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Published: December 15th 2011
The final week of school provided the perfect storm of ingredients for a raging adventure. In addition to Liza hosting Matt in the house, Caryn’s cousin Hilary and Jason’s friend Kevin were visiting New Zealand as well. With classes winding down, no one in the house saw a problem with skipping out on a few days worth of classes to seek some fun down south. Jason’s girlfriend Laura joined the five flatmates, Matt, Hilary and Kevin in a migration to Queenstown. We packed five people in our trusty car Jose and provided him with his first real test on the road. He made the six-hour drive without an issue and seemed to enjoy the beautiful sunshine and scenic lake-side highways that highlighted the journey. As we approached the town along a sloping highway we were greeted by scenic mountains and a pristine lake.We found a resting place for Jose and checked into our hostel.
Queenstown is a quaint village, approximately four blocks by three blocks that hugs the lake in an L-shape. It is made up of cobblestone streets and every store seemed to be either a bar, restaurant or boutique. We split off from the group, wandered the streets
Looking out on the lake
Liza sitting on the breakwall protecting the shore from Lake Wakatipu.
and eventually found a nice restaurant offering $10 lunch specials and enjoyed some fare along with our first of many drinks. We reconvened at the hostel and began indulging in beverages before heading out for an evening at the bars. As opposed to most establishments in New Zealand, which charge significant dollars for drinks, there seems to always be numerous drink specials offered in the Queenstown bar scene, providing you with more bang for your buck. We made Tuesday night a (relatively) low-key night as we were conscious of what lied in store for Wednesday morning.
We awoke the following morning both anxious and excited for the challenge awaiting us. Liza had been awaiting the day for years, and Matt figured he would take the opportunity and tag along. The previous day we had opened our pocketbooks and signed up to take on the Nevis Bungy Jump, which, at 134 m is the second largest bungy jump in the world. The day proceeded slowly, with a wait at the bungy center before boarding a bus and taking a 40 minute trip out of town to the jump site. We were put into harnesses and then led into a tiny
The jump pod suspended in the middle of the gorge.
gondola which took us out over the gorge into the suspended, but enclosed, jump platform. Before departing on the gondola, one of the employees explained to us that on our second recoil we were to pull a strap on our legs that would release the bungy cord so that we would be suspended upright by our chests to be pulled back up. Unhooking our legs from the bungy cord sounded like the last thing one would want to do when suspended half-way down a 300 m gorge. We were strapped into ankle cuffs and one-by-one the group of eight people that had been on board the gondola together were called to take their turns. We were seated in a chair that reminded one of being in a dentist’s office where a worker hooked up the appropriate straps and carabineers. He helped you to your feet and you shuffled to the open end of the jump pod. He told you to smile at the camera and with a count of 3-2-1 you lunged off the end without giving yourself time to decide otherwise. I (Matt) had imagined a peaceful, almost time-standing-still fall. In reality, you are immediately greeted by the
Don't look down
A section of the jump pod had a glass floor for everyone to keep tabs on the jumper.
rushing wind as you accelerate towards the ground. The free fall lasted nearly 8 seconds before the cord grabbed the ankles and rebounded back towards the sky. Another descent provided a second brief but exciting fall before the point came to follow instructions to unclip the cord. Despite our better judgement, instructions were heeded and the final couple of minutes were spent suspended in a sitting position in that moment of serenity looking out for miles in every direction while being slowly recoiled to the platform. Although I have tried to illustrate the experience, it is fairly indescribable. It was a feeling that will likely never be replicated and one that was worth every penny.
After returning to Queenstown we found a nice Thai restaurant for lunch and then took in the local disc golf course which meandered through the park on the peninsula jutting into Lake Wakatipu. We then wandered through the village for the afternoon and found a nice Japanese restaurant offering happy-hour prices that could not be turned down. Following dinner we met up at the hostel with the rest of our party crew, shared stories of our daytime adventures (Kevin and Jason had gone canyoning,
Only moments after this picture was taken, Liza uttered the words 'I don't want to go - I don't want to go'.
Dayna had gone kayaking, and the rest of the girls went for a ride in a Jetboat), rested up and then switched into party mode. We started with some drinks in our room before descending to the hostel bar which was featuring 2-for-1 drinks and $5 Jagerbombs. We then travelled to a more upscale bar where Dayna’s friend Logan knew the bartender. Liza enjoyed the downtime and Matt enjoyed a Slow Gin Fizz, which was hands down the most delicious drink he had ever tasted. The fact that it included an egg white only added to the experience. We then wandered through the town, attracting followers as Logan played his harmonica along the way. We entered a bar called Buffalo’s, which was featuring Ginger Wednesday’s, a promotion that rewarded having friends with red hair. Although the drinks were reasonably priced, we made continuous trips back to the hostel bar for their can’t-be-beat 2-for-1 specials and Jagerbomb pick-me-ups which kept the night going longer than it probably should have. The atmosphere at Buffalo’s was fantastic and the stripper pole in the middle of the dance floor got quite the workout. A night out in Queenstown would not be complete without a
stop at Fergburger, the hole-in-the-wall gourmet burger joint in town that some travel magazines have deemed home to the best burger in the world. It is without doubt #1 on each of our lists.
We awoke the next morning slowly and with great ease. Our group found a spot for a greasy hangover breakfast to help us rejoin the rest of society. After taking in one last hour of wandering Queenstown’s cobblestone streets we met up with Jose who took us back to Christchurch in time for one final day of school. Please check back as our video of the bungy experience is still in production.
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