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Published: March 10th 2007
Hope this email finds you well!
Only 3 weeks until my program is completed—however, I may not be returning on April 15th; I am having the time of my life traveling and I do not want it to end. I am looking into other destination possibilities before returning to the U.S. I will keep you updated as I figure out my plans.
Queenstown is known as the “Adventure Capital of the World” because it offers an amazing array of activities for thrill seekers—bungee jumping, skydiving, jet boating, helicopter rides, canyon swings and of course disc golf. The city is nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and is surrounded by the “Remarkables” mountain range—a part of the snow-capped Southern Alps. The city center resembles a European town—city down by the water, residential houses located on the hillside, classical architecture, great pubs and lots of activities. Very touristy, but also very beautiful.
I left on Friday morning, March 10, with 3 New Zealanders in a van (old school van) to drive down to Queenstown. The trip was relatively uneventful, minus the screeching/slamming of the brakes and the near tip over (literally were on two wheels……scary
as all hell!). The countryside on the way to Queenstown is beautiful. I had already seen much of it due to the Mt. Cook/Fox Glacier trip, but loved seeing it again.
We arrived in Queenstown around 4pm—about an hour before the first round of the tournament at the Queenstown Gardens. The course (basket course) was beautiful and located right in the center of the city. I played brilliantly and after the first round, was in first place!! We left Gardens and walked into the city center for food and drinks. The town has a great nightlife—lots of young people around and about. After some partying, we drove another 30 minutes into the mountains past the town of Glenorchy and onto Paradise Valley. In my experience, if you ask native Kiwi’s where the most beautiful location in New Zealand is, you will hear a resounding, “Glenorchy and Paradise Valley.” Numerous “Lord of the Rings” scenes were filmed in Glenorchy and Paradise Valley, including (for you really big LOR dorks): Edoras/Mt. Sunday, Lothlorien, Amon Hen, Nen Hithoel, Amon Lhaw, Path Galen, Ford of Bruinen, The Pillars of the King on the River Anduin, and the site of Gandalf's ride to Isengard.
We arrived at the “White House” cabin in Paradise Valley at dark and unloaded our stuff just in time to play “Speed Scrabble” and glow-in-the-dark Frisbee amongst the 11 of us (7 other people from Christchurch met us in Paradise Valley). I shook off the cobwebs in the morning on Saturday just in time for the Doubles Tournament at Paradise Valley. Paradise Valley is also a beautiful course even though it is primarily a target course. The front nine winds up and through the “Remarkables” mountain range, while the back nine winds down and through the dense Paradise Valley rainforest. The course is very difficult. My partner, Dave, and I worked together well enough to take 6th place out of 18 teams. After the doubles competition, we played the second round of the singles competition……I did not hold onto my lead for very long…..my arm was dead and the really good players started playing really, really well. We grilled out and then partied again….surprise, surprise!
On Sunday, we drove into Queenstown to complete the last two rounds of the singles tournament in the Queenstown Gardens. I played poorly, but was still able to take 11th
place out of 50+ competitors. No trophy to bring home, however, I did receive a souvenir t-shirt for my efforts!
It was an awesome weekend—a real New Zealand experience with some great dudes and girls. I will guarantee that no one in my program had an experience like this. I was a little apprehensive about not knowing anyone (except for 1 guy (Pete) in the van on the way to Queenstown, everyone was a complete stranger), but everyone was incredibly friendly and very hospitable.
Until my next update—lots of love!
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