With mixed feelings, we can officially say this is our last blog post from the road. We will write another recap post, but our travels are over as we are leaving New Zealand tomorrow for the long journey back home to Philadelphia.
As a symbolic end to our trip, Kathleen and I wanted to do something memorable. Queenstown is touted as the adventure capital of the world. There are numerous activities available such as skydiving, white water rafting, bungee jumping (invented here), jet boat riding, paintballing, canyoning, etc. – the list is endless! So Kathleen and I decided on a package called the “Shotover Canyon Double Shot”. The first activity it included was a jet boat ride on the Shotover River. A jet boat works the same way a jet ski operates as water is sucked through the intake as shot out at a rate of 800 liters per minute! This allows the boat to accelerate at high speeds and more importantly turn on a dime.
The water temperature was around 48 degrees and the water was very shallow, but our jet boat flew down the river and the driver was fantastic at avoiding the canyon walls – giving us plenty of scares as we came within INCHES of the walls. The jet boat even did 360 degrees turns, getting everyone a bit wet with freezing cold water. Kathleen was excited and Prince William and Kate did this activity a few months ago when they were here in New Zealand! It was really excited and a good way to get our adrenaline pumping!
For our next activity, we decided to do the Shotover Canyon Swing. The canyon swing is…well, a big swing over a massive canyon. We decided on doing this activity as Kathleen and I could jump tandem together. She said she didn’t want to do anything crazy unless I was going together. Kathleen and I were each harnessed together, but unlike bungee jumping where you are strapped in by your ankles, you are supported around your waist. We walked to the edge of the platform and stared down about 400 feet below into the canyon floor. We did a count down from 3 and then took a small step off before free falling 200 feet straight down – a free fall that lasted about 3 seconds but felt much longer! You come out of the free fall into a gentle swing over the river. You are suspended over the river swinging back and forth gently for about 30 seconds before being hoisted back up. It was incredibly scary but it was a metaphor as Kathleen and I love doing everything together and we are never scared when we have each other. That mantra has really kept us going the last year and gotten us through difficult situations.
They had a deal where you could jump once more for $25, so I put my fears to the test again and did it once more, this time suspended upside down. This was much scarier, especially going solo, but it was another great adrenaine kick. Needless to say, Kathleen passed on the second jump!
After a fun and exciting few hours out at the Shotover Canyon, we went back to town and had a famous meat pie, something that is a must in New Zealand. They were amazing!
The next day, Kathleen and I decided to do something a little more calm and we went for a hike up the Queenstown Hill. The hike was about an hour and a half return, but it gave us some great views of Lake Wakatipu and the mountain range that surrounds Queenstown.
We returned to town and went for another quick walk around the Queenstown Gardens which sits at a point just outside the main part of town and offers nice views of the lake.
With all of this physical activity, we had dinner at the world famous “Fergburger”! Everyone we met (including locals) said you MUST eat here during your time in Queenstown. Often, you queue about an hour to get in then another 30 minutes for your meal. We were skeptical on just how good these burgers were, but we can both say that they were AMAZING! Kathleen went for the classic (still massive) and I had the Mr. Big Stuff – 1/2 pound of meat, bacon, BBQ and all of the fixins. It was really amazing and was perfect considering how much we walked that day!
We had an amazing sunset that evening as the clouds cleared over the mountains. Tomorrow, we had a 30 hour journey from Queenstown to Auckland to San Francisco then finally to Philadelphia. We have loved traveling on the road and this has been the most amazing year ever!