We left the small town of Franz Josef on a full day bus journey bound for the adventure capital of the world...Queenstown! Everyone was very excited as every traveller in New Zealand hears of stories of the place weeks before they arrive, so expectations were high. They were definitely filled though as we arrived into the small alpine town which had a buzzing atmosphere about it. The first priority after dumping the bags off was to go and try the famous Fergburger that everyone hears about. It's just a burger restaurant but at the same time it's like no other. The burgers are huge, full of fresh local ingredients and they must put a secret sauce in cause they were so good! After a belly full, the group of us travelling on the bus went out for the evening to some backpacker bars and had a great time, despite the odd few of us being thrown out for drunken behaviour. Don't worry I was exempt from it!
The next morning I was up bright and early and was very excited as I was to begin three days of skiing, something that I had never tried before but had always wanted to! The journey up to the slopes was exciting enough as we climbed ever higher and had amazing views over the town, mountains and lakes below, and the perfect weather topped it off. I found my first mistake though as a rookie skier was forgetting sunglasses and sun cream so I was blinded and burnt on my first day! The first lesson was full of old women who really shouldn't have been there, let alone standing, and was very patronising but after refuelling at lunch, we hit some steeper slopes which was great fun. I went the whole day without falling and was turning really well according to the instructor, so with this ego boost I decided to stay for the night skiing and try some of the real slopes. After taking the chairlift up, I began the beginner slope but soon realised I hadn't actually properly learnt how to turn and so ended up bombing it straight down the mountain, narrowly missing others and fast approaching the off piste area! With no way of stopping I had to throw myself to the ground, which was a lot harder and colder than expected! Not being detered though, I went back to the top, but unfortunately the same thing happened again, only this time there was an 8 year old kid who skied over to help me up and make me feel bad. My confidence was well and truly shattered now and so I retired to the bottom of the mountain and went home feeling exhausted, glad to get into bed!
The next morning I was feeling good again and ready to attack the mountain. With a bit of tuition on the same slope I was skiing well again. It was just frustrating being in such a big group of people and I just wanted to get going and try going faster! Was very happy though as by the end of the day I was skiing the blue intermediate runs and had my confidence back again. That evening the whole group from the bus got together and cooked up a meal of sweet and sour chicken, much appreciated after a lot of dinners of baked beans on toast. It was followed by a bar crawl where we ended up drinking cocktails from teapots?! Don't ask!My final day of skiing was a lot tougher than the other days. Firstly I was now skiing the much steeper slopes and secondly you couldn't actually see the slope in front of you as the weather was so bad! I managed to ski OK though, despite being intimidated by the pro skiers around me, and I really really enjoyed it. Shame I didn't have anymore time to perfect my graceful strokes down the mountain, will just have to try some skiing in Europe when I get home. That afternoon I met up with my mate Greg who I first met in Malaysia and then in Melbourne and now in Queenstown. Was great to see him again and after he told me the stories of his bungy jump the previous day, I decided I would have to give it a go. I had been thinking about it previously and thought that there would be no better place in the world than Queenstown to do it. If I was going to do one though I would go all out and do the big one, the biggest in NZ actually at 134m and so got Greg to accompany me for moral support while I booked it up and signed my death wish.
The evening was a repeat of the last's and so I woke up with a pounding hangover, although this may have done me some good as it probably dulled my senses as I walked to the bungy office and waited for the bus to arrived. The journey took and hour to the bungy site, the final 10minutes being the worst as we climbed through the mountains up a narrow gravel track. The Nevis bungy jump was from a cable car dangling in between two mountains, and when everyone in the bus caught their first glimpse of it, they all gasped at how big the drop below it was! My palms were very damp at this stage. Within moments of getting off the bus we were in our full body harnesses and being ushered into a cable car with mesh flooring ready to be sent across to the pod in the middle of the valley. The ride across in the very airy car was scary enough as we all looked through the floor to the drop below. I was the second in there and we all sat very quietly and it was eerily silent, just the sound of the wind as it rocked the pod! The staff soon got the music pumping and seconds after hearing the first full grown man scream as he flund himself out of the pod, my name was called up and I was at in the dentist chair having my ankels strapped together. Surprisingly enough I wasn't actually that nervous at this stage, I think my body just decided to become oblivious to what was going on around me. The worst part by far was when I was ordered to shuffle across and place my toes at the edge of the ledge that jutted out into the huge open expanse around us. Looking down, the drop was big! Very big! But I soon heard the guy counting me down and on 1 I somehow managed to throw myself off, and even made a perfect swan dive while I did it! It was at the point that gravity grabbed at my body, the very point that I couldn't go back, that all the nerves in my body told me this was a bad move and I should go back! But instead I was pulled at a tremendous speed towards the ground and feel for 8 seconds waiting for the bungy cord to kick in. It finally did and after the blood rushed to my head, I was left dangling in a state of exhiliration, relief and confusion as to what had just happened!! Being hoisted back up to the pod, I was lost for words and so just sat there shaking not really knowing what to do with myself! I was glad to be back on firm ground though and after seeing the DVD decided I would have to get it, so anyone is welcome to watch it when I get back.
So as you can see, Queenstown definitely lives up to its reputation as the adreniline fuelled capital of the world. Had a great few days, wished I had a lot more money to do some of the other activities available, but as my bus driver said "if you have $10000 and 3 weeks you can do it all!" Unfortunately I don't, so the next morning I was off to the east coast and the town of Dunedin.