30th April-5th May
On the 30th we got to Queenstown around 10.30am and drove to the site where we wanted to stay and to our luck they said we could check in then. We stayed at Creeksyde Top 10 Holiday Park which was literally a 5 minute walk from the centre. We would have hook up for the next 4 nights which would be nice, nice hot showers, get our laundry done and everything charged up. It was a nice site with some unique features and pretty cool bathrooms that were decorated as different themes. It cost $54 a night which wasn't the worst and it was right next to town. It was so nice to have a shower when we got there. That was the worst thing about the van- probably the only bad thing! My hair was so matted and awful, I felt very groggy and disgusting!
After freshening up we both got our hair cut. The first time in my life anyone other than Julie has cut my hair and I really wasn't looking forward to it!! It went fine though, he took about an inch off my hair which it needed. The guy who cut Nath's hair was a doylem and talked the world of s*** and he even cut his hair wrong, going too short on one side! He gave him a Joel hairstyle!
We booked our Milford Sound boat trip today too. We wanted to do a boat and kayak trip but from the 1st to 10th May they are doing some work on the underwater observatory so the kayak and the boat trip we wanted to do is not on as it's a part of the observatory. We were a bit gutted that we wouldn't get to do the kayaking in the fiords but nothing we could do. Some of the boat trips had stopped for the winter too so nothing could be done!! After deciding which company and trip was best we booked on to the Nature Cruise with Southern Discoveries which was $89 each but we had a 15% off voucher so got it for $75.65 each. That voucher booklet that we picked up at the airport has been very handy and saved us loads of money so far!
We didn't really do much else on the 30th, just had a wander around town and chilled out. It was nice to get fresh, sorted and recharge ourselves! Ready for white water rafting in the morning, hope we don't fall out! It looks pretty hectic! The video they show to advertise the company (Queenstown Rafting Co) shows the water going straight up over the boat and the boat pretty much going all the way under the water on one raft and then someone falling out!!
On the 1st we were up early ready for white water rafting. It was absolutely amazing! The drive there was a trip itself too. We were brought in the mini van to their base to get kitted out in all the gear and brought to where we got in the Shootover river. The drive took
about 45 minutes and has been rated as the 13th most dangerous drive in the world. We drove through skippers canyon on a tight road with sheer cliffs! People paid to go on trips through the canyon and we got see experience it as part of our trip!
The rafting was very hectic and quite scary at times, especially when they were doing the safety briefing about what could happen if you fall out and what you need to do. We had a good team in our raft though, there were 7 of us and the guide, who was a good laugh. There were three rafts on our trip and then a safety kayaker following us too. Our team worked well together so none of us fell out and we paddled the rapids very well! The rapids were between 2 and 4-5 grade. On the grade 4-5 ones we actually went under the water in the boat and then popped out the other side of the rapid. One was called jaws as it chewed you up and s*** you out the other side (as the guide told us)! It was brilliant! We had to hold on tight though, stop paddling when he shouted and dive into the boat and hold on. Nath was at the front with a German guy so they both took the brunt of the rapids which just washed over their heads first! Nath also had to paddle us through a pitch black tunnel which was good! The other groups didn't seem as good as us to be honest and one group got stuck against a big rock in a rapid. Everyone was okay though and nobody fell out.
It was our 5 year anniversary today so we celebrated in style! After the rafting we got to use the sauna and hot showers back at the base. When we got back to the office in town they told us that something went wrong with the photography so they didn't get any photos of us on the rapids or any videos of us. It was really gutting to be honest as there would have been some brilliant photos with Nath at the front being attacked by the rapids! Can't believe we didn't manage to get any of our experience! At least we've got the memories! We had a walk around town later on and had some lunch on the waterfront and then went and had a celebratory pint before going back to the van and relaxing for the night. It was tough work that rafting!
On the 2nd we went up the Skyline cable car to the top of Bob's peak where there was the luge tracks. There was also mountain bike tracks back down, a bungy, a swing and gliding. There were amazing views from the top over Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, the Remarkables and other surrounding mountain ranges. The cable car up was a ride itself and worth the money for the views! It was pretty scary too with a 37 degree angle of incline and a 450m vertical rise. At the top we were 790m above sea level and 456m above Queenstown. It was a lovely clear day so we had brilliant views. Once at the top we had to get a two person chair lift even further up to where the luge tracks started. There were two tracks, beginner and advanced and we had 3 goes to use. The tracks weren't as good as in Rotorua as they weren't as steep or scary but they were still really good and the views were better here.
We spent the full day up at the top, we watched some people bungy and do the swing, we did all our luges and we also had lunch in the Stratosphere Restaurant. It was a first come first served basis for the seats and we were the first to check in so got the best seats in the house, right in the corner with the best views. The restaurant was suspended over the edge of the peak and looked out over the whole of Queenstown and the mountains. It was the best meal we had ever had for the view. Plus it was an all you can eat buffet so we couldn't complain! We started drinking with the meal at lunch and then carried on having a few bottles outside after enjoying the views and then in the bar. Just before we left the sun was setting and the sky turned pink, with the mountains in the background, it looked stunning. It was such a brilliant day!! We couldn't have asked for more! Plus it was only $82 (about £41) for everything- cable car, luges and meal!
Once we got back to the van we had some more beers before heading out. We had a brilliant night out and went to 4 different places, ending up in a nightclub that is pizza place during day. It was quite busy out even though it's suppose to be quieter now. In the nightclub we got speaking to two Maori girls called Freedom and Destiny, believe it or not. They told us their parents smoked a lot of weed and then called their sister Blaze! Haha! One of the girls blessed my fishhook Maori necklace which was nice! We got in about 4am with a McDs- just like home- and Facetimed Claire who was hanging!
On the 3rd Nath was a bit hanging when we got up but I was unbelievably hanging! We went to watch boxing at the Xtreme sports bar in town, where there were some queues to get in, but we had got there early. It was to be the biggest fight in history- Mayweather vs Pacquiao. Pacquiao lost, which was a shame but it was a great atmosphere at the bar and a good fight! My hangover was bad when we were out but once I got a beer and some chips down me I was much better! After the boxing we just chilled out for rest of night.
On the 4th we were suppose to check out by 11am but we decided to stay another night as we couldn't be bothered moving and still felt a little rough and knackered. We had a very relaxed day, just walking around town and through Queenstown park and sitting by the lakefront relaxing. Whilst we were in the park about 2.30pm (2.29pm to be exact) we experienced our first earthquake and hopefully our last! We heard a loud rumble coming from under the ground so we just stood and stared at each other. We were stood in the middle of the park overlooking the lake, next to big trees and a big boulder. The ground started to rumble and shake and we started to sway from side to side with the ground. It lasted about 30-40 seconds but felt longer. It was a big shock and afterwards we just stood and looked at each other and thought what the f*ck just happened?! When it was happening I was watching as the big boulder and the ground moved from side to side and Nath saw the land we were on moving against the water. It was a shock to the system really and we weren't entirely sure what had happened and what was going to happen next. We both thought it was going to hit harder but froze to the spot!
After it had finished and we looked around we could see people in the town just walking and carrying on as normal and we weren't sure if others felt it too. We then heard two women in the park speaking about it so spoke to them about feeling it too.
We thought that we may have felt it more as we were in the park stood next to a massive boulder and at the roots of trees. Once we got out of the park though we heard many more people talking about it and then heard it been mentioned all day. It wasn't until we checked the news that we realised how strong it was. It was a 5.8 magnitude earthquake, which is rated as severe and it's centre was over 30km from Wanaka at the treble cone ski area. This is right where we stayed at Lake Diamond a couple of nights ago which is pretty scary to think about. If we felt it that bad here, god knows what we would have felt there!
We saw on the news that people in Queenstown, over the road from where we were, had been evacuated and planes had been prevented from landing until the runway was checked for damage! We did see a plane circling above as well. In Wanaka most people had been evacuated from buildings or had run out of their homes and gathered in the street. Nobody was hurt thank god, some windows smashed and there were some plaster damage to buildings, but everybody was very lucky! It was a very scary and surreal experience and we still can't believe it happened! The worst thing was not knowing what was going to happen next and we were a little jumpy for a couple of days! It really made us appreciate how bad it must be for people who have experienced stronger damaging ones, like in Nepal recently. It really must be horrendous and so scary! We were very lucky it wasn't any worse! There were aftershocks for a couple of days after but not really that we could feel. Nath felt one straight after whilst he was in the toilet but I didn't. We realised it was definitely what he felt when we checked the earthquake report after for the times!
After the shock and strangeness of our day, we relaxed in town, enjoying and appreciating Queenstown, and then munched out and chilled back at the van. We had a famous Ferberger, which is apparently a must here. It was the size of my head and it was so yummy!!
On the 5th we enjoyed the luxuries of a site for the morning and then set off on the southern scenic route to Te Anau.