I’m just about to leave Queenstown, having been at the YHA’s lakefront hostel for five nights which is the longest I’ve spent in one place since leaving the UK. I’ve had a brilliant time here but I’ve spent a lot of money, and it’s time to move on. By mutual agreement, I’m leaving Silvia behind. We parted on good terms, after going out for a lovely meal with our Korean roommate Kowoon, and she gave me one of her bracelets to remember her by.
The first thing we did when we arrived on Monday, March 12, was go to Fergburger, as I was told to do by various friends who’ve already been to Queenstown. They wouldn’t tell me what a fergburger was exactly; they just said: “It’s the best burger you’ll ever eat.” Therefore, in my mind, a fergburger was a burger made from a native animal called a ferg. But of course it wasn’t, and I chose a Cockadoodle Oink – a chicken burger with bacon as well as the usual salad bits plus avocado, in a toasted bun. It was so big it had to be held in both hands, and it was so filling I’m glad I didn’t order fries as well. Was it the best burger ever? Absolutely. I went back the following day for a beef one.
Queenstown Gardens were nice, and I was impressed to see they contained a frisbee golf course. In fact, I’d missed an open tournament by two days, which was a shame as I might have been tempted to enter. I was surprised that many of the shops in town, particularly those catering for tourists, were open until 11pm, and I bought a few small souvenirs. The waterfront had a great atmosphere, and there was always a busker or two, with anything from a violin to a piano.
I decided to go to the top of the mountain to see the views over Queenstown, and I took the hour-long trail beside the gondola. I couldn’t believe how steep it was. It was hard work. I spent the entire time praying there was a cafe at the top. Fortunately, there was. After having a drink and appreciating the view, I took the gondola back to the bottom. It got me there in five minutes and it was the best $14 I spent that day.
Queenstown is a mecca for adrenalin junkies. The second-best thing I did this week was go paragliding from Coronet Peak. It’s not possible to see the town from there, but it was the highest point around that you could go from, and the views of the mountains called The Remarkables were, well, remarkable. I went with a man called Omar, who was originally from Venezuela. He thought I would find paragliding tame compared to skydiving, but I enjoyed it. It was like the second part of a skydive but if you were lucky you could go up as well as down. When Omar was preparing the equipment, I thought it looked just like a big yellow kite. Taking off was as easy as walking off the side of the hill. Omar let me take control for a bit. The flight lasted for 13 minutes, and photos were included free of charge. Omar was very kind and also put the videos on my disc – as well as his phone number.
The best thing I did this week was the Nevis bungy jump. At 134m, it’s one of the highest in the world. The site was a 45-minute minibus ride from the town centre, and during that time I got increasingly nervous. When we passed another bungy site, the driver said: “Look, there’s the bungy bridge. You’ll be jumping from three times that height.” The cable car ride to the jump pod, suspended over the river, seemed to take forever – there was certainly plenty of time to think about how high up I was. The French girl who jumped just before me looked like she was going to be sick. In the jump pod, the music was so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think – which was the idea. Once the staff had prepared my equipment, I shuffled to the ledge. There wasn’t really time to look around; with a “three, two, one, bungy!” I launched myself into the air for eight seconds of freefall. It’s a totally different sensation to the freefall of a skydive, because you’re so close to the ground. It was mind-blowing. When I got back to the hostel, everyone wanted to see the video. Yvonne and Eva squealed so much I wondered what they would’ve been like if they’d been the ones jumping.
The Queenstown nightlife lived up to its reputation too. I had some quality times out as well as in, with Eddy from France, Chen and May from Israel, Sam, Dan and Darius from Australia, Stuart from England, Silvia and others. I liked the World Bar, where they served cocktails in teapots, and Altitude, where the music was good. The hostel had a good TV room with comfy beanbags to sit on, but the grumpy hostel man kept sticking his head round the door to check for “inappropriate behaviour” as he called it.
I won’t ever forget my time in Queenstown.