Sunday, March 2, 2008

Day 17 - Queenstown, New Zealand

March 2nd – Queenstown, New Zealand – (we are now 18 hours ahead of N.C.) Planes, Trains, and Automobiles Okay so it was a bus not a train but same difference. After “sleeping” all night in the airport and waiting for our 9:30 AM flight to Queenstown they announce 10 mins before we are about to board that the flight has been delayed – oh no here we go again was all I could think. However, they do things a little differently in New Zealand- we couldn’t get into Queenstown b/c the weather was too bad there (and we heard the runway was really short) so they flew us to another city, Invercargill, rented buses and DROVE the entire airplane full of people 2 ½ hours north to Queenstown. Now how is that for service? In the U.S. they would just cancel the flight due to weather – go Qantas Airlines! Honestly, the drive didn’t bother us at all- It was beautiful!!! We tried to take a couple pictures out the bus window but they don’t do it justice – 1) b/c the pictures were out a bus window and 2)it was raining. One thing is for sure – it is no wonder about all the sheep jokes with New Zealand – they are everywhere! (When we were flying into Invercargill we saw all these white “ants” from the plane – they were sheep – and I think there were more sheep than houses) The drive took us past Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables (the mountain range that runs North/South on the eastern side of the south island of New Zealand). I am posting a picture just so you guys can see it.

Did I mention that was 8 degrees Celsius (about 46 Fahrenheit), windy, and raining when we arrived? Far cry from the 90 degree weather in Cairns! I am so glad we decided to come to Queenstown – thank you to everyone who suggested it and to Nathan for making it happen! Very out of the box for him to change our plans on a whimJ The number of things to do here is incredible - when reading about all the stuff in the tourist magazines it is almost overwhelming. The little town of Queenstown (population only 13,000) is situated on Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables surround it. Picture a small town in Switzerland on a lake with the alps in the background add lots of backpackers and tourists and that is what its like! Lots of energy and charm – I just love it! There are tons of bars and restaurants, places to hike, adrenaline seeking activities, lots of shopping and 2 casinos (Nathan was very excited about that!)

Last night we checked into our hotel, The Crowne Plaza, which is right on the lake and booked a few excursions.

We decided to try the Shotover River Jetboat, the Shotover River Rafting, and the Milford Sound Cruise. Unfortunately, all the activities are VERY expensive so we decided to start here. Instead of Bungy Jumping we wanted to do the Canyon Swing (very similar except instead of bouncing up and down after you jump - you jump and then swing in a 200 m arc) but at almost $300 a person we are waiting to see what happens. Here is a picture from our balcony – it is still raining and overcast but beautiful!
After this we went out to explore the town, eat some dinner, and gamble (of course). We started on the esplanade and walked around the harbor to the Queenstown Gardens. They were pretty and it was nice to get out and walk around (even if it was FREEZING!). Oh and surprise surprise with all the clothes I have the warmest thing I brought was my Juicy hoodie! (So note to self – if you are traveling to New Zealand – it rains a lot and the temperature changes quickly so bring a jacket!).

Anyway, from here we walked through the quaint town, ate dinner at the Fishbone Restaurant (my dinner was fabulous, Nathan’s was only okay but cute place), then on to the Skycity Casino. After a few too many Wild Turkey and cokes we cashed out and can you believe we were up? (Oh – and just in case you were wondering I didn’t get in trouble for cussing :)
Good Night – we have to wake up at 6:00 AM for our boating trips!

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