Monday, 29 April 2013

Arrowtown in Fall

My SLR (A.K.A my baby) didn't make it to my second visit to Arrowtown. It was just me, my friend Lou and my trusty little Canon IXUS 95 IS.  Sometimes I'm just not in the mood to carry a chunky camera around with me. My little camera might be looking a little worse for wear these days, but until I can afford a new one, she'll make do.

With Autumn almost over, I'm glad we took the bus out to this little town. The vibrant colours of the trees were just amazing.  We spent a lot of our time walking along the stream and debating what else we should do before Lou heads back to England in two weeks.   Except for our coffees at the Arrowtown bakery and cafe and Provisions, we spent very little time in the main street. It was all about staring at trees.  This little country town is making me want a car so badly.  I would love to visit more places like this without the fuss of public transport.

With my second item ticked off my Queenstown Bucket list, we hopped back on a bus and back to Queenstown.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013


First item to tick off my Queenstown Bucket list. For fifteen minutes I got to glide on the wind, but we had to try a few times before we could take the run and jump.

On our first attempt the weather changed once we were at the take-off area. And so, once dropped off in town me and my beloved friend Louise took comfort in food and wine. This led to us ranting about our current hot topic 'WHAT THE F#@K AM DOING WITH MY LIFE' and hoped that the following Sunday would be different.

It wasn't. In fact we didn't even get as far as the mountain this time, just a phone conversation.  However, on the Monday (to our surprise) we got the go ahead. Stealing Lou away from work for an hour (she pretty much has the coolest employers ever) and dragging Zim along as a ground photographer, we went to the pick up point.  With my weight stamped on my hand and my seat belt firmly strapped in, I quickly found myself connected to a parachute and being told to run off a mountain.  These final words got me a little nervous
"whatever you do don't stop running." My thoughts went into overdrive. But what if I just freeze? What if its like with a bungee jump, where your whole body tells you "no this is wrong. You might want to die brain but the feet do not?!"
I was also first, which I'm not sure is always a good thing.

But running off was surprisingly easy. Within a few strides we were in the air, being carried along.  And you know what? I bloody loved it! surrounded by mountains, sighting hawks and the final spin at the end (which felt like a roller coaster) was amazing.  On the ground I could then enjoy watching Lou in the air and her descent.

Zim has already said he wants to do a Paraglide in the winter, when you can do it from the very top of coronet peak. After my first experience, I think I might have to join him!

We did our Paraglide through Skytrek, whos fee included  photos and a 30 second video, transfer from town to the mountain and friendly instructors who didn't get us killed.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Sunshine Bay

If you walk along the lake's edge, as if you were going to Fern hill, you'll find Sunshine bay. It was at that weird time of year, between Summer and Autumn. A beautiful spot that we pretty much had to ourselves.  I couldn't believe somewhere so close to town could feel so isolated.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Appreciating the here and now

This John Lennon quote often pops into my head, especially since I started this country hopping malarky. For too long I've been consumed by arriving at new destinations. Whether by plane, sea or foot, I've been working so hard to get to places, sometimes I wonder if I made the most of experiencing them.  Not this time. Not Queenstown.

As we plan to stay put for a while, I've made a conscience decision to appreciate the little things here. To watch the mountains change colour at dusk and dawn, to take note on the changing seasons and enjoy my morning tea.

But most importantly, I get to actually have a normal relationship, you know the one, where you get to  spend time together that does not involve Skype.  I get to live my life instead of waiting for it to begin.

In short, I'm going to take a deep breathe, look around me and just 'be' for a moment.

* Image from here.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

My Queenstown Bucket list

We got on the plane, got paid work and found a home for the next six months. Now what?  This is a question I've been asking myself a lot lately. What do I want from my time in Queenstown? What activities do I have to do before I leave?  After much consideration, this is my list.

  • Learn to Snowboard. This is the big one and the main reason I'm in Queenstown. I'm not looking to join the Olympic squad, just good enough not to hurt myself
  • Go to the Ice bar - always wanted to try one of these places
  • Go out on the lake aboard the steamboat TSS Earnslaw 
  • Go up on the Gondola
  • Have a go on the luge
  • Walk the Ben Lomond track

There are a lot of things to do in Queenstown and this is just a shortlist.  Has anyone else been to Queenstown? If so am I missing an essential activity off my list? All ideas welcome!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Walk to Queens hill

At the top of the list for budget things I could do in Queenstown was this walk. Although a little steep at the beginning, it does get better and even my dear friend Louise, who in her own words doesn't 'do' hills, managed it.  In a couple of hours we had admired the view, sat in a basket sculpture (I know, aren't we just too crazy), had some cheese sandwiches and took photos for strangers.

I also got to use my amazing walking boots. They are probably the most expensive footwear I've ever bought but worth every penny.  No blisters, no hard skin, no worries!  

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Deco Backpackers, Queenstown

When we first got to Queenstown, me and Zim had no idea how long finding a home would take. For our first two nights we splashed out on a private room in a well known chain hostel. You know the type, good for a night's kip if you've got a plane to catch, but has the atmosphere of a library.  However, as money was a little tight, we would need to downsize. We were looking for a hostel with the following characteristics;
  • Had a weekly rate
  • Reasonably priced
  • Clean
  • Big kitchen 
  • Nice atmosphere
My one friend in Queenstown, Louise, had previously stayed at Deco Backpackers and recommended it to us. Luckily there was space for two more in a six bed dorm, which we stayed in for nearly three weeks.  While we settled into ours jobs and searched for a house, Decos couldn't of been a better choice for us.  Not only did this place have a large kitchen, unlimited free internet and was cleaned regularly, the hostel also had breathtaking views of Queenstown.  

The staff and owners couldn't have been nicer or more helpful and the type of traveller Decos attracted was usually easy going, friendly people. I especially loved the manager's dog, who often hang about greeting guests.  

We were also lucky that our room mates were 'normies' and as all were working in Queenstown, understood when my alarm went off at 5:30 am.

When you are working a full time job, living in a hostel isn't ideal. But this place was by far one of the best hostels I've ever stayed in and definitely worth a visit.

The weekly rate for staying in a 6 bed dorm cost $165 (NZ).  On  a normal rate a 6 bed dorm  cost $26.  To find out more on this awesome hostel, visit their website here.

Monday, 8 April 2013


A couple of weeks ago, I decided to make the most of the sunny weather and make my first escape from Queenstown. With my other half and good friend from home busy working (at this point the only people I knew in town), it was time for a solo adventure. This involved a half hour bus ride to Arrowtown, the ex-gold rush town embracing its passed.  Arrowtown could be described as a little bit 'twee' with its boutique sewing shops and well maintained flower baskets. I'm pretty sure all the other tourists had done at least one wine tour and only ate organic produce.  But I have a soft spot for twee. It usually goes hand in hand with picturesque settings and great hot beverages.

 This town also added in a little history, which sealed the deal for a history geek like me.  The thing I find most fascinating about New Zealand's history is the diversity of immigrants carving out a life here. From the Maoris reaching the shores via Wakas to the European Settlers, its a story of people searching for a better way of life, or just to live at all.  The Chinese miners of Arrowtown are an example of this.  Their reconstructed huts next to the river are a fascinating look at  New Zealand's history.

Beautiful, easy going and visitor friendly, Arrowtown was a great place to spend a few hours.  I can't wait to get back and try out a few walking trails.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Hello Autumn My Old Friend

That's right people, while all you in the northern hemisphere get ready for long summer days, leaping lambs and daffodils, in Queenstown its time for autumn.  The clocks have gone back, the leaves have begun to fall and its getting a lot colder. But its beautiful, we've even seen our first sprinkle of snow on the mountains.

 In the last few weeks, setting up a life in New Zealand has been a little hectic.  I'd love to say that my lack of blogging is because I was too busy bungy jumping off LOTR* locations and eating and drinking myself stupid. But unfortunately no.  Its included working, finding a home, moving into the said home, working out (or attempting to) a budget and trying to understand what we want to spend our money on.  But most importantly my new home did not have internet until a few days ago and now I'm back, expect much more on our life in Queenstown.

Warning: over the next few weeks, this blog will be dealing with budget options in Queenstown. Read into this as WE HAVE NO FRICKING  MONEY - WATCH ME AS I CRY INTO MY PASTA!!!  With the ski season coming up, we want to have enough money to participate.  A ski pass and winter sports gear don't come cheap. However, I'm determined that this is my year to learn how to snowboard! Yes, that's right. Accident prone me is going to start one of the world's most injury friendly sports. I'm not crazy ok, my mother had me tested**...

*LOTR stands for Lord of the rings***
** Line stolen from the big bang theory
*** first footnote for is aimed at my mum. Lord of the rings? you know, the films with the hobbits. remember, the little people with hairy feet. Ian Mckellen in a big hat? oh nevermind...

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