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New Zealand - part 4

Franz Josef to Queenstown

View Around the world in a few months! on Labgirluk's travel map.

After an action packed day the previous day we had an early start leaving Franz Josef village at 7 to make our way to Queenstown. If done in one go you could do it in about 5 hours but that wasn’t our plan and plenty of stops on the way were being factored in. On the way out of town we had to go over the newly rebuilt bridge that replaced the one that got swept away a couple months ago. This bridge had been rebuilt by the NZ military within about 3 weeks of being demolished by a raging torrent of water. From there we headed to Lake Matheson to have a walk around and watch the sunrise from various points. We were lucky and had a mostly clear sky so could see both Mt Cook and Mt. Tasman in the distance, as well as reflected in the still waters of the lake, and the beautiful colours of sunrise in the sky. This was a lovely way to blow the cobwebs away from an early start in the dark.
Moving on from there we headed to ship creek, so named for the large number of ship wrecks that have occurred in that area. This was another area that the sand flies were attacking us – repellent was gratefully used and applied liberally – so we spent a load of time batting them away. This beach is known for having greenstone (pounamu) dotted around, amongst the grey stones. Often you can only see the beautiful green patina when wetted or polished so not so easy to find when just wandering around on a beach. A few of us had a look for a stone as a souvenir. All but Jonno and Al were back waiting at the bus – apparently Jonno took Al off to sample some of the native berries (yep still both alive!) – and while we were waiting the local fantail birds were having a feast with all the sand flies that were amassing around us. Was a pretty amazing experience watching this little bird fearlessly darting around us feasting on the flies. We were happy as it reduced the flies coming near us!
We carried on south, along SH6 and over the Haast bridge, the longest one way bridge in new Zealand – a whopping 737m long. Either you wait at one end for it to be clear or you have to use one of the passing places built into the bridge design. As we were in a bus with trailer we could pretty much just keep on going... Going through the Haast pass we got a perfect cloud free view of Mt Aspiring. This is also a rare occurrence so we were doing well with these amazing views. I even got a nice picture going over one of the bridges with the Haast River in the fore and Mt. Aspiring in the background. From there we stopped for a couple of waterfalls; thunder creek falls and fantail falls. In both cases Jonno decided to walk through the glacial water to get a ‘better’ picture - now we know why he wore shorts and all terrain sandals... ???? The water was the most amazing blue though. We had another stop at boundary creek on the shore of Lake Wanaka where we all wanted to try our hand at skimming stones – Christy started it quite early on in the tour and now most of us have been having a go – and admiring the beautiful view, especially as the Lake was still so had another lovely reflection picture opportunity.
We then carried on to Wanaka itself to see the most photographed tree in New Zealand.... This tree is growing in the lake itself. It was originally a post but it started growing and is now a tree on its own growing out of the water. From there we continued on to Queenstown, over the crown range and around at Cardrona and the distillery there. There was also Bradrona at the entrance where a fence is covered with bras, set up by New Zealand breast cancer foundation. None of us wished to donate a bra at this point. We (well the women) were all too attached to the ones they’d brought to give them up! We then popped into the distillery to taste the various malts they have... This is not just whisky we tried malt vodka, elderflower liqueur, orange liqueur, malt gin and also a whisky. All very interesting flavours – think elderflower liqueur was my preferred out of all of them, even though it was pretty high in the alcohol content! We were supposed to have had a stop, and possibly a drink, at the cardrona hotel, a 19th century hotel /pub, but unfortunately it was shut as we passed it so that plan was out of the window! Instead we drove through Arrowtown, an olde worlde style town on the outskirts of Queenstown, before arriving at our lodgings for the next 3 nights. After a walk into town for dinner, for some of us, we all pretty much crashed for the night knowing we were all having a couple of busy days.
The following day we were all doing different activities. There were people doing quad biking, skydiving, ledge bungee jumping, shotover jet, horse riding, cruising on ss earnslaw (steamboat) or shotover canyon fox and swing jumping. Others went up the gondola or just enjoyed looking around the town. My activities of choice were the earnslaw cruise and ‘gourmet’ bbq lunch in the morning followed by the fox and swing jumps in the afternoon! I was concerned that I was eating a big meal before throwing myself off the side of a cliff a couple of times which might limit my food intake but I wasn’t overly concerned!
A group of us headed down to the wharf in the morning to catch the steamboat. 2 of the group were only doing the cruise so they stayed on board once we docked at Walter’s Peak and the rest of us trouped off.. We were then treated to a sheep shearing and rounding up show... Feisty little lamb being sheared kept making his displeasure known and kicked around a lot. Lots of oooing and ahhing from the Chinese contingent... Think it must have been their first close up sighting of a lamb, and one being sheared! Eventually he was sheared and put back in his pen. Then on to the rounding up. His short haired collie also elicited some oohs and ahs from the crowd, especially when she easily jumped over the fence into the field with the sheep. They did their thing and brought in 4 of the 5 lambs in the field – Mr. No. 5 was not having any of it and kept away from the crowd so was left in the field. From there we were ushered to the main house (we were confused as we thought we’d be going on a farm tour before the meal but apparently it was just the farm show and then the meal) and seated at our reserved table. The food was buffet style and so much of it. Almost too much to choose from without being completely glutinous (still thinking of the afternoon activities at this point!). Had little bits of everything I liked the look of. The meat was cooked beautifully and there were various roast veggies, salads, breads, cheeses and dessert to sample... As it was a beautiful day most people waited outside our had a look around the gift shop for the steamer to come back and pick us up.
I had a 15 min window between scheduled docking time in Queenstown and check in time for the afternoon activities. Just my luck that the boat was running late... Thankfully the distance between the 2 places was all of a 3 minute fast walk so still made it in time but had made sure I was first off the boat and not caught up amongst the masses disembarking... Checking in was easy enough and having to be weighed again with a dodgy shark (looked like a starfish with teeth and an eye tbh!) drawn on my hand to help the guys up on the swings know what adjustments need to be made etc. After that we all bungled in the transfer bus and off we went. Some were doing the swing first, some doing swing only, and 3 of us doing fox first. These jumps were just incredible. The fox is basically a zip line with a 5m drop at the start before zipping across the canyon. How you leave the side is up to you. One guy ran and flipped, the other ran and supermanned (his words, claims it was intentional and not a failed flip!). I opted for a reverse forwards, where I gave them the control of letting go and I couldn’t see when I was going to be released... The 5m drop was over in a blink of the eye and then I was zipping across the canyon. We then came back over on another line and headed to the shop to look at the photos before going on to the swing jump area.
Back into another harness and time to think about how I want to jump off a platform and drop 60m before going for a swing over the river...! I decided to go backwards again but this time I’ll be leaning backwards, being held on by the guys by the harness, and he’ll just let go and I’ll fall! It was amazing. The fall was over so quickly I didn’t have time to think about it and then I was swinging at the bottom, about 20m above the river. After a few swings I was then winched back up to the platform. We had also been told of a special offer of a second swing for only $20. After doing the first one I decided that a second one was in order. As I had done the first one backwards I was challenged to do the second one forwards. The other 2 decided to do a pindrop style so I thought I might as well join them. This involved holding your hands behind your back for the whole drop, bending forward til heels come off and then jumping sidewards and dropping! Pictures and videos were bought as proof....
That evening most of us headed back into town to try the infamous Fergburger burgers. Sweet bambi (venison) burger was mighty tasty, and also incredibly large! A place I’d recommend for anyone visiting Queenstown. The following day was going to be an early start for our visit to Doubtful Sound.....

Posted by Labgirluk 15:20 Archived in New Zealand Tagged waterfalls wanaka lake_wanaka steamboat sheep_shearing fergburger shotover_canyon_fox shotover_canyon_swing ss_earnslaw cardrona_distillery haast_bridge

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