Thursday, February 19, 2009

Road Trip!

I'm always looking for an excuse to get out of the city so when my mate popped over for a week from the UK the first thing that popped in to my mind was - road trip!

Heading to the west coast from Christchurch we stopped off shortly before Arthur's Pass to have a play at cave stream. This is a wicked little spot when you can take a decent torch (and it's suggested a backup!) and walk / clamber through a cave carved out by a stream. It's a soggy experience but a lot of fun! Underground it takes about 40 mins against the flow of water from the streams exit to it's entrance, while a walk on terra firma above only takes about 5 mins but is quite boring by comparison (far too easy!).

Next stop was down the west coast to check out the glaciers of Fox Glacier and Franz Josef. It's amazing to see these huge masses of ice up close and see bits dropping off their faces as they slowly melt away. We waited patiently for a huge chuck to drop off, but had to give up in the end. That night we camped on Haast's rugged beach and provided a hearty supper for the local sandfly population.

It was off to Queenstown next via Wanaka. Queenstown is basically one big playground for grown-ups - there's so much fun to be had and crazy stuff to do! Of course, we had to partake in some of the crazy activities...

First off was white water sledging with Frogz - wicked fun to cool you off on a hot day! Forget sissy white water rafting - with Frogz you get up close and personal by playing in the white water on your own personal sledge. The friendly crew always had a close eye on us and encouraged us to try out different tricks in the white water - my favourite was bronco style riding of the sledge (sitting on top of it), though I didn't last too long in the rapids this way! There was also a huge jump from the cliffs at the side you can attempt if feeling brave - having lemming genes I couldn't get enough of this. Another great thing with the trip was the fact you get to do 2 trips down the river... the first is a warm-up, then by the second you're feeling comfortable and willing to try more stuff out in the rapids.

Next round of craziness was the Shotover Canyon Swing. I think I'm going to be doing this every time I go back to Queenstown! Did I mention I have lemming genes? Well, this crazy activity was made for me - I could do this one all day! Basically there's a big steel cable crossing a canyon and another cable connected to the mid-point which you get attached to the end of - it's then up to you to jump off a platform from the side of the canyon in exciting ways. There's some noticeable free fall before the slack starts to take in and you swing out of the drop. You pick up quite some speed as you can imagine - it's such a rush!!! You can't help but want to do it again, and again, and again... The amusing staff have dreamed up all sorts of amusing, fun and sadistic ways you can launch yourself off and in to the fresh air of the canyon - there's even a menu to choose from. For the guys - be sure "to pee with Mr. T" ;)

The last bit of fun we had in Queenstown was a Kawarau Jetboat ride - this is one the whole family will enjoy! The pilot ("skipper" just sounds too tame for a jetboat) skims the jetboat at high speed over the lake and down the rivers playfully heading straight for islands in the water, trees on the banks, etc. before turning away at the last moment. Definitely has you thinking "he has seen that island we're heading straight for at speed right?!". There's also the frequent high speed spins where he'll swing the boat around in a 360 degree spin on the spot - definitely my favourite bits! I couldn't get over how little water the jetboat needs to speed along on - it's quite a big boat and we were flying up and down rivers which I could have waded across with only getting my ankles wet!

We even made it in to the Lakes Weekly Bulletin (a local publication) while partying one night...

Back to reality... the drive home to Christchurch was left till the last minute in my typical fashion - my friend flying out back to the UK that night. I shouldn't have joked about it the day before, but the car did in fact break down in the middle of nowhere - I obviously jinxed us! Luckily we got towed back to Twizel where the mechanic pronounced the engine dead from the overheating I hadn't noticed. Who looks at the temperature gauge till it's too late right? Those things should come equipped with alarms and flashing strobe lighting! Luckily we hired a car off the mechanic and raced it back to Christchurch just in time for my mates flight - phew! The car's still down in Twizel getting an engine transplant... fingers crossed she makes it out!

Till next time - peace out,
Gav ;)

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