Sunday, April 5, 2009

Road Trip 2 – Bungieeeeeeeeeeeee!

Another month, another visitor and another road trip - just as well there’s just too many great things to do in New Zealand!

This time it was Chinh who came for a visit, our Southeast Asia connection. Visiting for a month and working from Christchurch while here. Normally he’s based in landlocked Siem Reap in Cambodia so having been deprived for so long is keen to get in as much surfing as possible while living within easy reach of the ocean - suits me fine being a keen surfer myself :)

Again we took the tried and tested extra long scenic route to Queenstown via the west coast...

First fun stop was Franz Josef to take in an awesome quad bike adventure with Across Country Quad Bikes. This was great fun and the most technical quad biking I’ve ever had the pleasure of doing. Following the ancient glacier pathway down river from Franz Josef glacier and muddy tracks through lush green rainforest there was lots of opportunity to try and throw up some mud and water over my passenger Chinh. But the truly white-knuckle part of the trip was when Chinh got to drive – he seemed to be a rock and tree magnet so was quickly relegated back to passenger status! I think the old “don’t look at what you want to avoid” rule taught to snowboarders was being applied to his riding style... oh look there’s a huge rock, better avoid that – oh – I’ve just driven over it!?

Next it was skydiving in Wanaka with Skydive Lake Wanaka – something to tick off on Chinh’s “to do before I die” list... Jumping out of a plane at 15,000 ft with a full minute of freefall before opening the chute was truly awesome – gives you plenty of time to get over the initial “what the @#$%!” reaction of exiting a plane at such a height, and get down to the serious business of enjoying the awesome experience of plummeting towards terra firma! Such a beautiful spot to jump out of a plane – the scenery is awesome with beautiful blue lakes below and snow capped mountains in the background (including the famous Mt Cook). Highly recommended!

I think it’s actually illegal for tourists to visit New Zealand and not visit the grown-ups playground known as Queenstown...

The famous Shotover Jet was our first treat in Queenstown – an incredible jet boat ride up and down the scenic Shotover River - missing the canyon walls by inches doing crazy manoeuvres, 360 degree spins and power slides. “The world's most exciting jet boat ride” - this is no idle boast!

Next was something a little less adrenaline inducing, but fun none the less - The Skyline Experience... Starting with the gondola - the easy way to get to see the great views over Queenstown without breaking in to a sweat by walking up under your own steam. Once at the top there’s a great activity for the whole family – the luge – addictive fun where you can race each other down the track. You’ll be sure to want a re-match or two! Next we delved in to the Maori cultural experience they have which is Kiwi Haka. Trying to volunteer my buddy for the role of chief of our tourist tribe backfired a little, but it was fun being called "Chief Gavin" for the duration of the experience. It’s an great way to learn a little about the indigenous peoples of Aotearoa. Being chief is hungry work so it was off to the try the buffet at the Skyline Restaurant... Amazing choice of food, fresh ingredients and very tasty! There's something for all tastes. It was great taking in the best view in Queenstown while enjoying our meal. We were also entertaining watching the bungy jumpers from our vantage point – including a few people who jumped naked!

Next was something a little more alternative to what most people get up to in Queenstown... gold fossicking. I had the opportunity to join Daniel while he was taking out two visitors on a trip out to his claim near Queenstown. He's got all the toys and expertise you need to find the gold including a dredge to work the rocky stream bed where all the juiciest nuggets are likely to be hiding. I had a lot of fun helping out and picked up some excellent tips - I'm now hooked!

We couldn’t leave Queenstown without having a go at one of the iconic AJ Hackett bungy jumps dotted around the town, so on the way out of town on our way back to Christchurch we stopped off at the Kawarau Bridge Bungy to give it a go... For some reason Chinh found the idea of a bungy scarier than throwing himself out of a plane?! And I’ve got to admit, his apprehension was a little contagious. After days of badgering him he finally relented to give it a go. He was quite nervous but respect – he didn’t dawdle jumping off the bridge once he had the big elastic band secured! I'm keen to try some of the other AJ Hackett bungy jumps now!

FYI: In answer to the woman’s voice in the background asking “why he’s doing it barefoot?”... I was wearing jandles (flip flops / thongs) which had been attached to the harness so I wouldn’t lose them.

Till next time - peace out,
Gav ;)

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