Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Queenstown, New Zealand

Jet boat - 31st Jan

Queenstown is probably the most famous adventure resort in the world. I decided before I left Wanaka that I was going to stay there for at least 3 days and Party!

I arrived a little after 1pm and booked myself into the large Base hostel which I knew would be used by all the Kiwi Experience people. Once I had done that I decided to immediately set about doing something so I went to the Base travel desk and booked myself onto the local Jet boat ride at shotover gorge for 3pm.

At just before 3 I made my way up to the company office where myself and several other people were placed on a shuttle bus to take us up to the starting point. The trip only lasted 15 minutes before we were there.

We all got kitted up in raincoats and a lifejacket before jumping on the boat. I was at the back with another couple who turned out to be a girl from Ireland and her English boyfriend.

After the obligatory photo we were off down the river.

The boat trip basically consisted off the driver heading straight for rocks before turning at the very last minute. From the back it looked as if we were going to hit them everytime. We hurtled down through the gorge doing this sort of thing until we entered a more open area of the river. Here the driver did their trademark 360 turns.

Up until this point nobody had really been soaked but on the turns the people at the back (me!) got the full force of the spray.

It was all very enjoyable and was over in about ½ hour which was a pity.

Afterwards we all went up to the visitor centre where we could purchase a photo pack for the trip. As part of the deal Base had I had a voucher which entitled me to one photo free of charge which I duely collected – much to the annoyance of a old English guy who started giving out stink about having to pay full whack for his photos (wanker!) . I had the choice of going back on the next shuttle or hanging around so I decided to hang about to see if I could get some shots of other jetboat trips. After waiting what seemed like forever (but was probably only 5 mins) I assumed that there were going to be no more trips and went to get a beer.

Of course half way through the beer I heard the jet boat starting up again. I managed to get a small sequence of long cistance shots before it carried off down the gorge.

That night all the Kiwi ones were in the base bar. Two of them had done a skydive in Wanaka early that morning and still seemed to be on an adrenaline rush from it saying it was the best thing they ever did (having now done mine I can well believe them!). Others on the bus had already done the small bungy jump on the way in to queens town. It’s regarded as the very first Bungy in the world and is a mere 43m off a bridge.

I was still saying I had no intention of doing an bungy jump or canyon swing. It was a good night which involved rather too much drinking. The hostel held a prize game of killer pool which I put my name down for but was I was soon out of contention having squandered my 3 lives with some rather bad misses.

Everybody was talking about what they were going to do tomorrow. Some were going to Milford sound, some were doing the big bungy like Nevis or the Ledge as well as the canyon swing. I decided I would go white water rafting.

A group of us ended up in the New World bar up the road which had better music and was open late then it was over across the road for a Ferg Burger. I thought I would help the eradication of pests effort by having a bambi burger (deer being another mammal pest). Then I went back to base to sleep it off.

Facebook pics

White Water Rafting - 1st Feb

I somehow managed to get up early enough the next day to book myself onto an afternoon white water rafting trip run by the same company who do the shotover jetboat.

Again we were taken by bus up to the same place as the jetboats only this time we had to put on a complete wetsuit before transferring to another bus that would take us to the rafting start point. The journey took over 45 minutes (not the most comfortable journey to do in a wetsuit!) and took us down skippers road which is one of the most dangerous gravel roads in New Zealand with needle sharp corners and 100m cliffs.

Eventually we got there and I was teamed up with the rest of my crew for the journey down stream.

Things I have learnt.

1. Don’t say you have done white water rafting before because that means you will get put at the front of the boat like I was. The people at the front have to do most of the rowing and get most of the soaking!
2. When you come to a ‘gentle’ part and are allowed to jump out into the water to swim about, DON’T. Jumping out and swimming around is all very well but then you have to try to haul your big ass back in again and I am just not fit enough. When I did manage to get back in (with help from other members of the crew) I spent the next 5 minutes trying to grab my breath. My very tightly bound lifejacket was acting like a boa constrictor on my lungs and I honestly thought I was going to have a heart attack!

The trip would probably have seemed like a very good and exciting introduction to most other people but this was my third time white water rafting and in comparison to the other two experiences in Australia and Costa Rica I found it quite tame.

For one thing it was too expensive at $169 for what was basically a 90 minute trip. For another thing although they had some reasonable rapids they were all at or near the end of the trip so the first part just seemed like an amble down the river (still the scenery was good and we did get to go through a rather cool tunnel at the end).

I am pretty sure there are better and cheaper places to do this in New Zealand.

Once again I met up with the Kiwi Mob and drank for most of the night in Base backpackers. I had been trying to think what to do for my last day in Queenstown and was eventually decided to go on the Kiwi Experience run day trip to Milford sound the next day. The ones that had been on it that day said it was fantastic and several of the others were doing it the next day so I thought why not. It meant an early night though so no World Bar.



Just back from Rotherham and I have two results for you:

Feb 19th FC Copenhagan 2 Man City 2

Feb 22nd Liverpool 1 Man City 1


An update: 26 Feb -
Man City 2 FC Copenhagan 1 (4-3 on ag.)