It was another thoroughly beautiful day, a very good choice for the first official day of Summer in New Zealand. The Saturday of Labour Weekend is the day all the lifeguards start working again and Wanaka was heaving. There was a mountain bike race going on in the town centre, with pavements cordoned off and ramps set up. We stopped by the i-Site and asked where the best place would be to walk and were told that Mount Iron (very aptly named, I'm sure I don't need to tell you why) would rewards us with some incredible views of Lake Wanaka and it's town so off we went. We parked at the bottom of the track and off we set, me in a vest top making the most of the sunshine and Dan in his shorts (but that won't be news to you!) It was pretty tough going, the path raising steeply in parts. The sun, although more than welcome was not helping and my legs were screaming at me, not fully recovered from our all day Glacier Walk on Thursday. Still we made it to the top just after half an hour and the view was tremendous. The Lake stretched on as far as the eye could see, with fast melting snow on top of the mountains in the background and a sharp green valley around the edges. So so beautiful. We sat and marvelled at this for a good quarter of an hour and could also make out Lake Hawea in the North East. I could have stayed there all day.
The path was quite busy. There were a couple of tourists seeking peace from the Festival and admiring the amazing scenery but there were also a few locals (or tourists) making the most of this free method of exercise. The track was the first one I've seen so far in New Zealand that allowed dogs and a few owners were taking advantage of this AND running at the same time!
We walked. and in some places, ran back to the bottom, this time walking towards the lake so we were still able to enjoy the vistas and very quickly we were back at the bottom. We had lunch in the camper (soup for me, cheese and salami sandwiches for Dan) and then moved on to Puzzle World, further on up the road. This was such a fun place and we were there for at least four hours playing away. They had a giant labyrinth on two floors, with four towers in each corner of the maze. We had two choices, we could either try and get to each tower randomly or in a symmetrical order. I chose the latter, Dan chose the former, and off we went.
Why oh why did we bother going for a three mile hike??? The maze was outside and most of it was in full view of the sun and I was boiling and panting within five minutes. We were racing each other so at times we were jogging round getting thoroughly lost. For the first ten minutes I just utterly confused and baffled myself, getting very lost and not making it to any of the towers. I knew in order to reach the Yellow Corner I needed to head into the other half of the maze to get the bridge back across but it was hard work. Eventually I began working methodically, taking one route and if that didn't work back tracking and seeing where all the exits lead to. I found the Green tower a couple of times before I hit the jackpot and walked along the bridge back towards the Yellow Corner. I passed Dan a couple of times, and he had been to three corners and was on his last one, although he had not completed them in order. Once I found the yellow I was on a roll and found the Green relatively quickly. By now Dan had been to all four but was completely confused about how to get out. I already knew that route and just prayed he wouldn't find it. I found the Blue and finally the Red corner and made my way back to where I needed to be, losing my way once or twice but finding the exit bridge quite swiftly, and saw my husband sat in the courtyard. Fail! BUT he had take a little over half an hour which was average, I took 40 minutes to do the corners in order, which we were advised would take at least an hour, so I was faster than average *smiles smugly*.
We went and recovered in the puzzle room with a kitkat and a drink and started on some puzzles, big mistake! I found one I couldn't complete and refused to move until I cracked it. It was one of those one where you've got about 12 different size pieces and you've got to fit them together to form a square. What really annoyed me is Dan was doing other little puzzles quite happily and completing them, while I got more and more frustrated with myself that I couldn't figure this one out, so he had a go and did it within five minutes! Well, that was a red rag to a bull! I like puzzles, I like solving them, there was no way I was going to be beaten, so I took a breather and we went into another room, where they had lots of brain teaser drawings on the wall (like the steps in a square shape that just keep on going upwards, and the hand drawing the hand, drawing the hand). They also had some 3D images on the wall, which did literally jump out at you and moved as you moved. I don't know how they do that without the glasses, they must put a film over the top of each picture so no one needs to wear them.
Then we came to a room, which was used numerous times in the LOTR trilogies. It's a room where one side of it had a very low ceiling, so low that the average person has to crouch down, and a door, which again is much smaller than normal. The ceiling slopes so that at the other side of the room the ceiling is much higher than the other side, a bit higher than average, and again, a door frame that is slightly larger than normal. This is how they managed to get Frodo to look like a hobbit and Gandalf to look much taller than him. The tops of both the door frames reach the same point a couple of inches below the ceiling so they look as though they are the same size. It was great to see one of the techniques used.
On we went into our final room, which made me feel sick and I couldn't wait to leave. The room was slanted at around 15 degrees so when you stood on the floor gravity was pulling you down, whereas your brain was trying to fool you into believing that the room was normal. It was horrible and I didn't like it. They had different features around the room, such as a tap with water flowing into a pipe below that looked as though the water was leading up the pipe and not down, a pool table in which the ball rolled back towards you no matter how hard you rolled it the other way, and a little platform that was level with the actual floor but when you stood on it your brain got completely confused and tried to defy gravity. I left quite quickly and went back to my puzzle, leaving Dan in there. I eventually cracked it but it was a poor performance!
It was time to leave Wanaka and had to Adventure City. We took the scenic route and drove over the hills, rather than taking the highway, passing a closed ski area (boooooo!) and seeing an incredible view of the valley in which Queenstown and Arrowtown reside. It was a lovely short drive and we arrived in Queenstown within ninety minutes and we pulled up in a holiday park for the next couple of nights. We both had showers having sweated most of our body weight during the course of the day and hit the town (it is Saturday night after all)! We had had several recommendations to find Fergburger and have a legendary burger. Well, we hadn't been disappointed or let down by anyone yet so off we went.
We found the burger joint easily enough (it had big hoards of people outside, always a good sign) and pondered over what to have. I settled on a Cockadoodle Oink, which was a chicken burger with bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato (quickly discarded) garlic mayo and tomato relish. Dan had a Mr Big Stuff, which was a typical beef and bacon burger. We were thoroughly hungry after our busy day so we ordered fries and onion rings as well. BIG MISTAKE! After about ten / fifteen minutes our number was called out and we collected our food. We perched alongside the order bar and unwrapped our burgers. They were bigger than our hands. How on earth were we suppose to fit these into our mouths?? Let alone, consume them, the fries and the onion rings?? The first bite was awesome and the food just melted away. Tasty doesn't do these burgers justice, they were simply legendary!
We waddled out of the eatery and onto the pavement wondering what to do next. By now the sun had set and it started to get quite chilly so we had a little walk through the town in search of a bar and came across the casino. "lets go and burn some calories in there" we said so inside we went, only to be turned away because somebody was wearing jeans with holes in them (you should have listened to your Dad Dan and taken them back!) so we settled on "The World Bar" and walked inside. It was empty. It was only 8:30pm though, still early. I was still far too full to even look at alcohol so I just drank some water, hoping to help my metabolism work it's way through the mountain of food inside my big, fat tummy, and Dan had a pint. We played pool and miraculously I won a game (how on earth did that happen?) and then happy hour kicked in. It was at this point I realised this bar served alcohol in teapots!! Now, for those sensible people who went to bed after the DJ finished playing at our wedding will have missed my Chief bridesmaid ordering rum from the residents bar and asking for it to be served in a teapot, so in her honour I couldn't resist and I ordered a tropical cocktail (half price, woohoo!) and took the next hour to drink the thing. Dan had two long island iced teas in the interim and we formed together a plan for Australia. At 11:30pm happy hour had ended and the slight rush that had built up died again. The DJ arrived and stopped the relatively good music and started playing stuff I couldn't tell you what genre it was, let alone who was playing so we hung our heads in shame and headed back to the van. To the Moose crew, we're sorry we let you down!
We had a lie in this morning thanks to the huge quantity of alcohol that one of us consumed last night! We had always planned to recuperate from the excessive amount of driving we have done in the last week today and it was so nice to have a typical Sunday morning. Once I was up I did two loads of washing and managed to save some pennies (and do my bit for the environment) and dry the clothes on the line outside in record time (no ozone layer does have its bonuses!) Once I had finished we walked into town to feast ourselves on yet another Ferg burger (they really are exceptional!) I had the same again and it was just as nice as last night's, while Dan broadened his horizon and had a Big Al, and big it was! He really struggled to take a proper bite of a burger with a pattie, eggs, bacon, lettuce, tomato, beetroot and much more in it.
Afterwards we stumbled upon the DOC office and went inside to ask their advice on walking the Milford Track. We were really keen to do this so we were going to pursue it to the last minute. Thankfully the very helpful lady told us that if there is an avalanche risk they advise all walkers and give them the option of a refund or the chance to ride a helicopter over the treacherous parts into safer regions to continue on walking. This sounded good to us so we booked the necessary transport to and from the track and the bunks in the huts on the way. We would need to hire or buy sleeping bags and camping cooking equipment but that was all. Now we were very excited as the Milford Track is supposedly one of the best walks in the world and it very much looked as if we would be walking it.
We waddled back to the van, where I finished my book and then it was time for our latest adrenaline adventure, one which Queenstown is famous for .... no, calm down, it's not the bungy!! We're going to go and kill ourselves on the Jet boat and I was terrified!! I'll hand you over to my husband!!
We decided to go with the all out thrill of the original, Red Shotover jet boat experience without the guided tour of the river that other companies offered, so the bus picked us up in town and within 10/ 15 mins we were at the canyon, I could already see how nervous Elles was looking.
They very quickly got us into our splash jacket (though the woman on the desk in the office did say "you won't get wet", and our life jackets, and after a quick photo on the river bank our driver Jason met us all and loaded us up into the boat.
After a small safety talk of about 2 mins he hit the throttle and we were off we raced up stream first so he could give us a taster where the river is much more open, and we flew along in water that looked only about a foot deep (the boats only need 10cm of water to operate in at full speed) next thing with a wave of his hand above his head, everyone held on tight as he spun the boat 360 degrees it was just like a truly awesome roller coaster.
We then spent the next 20 mins or so racing through a canyon barely wider than the boat in places with sheer rock faces either side taking turns and doing spins with what seemed like millimetres between us and certain doom and getting fairly wet with all the water flying around. I loved it and I think Elles did too as she whooped and screamed as we tore around.
We decided to buy the photos the video and the stubby holder! and on our way out stopped to look at some of the famous people they have had do it from George Lucas, Peter Jackson, My good old rugby team from SA the Sharks and our boat driver was even pictured there with our world cup winning rugby captain Martin Johnson ... not bad. The short trip back to town on the bus came with a little video trying to convince you that you haven't seen Queenstown till you have seen it from upside down on a bungy cord ... but I really still not too sure about that just yet ... who knows :-)
Once again we had a very quiet evening after yummy bangers and mash (who said we would miss home cooked food?) and we settled down to get hooked on 24.
Dan and Elles xx