18 March 2012

Adventure Capital [Queenstown, New Zealand]

Queenstown is the adventure tourism capital of New Zealand, but it requires one thing we don't have a lot of; money. It seems literally everything in this small town bears extremely over-inflated prices. Lucky I have a super-awesome family that gives me a free bed, feeds me and even lets me borrow their vehicles to tiki-tour around in.

So we went out for a day to explore the area. First stop was Arrowtown, a small, old mining town that has been transformed with nice cafes and expensive shops. Nice, but not exactly our destination of choice.

Jamie had recommended we drive up Coronet Peak, which provides beautiful panoramic views out over the city and Lake Wakitipu. It was pretty spectacular up there, and we got to see a few para-gliders jump off the side of a cliff which was pretty cool.

Driving back we saw a small road leading off over the hill toward Skippers Canyon... we decided to check it out. It was a thin, windy, dirt road; on one side a near-vertical cliff, on the other a massive drop-off. Pretty scary stuff. But it was worth it, the scenery is pretty mind-blowing. We drove through for a good 20 minutes until we came upon the launching point for the Skippers Canyon jetboat. We sat on some rocks and watched the boats rip around the river for a while, then jumped back in the truck and drove back over to Queenstown.

On the way through we passed the Shotover Jet, similar to the Skippers Canyon one, but this one operates in a small stream with massive rock faces on either side. It is scary just watching it drive through crazily close to the rocks. It did look like fun, but at $120 for the 12 minute ride, it wasn't really in our budget.

One of the best view points over Queenstown is from the top of the gondola, but to take the lift up costs about $30 each! We had plenty of time, but money? not so much. So we found the walking track and hoofed it. Close to an hour later we arrived at the top, tired and sweating. But the view was worth it.

From Queenstown we plan to travel the South Scenic Route - a road that follows the coastline at the very bottom of the South Island. Jamie and Maree have been kind enough to let us take their truck away for the week, which is a lot more expensive than hitching, but allows us a lot more freedom. Plus it gives a dry place to sleep if the weather is bad. We decided it was worth the expense.
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