true to form, meant predrinks at the hostel first. Most people stay for at least 3 or 4 days in QT, so we had our chance to catch up with our North Island bus, a party that was guaranteed to be even bigger because it was Irish Joe's birthday. Cue one of the most ridiculous starts to a night in NZ. Following the film we were a little late to Joe's room, and very far behind the rest of the group in terms of alcohol consumption. It was a madhouse, and Matt soon realised why we'd been so annoying and had gone on about how brilliant the North Island bus had been in the days leading up to the reunion! At least 20 people were crowded into a dorm for 6 and with tunes blaring we were making quite a racket. After getting busted in Wellington with the same group, Josh, Shil & I were a little wary that at any moment the hostel staff would burst in and take away our alcohol but somehow, even despite the phone being ripped off the wall and dropkicked across the room, we were left undisturbed!
Next up was karaoke in the hostel's own Altitude bar which proved to be a defining moment in my evening. Very keen to get up and belt out "Mr. Brightside" by the Killers, I rushed to have my name put down and then waited a decent 20 minutes for my turn, when I suddenly noticed that I was now friendless. Everyone else had ditched me and headed on to bigger and better parties at other bars while I had been patiently waiting for my moment on the mic. Epic fail.
The remainder of the evening was a wild goose chase as I attempted to catch up with the others and only managed to get as far as Fergburger, where a bout of the munchies ensured that I was to have my first Ferg. I went for the regular order (still just about as good as most burgers can ever aspire to!) and promptly sat down on facebook in the hostel to write things on people's walls that I surely would not remember the next day. Smooth.
So, through noone's fault but my own, I managed to miss the best of the QT nightlife on night 1... but luckily with 4 more nights to come I wasn't to be disappointed. And karaoke wouldn't get in the way next time - I was sure of that much.
(Karaoke was only on once a week)
Over and out
Dan / Burge