Flying through forests, gliding beside mountains, canyon free falls and everything in between!
12.03.2015 - 19.03.2015 13 °C
When I left off in the last blog post, I just finished up free falling on the canyon swing and we had enjoyed an incredible dinner looking out over Queenstown. Needless to say we both slept well that evening which made it easier to get up the following morning and pack up our bags to head to our next hostel. We would have loved to have stayed at Bumbles for the rest of our trip but it came as no surprise that it was all booked up. With our bags packed, it was off to our next destination which was Aspen Lodge Backpackers hostel. Travelling light saved us hiring a cab to get to the hostel, as Aspen Lodge is located on the opposite side of the town, since we only had backpacks it really just ended up being a nice morning walk. We couldn't check in right away so we dropped off our bags and headed out for some breakfast. Today was my river fishing trip excursion. I had been doing some research on how to get to the docks and it didn't look like it was too far away, so my game plan was to get there on two feet. This would be cheaper and the exercise never hurts to help work of some of those late night beers. At this point in time my feet were still aching pretty good from all the walking we did in Melbourne and all the touring around we had done in Queenstown, but I didn't think it was bad enough to warrant paying for transportation to the docks. After a pretty light breakfast we made our way back to the hostel, checked into our room and then it was time to make my way to the docks which I was told it would be about a 45 minute walk away. Since Sherry didn't have anything booked to do for the day she tagged along for the walk with plans to just keep on touring around after she dropped me off. The day itself was fairly overcast and even a bit rainy at times but I was dressed for it. As we were walking I kept pulling out our iPad to check how much further we had to go and it wasn't long before I came to the realization that there was no way I was going to make to the boat on time! After unsuccessfully trying to flag a few taxis down it was time to tap into my cross country running skills. In the worst running shoes possible, I took off jogging down the trail in an attempt to make it to the boat on time. One thing I should note here is that I hate being late for things, it drives me crazy when I am late and equally so when other people are late - I guess you could call that my number one pet peeve. As I am running along I could feel the aches in my feet start to get worse as the my shoes were absolute crap for this type of thing, so before long I was looking like a baby deer and feeling about 100 years old. I couldn't even look the people in the eye that I crossed paths with, as I didn't want to see the bewildered looks that I knew they would have on their faces! Well, I finally did make it to the docks just as the boat was being loaded up with the other three passengers, who looked a heck of a lot more comfortable and relaxed then I did. Once I caught my breath I was able to make proper introductions to my boat mates which included two gentlemen from America and one girl from Alberta. With a few bits of information exchanged between ourselves and our boat captain, we set off out onto the lake and then eventually down into the river system where we would do our best to catch some brown and rainbow trout. The fishing trip itself would last about 4 hours as we made 4 different stops along the river before turning and heading back to the docks. Although the weather was pretty chilly and even raining at times, it was hard not to find enjoyment being surrounded by the mountains and doing something that I really enjoyed doing back home in Canada. Lady luck was on my side that day as I was able to catch 2 rainbow trout. Unfortunately for the rest of my group there was only one other fish caught. Now, I typically don't like to complain but our guide didn't really do a whole heck of a lot to earn his paycheque that day. He got everyone rigged up, but then pretty much just hung out fishing by the boat himself. He did come by and snap some photos for you when you caught a fish and would help with snags, but I thought he would have been out walking around and giving out some tips to help increase the odds of his clients catching fish. The business side of my brain was thinking that this dude had a pretty sweet gig going as I knew how much money he was racking in from the four of us, while the other side of brain, lets call it the "wants to see everyone treated fairly side" was pretty disappointed for the rest of the group. Now, did I say anything to the guide at the time, no I didn't. I mean lets be honest, he could have just chosen to leave my skinny butt out there! Did I say anything when we got back to the docks, again, no I didn't. This was the part that I have no good excuse for and which bothers me the most. I like to think that I am one of those people that stands up for what is right and will speak up when the time calls for it, but in this instance I felt like I failed. I mean, the guy was nice enough, but he really didn't seem to do his job from my perspective. Albeit, nobody else seemed too upset about the whole situation, and I even heard the other two gentlemen saying that they had a great time. Who knows, maybe it was all for not, but I think we all struggle to varying degrees when faced with these types of situations in our day to day lives. The struggle really seems to be around putting ourselves out there to express our opinions to others with the intent of rectifying a situation that we believe to be unfair, unjust, or just not right and knowing it could be extremely uncomfortable and awkward with potentially no reward. All that being said, I was glad to have taken the opportunity to go fishing and i think I can say that, because I actually caught fish. Had I been the one that got skunked then my thoughts on the experience might be a bit different.
So, with the fishing behind us, it was now time to get my cold, tired and hungry self back to the hostel (can you hear the violins playing in the background...). Now, there was a bus stop right by the docks, but I had zero cash on me which meant I was going to be tackling the long walk back to town. By this time, my legs, along with my feet, were feeling pretty craptastic, and all I could think about was getting back to the hostel and soaking in a hot shower. The walk took over an hour and during that time I did everything I could to ignore the pain in my legs but I was pretty damn close to just stopping at one of the other hotels along the way and booking another room for the night just so I could soak in the tube for the night - but common sense prevailed and i carried on, making it back just shortly after Sherry had completed her tour around the Queenstown area. I was completely gassed and going out for food was the last thing on my mind, but we were both hungry as heck. It was at this time that we remembered the Fergburger tip about ordering them ahead and then just walking in to pick them up! Sherry, who can chalk me up for an IOU on this one, made the phone call, ordered the burgers and went down to pick them up the burgers, plus some milkshakes, while my sorry ass laid in bed after a nice hot shower. She is too good to me! Now, I should explain that the Fergburger is hugely sought after Queenstown experience . These burgers are quite famous, as evidenced by the 1.5-2 hour line-ups that people wait in to get them. The locals will often tell you that Devil Burger is better, but unfortunately we didn't make it there to give our thoughts on them. What I can say for sure is that the Fergburger was pretty damn good. It is absolutely huge and is more than enough to fill you up on its own. I am pretty sure Guy Fieri would have this place on triple D if he made it to Queenstown for a show. I am sure it will be no surprise to anyone that Sherry and I had an early night as we entered the food coma zone once we finished up our dinner.
The next morning it was time to go zip-lining and this adventure would take us back up to Bob's Peak. This is the same place where the Stratosphere Restaurant is and where we had my birthday dinner. Bob's Peak goes seemingly straight up for about 450 meters behind the centre of Queenstown and is easily accessed by a short but scenic gondola ride. You will frequently come across mountain bikers who can easily load their bikes on the gondola to get up to the peak where they will dismount and fly down the mountain at breakneck speeds leaving bystanders with jaws dropped. The other way that you can get too the top of Bob's Peak is on foot through their well maintained trail system. The walk itself takes about 45-60 minutes, which doesn't sound too bad but I should note that it also doesn't really have too many flat spots to allow to you catch your breath and rest your legs. With feet and legs hurting from the day before you would think this would have been the last way we would have got to the zip-line, but in fact, this is exactly how we got to the top. With better shoes on my feet the hike actually turned out pretty good. There are a few stops along the way to stop and catch your breath while looking out over the town and you also get an up close and personal view of the crazy mountain bikers who are flying down the mountainside. When we finally made it to the top, we had both worked up a bit of a sweat, which then quickly turned into a chilled feeling as the cold air brought our body temperatures back down to a normal place. The company we would be zipping with was Eco Trek Tours. They have a few different line combinations to chose from which helps with managing costs for those that are on a strict budget but that still want to take in the experience. Sherry and I chose to go for the whole enchilada and signed up for the 6 line tour, which included one of the worlds steepest zip-lines. These guys had safety front and centre right from the start and it was evident all the way through our high flying tour down the mountain. They even had extra gloves, toques and jackets on hand in case you hadn't properly dressed for the weather. Our group had about 10-12 people in it, with one lady catching everybody's attention as she was well into her 70's but age was non factor as she was up there rocking each and every jump like she was 25. I can only hope that I am living like that when I get to that time in my life. Each time we would get to a new zip-line our guides would stop and give us some information about the local area and explain why some things are the way they are and then they would give you a challenge to accomplish on your next zip-line. Sherry and I had a lot of fun with this as we were zipping along upside down and doing lots of fun crazy tricks to show each other up each time we came to a new zip-line. This was no canyon swing, but I had a heck of a lot of fun cruising through the bushes and looking out over spectacular Lake Wakatipu. The guides we had helped to make this a really enjoyable day as well by tossing in humour and having lots of fun themselves as they made sure we all safely reached our final landing zone near the base of Bob's Peak. The experience itself was even more meaningful for Sherry as this was yet another opportunity to challenge her body to see just how far along she had come over the last few years since all of her concussion issues. Well, as the picture will make clear, she knocked this one out of the park. She was twisting and flipping and gliding upside down every chance she had. I am happy to say she walked out of there feeling great, both physically and mentally for having faced another challenge on her list of things to do. For me, I was just happy to be there to share in it with her. Way back in the day when Sherry and I were dating and she was going through her health challenges, she gave me the chance to get out and not look back as she felt she was burdening me too much with her health issues. My simple response was, no, and that I wanted to be around for the days when she got better and started getting back to being the person she wanted to be. That day of zip-lining, as simple as it may seem, was yet another example of one of those moments I was looking forward to being apart of and why I didn't "pull the shoot" when given the chance. It is the struggles of the past that really make you appreciate the good times in life no matter how big or small they may seem to others.
For those of you who have been keeping track of time, you will know that our zip-line trip was taking place on good old St. Patricks Day! When we got back to our room, we got some rest and relaxation, then we found a nice little restaurant to eat at where we played some pool and I tried out a couple of pints local brew as a pre-paddy warm up. Now, I should likely tell you that there are not just a few people from Ireland in Queenstown, there are tones! There is a bit of a joke that if all the Irish are there, then who the heck is in Ireland? So it I am sure it goes without say with so many Irish folk on hand that Sherry and I had a blast on St. Patricks day. We tried out a couple of different pubs which were both playing live Irish music. Pog Mahones was where we settled in for the night and it was an absolute blast. The Guinness was free flowing and delicious, while the musicians had the crowds dancing and singing into the wee hours of the morning. At one point we found ourselves right up against the stage area where Sherry was showing off her coordinated dance moves with her new friend, while I was doing my best lip sync impressions letting on like I knew all the words to the Irish songs I was only hearing for the first or second time. It was deadly! What a night! Probably the coolest part was watching what I like to call "real time six degrees of separation". It all starts with stopping to talk to one person, who then introduces you to someone they just met from another country, who in turn met two other people from yet another different country and so on, until before you know it you have a nice little group of new people who you would swear knew each other forever the way they are carrying on with each other. With my belly topped to brim with Guinness and Sherry amazingly danced out, pillows found our heads around 1:00 am that night...St. Patrick you win again!
Our last full day in Queenstown was fairly relaxed as we grabbed some smoothies and walked around the park just chilling and trying our best to take it all in before we left. We even made a stop at the local hockey rink to check it out. The ice was out, but it was still really neat to stumble into a place that was so familiar to both of us from growing up in rural Ontario. Had someone asked me a true or false question 2 weeks prior about whether there was ice hockey in New Zealand, I would have not hesitated in saying false, but I was very much proven wrong and there are even some good old Canadian boys still living the dream playing for teams in the NZIHL. With our last day in the bag, it was just a matter of getting some rest and then getting up for 15 hours of travel time which would land us back in Perth before heading back up to Geraldton to see Joe and Angel again for a few days. Although Sherry and I obviously jam packed our 7 days with lot's of adventure sports, which are not always budget friendly, it is important to know there are still lots of amazing free or much cheaper things you can do to entertain yourself while still getting a great experience in Queenstown. I have attached a link to the website for Queenstown which is a good starting spot for anyone who is interested in checking out this adventure island http://www.queenstownnz.co.nz/information/Maps/. When we flew out of Queenstown the following morning I was found myself with mixed emotions as I felt like there was so much more I wanted to experience in New Zealand as a whole, not just Queenstown, but at the same time I was so very content with the time we did spend there. It was just another amazing example of what this big old world has to offer and we are so fortunate for having the opportunity to experience. I know that is something that I have said in other posts, but every time I think back over our adventures I feel guilty for not acknowledging just how lucky we are. Well thats all for now, it is off across a bunch of time zones and back to Geraldton Australia...mmmmm air plane food! hahaha
Shayne and Sherry