Adventure in Queenstown: Living vicariously through others

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Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Queenstown
November 30th 2007
Published: January 1st 2008
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This morning’s drive from Wanaka to Queenstown takes us along the Crown Range Road and gold mining country. Our route follows the Cadrona River through a Montana-like landscape of hills and grasslands as we listen to folksinger, Martin Curtis, sing “One Up, Two Down” on the car’s cd player. A cloudy view of the Remarkables waits as we approach Queenstown.

When the road descends to flat land, Robert turns left towards Gibbston Valley wine country. Although it’s too early for tastings or lunch, we stop at two wineries with unique architecture. The old church building that houses the tasting room at Waitiri Creek Winery sits beneath the shade of tall trees while Peregrine Winery’s futuristic metal building with a sloping roof seems to spring from the earth as it points to the sky.

On the way into Queenstown, we stop at the Kawaru Bungee Jump. The viewing platform provides the perfect spot to observe a teenage girl preparing to jump. She changes her mind at the edge of the platform and workers lead her back to summon the courage to try again. In the meantime, a fearless jumper takes the plunge, hands held overhead to touch the river water as she dangles from the end of the cord.

Robert asks, “Aren’t you giving it a try?”

“Who me?” I reply. “I’ll just take pictures.”

For lunch, Robert drives to Arrowtown where we walk the town’s narrow streets and browse through quaint shops. We find a patio table at The Stables where a flat white is the perfect complement to our gourmet chicken wrap sandwiches.

In Queenstown, we stop at The Dairy, our lodging for the night, to deposit luggage. Then, it’s a short walk to catch the gondola up Bob’s Peak. A picnic table in the sun makes a great location for watching the adventure that is all around us.

Hikers and walkers head up the hill for tracks that lead to more mountain views.

On the concrete luge track, thrill seekers race around curves and down the hill. How do they stop?

Whoosh! Overhead, a rush of wind lifts a paraglider above us. Two bodies dangle from white fabric billowed by the wind. They float through the cloudless, blue sky before making a slow, sweeping descent to a landing in Queenstown.

“Alan, you would love that,” I say.

“Maybe next time,” he answers, snapping another photo.

For the last dinner of our tour, Robert chooses Solera Vino. At the small French restaurant, we drink Pinot Noir from Peregrine Winery while sampling lamb steaks and grouper. Outside the front window, Queenstown is hopping with a young crowd dressed for a Friday night on the town.

Tomorrow, we fly to Auckland to start the second part of this adventure. Stay tuned.

To read more about baby boomer travel, visit My Itchy Travel Feet .

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