Ever since we arrived in New Zealand, we knew that we had to make it to the South Island, so we could visit the Adventure Capital of the World, Queenstown. We were very fortunate because we flew in on a clear afternoon, so we were able to catch a glimpse of the breathtaking views and snowcapped mountain peaks. Our first night in Queenstown, we stayed in Nomads, which was in the center of town and not to mention the Taj Mahal of all hostels. Because we were so excited to be back in the land of the Kiwis, Caelyn, Alix, and I decided to go out and celebrate. Maybe it was the hype of being in Queenstown or maybe it was just a good time, but I would have to say that it was one of the most fun nights that we have had in New Zealand. Unfortunately, the fun night made for a not so fun morning. Earlier in the week, we had found a three nights accommodation “deal” on GrabOne, which is essentially New Zealand’s Groupon; therefore, we had to leave the luxury suite of Nomads and make our way to Reaver’s Lodge. Reaver’s was subpar at best, but we were so excited to get up the mountain, so we decided to overlook it. The first day, we went up to Coronet Peak, and saw some of the most phenomenal views that absolutely took my breath away. Alix and I haven’t been skiing in a couple of years, so we decided to start out slow and get used to being on skis—after a couple of runs and a few embarrassing falls, it felt like no time had passed. We were thrilled that we had such an incredible first day, and we were looking forward to a week full of skiing. The next day, we woke up to find that it had snowed overnight, we were ecstatic because the mountain was in desperate need for some fresh snow. I think that we may have prayed a little too hard for the snow, because when it snows in Queenstown, it pours. By the time we had reached the top of the mountain, we could not see the ski lifts because it was like a blizzard. We got a few good runs in, but at one point, I looked over and Alix was waist deep in the snow- if it had been me, the snow would have been up to my ears. We decided that we would call it an early day, wait for the storm to move out and come back up tomorrow, or so we thought.
The skiing in New Zealand is very different from what the three of us are used to. Because they don’t have ski-in/ ski-out resorts; therefore, if you want to go skiing, you have to take a bus up the mountain. When we got back from skiing that day, we discovered that lovely Reaver’s was chartering a bus to take people up the mountain the following morning. Excited that they were going to one of the best mountains in the area, we decided to sign up and join them for the day. The next morning, we woke up at 7:00 am, and we jumped on the bus at the top of the very steep driveway. We were a bit wary of the road conditions, but we thought, “hey, they live in a ski town and they have chains on their tires- certainly, they know they are doing” WRONG! The moment the driver turned the bus down the driveway we started picking up speed. Immediately, he nailed a car that had crashed the night before, but instead of stopping, we continued to skid down the extremely steep driveway horizontally and almost plummeting to our deaths. Thankfully, the bus driver rammed the bus into an embankment, which saved us from falling off the hill and on top of a house. Because no one was hurt, the wreck became more comical than anything; however, still a little shaken up by the close call, we decided to veto the skiing plans for the day. Apparently, Queenstown itself gets very little snow, so the whole town seemed to shut down with the snowfall. We were all a bit bewildered as to why a ski town doesn’t really know how to deal with a snowstorm, but unfortunately, they don’t therefore; for the next couple of days, we felt like we were dealing with a snowstorm in Georgia. We had to walk everywhere because no cabs were running, which resulted in a number of brutal falls in the middle of town. We ran into a bit of a debacle trying to get a refund from the bus trip, as the Irish girl at the front desk tried to have a fun-filled day of snowboarding and skiing on our dime; however, after some words were exchanged, we left Reaver’s full refunded. As Alix so humbly pointed out after one of our Reaver’s run-ins, “Why would they try to mess with Americans? We are the most powerful people in the world!” Reaver’s truly was an experience, so we left there in style. In an attempt to avoid any other casualties on the driveway, we rode down on our suitcases and never looked back. We spent the remainder of our time at Nomads, where we belonged all along.
We went up the mountain two more times in an attempt to ski, but we were faced with debilitating obstacles each time. Due to the weather conditions of the week, I am very thankful that we got that first day of skiing. Although it was fun to ski in Queenstown, it really made me appreciate the luxuries of ski-in/ski-out resorts and a plethora of ski lifts, so I am really looking forward to returning to the States to ski again.
Because Queenstown is the Adventure Capital of the World, Caelyn and I decided that we wanted to partake in what it had to offer. On the day that our bus crashed, we decided that wasn’t exciting enough, so we chose to do the Nevis bungee jump, which is the second highest bungee jump in the world- falling just short of the one that Alix has done in South Africa. I was all talk on the way to the bungee jump, but the moment we reached the bungge jumping site, I became a limp noodle and my legs turned to jello. The guys strapping me in simply ignored my nervous babble and had to show me some tough love. It was one of the most exhilarating experiences, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. The next day, Caelyn and I tried to go skydiving, but right before they suited us up, they cancelled the jumps for the remainder of the day, due to high winds. We attempted to skydive two more times, and each time we got the same result. I guess it simply wasn’t in the cards for us, but I will go skydiving one of these days.
Although the weather put a damper on a couple of the weeks activities, we still had a fabulous time in Queenstown. It was a great way to end our two weeks of traveling, and I must say that by the end of it, I was ready to get home and spend the last two weeks with my class because I knew that it was going to fly.